Sanctuary for Families names Judge Judy Kluger as new Executive Director


Judy is currently the Chief of Policy and Planning for New York State’s Unified Court System appointed by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman. She has a depth of expertise in the areas of domestic violence and sex trafficking, and a strong commitment to social justice. Judy will assume her responsibilities on January 1, 2014, succeeding Laurel W. Eisner, who has led the organization for 11 years.

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Thursday, November 7, 2013
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Sanctuary for Families Names Judge Judy Harris Kluger as New Executive Director

New York, NY – Today the Board of Directors of Sanctuary for Families announced the appointment of Judge Judy Harris Kluger as Sanctuary’s new Executive Director. Judge Kluger, currently the Chief of Policy and Planning for New York State’s Unified Court System appointed by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, will assume her role effective January 1, 2014.  Judge Kluger will succeed Laurel W. Eisner, who has led the organization for 11 years.

“I am honored to be selected as Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families,” said Judge Kluger. “Leading this outstanding organization committed to assisting and empowering survivors of domestic violence and sex trafficking is the culmination of my life's work. Having addressed these issues throughout my career as both a prosecutor and a judge, I will now have the opportunity to devote my energy exclusively to survivors and their families. I have long admired Sanctuary's groundbreaking accomplishments and look forward to working with its dedicated board and talented staff.  Together, we will build on the great achievements of the past and work together towards our shared goal – a future free of gender violence.”

"Judy brings a proven track record of leadership, a multi-disciplinary approach to problem-solving, and expertise in the areas of domestic violence and sex trafficking," said Sanctuary for Families Board President Bill Gorin. "Her deep commitment to social justice, combined with her warmth and compassion for our clients, are exactly the qualities we need as Sanctuary moves into this next chapter. We are also enormously grateful to Laurel Eisner for her leadership. During her tenure, Sanctuary has become a leading voice in the movement to end gender violence, and expanded our comprehensive approach to serving the needs of our clients."

Judge Kluger’s record of successful innovation through the court system has led to systemic reforms in the areas of domestic violence, criminal justice, mental health and substance abuse. Most recently, Judge Kluger oversaw the implementation of New York’s new Human Trafficking Intervention Courts, a groundbreaking initiative to bring compassion and justice to victims caught up in the commercial sex trade. Sanctuary for Families worked closely with Judge Kluger and Judge Lippman in the design of these new courts. 

“Judy Harris Kluger is an outstanding leader who over the course of her illustrious career has worked tirelessly to bring about significant reforms to improve the court system for thousands of litigants. It has been an immense pleasure to work with her. Sanctuary for Families is fortunate to benefit from her stellar record of innovation and leadership. I wish her enormous continued success,” said New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.

As Chief of Policy and Planning for NYS’ Unified Court System, Judy Kluger has been responsible for working with judges throughout the state to study and develop policies and strategies to improve the delivery of justice in New York.  In that capacity, she oversaw 300 problem-solving courts, including integrated domestic violence courts, drug courts, mental health courts, and other community courts.

From 2003-2009, Judge Kluger served as New York State’s Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Court Operations and Planning, where she oversaw the statewide implementation of Integrated Domestic Violence Courts. This sweeping programmatic reform built on the “one family/one judge” model for domestic violence cases, allowing families affected by domestic violence to see one judge to resolve all criminal, family and matrimonial matters.

Prior to her appointment as Deputy Chief Administrative Judge, Judge Kluger was the Administrative Judge of the New York City Criminal Court from 1996 to 2003. In that capacity, she oversaw all aspects of court operations at seven locations in the five boroughs of New York City.  Judge Kluger developed specialized approaches for domestic violence and drug cases and brought a problem-solving and innovative approach to court operations and administration.

After graduating from New York University and St. John’s University Law School, Judge Kluger began her career as an assistant district attorney in Kings County, where she served as the Bureau Chief of the Sex Crimes and Domestic Violence Bureau and later as Chief of the Criminal Court Bureau. In 1988, she was appointed to the New York City Criminal Court. She was a key member of the development team at the Midtown Community Court where she presided from 1993 through 1996. The project received national acclaim for its innovative handling of quality of life crimes and began an era of development of problem-solving courts throughout the country.

Judge Kluger is an active member of numerous professional associations, committees and advisory boards and is a frequent speaker and panelist. She has received numerous awards and honors, including the New York State Bar Association Excellence in Public Service Award, presented by the New York State Bar Association in 2013. Other awards include the Outstanding Leadership in Breaking the Cycle of Domestic Violence, presented by New York City Mayor Giuliani in 1999; the In the Trenches Award, presented by the Lawyers Committee Against Domestic Violence in 2004; and the Abely Award for Leading Women and Children to Safety, presented by Sanctuary for Families in 2004.  

Phillips Oppenheim conducted Sanctuary for Families’ executive search.

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About Sanctuary for Families
Sanctuary for Families is the leading nonprofit agency in New York State dedicated exclusively to the safety, healing and self-determination of victims of domestic violence and related forms of gender violence.  Through comprehensive services for adult victims and their children, outreach, education and advocacy, Sanctuary strives to create a world in which freedom from gender violence is a basic human right.