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Shannon Dion has worked in the criminal justice system for more than twenty-two years. She began her career as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in the City of Richmond, Virginia, and handled a variety of cases including homicides, robberies, other violent crimes, gun and drug related offenses, embezzlement and fraud cases, sexual assaults, misdemeanors and traffic cases.
Shannon continued her public service at the Virginia Office of the Attorney General, as both a state and federal prosecutor, and as legal counsel to several public safety agencies. As a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, she prosecuted aggravated identity theft crimes, mail fraud and health care fraud cases. Two of her prominent cases involved the theft of public funds by a state employee from the Virginia Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Fund and the prosecution of a sitting elected official. She testified before the Virginia General Assembly on behalf of the office on a variety of issues and successfully lobbied for an increase in penalties for trademark infringement crimes.
In 2018, Shannon was appointed by Governor Ralph Northam to lead the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services. In this capacity she strategically piloted the agency through a 39% growth in staffing levels to accommodate growing legislative responsibilities and a 35% increase in fiduciary responsibilities. Shannon transitioned the agency to a telework environment in three business days due to the COVID-19 pandemic with limited disruptions to customer service. She managed more than $300 million in state and federal funding streams that were annually allocated to support the criminal justice system, including an anti-terrorism and emergency assistance grant to support the Virginia Beach mass shooting in 2019, human trafficking grants, coronavirus emergency funding and ARPA funding. Shannon also directed the department’s first fully integrated budget, incorporated additional financial safeguards, strengthened fiduciary policies and practices and allocated resources to support agency functions.
Following the murder of George Floyd and in partnership with Associate Professor Brian Williams of UVA's Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, Shannon co-created an 18-month program building trust between marginalized communities of color and law enforcement in five localities throughout the Commonwealth. Shannon also implemented several diversity and equity initiatives within the agency and fostered a culture of inclusion. A former employee who worked with Shannon says the following of her leadership:
"Throughout her time with the agency, I was witness to Shannon’s tremendous impact in the areas of organizational development, legislative and policy implementation, talent management, constituent relations, vision, creativity and more. She was able to fully engage hundreds of colleagues and subordinates to adopt cutting edge and evidence-based practices that inspired change. Her legacy as director of DCJS continues to carry forward in the work that we do to ensure that the agency’s mission is achieved and that Virginia stands apart from other state agencies by instituting cultural shifts, inspiring empathy, compassion and responsibility. Throughout her tenure at DCJS, Shannon demonstrated great leadership, commitment to transparency, confidence, positivity and humility."
In January 2023, Shannon was appointed the Director of the Virginia Victims Fund, a state program within the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission, that compensates victims of violent crimes with out-of-pocket expenses. Shannon strives to bring compassion, fairness and equity in all her work. Her experience as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse fosters a deeper connection to her career choices.
Shannon is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the University of Richmond School of Law.