Suzanne V. Estrella, Commonwealth Victim Advocate, is a victims' rights attorney with over 30 years of legal experience including 15 years of legal advocacy serving survivors of crime in Pennsylvania. Suzanne was appointed to the Office of Victim Advocate by Governor Wolf and unanimously confirmed by the Pennsylvania Senate in 2021. Suzanne’s passion for justice and commitment to centering the marginalized has led the office to expand its victims’ services, as well as its crime prevention and restorative justice efforts.
The Office of Victim Advocate employees a full- time social worker offering support groups and creative opportunities to promote hope and resiliency. Suzanne hosts a monthly live Facebook discussion with survivors and continues to work collaboratively with local and state organizations to create safer caring communities where justice thrives.
Suzanne is a graduate of the University of Tulsa College of Law and the Oral Roberts University. She remains a member of the Pennsylvania Bar, Florida Bar, and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. She has been highlighted as one of Pennsylvania’s Fifty over 50, the recipient of the Luminary Award from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the American Jurisprudence Award.
Suzanne is also an experienced trainer providing training to allied professionals on trauma informed legal services, implicit bias, and victims’ rights.
To request the Office of Victim Advocate to speak at your training or event, please fill out this form.
Office of Victim Advocate Executive Team
Pennie Hockenberry is the Director of Public Policy and Legislation. She joined the agency in April 2011 as a Victim Assistance Coordinator. Pennie has 20+ years of experience in the human services field. As director, she administers OVA’s input on policies that pertain to victims’ rights and coordinates with legislators to ensure that the voices of victims are heard. Pennie holds a M.S. in Mental Health Counseling from Shippensburg University and a B.A. in Sociology from Shippensburg University.
Tara M. Gross is a Director of Victim Services, where she is responsible for ensuring post-sentencing rights pertaining to victims at the state level along with general staff supervision, oversight of staff training and ensuring compliance with business processes. Tara is also the main oversight of any inquiries that come in to OVA via the web. Prior to her appointment as director, Tara served as the Victim Assistance Supervisor, as well as a Victim Assistance Coordinator. She joined the Commonwealth in February 2013. Before coming to the Commonwealth, Tara spent her career in York County. She was previously employed as a Victim/Witness Coordinator with the York County District Attorney’s Office, as well as a Facilitator with Family Group Decision Making which is a sub department of York County Human Services. Tara graduated from York College of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Criminal Justice in 2007.
Tanner D. Widdowson is a Director of Victim Services responsible for general staff supervision, oversight of staff training, and ensuring compliance with business processes , policy and procedure. Prior to his appointment as director in November 2018, Tanner served as a Victim Assistance Coordinator and a Victim Assistance Supervisor with OVA, since his transition to state service in February 2015. During his county service years, he was a Legal Advocate and a Legal Coordinator with ACESS York/Victim Assistance Center YWCA serving domestic violence and sexual assault victims. Tanner holds a B.A. in Criminal Justice from Penn State University and served as enlisted aircrew in the US Air Force from 2005-2009 supporting Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
The central OVA office, in Harrisburg, is comprised of 2 administrative support staff, 1 adminstrative officer, 1 victim assistance supervisor, as well as 18 victim assistance coordinators. Regional locations are maintained by 1 victim assistance coordinator and include the following locations: Philadelphia region, Lehigh region, Northeast region, Pittsburgh region, and the Attorney General's Office.