Deena Schwartz

Director of NYS Guardianship Initiatives

Deena Schwartz joined Project Guardianship as the Director of New York State Guardianship Initiatives in May of 2022.  

Deena has a near-decade of Article 81 Guardianship expertise and has focused her career on issues affecting older adults. She has developed guardianship curricula for lay and judicial audiences, and presented workshops locally, state-wide, and nationally focusing on person-centered services, decision-making autonomy, access to justice, and equity in multidisciplinary approaches to care.

As an attorney within the Office of Legal Affairs of the NYC Department of Social Services, she brought Article 81 guardianship petitions on behalf of the Commissioner of Social Services for Adult Protective Services clients. She was also on a team that determined whether clients met the Article 81 guardianship standard and what less restrictive alternatives could be considered to prevent unnecessary guardianship.

Most recently, Deena led a diverse group of stakeholders—including government agencies, community organizations, guardians, doctors, social workers, and lawyers—in responding to complex elder abuse cases as an elder abuse Multidisciplinary Team Coordinator at the NYC Elder Abuse Center at Weill Cornell Medicine. She also oversaw the Center’s civil legal consultations.

Deena holds a Juris Doctor from Fordham Law School and a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology from Tulane University. She likes to spend sunny days under the willow tree of her local community garden.