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Woodward leaves CDR to "serve all marginalized people"

Sep 16, 2019

Credit Quantum Rehab

A well-known local advocate for people with disabilities is making a career move.

Stephanie Woodward has left her position as director of advocacy at the Center for Disability Rights.

Woodward says she has always worked to help marginalized communities and will continue to do so in her new role as a victims of crime attorney at Empire Justice Center.

"I think a lot of people don't realize that when you're a victim of crime, even if the perpetrator is caught and brought to justice, the prosecutor is not an attorney for the victim," she said. "The prosecutor works for the government, right? So the victim doesn't have anyone by their side."

Woodward speaks from experience. Her father was murdered when she was 16 years old. She says it threw the life of her family into shambles. They had to leave their home and move into a trailer park because they didn't know how to negotiate with their mortgage provider.  Because the trailer was a few towns away from their original house, Woodward was faced with changing school districts.

She wishes there had been someone helping her family then, the way she thinks she can help crime victims now.

"It could be that you were a victim of a sexual assault in your home and now you're afraid to go home," Woodward gave as an example. "How do you get out of a lease so that you can move to a safer neighborhood?"

In her previous role at the Center for Disability Rights, Woodward was a vocal advocate for change at both the national and local level.

She fought for Medicaid payments for in-home health care, and improved snow clearing efforts, more accessible housing, and closed captioning in the city of Rochester.

Woodward starts in her new position in October.