40 Under 40 Class of 2022

Veronice Santana

Assistant District Attorney, Northwestern District Attorney’s Office; Age 34

Veronice Santana keeps a busy schedule.

As an assistant district attorney in the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, she’s handling a full load of cases. She’s also an adjunct professor at both Bay Path University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, and Western New England University School of Law, where she earned her juris doctor. She’s also active in the community, as we’ll see.

But she makes sure to reserve time to mentor those involved with Girls Inc. of the Valley and provide support to high-school girls preparing for college, especially those thinking about careers in law. This mentoring takes many forms and includes simply being a role model and showing them that no career, including the path she took, is beyond their reach if they work hard.

“I’m one of very few women of color in my profession, and so one of the things I enjoy doing is being a representative of the legal field and showing young women, young people of color, that this is something they can also achieve,” she said. “You can’t be what you can’t see.”

What those girls see when Santana is in the room is a rising star in the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, one who was the first in her family to attend college, and someone who was firm of the belief that she would become a defense attorney until her last semester in law school, when a judge told her she could become more of a change agent, and impact more lives, as a prosecutor, especially in the Northwestern DA’s office.

She has come to believe those words, and in her role as assistant DA, she stresses that not all crimes need to be prosecuted and not all offenders need to be incarcerated.

“There are a lot of reasons why people commit crimes,” she told BusinessWest. Sometimes, they just need substance-abuse or mental-health treatment. I very quickly learned that this office is focused on alternatives to incarceration, restorative justice, rehabilitation, and treatment. And this is what I believe in.”

As noted, Santana, who recently rescued a dog which is now the “light of her life,” is active in the community. In addition to her work with Girls Inc., she’s a member of Zonta International and also serves as a member of Bay Path University’s paralegal advisory committee and as a board member of the WNE Law Alumni Assoc. She’s also on the Puerto Rican Parade committee.

 

— George O’Brien

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