Kathleen Allison, CDCR Secretary

cdcr secretary kathleen allison

Kathleen Allison was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom as Secretary for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) on October 1, 2020.

In her over 30 years at CDCR, she has held several leadership roles, including most recently Undersecretary of Operations. Prior to that, she was Director of the Division of Adult Institutions (DAI) from 2016 to 2018; Deputy Director of Facility Support from 2012 to 2016; and Associate Director for the Female Offender Programs and Services from 2011 to 2012. Ms. Allison also served in several positions at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in Corcoran from 2002 to 2011, including Warden; Chief Deputy Administrator; Correctional Administrator; and Correctional Health Services Administrator II. She also held several positions at Avenal State Prison from 1987 to 2002, including Community Resources Manager and Senior Medical Technical Assistant. Ms. Allison began her career as a Medical Technical Assistant at Avenal State Prison in 1987. She is a licensed Registered Nurse.

Ms. Allison has experienced nearly all aspects of corrections in her tenure at CDCR, from health care and custody operations, to fiscal administration, rehabilitative programs, mental health services, and community relationships. Most recently as Undersecretary, she has been critical in the response of CDCR to the COVID-19 pandemic in some of the state’s 35 prisons. Those efforts have included the suspension of intake, visiting and volunteering, the expedited release of eligible inmates, the reduction of the prison population to its lowest level in 30 years, and the response to the outbreak in San Quentin State Prison.

Additionally, Ms. Allison has overseen the evolution of the Department over the past three decades, including the implementation of various criminal justice reforms, such as the voter-approved initiatives Proposition 36, Proposition 47, and Proposition 57. She has also successfully led the development of policies and programs that focus on rehabilitation, restorative justice, and successful reentry, which have made prisons safer for staff and incarcerated people, and has strengthened partnerships with both governmental agencies and community organizations to create a system focused on public safety, personal accountability, and positive change.

Ms. Allison is known to her colleagues as a dedicated, compassionate and knowledgeable leader. She is married, has four children, and has a Tibetan terrier.