Gov. Kathy Hochul has appointed a veteran of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Violence Prevention Program to head the state’s new Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.
Calliana Thomas was appointed the head of the New York State Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in January, coinciding with Hochul’s new agenda of curbing gun violence in New York state, announced during the State of the State Address.
Under Thomas, the Office of Gun Violence Prevention will collaborate with community organizations and law enforcement agencies to identify solutions for the issue of gun violence across the state.
The Office of Gun Violence Prevention will be working with the Department of Health’s Center for Community Health in collaboration with the Division of Criminal Justice Services to direct resources towards gun violence hot spots in the state.
“Taking strong action against gun violence requires a multi-faceted approach,” Hochul said. “Calliana Thomas is a dedicated public servant who will be a critical asset to our efforts to fight this public health crisis, combat gun violence, and keep New Yorkers safe.”
Thomas earned a B.S. in psychology from Georgia State University and completed a post-baccalaureate program in premedical sciences at Columbia University. She has worked with the New York City government and the Harlem Children’s Zone on similar issues in a variety of roles.
Thomas began her career in service at Harlem’s Minisink Townhouse, a wing of the New York City Mission Society.
She later became a project coordinator on their Arches program in 2014. In conjunction with the New York City Department of Probation, the program aimed to reduce violence among teens and young adults through youth mentorship by former gang members. Thomas also managed youth development and restorative justice programs.
Following her work with the Mission Society, Thomas worked with the New York Department of Mental Health and Hygiene for seven years. Initially she started as a technical assistant working closely with the CUNY Research Foundation before becoming a project manager on an initiative to create a city-wide anti-violence campaign.
The campaign aimed to expose the true causes of violence while also changing public attitudes in regard to violence. This included an expansion of violence prevention work from 6 to 22 Cure Violence, an organization that works to prevent conflict, to sites around New York City.
“Taking strong action against gun violence requires a multi-faceted approach,” Hochul said of the new task force. “Calliana Thomas is a dedicated public servant who will be a critical asset to our efforts to fight this public health crisis, combat gun violence, and keep New Yorkers safe.”
Thomas’s appointment comes in the wake of the death of two police officers as a result of gun violence in Harlem last month.