About Executive Director Kelli Owens

Kelli Owens Headshot

Kelli Owens is the Executive Director of the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, the nation’s only executive-level agency solely dedicated to improving the state’s response to and prevention of domestic violence.  


Prior to her appointment to lead OPDV, Ms. Owens served as New York State’s Director of Women’s Affairs, where she played a significant role in launching the state’s first-ever Council on Women and Girls. This inaugural Council was a coordinated, statewide response to issues affecting the lives of women and girls in the areas of education, economic opportunity, workforce equity, leadership, health care, child care, safety, STEM, and intersectionality. Also in that role, she was involved in advancing the state’s Women’s Agenda, which has resulted in significant changes to state law to improve services and protections for women and girls, and reproductive healthcare.  


Ms. Owens was instrumental in the passage of many New York state laws in the areas of gender equity and rights. They included the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act, the expansion of the statute of limitations for rape, the removal of gaps in the Rape Shield Law, the improvement of access to in-vitro fertilization and fertility preservation coverage, the reduction of maternal mortality and morbidity and racial disparities, the assurance that breastfeeding is respected in the workplace, the increase of protections against harassment in the workplace, the modernization of New York’s Pay Equity Law, and the extension of Human Rights Law protections to all public school students statewide. Kelli is most proud of overseeing the passage of the Reproductive Health Act in New York that enshrined the right of safe legal abortion in the state.  


Prior to her work in government, Ms. Owens was the former Vice President for External Affairs for Family Planning Advocates of New York/Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York. She also served as the Government Relations and Public Policy Director of the YWCAs of the Northeast Region, where she advised YWCA regional leadership in NY, NJ and Massachusetts on policy issues and appropriate action, and served as the organization’s principle lobbyist in all four state capitals. During her time at the YWCA, she served on the National YWCA Advocacy Committee. Ms. Owens has also acted as the Chief Public Relations and Fundraising Executive for local non-profit organizations focusing on women and family issues, and diversity. She began her career in Washington D.C. as a Congressional Staff Assistant to U.S. Congressman Sherwood Boehlert, moving on to become the Human Services Coordinator for the Office of the Oneida County Executive, and then Director of Operations for New York State Senator, Raymond MeierMs. Owens was also Regional Administrator for the New York State Department of Labor’s Central New York and Mohawk Valley offices. 


Ms. Owens holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Utica College of Syracuse University and has done graduate work at the Maxwell School, Syracuse University.