Meena Harris

Executive Vice President

Director, Center for Youth and Community Justice Initiatives

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Meena Harris is an executive vice president of the Institute for Intergovernmental Research (IIR) and the director of the Center for Youth and Community Justice Initiatives (YCJI). Her portfolio includes the National Gang Center (NGC), operated for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP); the Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Specialized Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) for Law Enforcement program, operated for the DOJ Bureau of Justice Assistance; and the Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program Office, for which IIR provides training and administrative and logistical support for DOJ and the U.S. Department of State. Until December 2022, Ms. Harris also supervised the Opioid Affected Youth Initiative for OJJDP. Since 2012, Ms. Harris has been involved in all major aspects of administrative oversight and strategic development for all programs in this division. In this role, she supports the coordination of training, technical assistance, resources, and tools designed to enhance the capacities of community stakeholders and justice systems to develop and implement effective, outcome-driven, comprehensive solutions to prevent crime and intervene in community violence nationally and internationally. Ms. Harris works with policymakers, agency leaders, researchers, and community-based service providers across the nation to carry out problem assessment, partnership development, improved data-collection and analysis strategies, implementation design, and sustainment planning.

Ms. Harris has more than 28 years of experience in project management, survey methodology, strategic planning, state and federal grant monitoring, program evaluation, and TTA delivery of youth violence prevention, gang violence reduction, and school safety topics. 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 Statewide 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 victim services training for the Florida Crime Prevention Institute and research and project coordination for the OAG Human Trafficking Task Force and the OAG Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Strategy. Before this, Ms. Harris served as a research and program coordinator for the Florida Department of Education, Office of Safe Schools, where her responsibilities included the analysis of the 67 Florida school districts’ School Environmental Safety Incident Reporting and the provision of Title IV Safe and Drug Free Schools TTA. Her professional career has also included school climate program evaluation and school climate consultation for the Leon County, Florida, Public School District.

Ms. Harris currently serves as a board member to the National Alliance of Gang Investigators’ Associations (NAGIA). She recently served as a subject expert for the Urban Institute’s Research-Based Practice Guide to Reduce Gun and Gang/Group Violence. She also has held council-member positions with the State of Florida Youth Survey Workgroup, the State of Florida Epidemiological Workgroup, and the Florida Substance Abuse Prevention Advisory Council.

Ms. Harris 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.