Executive Vice President
Director of the National Gang Center
Meena Harris is an executive vice president of the Institute for Intergovernmental Research (IIR) and Director of the National Gang Center (NGC). She currently supervises the Youth and Community Justice Initiatives section, which includes the NGC, operated for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), and DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Opioid Affected Youth Initiative, operated for OJJDP; and the Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program Office, for which IIR provides administrative and logistical support for DOJ and the U.S. Department of State. Ms. Harris works with policymakers, agency leaders, and justice-involved service providers to develop and implement outcome-driven solutions to address chronic and emerging gang, gun, and substance misuse problems. She works with agencies across the nation to coordinate the development of comprehensive programs designed to prevent gang violence, reduce gang involvement, suppress gang-related crime, and support victims of gang violence. Since 2012, Ms. Harris has been involved in all major tasks of the NGC, including the development of improved data-collection and analysis strategies, execution of National Youth Gang Surveys, delivery of law enforcement anti-gang training, collaborative gang research projects, surveillance of emerging gang-related trends, and provision of technical assistance and training to communities initiating comprehensive gang-reduction initiatives.
Prior to joining IIR in 2012, Ms. Harris served as the Gang and Prevention Programs Coordinator for the Florida Office of the Attorney General (OAG), where she coordinated the Florida Gang Reduction Strategy. In this capacity, she organized seven regional gang-reduction task forces and designed and administered four annual OAG Statewide Gang Survey Reports. In addition, she provided research and project coordination for the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force and the Attorney General’s Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Strategy. During her tenure with the State of Florida Department of Education, she served as Research and Program Coordinator for the No Child Left Behind, Title IV, Safe and Drug Free Schools technical assistance project. In this position, her areas of focus included building positive school climate, evidence-based programming, and school safety policies. For more than 25 years, Ms. Harris’ work experience has included survey methodology and implementation, program evaluation, and technical assistance to support youth violence and substance abuse prevention, school safety, and state and federally funded program monitoring.
Ms. Harris currently serves as an advisory board member to the National Alliance of Gang Investigators Associations. She also has held member positions with the Federal Bureau of Prisons West Central Florida Gang Task Force, the State of Florida Youth Survey Workgroup, the State of Florida Epidemiological Workgroup, and the Florida Substance Abuse Prevention Advisory Council.
She holds a master of arts degree in sociology from Florida State University and a bachelor of arts degree, graduating magna cum laude, from George Mason University in Virginia.