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The Government Law Center at Albany Law School is pleased to announce the appointment of Melody Harkness as program manager of the City of Albany Community Police Review Board (CPRB).
The CPRB is an independent civilian body established to oversee investigations of alleged police misconduct and work with the community to improve policing in Albany.
In this position, Harkness will take the lead role in providing substantial services to assist the CPRB in fulfilling its mission, including managing the CPRB's work, processing complaints, overseeing students’ research, and participating in community outreach and education.
“I am humbled to be selected to be involved in a very important position of shaping police reform in the City of Albany. I live, work, run a business, and play in this city and find it of the utmost importance to get involved with offering solutions to mend the relationship between the community and law enforcement, in general. I look forward to working at the Government Law Center for the CPRB,” Harkness said.
“We’re delighted to welcome Melody Harkness as we continue our more than 20-year relationship with the Government Law Center. Her experience, knowledge, and commitment will benefit the CPRB and our community during these difficult times,” said Ivy Morris, chair of the CPRB.
“I am certain that Melody Harkness is the right person to manage the CPRB at this moment in time. Her proven ability to effectively collaborate, communicate, and motivate coupled with her diverse experiences advising groups and resolving challenges will be immensely useful in her new role. I’m looking forward to working with her on these important challenges,” said Ava Ayers, director of the Government Law Center.
Harkness is president and expert consultant at Harkness Consulting Solutions, LLC, a business consulting company specializing in strategic planning and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives for groups worldwide.
She previously served as private attorney involvement coordinator for the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York (LASNNY), spearheading the Closing the Gap project, a nationally recognized, remote pro bono program. Under her leadership, pro bono assistance tripled services provided in LASNNY’s rural and isolated communities on housing and consumer issues and is modeled by programs in New York City, Ohio, Virginia, and California. The program now serves around 200 unrepresented litigants annually with participation from attorneys in areas as far as: New Zealand, St. Kitts, and the Netherlands. Additionally, she restructured and expanded the firm’s Attorney for the Day tenant defense pro bono program in the City of Albany to city courts in Glens Falls, Ogdensburg, Troy, and Plattsburgh, currently being funded by the Attorney General’s Tenant Legal Assistance Program. Before joining LASNNY, Harkness coordinated Legal Aid of North Carolina’s statewide Lawyer on the Line program.
Harkness earned a Master of Legal Studies degree from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis and a bachelor’s degree in Africana Studies with a community development concentration from North Carolina State University.
In 2018, she was recognized with the Capital District Women’s Bar Association Exemplary Community Service Award, which recognizes a distinguished individual’s service to the greater Capital District community, promotes the advancement of women who are involved in or affected by the legal system, and provides other sustained acts of public service and community education.