The history, the people and the work that makes NYWLE an organization that matters.

NYWLE was developed by a core group of 14 women representative of the many different areas of law enforcement within New York State who served as our founding Board of Directors. These women all shared a vision to strengthen the Law Enforcement Community through the celebration of diversity, the promotion of education and the development of leaders.

To date, our organization has expanded to almost 400 members, led by our Board of Directors comprised of 21 women from across the state.

Each year, NYWLE hosts an annual training conference which affords women and men in law enforcement the opportunity to enhance their professional and personal lives through a range of relevant training topics. The election of new Board Officers takes place at each conference.

We are looking for both women and men who would like to work together to strengthen public recognition of the unique contributions of women to the profession of law enforcement.


  • Peekskill Police Department (ret.)

    From 1989 to 2000, Cathy Johansen rose through the ranks at the Peekskill Police Department from patrol officer to Lieutenant. During that time, she …

  • NYPD - Retired

    Diana Pizzuti served in the New York City Police Department for 36 years, 26 at the executive level, before her retirement in 2018 as …

    Immediate Past President
  • Gina Cocchiara

    Content forthcoming.

    Membership Secretary
  • NYS Police

    Kimberly Shappy is currently a Zone Sergeant with the New York State Police, assigned to Headquarters – Administration in Albany, NY.  Zone Sergeant Shappy …

    Recording Secretary
  • New York State Police

    Nicole Weston is currently an Investigator with the New York State Police, assigned to the Special Victims Unit and Forensic Investigative Support Services Unit …



Cathy Johanson – City of Peekskill Police Department

Welcome to another year of New York Women in Law Enforcement. I am thrilled to lead our organization into a fantastic 2023. Now more than ever, it is incumbent on us to strive to be our best and show that women have solidified their presence as leaders and future leaders. Women comprise 51% of the population in the State of New York and the United States as a whole (US Census Bureau). We hold top positions in our state and the national government and run Fortune 500 companies and other countries worldwide. A woman is even the top cop in New York City, yet only 12 percent of law enforcement officers across our state and the nation, on average, are female. Only 3 percent hold positions of leadership (30 x 30 Initiative). There are still departments with no female officers or maybe one, and make no mistake, this undermines our ability to overcome past preconceptions about women in formerly male-dominated professions.

I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking that being the “first female” is starting to sound outmoded & stale. Being looked upon in wonder and amazement sometimes creates barriers to being looked at for our qualifications. Additionally, though less common in larger departments, there are plenty of instances where women are overlooked for promotions or preferred positions because there is already a woman in place. Women find they compete against each other rather than for the post. Additionally, as women, we historically encompass the role of caregiver and are in charge of the family dynamic. Those in power seem loathe to accommodate us in this changing landscape which only places further obstacles and limitations on us in our careers.

Our mission is to strengthen the role of women in law enforcement by giving you, our members, the tools you need to break down the barriers that impede progress in your careers and lives. We strive to bring about quality training to increase your qualifications on the job and wellness seminars to help you push past the hurdles placed in front of you.

Coming out of the pandemic quarantine allowed us to reset and re-evaluate. Our 2022 conference was our largest yet, and we predict our 2023 conference in Suffern (Rockland County) will be even that much better. But we are only as good as our members allow us to be. Stay involved, stay in touch, and stay with us. Let’s have a great year!


Leigh Bishop
Queens County District Attorney’s Office – formerly

Deborah Campbell
New York State Police – retired

Susan Deshensky
Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police – retired

Anne Fitzsimmons
White Plains Police Department – retired

Mary Hansen
New Castle Police Department – retired

Joanne Jaffe
New York City Police Department – retired

Meredith Kaiser
Glenville Police Department

Nzingha Kellman
Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police

Arianna Komninos

Barbara Lark
Buffalo Police Department – retired

Margaret Ryan
Dryden Police Department – retired

Arlene Sabo
SUNY Police – retired
Vassar College Security

Rebecca Thompson
Syracuse Police Department – retired

Melanie Carden
Legal Advisor

Darcy Wells
Public Relations / Communications Advisor


We would not be able to reach our fundraising goals each year if we did not have the support of our sponsors, please support those that support us! Click on logos to visit our sponsors websites. Thank You!


The purpose of the NYWLE Community Service Committee is to explore and organize NYWLE participation in community service projects throughout New York State. As a committee, we will commit to projects which promote a positive relationship between criminal justice and the communities we serve. We will be seeking both long and short term projects for member participation throughout New York State that make use of the special qualities and skills of the members of NYWLE. Whether it is Statewide or regional, focusing our resources, our strength and our sense of responsibility can make a difference. Ideas for projects and service opportunities are welcome.

Send your thoughts and ideas or desire to be on the committee to Diana Pizzuti via nywomeninlawenforcement@gmail.com.

The NYWLE Conference Committee organizes and plans the annual conference for NYWLE. Committee members select the location for the conference and create a comprehensive program of topics and speakers for this two day conference for all members of the organization. The Committee organizes and hosts the welcome reception, the conference banquet and various sponsored events.

If you are interested in participating on the 2020 Conference Committee which will be hosted by the Western Region please reach out to Barbara Lark at nywomeninlawenforcement@gmail.com.

The NYWLE Membership Committee supports the recruitment, retention & promotion of NYWLE. Their goal is to establish a network of professional people to be used as a resource for developing skills, professionalism and effective leadership. Committee members are Regional Directors who work with regional representatives to enhance communication within NYWLE.

The Membership Committee Chair is Joanne Jaffe.

Current Regional Directors are:

Capital Region: Kimberly Shappy and Casey Quinlan
Central Region: Rebecca Thompson
Southern Region: Catherine Johansen
Western Region: Barbara Lark

To contact the Chair or Regional Directors, please use the member directory or email nywomeninlawenforcement@gmail.com.

The goal of the Training/Leadership committee is to promote the personal and professional development of members at all stages of their careers through the sharing of training/educational opportunities, presentation of programs at the annual conference and other venues, and outreach to students in criminal justice-related programs. The committee will also serve as a clearinghouse to field inquiries and make referrals regarding training and leadership issues. We welcome postings regarding training opportunities open to outside agencies, conference info for other organizations of potential interest to our members, and ideas for future NYWLE conference training topics.

Send your thoughts and ideas or your desire to be on the committee to Kimberly Shappy via the member directory.

The Website and Technology Committee has the responsibility of setting the strategic direction of the website and ensuring that the web presence supports the goals of NYWLE and serves its members. The committee is in need of members that can participate in meetings and assist in making decisions regarding website content and capabilities. The future goals of the committee are: conduct surveys to assure the website meets the needs of members, create content to publish on the site, participate in usability testing, assist in managing publishing and timeliness of published materials, and providing input to budgetary needs of the website.

If you are interested in participating on this committee please contact nywomeninlawenforcement@gmail.com.

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