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Contact: Janine Kava, Press Office
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services/Commission of Correction
(518) 457-8906 or (518) 275-5508
For immediate release: Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008

Manhattan psychiatrist is newest member of the state Commission of Correction
Dr. Phyllis Harrison-Ross also will chair the commission’s Medical Review Board

Dr. Phyllis Harrison-Ross, a Manhattan psychiatrist, pediatrician and educator with more than 40 years of experience in private practice and community mental health administration, has been named to the New York State Commission of Correction, which oversees the operation and management of local and state correctional facilities and secure residential treatment centers operated by the Office of Children and Family Services.

Appointed by Governor David A. Paterson and confirmed by the state Senate, Dr. Harrison-Ross is one of three members of the commission; her five-year term begins tomorrow (Jan. 1, 2009).

Dr. Harrison-Ross also will serve as chairwoman of the commission’s seven-member Medical Review Board, which is responsible for determining the cause and circumstances of all deaths in custody, whether they occur in a police lock-up, county jail or state prison. The Medical Review Board also makes recommendations for improvements designed to prevent future in-custody deaths. She has been a member of the Medical Review Board since 1976.

“Dr. Harrison-Ross’ extensive experience as a member of the Medical Review Board, coupled with her expertise in community mental health, makes her a perfect fit for the Commission,” Governor Paterson said. “She is intimately familiar with the myriad of challenges that local and state correctional facilities face in providing for the physical and mental health of individuals in their care and custody. Her insights and opinions about the ways in which we can improve the quality of care in our jails and prisons will be invaluable.”

Dr. Harrison-Ross has been a practicing psychiatrist and pediatrician, treating both children and adults, since 1966. In addition to her private practice, she serves as president of All Healers Mental Health Alliance; trustee of the New York Society for Ethical Culture and chairwoman of the organization’s Social Services Board; founder and managing partner of Black Psychiatrists of Greater New York and Associates; and emeritus attending and chief of psychiatry at Metropolitan Hospital Center in New York City.

She also has served as director and chief of service of the Department of Psychiatry and Community Mental Health Center, associate medical director, and president of the medical board, all at Metropolitan Hospital Center; psychiatric director of the nursery school/children’s evaluation and rehabilitation clinic at the Rose F. Kennedy Center for Mental Retardation and Human Development in the Bronx; and school psychiatrist with the New York City Bureau of Child Guidance.

Dr. Harrison-Ross has a long and distinguished record of community service and advocacy, including serving on the board of directors of the Northside Center for Child Development, and the Medical and Health Research Association of New York, now known as Public Health Solutions. She has more than 40 years of experience as an educator, teaching both pediatrics and psychiatry throughout New York City, including Cornell Medical College, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Columbia University School of Social Work and New York Medical College.

She also has been honored by a variety of professional and civic organizations, including receiving the American Psychiatric Association’s Solomon Carter Fuller Award; the National Medical Association’s Distinguished Senior Clinical Scholar/E.Y. Williams M.D. Award; the Black Psychiatrists of America Award for advocacy in the cause of African-American Families/Children; and the Public Service Award from the state’s Division of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (now the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services).

Dr. Harrison-Ross has numerous professional memberships, including serving as a distinguished life fellow with the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law, and the New York Academy of Medicine. She also is a member and past president of Black Psychiatrists of America and a member of American Association of University Women and the American Association of Mental Health Administrators.

The recipient of a bachelor’s degree from Albion College in Michigan, she earned her medical degree at Wayne State University College of Medicine in Detroit. She served her residency in pediatrics at Cornell Medical College/New York Hospital, and her fellowship in child psychiatry and residency in adult psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Bronx Municipal Hospital.

Dr. Harrison-Ross replaces Frances T. Sullivan, who had served as commissioner since 2004. Her annual salary is $90,800.