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Source: Nancy Jackson, AAFS Director of Development and Accreditation
As we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month, our focus is on the female trailblazers in forensic science who have served as presidents of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS). The second female president of the AAFS served during the noticeable growth and expansion of the organization while facing turbulent financial conditions. The stabilization efforts during the 1980s enabled AAFS to focus beyond the mechanics of being a membership organization to serving the larger interests of the forensic science community. One person who helped perfect the infrastructure of the organization was a powerhouse of the forensic document examination field: Maureen Casey Owens.
Maureen Casey Owens, D-ABFDE
1984-85 AAFS President
Maureen Casey Owens graduated from Mundelein College (later incorporated into Loyola University Chicago) with a chemistry major and a math minor. She began her career in 1961 as a Physical Science Aide in the Document Section of the FBI Laboratory. In 1963, she joined the Chicago Police Department (CPD) Laboratory as the only civilian employee in the technical laboratory. Ms. Owens worked at the CPD as a forensic document examiner for 25 years, including 13 years as the head of the documents section.
Ms. Owens is the only person to simultaneously serve as the President of the AAFS (1984-1985) and the President of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners (ASQDE) (1984-1986). She was a founding member of the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners (ABFDE) in 1977 and subsequently served on the Board of Directors and as Treasurer of the ABFDE.
In 1987, Ms. Owens received the Ordway Hilton Award from the AAFS Questioned Documents Section. In 2008, she received the Albert S. Osborn Award of Excellence from ASQDE in recognition of her distinguished career and many contributions to the profession of forensic document examination.
Among Ms. Owens’ many cases, she helped identify Joe Klein, the Newsweek columnist, as the anonymous writer of the novel Primary Colors. In 1993, her work helped prove that a purported diary of Jack the Ripper was not authentic. Ms. Owens is the author of numerous published articles and professional papers.