NCIP Appoints New Executive DirectorDavid Onek Named Executive Director of Northern California Innocence Project SANTA CLARA, Calif., May 6, 2013 - The Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP) at Santa Clara University School of Law announced that it has appointed long-time criminal justice reformer David Onek as Executive Director. Onek replaces NCIP founding Executive Director Kathleen "Cookie" Ridolfi, who will continue her role as a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law.
"We are delighted to welcome David to the law school community. We look forward to his leadership of NCIP, which is one of Santa Clara Law's outstanding clinical education programs." said Santa Clara Law Dean Donald Polden.
NCIP Advisory Board Chairman Emeritus Frank Quattrone added, "I am thrilled that David was appointed and am extremely confident in his ability to lead the great work of NCIP and help take it to the next level."
"I am extremely excited to lead NCIP as we work to exonerate the innocent and partner with law enforcement to change policies and practices that lead to wrongful convictions," said Onek.
Onek served as a Commissioner on the San Francisco Police Commission, where he set policy for the Police Department and oversaw the police discipline process. Prior to that, Onek worked as Deputy Director of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's Office of Criminal Justice, where he led numerous criminal justice policy initiatives for the Mayor. Onek was a candidate for San Francisco District Attorney in 2011, running on a strong criminal justice reform platform and finishing second to the incumbent.
Onek was also the Founding Executive Director of the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice at UC Berkeley Law School (now part of the Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy), where he brought law enforcement and community together to build partnerships in support of innovative, research-based policy reforms. He created and hosted the Criminal Justice Conversations Podcast, a co-production of the UC Berkeley Law School and the UC Berkeley School of Journalism, which features in-depth, thirty-minute interviews with a wide range of criminal justice leaders. Onek taught “Criminal Justice Reform in California” as a Lecturer at UC Berkeley Law School and as an Adjunct Professor at UC Hastings Law School.
Earlier in his career, Onek worked at the W. Haywood Burns Institute for Juvenile Justice Fairness and Equity, Legal Services for Children, the National Council in Crime and Delinquency, and Walden House. He is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Brown University.
Onek will lead NCIP's policy efforts on issues such as reforming eyewitness identification procedures that can lead to wrongful convictions and improving the compensation process for those exonerated.
California State Senator Mark Leno said, "I have worked with and admired both David and NCIP for many years. They are a dynamic match and I look forward to partnering with David on criminal justice reform measures in the legislature."
Onek's appointment to NCIP was welcomed by those in both the innocence and law enforcement communities.
Barry Scheck, Co-Director of the Innocence Project in New York and Professor of Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law said, "Having someone of David's stature and background join the innocence movement is a boon to all of us working to end wrongful convictions."
Bernard Melekian, former Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) under President Obama and former President of the California Police Chiefs Association said, "David is widely respected in law enforcement circles both in California and nationally. He is an ideal choice to build collaboration between the law enforcement and advocacy communities."