Houston — Arnold Ventures announced today that, after more than five years of serving as executive vice president of criminal justice, Jeremy Travis will be stepping down from his position leading the philanthropy’s criminal justice portfolio. As he prepares to enter a new phase of his career, we celebrate his contributions to Arnold Ventures.
Travis joined Arnold Ventures in September 2017 and oversaw a period of significant growth in the criminal justice portfolio, adding new initiatives in policing, reintegration, corrections, prosecution, public defense, and fines and fees. As the organization transitioned from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to Arnold Ventures, with a new emphasis on policy advocacy, Travis contributed to the development of successful legislative strategies at the federal and state level.
“Under Jeremy’s leadership, our criminal justice team transformed into an invaluable research and advocacy institution for the nationwide movement to reimagine and reform a broken system,” said Laura Arnold, co-chair and co-founder of Arnold Ventures. “His vision of the United States as a just and fair multiracial democracy became a guiding light not only for our criminal justice work — but everything we do at Arnold Ventures.”
Before joining Arnold Ventures, Travis held key leadership positions in government, academia, and law, including as president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York, 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.
“Working at Arnold Ventures has been a highlight of my career,” said Travis. “I am fortunate to have served with an impressive team of brilliant and passionate colleagues. No other philanthropy today has leadership so unwaveringly dedicated to policy change through evidence, data and research.”
Travis took the helm of the criminal justice portfolio at Arnold Ventures amid a transformative moment in the criminal justice reform movement. The murder of George Floyd and the resulting national protests for justice ignited a broader awareness of the flaws in the criminal justice system and fueled demands for change. The COVID-era spike in homicides gave new urgency to policymakers’ search for effective, evidence-based solutions to violent crime. During this critical time, concepts incubated, defined, and propagated by Travis over his extensive career helped guide the criminal justice work at Arnold Ventures and inform the national discourse on safety and justice.
During his tenure, Arnold Ventures criminal justice giving grew from $14 million in 2017 to $58 million thus far in 2022 and added several new policy initiatives — including police accountability; reducing violent crime; reforming public defense and prosecutorial practices; rethinking community supervision; enacting sentencing reforms; promoting humane prisons; and removing barriers to reintegration for people with criminal convictions. Throughout, Travis has prioritized the importance of a racial justice lens to guide the strategies in the entire criminal justice portfolio.
“Jeremy spent his professional life advocating for evidence-based criminal justice policy, the parsimonious use of punishment, and ending unjust pretrial detention. You can see that work come to fruition as every state in the union is promoting reform legislation, and the federal government is breaking new ground on criminal justice research,” Arnold said.
Travis has plans to stay onboard until June 1, 2023. Arnold Ventures is currently working with Russell Reynolds, one of the nation’s leading executive search and leadership advisory firms, in a national search for its next executive vice president of criminal justice.