Cambria County Chief Cynthia Wess RetiresIn July 2017, Cynthia (Cindi) Wess retired from Cambria County as the Chief Juvenile Probation Officer following 43 years of dedicated service to the department. Ms. Wess began her juvenile justice career in 1974 as a Child Care Worker at the Cambria County Detention Center. Later that same year, Ms. Wess accepted an Intake Officer position at the Cambria County Administrative Office of Juvenile Court. Ms. Wess was promoted to the position of Supervisor in 1984, and to the position of Chief in 1989, where she remained until her recent retirement.
Ms. Wess stands out as a distinguished leader of Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice system who leaves behind an extraordinary legacy of accomplishments on many levels. Several highlights of Ms. Wess’s career are as follows: • At both state and local levels, Ms. Wess was directly involved in the integration of Balanced and Restorative Justice into Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice system. • Ms. Wess led the establishment of many progressive policies and practices in Cambria County; including, specialized community-based, school-based and aftercare supervision programs, Assistant District Attorney and Public Defender positions assigned specifically to juvenile court, and a victim of juvenile offenders program that provided information and services to victims and families. • Ms. Wess was a long-time active member of the Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers, where she served on a host of committees. In 1996 and 1997, Ms. Wess serviced as the President of the Council. • Ms. Wess served on many influential State-level committees, including the Balanced and Restorative Justice Steering Committee, the Juvenile Court and Department of Public Welfare Coordination Committee, the Juvenile Justice Sub-Committee of the Restitution in Pennsylvania Task Force, the Subcommittee on Children and Youth Access to Mental Health Residential Treatment Facility-Based Services, and the Office of Children Youth and Families/Department of Public Welfare Advisory Cabinet. • In 1998, Ms. Wess was honored as the Chief Juvenile Probation Officer of the Year at the annual Pennsylvania Conference on Juvenile Justice. • In 1999, Ms. Wess was appointed by Governor Tom Ridge to the Governor’s Community Partnership for Safe Children. • In 2007, Ms. Wess accessed funding to establish a Criminal Justice Advisory Board in Cambria County. • Ms. Wess led the development and implementation of many evidence-based Court/Probation practices in Cambria County, including the use of the YLS risk assessment instrument, motivational interviewing, case planning, the Crossroads® cognitive/behavioral competency-based curriculum, and performance-based quality assurance protocols. Ms. Wess’s educational achievements show a clear dedication to lifelong learning. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology; a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting; a Master of Arts Degree in Counseling Services; and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study focusing on Justice Administration. Ms. Wess has also taught psychology and criminal justice classes at the college level.
Ms. Wess states that she’s currently reflecting on her long-term retirement plans. In the meantime, she’s catching up with sleep, reading, and attending to house work.