Wayne S. McKenzie

Wayne S. McKenzie is an Executive Assistant District Attorney and Chief of the Pathways to Public Safety Division in the New York County District Attorney’s Office (Manhattan, NY). The Division is dedicated to improving public safety by identifying, as early as possible, individuals accused of crime, including violent felonies, who would benefit from diversion or alternatives to incarceration and supportive programming, while closely monitoring their progress throughout-ensuring accountability instead of a revolving door; and without jeopardizing community safety. Mr. McKenzie oversees prosecutors and professional staff engaged in specialized court parts including the Felony and Misdemeanor ATI, Drug, Mental Health, Emerging Adult and Veterans Treatment Court Parts; pre-arraignment diversion; restorative practices; reentry and the Reentry Task Force.  The Division is also involved in gun violence prevention efforts in collaboration with community partners.

Prior to joining the District Attorney’s Office, he served as General Counsel for the NYC Department of Probation (DOP) where he was the primary advisor to the Commissioner on all legal, legislative and compliance matters; oversaw DOP’s legal department, Legislative & Governmental Affairs, Office of the Advocate and the Intelligence Division. From April 2005 to March 2011, Mr. McKenzie was the founding Director of the Prosecution & Racial Justice Program at the Vera Institute of Justice. The program, the first of its kind and national in scope, has partnered with district attorneys around the nation to pilot internal assessment and management protocols that assist management to identify evidence of unwarranted racial or ethnic bias in their staff’s aggregate decision making; and develop corrective and preventative remedies. Before joining Vera, Mr. McKenzie was a Deputy Bureau Chief in the Kings County District Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, NY where he prosecuted high profile cases in several specialized bureaus, including Domestic Violence, Rackets & Gangs, Major Narcotics Investigations and Crimes against Children Bureaus. He is viewed as an expert in prosecutorial discretion, implicit bias and racial justice matters and has been a presenter and panelist at numerous legal and other professional national and international conferences, and before Congressional committees and state commissions.

Mr. McKenzie is a past Chair of the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section. He is currently a member of the Section’s Council and the representative to the ABA House of Delegates. Additionally, he is a past commissioner on the ABA Center for Racial & Ethnic Diversity, the Council on Racial & Ethnic Justice, and the Standing Committee on Gun Violence. Wayne was also an advisor to the CJS Racial Justice Improvement Projects geared towards improving the fair delivery of justice in the courts and legal community. As a key participant in the development of the cultural competency and Implicit Bias curriculum designed for criminal justice practitioners, he also conducts implicit bias presentations and training to justice professionals. He is a Past Chair of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association in NYC and a recipient of MBBA’s Public Servant of the Year Award. Additionally, he is a Past President of the National Black Prosecutors Association and a recipient of the Association’s Presidential Award of Excellence. Other recognitions include the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives’ Lloyd Sealy Award for Service in the Area of Criminal Justice, the FEDCAP Community Impact Award, Caribbean Life Magazine’s Community Impact Award and the Caribbean American Center of New York’s Role Model of Distinction Award.

Mr. McKenzie is an active participant in community outreach and mentoring programs and has a special interest in efforts and advocacy that focus on diversity in the legal profession, youth, racial and ethnic justice and combatting the collateral consequences of criminal convictions. He also serves on several not-for-profit boards.  His media involvement includes appearances as a legal analyst on Court TV and Fox TV cable news and as a featured prosecutor in an A&E TV series on the Criminal Justice System.

He received his Juris Doctorate degree from the George Washington University School of Law, Washington, D.C. where he served as chairperson of the Black Law Students Association; was a member of the Moot Court Board; and a member of the Admissions Diversity Recruitment Committee. He is a graduate of the City College of New York where he earned a B.S. in Biology and majored in Microbiology in the M.S. program.