Today, NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Commissioner David A. Hansell announced the retirement of First Deputy Commissioner Eric Brettschneider, a long-serving and highly respected child welfare leader in New York City, and the appointment of Winette Saunders as First Deputy Commissioner following Brettschneider’s departure on April 06, 2021.
Brettschneider began his career in 1967 as a family court intake worker and child care worker and has served in a variety of leadership roles at city, state and non-profit child welfare agencies. Saunders has served in City government for nearly 25 years and currently serves as ACS Deputy Commissioner for Administration and Children’s Center Services.
“Winette Saunders is an experienced leader who has dedicated her entire career to serving New York City’s most vulnerable populations and I am thrilled that she will be assuming the role of First Deputy Commissioner when Eric Brettschneider departs,” said Commissioner David A. Hansell. “Eric Brettschneider has been one of the most knowledgeable and thoughtful leaders in the child welfare community for half a century. When I became the Commissioner of ACS nearly four years ago, Eric’s leadership, guidance, intelligence, compassion, commitment, not only made me feel welcomed to the ACS family, but provided immeasurable support as we partnered to bring ACS to where it is today.”
“I was honored to support the prior Commissioner, maintain stability after Commissioner Carrion’s departure and then welcoming and supporting the extraordinary David Hansell. I am also proud that I helped recruit top talent for ACS and build partnerships with other city and state agencies. It has been an honor to work with David, my staff and the entire cabinet and workforce. This has been a rewarding and spiritual experience, especially in the face of this pandemic,” said Eric Brettschneider.
“I have dedicated my entire career to public service and I can think of no mission more important than promoting the safety of children. I am incredibly honored to be given the opportunity to serve as First Deputy Commissioner at ACS, one of the country’s leading child welfare agencies, and I look forward to continuing to serve the children and families of New York City in this new leadership role,” said Winette Saunders.
About Eric Brettschneider
Eric entered the child welfare and human services field in 1967 as a family court intake worker and child care worker. He spent 10 years as Director of The Queens Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, a non-profit agency, where he concentrated his efforts on complementing foster care and child protective services with preventive service strategies. In 1980, he joined the New York State Department of Social Services, where he was responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Child Welfare Reform Act. During his tenure as Deputy Commissioner for the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) in the 1980s, Eric promoted his progressive vision of comprehensive, preventive services and was instrumental in creating the Child Protective Training Academy. Then, for the next 17 years, he was Executive Director of the Agenda for Children Tomorrow where he facilitated public-private partnerships, including with ACS. Eric became the Chief of Staff to OCFS Commissioner Gladys Carrión and in February 2014, he joined her at ACS, becoming First Deputy Commissioner, a position he has continued in throughout my tenure as Commissioner.
About Winette Saunders
Winette has served in City government for nearly 25 years, and has been the Deputy Commissioner for Administration at ACS since September 2018, adding Children’s Center Operations to her portfolio in August 2019. In her current role, Winette oversees real estate, construction, and design initiatives, transportation, facilities operations, food services, building maintenance, security, and the Nicholas Scoppetta Children’s Center. In this role she has led the 150 William Street flood recovery efforts, helped ACS develop a solid response to addressing safety throughout the pandemic which includes but is not limited to infrastructure improvements and securing and delivering PPE to staff, youth and providers. Additionally, she has increased programming and strengthened operations at the Children’s Center. Winette currently serves as ACS’s lead with the Vaccine Command Center in the Deputy Mayor’s Office.
Prior to joining ACS, she spent over a decade at the New York City Department of Correction (NYC DOC) and served as the Deputy Commissioner for Youthful Offender Programming. In that role, she led the effort that resulted in the end of punitive segregation for youth, developed robust educational programming and the Department’s first reentry program for youth ages 16-21. Additionally, many innovative programming opportunities were created for women and youth under her leadership at DOC including NYC DOC’s first virtual visitation program for women and their children, the Rikers Rovers program (training and foster program for shelter dogs) as well as collaborations with Sesame Street and Department of Education.