Press Release 01.31.17

Innocence Project Welcomes Former Police Commissioner and U.S. Attorney to its Board of Directors

By Innocence Staff

Contact:  Paul Cates, (212)364-5346, pcates@innocenceproject.org

(New York, NY; January 25, 2017) – The Innocence Project welcomes two new members to its Board of Directors: Charles Ramsey, the recently retired Philadelphia Police Commissioner; and Audrey Strauss, formerly a U.S. Attorney and Chief Legal Officer for Alcoa, Inc.

“The Innocence Project is excited to have Ms. Strauss and Commissioner Ramsey join its board,” said Innocence Project Executive Director Madeline deLone. “Having served as the chief of two of the nation’s largest police forces, Commissioner Ramsey brings decades of invaluable experience in policing.  Ms. Strauss is a long-term Innocence Project supporter who distinguished herself as a prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and as an executive and Chief Legal Officer for Alcoa Inc. We are fortunate to have such talent and experience particularly as we expand our efforts to collaborate with law enforcement on adopting science and data-driven reforms to protect the innocent.” 

Audrey Strauss recently retired as the Chief Legal Officer of Alcoa, Inc. where she also served as a member of the Alcoa Executive Council, the senior leadership team that sets strategic direction for the company. A former senior litigation partner at the law firm Fried Frank Harris Shriver and Jacobson, she also served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York as chief appellate attorney, supervising the office’s criminal appeals before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. and as Chief of the Fraud Unit. A graduate of Columbia Law School, her work has been recognized by the Federal Bar Council, the New York Council of Defense Lawyers and by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. She is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and previously served as a trustee and vice president of the Federal Bar Council. Ms. Strauss is also the co-founder and co-chair of the Lawyers’ Committee of the Innocence Project.


Charles Ramsey
 is the recently retired police commissioner in Philadelphia, where he served 8 years. He also served as the chief of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia for 9 years after a 30-year career with the Chicago Police Department. He was the co-chair of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which was created by President Obama to strengthen community policing and trust among law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. Commissioner Ramsey was also president of both Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA) and Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), an independent research organization that focuses on critical issues in policing and recommends best practices to advance professionalism in policing. While police commissioner in Philadelphia, he took steps to implement best practices to help minimize wrongful convictions.

The Innocence Project, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2017, is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice. It was founded by Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld in 1992 as a student clinic at Cardozo School of Law. In 2004, the Innocence Project became an independent nonprofit (still closely affiliated with Cardozo). Its 18-member Board of Directors oversees a staff of approximately 80 full-time employees and an annual budget of approximately $13 million, plus additional millions in donated legal services.

To date, 349 people nationwide have been exonerated through DNA testing.  The Innocence Project, which has assisted in nearly 200 exonerations and has helped to pass over a hundred laws to uncover wrongful convictions and protect the innocent.

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