Bowser appoints DC’s first gun violence prevention director

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser appointed Linda Harllee Harper as the city’s first gun violence prevention director during a news conference Thursday.

Harper currently serves as the senior deputy director to D.C.’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services.

“Linda is a visionary leader in social and criminal justice,” Bowser said. “In this role, Linda will be responsible for hitting strategic development, review and implementation of our gun violence prevention efforts.”

She added, “Linda certainly has a heart for our communities and those impacted by violence, as evidenced by her long career helping young people.”

Bowser said Harper has spent 15 years on efforts to reform the juvenile justice system “and is credited with launching a network of contracted local community-based providers designed to serve as an alternative to residential care or detention.”

Harper’s appointment comes just days after a 15-year-old was shot to death in Southeast D.C.

Bowser announced a slew of other key appointments as well Thursday:

  • Christine Davis, general counsel for the Department of Public Works, will become the interim director.
  • Dr. Francisco Diaz, deputy chief medical examiner since 2017, was appointed D.C.’s acting chief medical examiner.
  • Kevin Donahue will become city administrator after serving as the interim since last August.
  • Chris Geldart, who has led multiple D.C. agencies, will be acting deputy mayor for public safety and justice.
  • Emile Thompson, a D.C. native and principal member on the DC Water board of directors, will become head of the Public Service Commission.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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