Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday appointed Lemoore's Kathleen Allison to the state's top job in the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday appointed Lemoore's Kathleen Allison to the state's top job in the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).
Photo Courtesy Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday appointed Lemoore’s Kathleen Allison as the new Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). She will take over her new job on October 1. Allison has served almost three decades with the CDCR, and she will replace Secretary Ralph Diaz. He announced that he would retire on October 1, after nearly three decades of service to the people of California.

“This is a critical time for our state’s prisons, and I am very pleased Kathy has agreed to take on this important challenge. She embodies the leadership and experience that she has learned through more than 30 years of experience at CDCR, including her experience as a health care professional,” said Newsom. “I am confident she will continue to lead CDCR through innovative transformation, including focusing on rehabilitative opportunities for individuals both inside and outside of prison and continuing the path for restorative justice,” added Governor Newsom.

“This has been a year of great challenge for our entire state, and I am so proud of the work our men and women have done and continue to do on a daily basis,” said Allison. “I want to thank the Governor for this opportunity to serve the people of California.”

Allison, who spends much of her time in Sacramento, has served in a variety of management positions at CDCR headquarters, including Undersecretary of Operations and Director of the Division of Adult Institutions. She was Warden at the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison, Corcoran. Allison began her career at CDCR as a medical, technical assistant in 1987. She is a licensed registered nurse. This position requires Senate confirmation.

“I am grateful for Ralph’s dedication and commitment to public service, safety, and rehabilitation in our state’s prisons. He has overseen incredible transformation as well as unprecedented challenges at CDCR during his time there and has truly met the moment with leadership and humility,” said Newsom. “I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Diaz said that his service as the head official in CDCR had been a rewarding experience. “For the past 29 years, I have worked at CDCR alongside a team of thousands of men and women who work hard every day to serve our great state. Having served as Secretary has been an incredible honor, and I want to thank Governor Newsom for his leadership, support, and resolve,” said Diaz. “I am confident that our Department’s transformative focus on rehabilitation will continue to result in safer prisons, healthier communities, and lower recidivism.”

Diaz has been instrumental in the state prison system’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, mobilizing many resources and staff to ensure the health and safety of staff and incarcerated people alike. He led the decompression of the state’s prisons, which has resulted in the release of over 19,000 people, resulting in the lowest prison population since the 1990s.

Additionally, he has worked tirelessly with public health and law enforcement partners to ensure collaboration and cooperation during these unprecedented times. Response and mitigation efforts have been encouraging so far, as of yesterday, the number of COVID-19 cases in CDCR was the lowest recorded since late May.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Diaz led the Department through historic opportunities and a focus on restorative justice. Under his leadership, the Department implemented innovative programs and credit-earning opportunities; improved the reentry process through strengthened collaboration with numerous community partners; and placed emphasis on treating all staff, volunteers, incarcerated people, and their loved ones with humanity and respect.

Jeff Macomber, 50, of Sacramento, will be appointed Undersecretary of Operations effective October 1. Macomber has served as Undersecretary of Administration since 2019. 

He was Director of Corrections Services at California Correctional Health Care Services in 2019 and Deputy Director of Facility Support at CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions. Macomber also served as Warden of California State Prison, Sacramento. He began his career as a correctional officer in 1992. This position requires Senate confirmation.