US social worker and penologist. Appointed New York City's first female commissioner of corrections, she introduced several reforms and then chaired the city's parole board. She become general secretary of the Bureau of Social Hygiene and extended her interests to prostitution and public health.
She was born in Buffalo, New York. Forced by her family's financial situation to teach during her twenties, it was 1892 before she took her degree from Vassar. She took graduate courses in food chemistry and nutrition at Columbia University, and, after teaching and demonstrating domestic economy in 1893, she turned to social work, running a settlement house in Philadelphia (1894–97). She then attended the University of Chicago, taking a PhD in political economy in 1900. She became the superintendent of the Reformatory for Women at Bedford Hills, New York (1901–14) and pioneered in various progressive ways of treating prisoners. On a trip to Europe in 1909, she gained international recognition for her efforts to help the Sicilians recover from the great Messina earthquake of that year. She worked both during and after World War I to relieve suffering of women and children.