Maureen Casey’s office at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) is more than 150 miles from her childhood home on a dairy farm in Hudson Falls, New York. But the lessons she learned there, tending dairy cows and their calves, have played out in her career choices—including her decision to accept the position of chief operating officer at IVMF.
“When the cows got out of their pens in the middle of the night, you couldn’t just wait until the morning to solve the problem,” Casey says. “You get up, get dressed and join the family to wrangle up the cows. It’s all hands on deck, and you don’t quit until the job gets done.”
Casey says she’s been fortunate to work for leaders who gave her big problems to solve, along with the support, resources and people to get the job done. Leaders like Rudy Giuliani, who was New York City’s mayor when Casey was deputy commissioner of policy and planning for the New York Police Department (NYPD). When Giuliani learned that there were 16,000 rape kits sitting in a freezer in the property clerk’s office—never having been analyzed—he was horrified. Casey was charged with setting up a system to analyze the rape kits, gather the evidence and obtain justice for those rape victims. In other words: to get the job done. The Mayor’s Office provided millions in funding, but Casey’s work—along with the scientists, evidence technicians, investigators and law enforcement officials who rallied to the cause—meant closure for hundreds of crime victims.
On the morning of 9/11, Casey was in her office at One Police Plaza, headquarters for the NYPD. She heard the first plane crash into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. She saw the second plane fly into the South Tower. She helped mobilize the police response, first as a rescue mission. But within two days, she was given her assignment by the police commissioner to set up a system to identify the remains of the thousands of victims.
“We had to acquire DNA samples from family members,” recalls a pensive Casey. “We put into place a painstaking process to recover any amount of human remains that we could from the site so that as technology evolves, someone could be identified. So far, more than 1,600 victims have been identified (…and still counting). Every so often, I’ll read a story or receive a call that one more person has been identified from the remains stored at the 9/11 memorial. Giving a family member back their loved one…it might seem so little, but it means so much.”
Casey joined the JPMorgan Chase & Co team where she oversaw the firm’s Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, which made a commitment to hire 100,000 veterans by 2020. This was the first step in working with veterans and what would eventually connect her to her current home at IVMF.
“What I love about working for IVMF is that our programs are not ‘one-and-done,’” says Casey. “We are helping veterans and their families across a continuum—starting during their service with programs like Onward to Opportunity to help them prepare for transition to civilian life after their service is done. And we are there for them when they settle into cities across this country to build new lives.”