The City of Oakland announced Monday that the new permanent Chief of the Department of Violence Prevention (DVP) will be Dr. Holly Joshi, a proven local leader with decades of experience serving and leading in Oakland.
Chief Joshi will be the department’s second permanent chief since it was established in 2017. The department applies a public health approach to violence prevention focused on community-led intervention strategies to realize sustained safety and stability of the families and communities most impacted by violence.
“Dr. Holly Joshi is the right person at the right time to lead Oakland’s Department of Violence Prevention. Chief Joshi has vast experience and has worked on proven evidence-based solutions that we know make a difference in reducing and preventing violence,” said Mayor Sheng Thao. “Strengthening violence prevention initiatives is essential to promoting a strong, safe, and thriving Oakland. Along with a robust police department and technology solutions that disrupt criminal networks, violence prevention initiatives form the core elements of Oakland’s comprehensive community safety strategy.”
“I am incredibly honored to come back to the City of Oakland in this new capacity. The Department of Violence Prevention is a critically important component of the City’s comprehensive approach to community health and safety,” Chief Joshi said. “Oakland has invested deeply in the Department, and I am excited to join a capable and passionate team committed to implementing best practices and cutting-edge strategies to prevent and intervene in violence and create an Oakland that feels safe for everyone. Mayor Sheng Thao, City Administrator Jestin Johnson, and the City Council members have identified the safety of our residents, businesses, and visitors as a key priority and I am confident in our collective ability to reduce crime and improve community health. I’ve spent my career working with communities and across sectors to tackle some of Oakland’s toughest challenges and I am looking forward to getting started.”
Prior to taking on leadership of DVP, most recently Chief Joshi served as Senior Director at GLIDE, a nationally recognized center for social justice, dedicated to fighting systemic injustices, creating pathways out of poverty and crisis, and transforming lives. At GLIDE she led the Center for Social Justice, a department focused on improving housing access, community health and safety, and gender and racial equity.
Chief Josh also previously served as Director at Bright Research Group (BRG), leading a team of community-centered research and leadership consultants, working on organizational change and capacity building projects for government, non-profit, and philanthropic organizations throughout the Bay Area. For 3 years, she led criminal legal system reform work and partnerships with local government agencies working to increase their impact in youth development, violence prevention and intervention, and community-driven alternatives to policing. She also served as the lead consultant to the DVP. Through this collaboration, she supported the DVP to implement a gender-based violence strategy, expand a coaching certification program for frontline staff, develop a family systems approach, and build the capacity of network providers – initiatives that remain top priorities for the department today.
Chief Joshi has also served as the chief executive MISSSEY, an Oakland-based community-based organization providing trauma informed, healing centered, direct services to survivors of gender-based violence in Oakland.
That organization’s services included crisis intervention, a daily drop-in center, education and employment supports, and life coaching. Chief Joshi successfully expanded programing to include prevention work with vulnerable youth in Oakland public schools and built a pipeline to tech program. She successfully doubled the organization’s revenue, developed the leadership team, and secured the critical partnerships needed to stabilize the organization’s position in the ecosystem of local service agencies.
From 2001-2015, Chief Joshi worked for the City of Oakland and held diverse investigative and leadership roles within the Oakland Police Department including Child Exploitation Unit Supervisor, Internal Affairs Division Investigator, Crime Reduction Team Investigator, Public Information Officer, and Chief of Staff. She worked closely with community stakeholders, faith-based leaders, City of Oakland department heads, the Mayor’s Office, and the City Administrator’s Office on
organizational reform and community safety efforts. In this work she was widely recognized for her expertise in gender-based violence, commitment to progressive policing, and collaborative relationships across the City.
Her appointment also reflects a growing leadership team for the City’s public safety departments. Chief Damon Covington was sworn in as the permanent Fire Chief on November 13.
Chief Joshi’s first day at the Department of Violence Prevention will be December 11.