Rachelle Veasley

Rachelle D. Veasley is a licensed clinical forensic social worker with almost two decades of experience in advocacy, education, criminal justice, and mental health. She is the Director of Social Work with the Federal Defenders of New York, a federal public defender office that provides legal representation to individuals facing federal criminal involvement. Ms. Veasley is passionate about defense-based social work, with a unique focus on how to utilize clinical skills to advocate and center client voices. In her capacity as director, Ms. Veasley oversees the social work department and provides advocacy, mitigation, and social work support to clients. The social workers collaborate with providers and assist clients to navigate systems as necessary to minimize harm as they contend with their legal case.

Ms. Veasley has conducted training and workshops across the country, teaching members of the defense team on topics ranging from holistic defense practice to persuasive writing, engagement skills, and mitigation/sentencing advocacy. Ms. Veasley has served as a guest presenter at New York University and Yale Law Schools and has been retained as expert consultant in defense-initiated victim outreach with Yale.

In addition to her role as a defense-based social worker, Ms. Veasley is a committed educator. She provides practicum instruction at Federal Defenders for graduate social work students from Columbia University, New York University, Fordham University, and Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College who are interested in working in holistic defense. She teaches the seminar in practicum instruction (SIFI) with CSSW and has served as an advisor for first- and second-year students. She also teaches the practice lab at Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. The yearlong course utilizes mindfulness, practice wisdom, and anti-oppressive liberatory theories to equip students with foundation competencies in social work practice, with an emphasis on applying essential concepts and skills across social work methods. A strong believer in the teachings of bell hooks and Angela Davis, Ms. Veasley believes in co-creating a learning space where students can experience education as the practice of freedom and resistance. She aspires to teach students to understand the context in which social work is practiced, while encouraging them to become critically reflective practitioners.

Rachelle received her B.A. in psychology and philosophy from Columbia University (CC ’07) and her Master of Social Work from Hunter College (’10). She has worked as a clinician, educator, and advocate in myriad roles within the field of social work. She attributes her commitment to liberatory social justice work to her brothers, relatives, and community members who continue to be harmed by these oppressive systems and institutions. She is a facilitator, mentor, community member, and systems thinker grounded in direct practice in the present for individual and collective liberation in the future.