Nicholas Scoppetta, Founder and President of Emeritus
After nearly five decades of service to the City of New York, Nicholas Scoppetta retired from his position as the 31st Fire Commissioner in January of 2010. Mr. Scoppetta was appointed Fire Commissioner of the City of New York by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on January 1, 2002. As Commissioner, Mr. Scoppetta headed a Department with an annual budget in excess of one billion dollars and with more than 16,000 Fire, EMS and civilian members. The Department encompassed fire services and Emergency Medical services. Mr. Scoppetta has now returned to the private practice of law at the firm he founded in 1980, Scoppetta, Seiff, Kretz and Abecrombie.
Prior to his eight-year tenure as Fire Commissioner, Mr. Scoppetta served as Commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). In January 1996, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani announced the creation of ACS, the City’s first independent agency devoted entirely to services for children and families, and appointed Mr. Scoppetta as the agency’s first Commissioner. During his term from 1996 to 2001, ACS engaged in a comprehensive reform of the City’s child welfare system which won praise from national child welfare experts and the media. While serving as head of the ACS, Mr. Scoppetta also founded New Yorkers For Children (NYFC), a non-profit organization which funds and supports programs for children in foster care. For the past fourteen years, Mr. Scoppetta has remained deeply involved with NYFC and serves as the President of the Board of Directors.
Mr. Scoppetta was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1932. The youngest son of Italian immigrants, he was placed into foster care when he was only five years old and lived in various institutions until he was twelve. Growing up, he attended public schools in Manhattan, including Seward Park High School, from where he graduated in 1950.
After serving two years in the Army, Mr. Scoppetta attended Bradley University on the G.I. Bill and graduated in 1958 with a degree in Engineering. In 1959 he was awarded a New York State Regents Scholarship and attended Brooklyn Law School at night while working in the criminal courts during the day assisting in the investigation and prosecution of cases in which children had been abused or neglected. He graduated from law school in 1962 and shortly after admission to the bar was appointed an Assistant District Attorney in New York County by District Attorney Frank S. Hogan. He served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Manhattan D.A.’s Office until 1969.
Over the next decade, Mr. Scoppetta served in numerous civic capacities for the City of New York, including positions as the Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Deputy Mayor and Commissioner of Investigation, Associate Counsel to the Knapp Commission, which investigated corruption in the New York City Police Department, and as Deputy Independent Counsel in the investigation and prosecution of a former Special Assistant to President Richard M. Nixon.
Mr. Scoppetta left public service in 1978 and joined the faculty of New York University School of Law, where he was a Professor of Law and Director of the Institute of Judicial Administration. In 1980 he founded the law firm of Scoppetta & Seiff, where he engaged in the private practice of law until assuming his role as Commissioner of ACS in 1996.
Over the years, Mr. Scoppetta also served on numerous boards of not-for-profit institutions and is a past member of the Executive Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. From February of 1994 to January 1996, he was Chairman of the five-member Commission to Combat Police Corruption which was created by Mayor Giuliani to monitor the New York City Police Department’s anti-corruption efforts. Additionally, Mr. Scoppetta is a past President and former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Children’s Aid Society, a not-for-profit social service agency which annually serves more than 200,000 needy children in New York City. He was a member of that Board for sixteen years.
Mr. Scoppetta lives in New York City with his wife, Susan, a psychotherapist. They have two grown children, Andrea and Eric.