Portrait of NIJ Directory Nancy Rodriguez

Nancy Rodriguez, NIJ Director (Biography)

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The NIJ Director

The Director is appointed by the President to lead the National Institute of Justice and establish the agency's objectives, guided by the needs of the field and the priorities of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The current Director, Nancy Rodriguez, was sworn in on February 9, 2015. See a complete list of past Director's since 1969.

Director's Corner

On this page you can follow NIJ Directors through their speeches and commentary.

November 16, 2015 – Upcoming Solicitations for Fiscal Year 2016

I am excited to tell you about NIJ's upcoming solicitations. Fiscal year 2016 will reflect some key shifts at NIJ. Our overarching priority has not changed: to strengthen science and advance justice. But, for those of you who follow us closely and apply each year, you will see a few changes. The main goal of these changes is to better align NIJ's internal structure and processes with the research needs of the field and the priorities of the Administration. This realignment will nurture NIJ as a scientific agency and help us better support the researchers and practitioners whom we serve. Read the complete message on ou 2016 solicitations.

November 12, 2015 – Developing the Future of Law Enforcement Leadership

I had a chance recently to meet some remarkable up-and-coming policing leaders and watch them in action at IACP’s annual conference. They are participants in a collaborative effort to mentor sworn, mid-rank officers who have shown a desire to advance and integrate science into their police departments. The joint NIJ/IACP program is called “Law Enforcement Advancing Data and Science (LEADS).” Read Director Rodriguez complete message on the LEADS program.

October 22, 2015 – Setting the Agenda for Administrative Segregation Research

For most of my academic life, I have had an interest in corrections issues, especially the impact of incarceration on families and communities. When I arrived at NIJ, I was excited to be part of a national effort to reform sentencing and incarceration policies, including the use of solitary confinement.

NIJ is proud to play a role in the national discussion about the use of administrative segregation, more widely known as solitary confinement or restrictive housing. It is common practice in jails and prisons, and it can be an important option that can safeguard the well-being of staff and inmates. Read the complete message on setting the research agenda for administrative segregation.

October 20, 2015 – Building Knowledge to Make Schools Safer

For many people, the topic of school safety brings to mind recent incidents of gun violence that seized the attention of the nation. Indeed, the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative (CSSI) was conceived in the immediate aftermath of the murders of 20 young children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. However, because CSSI was launched soon after that heart-wrenching event, some might regard “school safety” as a niche topic that is treated separately from other justice priorities.

I am convinced, however, that this is not the case. As a criminologist, I see how closely CSSI is aligned with many of the overall challenges and priorities for criminal justice in the U.S. Read the complete message on building knowledge to make schools safer.

October 12, 2015 — New Research Projects Funded in Fiscal Year 2015

One of NIJ’s most crucial tasks as a science agency is making decisions about which research proposals to fund. I’m pleased to report that for fiscal year 2015, NIJ made over $156 million in grant awards to more than 210 research projects. These awards reflect NIJ’s commitment to funding rigorous research that helps practitioners and policymakers make criminal justice decisions based on sound scientific evidence. Read the complete message on fiscal year 2015 awards.

October 1, 2015 — Statement on Support for Forensic Science Research: Improving the Scientific Role of NIJ

On behalf of the Office for Investigative and Forensic Sciences at the National Institute of Justice, I wish to thank the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) for providing NIJ with such an insightful and thoughtful report. We appreciate the Committee's time and effort in producing this assessment.

NIJ commissioned the report to help us monitor our progress in addressing the challenges facing the forensic science community and NIJ’s role in bolstering the forensic sciences research infrastructure that were both outlined in the 2009 report, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward, and the 2010 report, Strengthening the National Institute of Justice. Read the complete statement.

September 21, 2015 — Building Our Next Generation of Researchers

As colleges and universities across the country begin a new academic year, I want to discuss one of my high-priority goals — supporting the research activities of new and emerging scholars. These creative thinkers from a variety of disciplines are proposing innovative ideas to study and solve criminal justice problems. I am proud to offer my support in the form of fellowships and research assistantships.

This year, NIJ is taking full advantage of our long-standing fellowship programs as well as several newer ones. We are supporting a record number of fellowships this year: 32 in all. Plus we are supporting seven research assistants. Read the complete message on NIJ's fellowship and research assistantship programs.

August 30, 2015 —Body-Worn Cameras: Investigating and Evaluating Their Use by Police

I recently discussed NIJ’s research on the use of body-worn cameras in a short video about the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s body-worn camera toolkit. Because this technology has been front and center in the national discussion, I thought it was important for me to remind viewers that, to date, there has been little scientific research to help law enforcement executives and other officials decide whether and how to implement the use of body-worn cameras. Read the full post and watch a video.

August 10, 2015 —Strengthening Forensic Science at Its Foundations to Improve Public Safety  

With National Forensic Science Week beginning on August 9, I can’t think of a better time to highlight the importance of NIJ’s investment in forensic science research and how that investment is improving our criminal justice system.

Since 2009, NIJ has supported forensic research with more than $127 million. That makes us a global leader in the advancement of forensic science. Read the full post.

July 27, 2015Making Change Happen in Policing

I was honored earlier this month to serve on a panel discussion sponsored by CNA about the changing role of policing, entitled: “Making Change Happen—What Must Be Done.” My specific topic was how NIJ’s investments can help move policing reforms in the right direction. This edition of the Director’s Corner is inspired by the conversation at the event. Read the full post.

July 6, 2015Envisioning the Future

I’m glad I had time before I arrived in Washington to reflect on what I want to accomplish during my tenure, because it has been in a whirlwind of activity since I arrived. Knowing that my tenure ends in January 2017 (when the next Administration takes office) has its advantages and disadvantages. But since it is my nature to focus on the advantages, here’s the biggest one: I have a hard and fast deadline to meet my goals! Read the full post and watch a video.

Date Modified: November 16, 2015