Vera Names Guardianship Project Director

NEW YORK, NY – The Vera Institute of Justice has named Jacqueline Baillargeon director of The Guardianship Project. During a more-than-25-year career, Baillargeon has represented indigent juvenile and criminal defendants as a public defender, fought for the rights of the homeless and institutionalized persons, and worked to eliminate the death penalty, reform the juvenile and criminal indigent justice systems, and eliminate racial profiling.

Launched in 2005, The Guardianship Project is a Vera demonstration project that provides an essential service in New York City to elderly individuals and people with disabilities who are unable to protect and care for themselves, regardless of their ability to pay. Project staff include lawyers, social workers, and finance professionals who perform and oversee an array of services—from litigation to health care, home care, and money management—and help clients to remain independent and engaged in their communities.

As director, Baillargeon is responsible for strengthening and expanding Guardianship’s operations, infrastructure, and funding, and leading a staff of 17 as they manage a demanding caseload of clients with complex—often urgent—needs and unique challenges. Baillargeon will also work closely with Vera’s leadership team to create a strategic plan to guide the project’s path towards becoming an independent nonprofit and to further develop the project’s presence in the policy sphere.

“Jackie brings leadership and passion to a project that delivers essential services to some of our most vulnerable citizens with great compassion and care,” Vera President Nicholas Turner said. “Beyond its work in New York City, Guardianship has become a leading voice in a national effort to re-envision and strengthen guardianship policy, and I am confident that Jackie will add to this work and become a valuable asset to Vera and the people Guardianship serves.
“The Guardianship Project is many things to its clients: a lifeline, an advocate, a protector, and a friend,” said John Savarese, chair of Vera’s Board of Trustees. “Such a project needs a strong leader to guarantee that the men and women who rely so heavily on its services are treated with the utmost care and respect. For more than two decades, Jackie has fought for some of our society’s most vulnerable members, and I believe she brings the experience, compassion, and commitment to ensure that the Guardianship team continues to provide great service and be a model for others to follow.”
"I am thrilled to be joining Vera as the director of The Guardianship Project, which will allow me to draw on my experience as a long-time civil and criminal justice practitioner,” Baillargeon said. “I believe The Guardianship Project is an important way to further Vera's commitment to justice for all—especially the elderly and those with disabilities. I am honored to have been chosen to help realize that commitment." 

Prior to joining Vera, Baillargeon was the director of the Open Society Foundations’ Gideon Project, which seeks to safeguard the right to counsel and promote the fair administration of justice. She previously served as a senior trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, as a staff attorney both at the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless and the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, and taught as adjunct faculty at American University’s Washington College of Law and Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law.

Baillargeon earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a law degree from Harvard Law School. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and three children.

Baillargeon succeeds Laura Negron, who recently took a senior position within New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Office of Operations.