PHILADELPHIA (February 7, 2022) — The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO) is proud to announce new leadership for the DAO’s Victim Support Services Division, comprised of the Crisis Assistance, Response, and Engagement for Survivors (CARES) and Victim Services units. A new position also created to support the work of the Division, Technology Development Director, will develop strategies to use technology to better communicate with crime survivors, among other forms of assistance.
“The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is thrilled to have these dedicated and hardworking individuals in leadership roles,” said DA Larry Krasner. “Their decades of combined experience working tirelessly in support of co-victims and survivors will ensure that victims of serious crime receive the time and attention they so urgently need and deserve.”The new appointments are as follows:
Executive Director of Victim Support Services: Myra J. Maxwell
Myra J. Maxwell serves as Lead Pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in South Philadelphia, and is the Founder of Restoration Interdenominational Ministries, Inc. and the President and Founder of FAVOR (Faith And Victim services Offering Restoration) International, Inc. FAVOR International is a faith-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing training and resources for communities of faith, offering spiritual support and referrals.
Maxwell is a bi-vocational leader with over 25 years of victim services experience, and served as the Director of Crisis Assistance Response and Engagement for Survivors of Homicide (CARES) Unit at the DAO. She has over 40 years of experience serving in leadership in human services with private, for-profit, non-profit, and government organizations. She has served in several directorship capacities within the field of victim services and human services, including: Anti- Violence Partnership of Philadelphia (AVP) as Director of Victim Services, Transitional Services Director and Director of Faith Based Program for Victims (a U.S. Justice Department program); West Philadelphia Partnership, Director of West/Southwest Victim Services; and as a Victim Advocate with the Philadelphia Family Court’s Victims of Juvenile Offenders (VOJO) program. Her passion is developing and implementing new programs in victim services and providing strategic direction for the field.
Other experiences include former Vice President of the Board for WOAR Philadelphia Center Against Sexual Violence; State President of Church Women United in Pennsylvania; Co-Chair of the Urban Commission of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church; and several terms as co-chair of the Philadelphia Coalition for Victim Advocacy (PCVA) in Philadelphia. Maxwell has also served on the Homicide Review Team, Network of Neighbors; Keystone Crisis Intervention Team (KCIT) and facilitated classes on Balance And Restorative Justice (BARJ). She has provided training on victim services in California, New Jersey, Florida, and across Pennsylvania, and plans to continue training on the impact of violence and trauma nationally and internationally.She holds degrees in Theology and Human Services, graduating with honors and a lifetime induction into Pi Gamma Mu, International Honor Society in Social Sciences. She has a certificate from the University of Pennsylvania in Non-Profit Leadership and received awards for Victim Advocacy from PCVA and Lutheran Settlement House. She is currently pursuing a Doctoral Degree in Human Services. Her motto: “If I can help somebody along the way, my living shall not be in vain.”
Director of the DAO’s Victim Services Unit: William Curtin
William Curtin has dedicated ten years of service to the DAO’s Victim Services Unit (VSU). In 2015, he became a member of the VSU’s Witness Relocation Division where he worked as a Victim Coordinator until he was appointed Supervisor in 2020. There, he provided direct services to over 450 families referred by law enforcement for relocation assistance, acting as both a caseworker and liaison between the PA Office of Attorney General, the victim/witness, and their assigned prosecutors and/or Detective.
From 2012-2015, Curtin served as a Victim Coordinator in the Municipal Court and Major Trials Units. There, he assisted crime victims and/or witnesses in West and Southwest Philadelphia by accompanying victims/witnesses in court, providing victim outreach and case updates, collaborating with community-based agencies, assisting victims with restitution and Victims Compensation Assistance Program (VCAP) claims, arranging transportation to court, interpretation services, and acting as a liaison between the victim/witness and their assigned ADA.
He is currently an MSW Candidate at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice. He holds both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in paralegal studies from the George Washington University. A former resident of Ecuador, he is fluent in Spanish and received his Spanish proficiency certification at the Catholic University in Quito. Curtin is also a proud alumnus of Girard College (’98) located in North Philadelphia.
DAO CARES Unit Director: Melany P. Nelson
In 2014, Melany P. Nelson was elected the Executive Director of Northwest Victim Services (NVS), an organization she has served in a variety of positions for over 27 years. As Executive Director, she demonstrated a steadfast commitment to assisting the victims of crime. She was never bound by “normal business hours” or to her desk: she visited victims at home or in the hospital, in the evening or on weekends, and met with many families directly after a loved one had been victimized or murdered. She also accompanied victims and families to preliminary hearings, trials, and sentencings.
Nelson has served on the Homicide Review Unit for Youth at the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office, the Restorative Justice Coalition for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Philadelphia Suicide Prevention Task Force. She was also a responder for the Keystone Crisis Intervention Team and the Network of Neighbors.Additionally, Nelson has built strong working relationships with other community stakeholders throughout Philadelphia to create safer communities. She has a bachelor’s degree in Business, a master’s degree in Adult Education and Training and a master’s degree in Teacher Leadership. She was born and raised in the Northwest section of Philadelphia where she still resides.
Technology Development Director for Victim Support Services: Keziah Cameron
Before transitioning to the newly-created position of Technology Development Director for Victim Support Services, Keziah Cameron has served victims and witnesses at the DAO for nearly 19 years. She first served as an Outreach Coordinator in 2003, focusing on supporting victims and witnesses in courtrooms at the Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice.During her tenure as Director of the Victim Services Unit, she worked diligently to find gaps in the service system and address them so that victims could receive essential services in a timely manner. She also actively encouraged prosecutors to make extra efforts to include the DAO’s Victim Witness Coordinators from the start of their cases to ensure that the rights of victims were protected.
COVID-19 has proven to be extremely challenging for the Philadelphia criminal justice system. During this time, she and her staff have worked diligently to provide information about health and safety protocols at the Stout Center to victims and witnesses who have expressed reservations about coming to court because of the pandemic.Cameron graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) with a bachelor’s in Political Science in 2002. She has always been motivated by the belief that “I am here because victims matter.”
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is the largest prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania, and one of the largest in the nation. It serves the more than 1.5 million residents of the City and County of Philadelphia, employing 600 lawyers, detectives, and support staff. The District Attorney’s Office is responsible for the prosecution of approximately 40,000 criminal cases annually.