Office of Advocacy and Reform

Our Mission
Our Vision
Our Values
About Us
Meet the OAR Team
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Our Mission

To advocate for all vulnerable people in our Commonwealth across all state government agencies, convenings, and communities to continuously reform our policies and procedures to achieve excellence in our outcomes and theirs.

Our Vision

Pennsylvania as a national model of equity, inclusion, and justice for, and in the wellbeing of, vulnerable people.

Our Values

  • Equity
  • Inclusion
  • Justice
  • Data/Science
  • Innovation
  • Communication
  • Accountability
  • Bravery

About Us

In July of 2019, Governor Wolf signed an executive order to create the Office of Advocacy and Reform (OAR) to better protect and serve vulnerable Pennsylvanians. The Office consists of an Executive and Deputy Director, a Child Advocate, Policy Specialist, Long-Term Care Ombudsman, and three-person Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Team.

OAR works on behalf of vulnerable Pennsylvanians both internally across state agencies and externally in our communities. Using principles of Trauma-Informed Practices and Public Health Strategy, OAR seeks to reduce trauma to vulnerable populations through a focus on prevention whenever possible. That requires identifying and eliminating core causes of a problem, and not just indefinitely treating its symptoms.

View the Trauma-Informed PA: A Plan to Make Pennsylvania a Trauma-Informed, Healing-Centered State, which is guiding the commonwealth and service providers statewide on what it means to be trauma-informed and healing-centered in Pennsylvania.

Meet the OAR Team

Pennsylvania OAR Team

Dan Jurman, DMin.

Dan Jurman, DMin. is a passionate servant-leader with decades of experience leading, innovating, and fundraising for non-profits that serve vulnerable populations, particularly people living in poverty. He brings his knowledge as a specialist in the areas of cross-discipline collaboration, innovation, and culture change to the Commonwealth as Executive Director of the Office of Advocacy and Reform. Dan focuses on both measurable outcomes and excellence in every role.

Victor Cabral, MSW, LSW, CCTP-I

Victor Cabral, MSW, LSW, CCTP-I is a collaborative and strategic leader making an impact on human rights and addressing historical inequalities through his role as Deputy Director for the Office of Advocacy and Reform. He is a bilingual, research-based systems thinker with expertise in organizational management, policy development, advocacy, consulting, racial and communal trauma, and is a practicing psychotherapist with training Internal Family Systems, Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy, and other modalities. Victor started at the Commonwealth in July 2019 as a William Penn Fellow in the Department of Human Services before transitioning to the Office of Advocacy and Reform in August 2020.

Eli Downie

Eli Downie has a background in teaching and local government as a former Township Auditor in northeast Pennsylvania. He graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and Political Science from East Stroudsburg University, as well as an Associate’s Degree focused in sociology/history from Lackawanna College. Before joining the Governor’s Office as Executive Policy Specialist, Eli served the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

Margaret Barajas

Margaret Barajas, Pennsylvania State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, brings over 25 years of experience in program development, constituent advocacy, diversity/inclusion, and aging services to her position. She has served the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania since 2015 and dually reports to the Pennsylvania Department of Aging.

Maryann McEvoy, M.Ed.

Maryann McEvoy, M.Ed. has spent the entirety of her career advocating for vulnerable populations, specifically in the areas of educational access for women and children. Prior to serving as the Child Advocate for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Maryann held leadership roles in various public and private organizations dedicated to protecting the rights of people with disabilities. Her work experience spans boundaries, not just institutional but geographic, including experience in developing countries focused on the protection and empowerment of children in emergency contexts.

Venus L. Ricks, M.Ed.

Venus L. Ricks, M.Ed., is the Commonwealth’s first-ever Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. She is skilled in training and development in the areas of equity, diversity, social justice, leadership, and conflict resolution. She also brings strong skill in program and curriculum development as well as evaluation and assessment through administration positions in higher education, including adjunct professorship and work as a Human Research Technologist.

TaLisa Ramos, MSW, LSW, CCTP-I

TaLisa Ramos, MSW, LSW, CCTP-I was hired in July 2021 to serve as the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Education. She is a licensed social worker specializing in trauma informed care and intergenerational trauma and has experience as a mental health clinician in outpatient, inpatient, and emergency room settings. TaLisa is a skilled DEI professional and workshop facilitator, has lead DEI strategic efforts at two Pennsylvania universities, and also serves as a faculty member at a local college.

Tyra Wallace

Tyra Wallace joined the Commonwealth in 2000 as an Administrative Assistant in the Pennsylvania Senate. She then served as the Director of Constituent Services in the Office of Congressman Scott Perry for eight years. Tyra was hired as Administrative Officer for the Office of Advocacy and Reform in July 2021.

Shannon Zimmerman, M.P.A.

Shannon Zimmerman, M.P.A., is the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Communications. She is a chief communications strategist with professional experience in non-profit, public, and private organizations. Most recently, Shannon was the Director of Communications for the largest K-12 suburban public school district in Lancaster County. Her professional experience involves internal communications, external public relations, and social media strategy with small organizations and large, global franchise brands.

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