New Commission Begins Its Work 6.30.2016

CONTACT: Christine Palm, Public Information Officer at 860/240-8449; or 860/836-2145 


HARTFORD – On July 1, the newly formed Commission on Women, Children and Seniors (CWCS) begins operation, with Steven Hernández as executive director.

The CWCS was formed under P.A. 16-3, which last legislative session consolidated six legislative commissions into two. The CWCS will operate with an expanded mandate that includes key elements of those of the former Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW), the Commission on Children (COC) and the Commission on Aging (COA). Its budget is $700,000, which includes operating expenses. The CWCS will be advised by a 63-member board whose membership will initially include commissioners with unexpired terms from the three previously existing commissions.

Hernández, who previously served as Director of Public Policy and Research for COC, has a law degree from the Washington College of Law at American University. Prior to serving the State of Connecticut, Hernández served seven years as legislative and budget director in the office of Washington, D.C., Councilmember Jim Graham. He served as a clerk to two judges in the District’s Court of Appeals and as a consultant to the Washington law firm Baker & Miller, PLLC. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bennington College in Vermont in 1995 and his law degree in 2001.

Staff, who served in the previous commissions, are: Christianne Kovel, Senior Policy Analyst – Aging; Joan Barere, Senior Policy Analyst – Children; Christine Palm, Public Information Officer; Rosemary Lopez, Senior Resource Coordinator; Michelle Noehren, Senior Special Projects Coordinator and Digital Media Specialist; and Heather Petit, Senior Special Projects Coordinator. (A search is currently underway for a policy analyst to handle policy work for issues concerning women.)

“As staff to the legislature, I am keenly aware of the profound opportunity we have to research and promote cutting edge policies on behalf of the state’s women, children and seniors,” said Hernández. “While the needs and aims of these populations may be unique, the shared goals of dignity, access and opportunity will guide our work and will resonate with every resident of the state.”

The mission statement, with stated priorities, of the Commission on Women, Children and Seniors, which will guide its legislative work, is:

Mission Statement and Priorities

The Commission on Women, Children and Seniors (CWCS) is a non-partisan arm of the Connecticut General Assembly. As staff to the legislature, the CWCS researches best practices, coordinates stakeholders, and promotes public policies that are in the best interest of Connecticut’s underserved and underrepresented women, children and older adults.

The agency recognizes that the experiences and needs of each population, while interconnected, are unique and may require individual public policy action. Therefore, the commission’s legislative priority areas are meant to:

For Women:

·     Enhance women’s economic security through leadership development and such family-friendly workplace policies as  paid family leave and pay equity;

·     Ensure wellness throughout the lifespan, including access to the full range of reproductive healthcare; and

·     Eliminate gender-based discrimination in the workplace and in government.

For Children:

·     Empower families and community leaders to be change agents on behalf of children;

·     Remove the economic and academic obstacles that prevent children and their families from reaching their full potential; and

·     Promote the physical, social and emotional wellbeing of children.

For Seniors:

·     Promote economic security, choice and independence for older adults in both work and retirement;

·     Support livable and accessible communities where older adults can retain their dignity and age in place; and

·     Enhance the safety and wellbeing of seniors by preventing physical abuse and financial exploitation.