New York — The Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) announced today that Jeremy Travis, one of the nation’s preeminent criminal justice reformers, will join LJAF as senior vice president of criminal justice. Mr. Travis will lead LJAF’s criminal justice group, which will expand its reach with two additional hires announced today: Amy Solomon, a highly respected former director of policy for the Office of Justice Programs at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), will join the team as vice president of criminal justice policy; and Kristin Bechtel, a seasoned researcher who has led implementation of justice reforms across the country, will act as director of criminal justice research. LJAF’s criminal justice group will continue investments in key existing lines of work, including the Public Safety Assessment, directed by vice president Matt Alsdorf, and the Data-Driven Justice project, directed by vice president Lynn Overmann.
“We are thrilled that Jeremy will lead LJAF’s criminal justice initiative,” said LJAF Co-Chair Laura Arnold. “We have collaborated with Jeremy for years, and have long respected his vision and impact. He and his leadership team—including Matt, Lynn, and Amy—are outstanding, as are the other members of the group. We have no doubt that this team will achieve significant impact in making our criminal justice system fairer and more effective.”
Mr. Travis has held top positions across government, academia, and law. He has served, among other roles, as director of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the DOJ’s research arm; senior fellow at the Urban Institute; deputy commissioner for legal matters for the New York City Police Department; and law clerk to then-U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Mr. Travis’ groundbreaking scholarship—from his seminal book on prisoner reentry to his report on mass incarceration for the National Research Council—has not only defined the field but influenced a generation of criminal justice advocates. Since 2004, he has served as president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York, where he transformed the college into one of the country’s leading research and educational institutions in criminal justice.
“I am excited about the opportunity to lead the Laura and John Arnold Foundation’s criminal justice team,” Mr. Travis said. “In the short time since its founding, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation has established a strong reputation in the criminal justice field. By investing in research, the rigorous testing of new ideas, and the creation of powerful data analytics, LJAF has promoted needed reforms in the nation’s response to crime. I look forward to working with the team to build a portfolio that will accelerate innovation in this area.”
Ms. Solomon joins LJAF after leading key domestic policy initiatives at the DOJ to spur corrections reform, promote strong police-community relations, and develop strategies to expand opportunity in highly distressed neighborhoods. She also served as the executive director of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council, where she oversaw the efforts of more than 20 federal agencies to improve prisoner reentry policy. She previously worked at the NIJ and the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute.
Adding to Mr. Travis’ and Ms. Solomon’s expertise, Dr. Bechtel joins LJAF with two decades of criminal justice research experience. A graduate of the doctoral program in criminal justice at the University of Cincinnati, she is a national expert who has worked closely with state and local governments across the country to develop, implement, and evaluate criminal justice policies and programs. Most recently, she was managing associate at the Crime & Justice Institute at Community Resources for Justice in Boston, Massachusetts.
Dr. Bechtel will start at LJAF on September 6, and Mr. Travis and Ms. Solomon will start on September 18. Dr. Bechtel and Mr. Travis will work in LJAF’s New York City office, and Ms. Solomon will work in LJAF’s office in Washington, D.C.