Lucy Lang ’99 was recently appointed as Inspector General of New York, overseeing more than a hundred executive agencies, handling investigations into corruption, fraud, and abuse at the executive level across the entire state of New York. “We have offices all over the state that consist of investigative counsel, investigators, and auditors. We undertake investigations that require an interdisciplinary approach that may or may not prove to be criminal. I also oversee investigations into fraud and corruption in the welfare system, the workman’s comp system, and all gaming, including the newly legal online sports betting. I am just in month three as IG of New York, so I am still working on formulating the big picture goals for my office,” Lucy explained.
Lucy fondly recalls her time at George School. “I arrived at GS in the fall of 1995 and did not have any idea of what I was getting myself into at the time. As the daughter of an alum, I had visited the beautiful campus as a child and was excited about the educational opportunities but was incredibly homesick for New York in the early weeks of my time on campus,” said Lucy.
While at George School, Lucy became heavily involved in music and musical theater. “I did the musical every year, played poorly on the lacrosse team, and was an IB student. Ultimately, I found an incredible community there and still have remarkable relationships with many of my classmates. In fact, four of my close friends and I just met up in Philadelphia to celebrate our collective 40th birthdays together this fall. It was a great joy to emerge from this pandemic and have my first trip be with girlfriends from George School. It has been an incredible personal network for me in the many years since I have graduated. Shout out to all my people in the class of 1999. It was such an awesome time, and I am really glad that I continue to have such meaningful relationships with my classmates. The relationships that I formed at George School are very much gifts that keep on giving.”
“I had so many teachers who are beloved to me at George School. My advisor, Jane Dunlap, took a really vital role in helping me overcome the homesickness I felt in my early days on campus. She was also my father’s Latin teacher, so I feel like I had a particular connection to her. Jackie Coren, in addition to being a terrific music teacher and director, put up with a lot of hilarious antics amongst me and my classmates and friends who did theater. I am grateful to her for encouraging our creativity and community. I could name virtually all of my teachers in shaping my life.”
Lucy’s time on campus built the foundation of service that helped guide her education and career after George School. She credits George School for being an important part in defining how she approaches leadership, especially in her current role. “It certainly was an exposure to the social sciences at George School, particularly through the IB program, that lead me to pursue political science as a major in college and then continue on to law school,” explained Lucy. “As a student of epistemology, the work we did in Theory of Knowledge was foundational to how I approach work in government in terms of being a part of changing culture and changing narrative, hopefully impacting lives through policy making.”
“So much of my George School experience was about the community that was created inside and outside of the classroom more so than the substantive education,” Lucy continued. “The environment of valuing every voice is at the core of my leadership and how I have built teams during my career, and how I am working to connect my state-wide teams now and certainly how I built community in the District Attorney’s Office. I served as an Assistant DA in Manhattan for many years and my experience as a prosecutor is critical for my ability to oversee complex investigations. I credit the late Robert Morgenthau and all the mentors I had at the DA office who instilled all the values that guide me today. As an Assistant District Attorney, I realized that I had become detached from the consequences of my decision making as I was handling homicides, domestic violence, and other violent crimes, regularly recommending lengthy prison sentences. Quakers were early proponents of prison reform, which influenced my perspective, so I wanted to get more proximate to the problem. I created a first-of-its-kind college in prison program to bring New York State’s District Attorneys to study criminal justice alongside incarcerated New Yorkers.”
“In the course of teaching that over a number of years in a variety of New York State’s prisons, I came to identify some of the most concerning ways in which our punishment paradigm is failing in this country. I am grateful to now be in a position where my organization has oversight over New York State’s Department of Corrections and very recently released the findings of a long-term investigation that we did into misuse of drug testing processes for incarcerated New Yorkers. The findings of that report actually led New York State to end the practice of sending people to solitary confinement for having positive drug test results while incarcerated. That is a practical example of how this work is impactful and why I am attuned to it because of the time that I spent teaching in prisons, which dates back in many ways to sitting around in a circle with my classmates at George School.”
As a person with a deeply rooted sense of justice, Lucy sees that same sense of justice in her six-year-old daughter. “I very much relate to her as I was always a kid who wanted things to be fair and saw inequities in the every day,” said Lucy. “That is the precursor to doing the kind of work that I do—investigating government and seeking to set things right. I am fortunate that my colleagues across the state in my office and in so many other agencies share the core values in justice and core commitment to public service. Coming to work alongside them every day is exhilarating and is what gets me out of bed each morning.”
When asked what advice Lucy would give to anyone with aspirations of a career in public service, Lucy said, “Do it. There is no better way to build a life than in service to your community. I have served in public service in a hired role as a line level Assistant District Attorney and tried to do it in an elected role by running for District Attorney in Manhattan. Although I was unsuccessful, it was a profound learning and growth opportunity. I am now serving through an appointed role as Inspector General. There are so many avenues to take during a life in public service and I would encourage anyone who is thinking about pursuing government to go for it because we need not just smart and committed people in government, but people who see the inner light in everyone and who can bring that passion for the work in government.”
You can follow Lucy’s work as New York State’s 11th Inspector General @NewyorkstateIG