A very classy move by our friends at NYAPRS to recognize the great work
and enduring legacy of Jeff Wise, the late Director of the Justice Center
and a true advocate for all New Yorkers with disabilities.

Late Aide To Gov. Cuomo Honored For Advocacy Work

By Kyle Hughes NYSNYS News February 23, 2016

Jeffrey Wise, a senior aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo who had a long career in
public service before his untimely death in January, was honored by
advocates Tuesday for his work on behalf of disabled, mentally ill and
homeless people.

Glenn Liebman, CEO of the Mental Health Association in New York State, said
Wise “was an incredibly decent caring person who just had enormous heart
and an enormous amount of compassion … He was a tremendous advocate for
people with disabilities, for people who were impoverished, everybody. Jeff
had a huge heart and he used his great intellect and his great passion and
his networking, frankly, to create great things for people.”

Wise, 62, of Saratoga Springs, died Jan. 17 from cardiac illness. He was
honored Tuesday during the 19th annual Legislative Day of NYAPRS, the New
York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, a lobbying group.

At the time of his death, Wise was the Executive Director of the state
Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, an agency
that investigates reports of abuse involving developmentally disabled
people. Cuomo appointed Wise to the job when the agency was created in
2013. Before that, Wise spent years working on other human services
projects, including the Mental Health Parity Act of 2006, also known as
Timothy’s Law.

The law is named for Timothy O’Clair, a 12 year old Schenectady boy who
committed suicide in 2001. He had been mentally ill for years and had
exhausted the limits of his family’s insurance coverage.

Tuesday, Timothy’s father Tom O’Clair credited Wise for being “largely
responsible for drafting the bill that became Timothy’s Law.”

O’Clair said Wise “was very level headed, even tempered. On many occasions
when you are lobbying (and) you are trying to effect change in New York
state, things get frustrating — you get very frustrated and sometimes it’s
not always easiest to keep your cool, but Jeff was one of those few people
who could always keep his cool. He never showed his frustration. I wore
mine on my sleeve but he could help me pull in and focus.”

Wise was a lawyer and began his career as a newspaper reporter in Glens
Falls, later working at the Daily Gazette before and while attending law

NYAPRS presented Wise’s daughter, Rebecca Wise Melli of Fort Edward, his
partner Shelly Nortz, and other family members with Lifetime Achievement
Awards honoring Wise.

“Hopefully this gives some comfort to all of us who knew Jeff, but we also
want to give some comfort to the people he loved and who loved him,” said
NYAPRS executive director Harvey Rosenthal in presenting the awards.


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