Criminal Law and Justice

SOF Discussion Reception: Policing San Francisco

Event information
Thu Oct 17, 2019
6:00pm - 8:00pm
Private Residence
San Francisco, CA
This event is by invitation only add to calendar

Join us for an intimate conversation between two extraordinary San Francisco leaders, Paul Henderson, Director, San Francisco Department of Police Accountability, and David Lazar, Deputy Chief, San Francisco Police Department. Moderated by Sharon Owsley, J.D., Henderson and Lazar will discuss their respective roles in ensuring the safety of San Francisco with emphasis on the importance of responding to citizens’ concerns.

Society of Fellows members are encouraged to join us for this engaging conversation. We will learn more about the important role these leaders play in keeping San Francisco safe and ensuring police officers are implementing practices defined by 21st century policing models.

*If you are not yet a member of the Society of Fellows, and have interest in joining, please contact the SOF Hotline.


Paul Henderson is a nationally recognized speaker, veteran prosecutor and champion for social justice. Henderson has spent his entire professional career working in public service for the city of San Francisco and most recently was appointed Director of the Department of Police Accountability, where he and his legal team are tasked with investigating all complaints regarding police use of force and misconduct. The prestigious office of San Francisco’s civilian oversight represents award winning practices of police reforms defined by 21 Century Policing models.

Prior to this appointment, Henderson spent 7 years as the Deputy Chief of Staff & Public Safety Director to the former Mayor of the City of San Francisco, Edwin M. Lee. As a principal advisor to the Mayor, he was responsible for the development and implementation of strategic policy and administration on major issues affecting the city with an emphasis on the criminal justice system.

These skills were developed during his tenure as Chief of Administration and prosecutor for the previous District Attorney of San Francisco, Kamala Harris from 1995-2010. It was there that Henderson not only honed his skills as a trial attorney, handling all types of cases ranging from nonviolent misdemeanors to serious felonies, but also became known as an expert in interpreting complex criminal justice public policy issues.

Deputy Chief David Lazar was ten years old when he decided he wanted to be a San Francisco police officer. He is a fourth-generation San Franciscan, born and raised in both the Richmond and Sunset Districts. After graduating from Downtown High School in the Mission District, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Management from Saint Mary’s College. He is also a graduate of the Senior Management Institute for Police in Boston, Massachusetts.

Lazar joined the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) in 1991 and has worked in eight of the ten district stations as well as serving in the Investigations Division and Special Operations and Administration bureaus. In 2017, Lazar took command of the newly restructured Community Engagement Division, overseeing several programs intended to improve police-community relations.


Sharon Owsley, J.D. always dreamed about becoming a lawyer. From early childhood, books about courtroom dramas and television’s “Law and Order” fueled that aspiration. Yet, it was only after a career as an organizational consultant that the dream became a reality.

Owsley may have been the oldest student in her law school class, but in retrospect, this proved an advantage. Especially in her first job as an assistant district attorney in San Francisco, she had the benefit of perspective and had gained some wisdom along the way. This helped her grasp the complexity in the criminal justice system and the high human cost on both sides of the justice scale. Though Owsley prosecuted felony cases, the most fulfilling assignments for her were collaborative (problem solving) courts-drug court, community court, and most illuminating of all, a reentry program for young adults.

As part of Attorney General Harris’ executive team, Owsley served as the Deputy Director of Programs for the Division of Recidivism Reduction and Re-Entry. Among my responsibilities was the design and implementation of the Back on Track-Los Angeles (BOT-LA) reentry program.

Owsley’s related justice activities include long-term service as a member of the Judicial Council of California Collaborative Courts Advisory Committee and co-chairing the Aspen Institute’s Justice and Society Program. Recently Owsley joined her former colleague, Linda Denly, to continue the work they began under the leadership of Kamala Harris. Guided by the same principles, their consultancy focuses on the continued improvement in criminal justice reform.