UDC Gets a New Public Information Officer
Maria Peterson became the new Public Information Officer (PIO) for the Utah Department of Corrections in October. I had the privilege of meeting her during her first week with the DOC during the Kids’ Day for the Fathers in the ConQuest program. Maria has a wealth of experience in this field and is approaching this position with enthusiasm.
A Little Background for Maria Peterson
Maria comes to Utah from the Washington State Department of Corrections where she worked for nearly a decade. Washington’s corrections system has 17,000 incarcerated individuals in 12 correctional facilities. In her nine years as a communications professional with corrections, Maria focused on ways to increase transparency and communication in order to engage and educate the public about the issues in this challenging and rewarding field.
She started her career in television news, where she spent five years as a producer, reporter and anchor in Bend, Oregon and Anchorage, Alaska. She left TV for public service in 2005 to work for Anchorage’s animal shelter as the Public Relations Coordinator. She taught animal safety and humane education courses to students in the Anchorage School District and was featured weekly on local TV and radio news stations.
In 2007, Maria and her husband moved to Washington and she started working for the Washington DOC. As she describes it, she got hooked on the work of corrections and found her calling in telling the stories of the dedicated professionals, committed volunteers and innovative programs that are making a difference.
In speaking with Ms. Peterson, I learned that she is very progressive her thinking and approach to corrections. She comes from a state that is advanced in their rehabilitative practices and is sensitive to the needs of incarcerated individuals and the inclusion of families and family oriented programming and events for inmates. Washington DOC even has family councils for each facility. For more information go to http://www.doc.wa.gov/family/ and scroll to Family Councils.
We are very pleased that Utah has been able to bring someone on board with this experience and broad minded, innovative approach to corrections. The DOC administration has done an excellent job finding Maria Peterson. UPAN directors look forward to working with her in the future. She states that she looks forward to working in support of Executive Director Cook’s vision of a safe, humane and progressive corrections system that puts people first.
Her contact information is [email protected] or at 801-545-5536. Please give her a bit of time to become familiar with the many layers and complexities of Utah’s prison system as you contact her with your questions and concerns.