Earlier this month, Rachel Leal, victim assistance coordinator for the Galveston County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, announced her retirement from a long and distinguished career serving crime victims in Galveston County.

I have had the privilege of working alongside Rachel for almost four years. Before that, Rachel served honorably under the administrations of elected District Attorneys Kurt Sistrunk and Michael Guarino.

Rachel began her career with the District Attorney’s Office in August 1987, becoming victim assistance coordinator in 1996 and leading our Crime Victims Assistance Division ever since.

During her 27-year career, Rachel has faithfully met the many and varied needs of crime victims in Galveston County and beyond, creating a culture in our office of always treating victims with dignity, compassion and respect.

Over the years, Rachel has helped countless people receive the services needed to assist in their recovery from the devastating effects of crime, all the while demonstrating the highest commitment to advancing the field of victims’ rights.

Rachel’s leadership has been recognized statewide. She has served both as a regional representative for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association Victim Services Board and as a member of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Victim Impact Statement Revision Committee.

Locally, Rachel began the annual Tree of Angels ceremony more than 15 years ago, a public memorial at the courthouse in which victims’ friends and loved ones may place ornaments on dedicated Christmas trees to honor those who have been hurt or lost to crime.

Rachel has also been instrumental in planning and coordinating events throughout the region during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week for many years.

The Galveston County Criminal District Attorney’s Office would like to recognize the extraordinary efforts of this true victim’s advocate by celebrating Rachel’s career of service and wishing her the best in her retirement.

A ceremony will be at the Galveston County Criminal Justice Center in the Jury Assembly Room from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday. If Rachel has assisted you in any way, please feel free to come and share your farewell wishes.

Jack Roady is the Galveston County criminal district attorney.

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