During Crime Victims’ Rights Week, we want to shine a light on one of our incredible employees who has dedicated her life to ensuring that crime victims—especially children—have a voice in the justice system.
Shawn Cox joined MCAO in 2015 as Chief of the Victim Services Division. Originally from Michigan, Shawn moved to Arizona in 1995. She graduated from Western Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology—the first in her family to earn a higher degree—and went on to achieve a master’s degree at Wayne State University in social work; she is a licensed clinical social worker in both Michigan and Arizona. Shawn’s social work background led her to work with military families and hospitals—always with an emphasis on children and child safety.
In 2003, Shawn initiated and led a study on Arizona’s child protection system which resulted in a report in 2003 entitled “In Harm’s Way.” The report detailed the failures of Arizona’s child protection system at that time. As a result of the report and its recommendations, many reforms took place in Arizona, including the creation of the Department of Child Safety, with a clear focus now on child safety.
“I’m driven by the mission of the office to Keep Families Safe, Protect the Rights of Crime Victims, and Hold Criminals Accountable,” said Shawn. “For me that means that our leadership team in victim services must help our staff be collaborative; asking for team input and strategizing together on a solution.”
When asked her favorite part of working at MCAO she said, “What I love about working here is having the opportunity to create! I have felt a great sense of support and accomplishment by being able to expand the K-9 Victim Support program from one to now three dogs, engage staff to create a coloring book for child victims, restructure the victim compensation program, and create a court advocacy program to assist victims who come to court unattended and need assistance and emotional support.”
In addition to all the great work she does at MCAO, Shawn also serves with several key groups dedicated to serving victims including the Commission for Juvenile Justice, US Sentencing Commission- Victims Advisory Group, Maricopa County Trial Court Commission and the Child Fatality Review Team.
She points to her mother as her greatest inspiration. “My mother grew up in poverty and no matter how little she had, she always wanted to help others. She was the type of person who would give you the shirt off her back and say, ‘she needed it more than I did.’ I’m also inspired by the courage of crime victims who endure the trauma of both the crime and the criminal justice system to help us obtain justice for them.”
In her free time, you can find Shawn enjoying the scenery on an early morning hike on a trail somewhere in the McDowell Mountains. She hikes year-round, regardless of the weather, and says it is the best way to de-stress and feel a great sense of peace.