New Assistant Commissioner For Youth Services

POUGHKEEPSIE – Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro has named Karmen Smallwood as the new Assistant Commissioner for Youth Services, who will oversee the County’s Path to Promise Initiative. Smallwood will officially begin serving as Assistant Commissioner on January 1. According to Molinaro, The Path to Promise Initiative is a comprehensive plan to ensure all young people in Dutchess County – from birth through age 19 – have the assets they need to achieve their full potential as they grow into young adults. Ms. Smallwood currently serves as a Probation Officer with the Dutchess County Office of Probation and Community Corrections.

“I am honored County Executive Molinaro has selected me for this position and I am eager to begin this new challenge. As someone who grew up in Dutchess County, and as a mother raising her children here, I am excited to be involved in this exciting initiative to help every young person achieve their potential in our community,” said Ms. Smallwood. “Whether a newborn or a teen preparing to enter college or the workforce, every child in our community deserves the chance to reach their fullest ability. I am proud Dutchess County and County Executive Molinaro have embarked on such a visionary project, and I’ll work tirelessly to fulfill our mission.”

As Assistant Commissioner, Ms. Smallwood will guide the County’s Path to Promise initiative and will be responsible for evaluating, planning, initiating, coordinating and monitoring the Youth Development Framework. That framework was created following the assessment of youth services through Dutchess County, conducted by nationally renowned Public Consulting Group (PCG), as well as from extensive public outreach. She will work closely with the Dutchess County Youth Coordinating Council, as well as the Path to Promise Innovation Team. Ms. Smallwood will conduct outreach efforts, facilitate workshops and youth engagement opportunities while engaging municipal officials, community volunteers and staff of community agencies in cooperative planning and implementation of effective youth services.

County Executive Molinaro said, “Dutchess County’s ‘Path to Promise’ is a ground-breaking enterprise – one that requires a tireless proponent at the helm to advocate for every child. Karmen Smallwood’s background, passion and drive make her the ideal person to spearhead the County’s ambitious efforts, and we look forward to seeing the success she’ll undoubtedly bring to her new role. Dutchess County residents can feel confident knowing our ‘Path to Promise’ is in Karmen’s capable hands, and countless youth throughout our county will benefit from her vast experience and knowledge.”

Dutchess County conducted an extensive recruitment for the Assistant Commissioner for Youth Services and received an impressive applicant response. Ms. Smallwood was selected from a pool of nearly 100 applicants following a multi-stage interview process, which included a screening committee comprised of representatives of Dutchess County Government departments including Human Resources and Community and Family Services (which the division of Youth Services is a part of), student youth council member, the Youth Coordinating Council and the Path to Promise Innovation Team, and community organizations.

Ms. Smallwood has served in Dutchess County Government for more than eight years as a Probation Officer. As the current Chair of the Women’s Committee, a sub committee of the Dutchess County Criminal Justice Council, she promotes and oversees gender-responsive, evidence-based strategies that reduce recidivism and enhance services for justice- involved women in Dutchess County. She has been extensively involved with several innovative programs to improve outcomes for those involved in the criminal justice system, including organizing the Victim Impact Panel.

Prior to serving with Dutchess County Government, Ms. Smallwood served as the YouthBuild/AmeriCorps Program Coordinator for Nubian Directions, Assets Coming Together (ACT) for Youth Program Coordinator and Green Teen Program Coordinator for the Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County.

Ms. Smallwood holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Howard University and a Master’s degree in Counseling and Community Psychology from Marist College. She was a 2016 Omega Institute Women’s Leadership Intensive scholarship recipient and holds certificates for Advanced Motivational Interviewing and as a Women’s Risk Need Assessment Trainer. She is also a sought-after orator, speaking at various forums and workshops in the community and the state level.

As a lifelong resident of Dutchess County, Ms. Smallwood has also been extensively involved in the local community. She served on the Dutchess County Workforce Investment Board’s Youth Council, the Council on Addiction Prevention and Education (CAPE) Southern Dutchess Coalition the Dutchess County Children’s Services Council and the Dutchess County Department of Mental Hygiene’s Children and Youth Committee. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, incorporated and served as Chair of the Scholarship Committee and coordinator of the IVY AKAdemy Program. She also served on Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County’s Board of Directors and currently serves as a member of the Youth and 4-H Program Advisory Committee.

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