Antiguan-born Lynelle Maginley-Liddie serves as NYCDOC First Dep. Commish

Lynelle Maginley-Liddie, first deputy commissioner with the New York City Department of Correction.
Lynelle Maginley-Liddie, first deputy commissioner with the New York City Department of Correction.
Photo by Keston Duke

Antiguan-born Lynelle Maginley-Liddie was appointed first deputy commissioner with the New York City Department of Correction (NYCDOC) in January 2021, serving as a key member of the department’s senior leadership team.

In this capacity, Maginley-Liddie advises on matters related to departmental operations, policy improvements, new initiatives and legal issues, while simultaneously supporting staff, uniformed and non-uniformed, at all levels of the department.

“The Department of Correction is an agency that has a rich history of promoting women, particularly women of color, to leadership positions,” Maginley-Liddie, who lives in New York City, told Caribbean Life. “Forty-three percent of women in this agency are correction officers and 57 percent of leadership positions are filled by women.

“As a woman of color, I recognize the significance of this role-not only for me but more important for the staff who work at this agency,” she added. “My representation covers a broad spectrum across our workforce.

“My hope is that, when others see me in my role, they learn from my journey to get here,” Maginley-Liddie continued. “I want them to envision themselves in leadership roles and know that they can attain any position of power within the agency to effect real change.

“I am honored to have this responsibility bestowed upon me, and I take it very seriously,” she said. “Every day, I value that I have the opportunity to impact the lives of those who work at the department, as well as the individuals in custody who we serve.”

Maginley-Liddie has served the city of New York since 2015, when she first joined the department, first, as an agency attorney in the Legal Division, and, subsequently as deputy general counsel in 2018, where she led the department’s General Litigation Unit. There, she provided strategic guidance on complex legal matters, focusing on the impact on the department and its members.

In August 2020, she was promoted to acting senior deputy commissioner and chief diversity officer – a role where she was able to have an even bigger impact on the department’s path to reform – becoming only the third woman to assume the role of first deputy commissioner in the department’s 128th year history.

Prior to joining NYCDOC, Maginley-Liddie was an associate at the law firm of Leader Berkon Colao & Silverstein LLP.  She received her juris doctor from Fordham University School of Law, while raising a young family. She began law school while her daughter was only four months old.

She is licensed to practice in New York and New Jersey, and is admitted to the Eastern and Southern District Courts of New York, as well as the United States District Court of New Jersey.

Maginley-Liddie graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in government from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Born on the 108-square-mile island of Antigua and a child of a pastor, Maginley-Liddie attributed her accomplishments and noted career to her faith in God and the support of her family.

But she credited her professionalism to “the ethos” of her life: That is, to “always be cognizant of the importance of being impartial, fair, empathetic and humble.”

In view of her diverse background — Caribbean upbringing in a Christian household, strong family ties and the experiences of living in “the melting pot that is the gorgeous mosaic of New York City” – Maginley-Liddie said she “always aims to abide by a healthy moral compass.”

She said she appreciated the lessons her parents taught her: “To be impartial, be just, and approach life (and work) with a sense of compassion.”

In this regard, Maginley-Liddie said she strives to be “open-minded and reasonable within the limits and spirit of the law” when considering the impact of her decisions for NYCDOC.

She said she has supported the department’s mission of “maintaining a safer and more humane environment for all staff and people in custody.”

Maginley-Liddie said she “supports and helps lead this department with a primary focus on investing in staff professional growth and well-being, and understanding the agency’s success will be guided by our diverse and dedicated workforce.”

At the height of the pandemic, she said she “quickly stood up and led the agency’s critical COVID-19 testing and vaccination operation for staff.”

In addition, Maginley-Liddie said she has arranged for health and wellness trucks to be stationed on Rikers Island, “so staff can access preventative health screenings, as they perform one of the most challenging yet rewarding jobs in law enforcement.”

She said she is “deeply committed to public service and supporting the department, as it continues to undergo historical changes.”

Maginley-Liddie said her dedication to public service motivates her to “work tirelessly to support staff and those entrusted in the department’s care – all while fighting to push forward the mission of criminal justice reform.”

She is happily married to her husband for almost 18 years and has two kids.