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About the NIJ Office of the Director

The NIJ Director is appointed by the President. In March 2022, President Biden appointed Nancy La Vigne, Ph.D., to be Director of OJP’s National Institute of Justice. Dr. La Vigne was sworn in as Director on May 9, 2022. See a list of past Directors.

On this page find:

Overview of the NIJ Office of the Director

The NIJ Office of the Director establishes the agency's objectives, which are guided by the needs of the criminal justice system and the priorities of the U.S. Department of Justice. In doing this, the Director and other office staff work closely with leadership and staff across NIJ’s offices.  

See How NIJ is Organized.

Priorities of the NIJ Office of the Director

The Director's priorities include:

  • Fostering rigorous and inclusive research that informs efforts to promote safer communities and more equitable justice systems. This includes supporting research that engages the people closest to the issue — community members, crime survivors, criminal justice practitioners, people who have experienced incarceration, and business leaders — to guide data collection, help interpret findings, and identify implications of research findings for policy and practice.
  • Elevating studies that apply a racial equity lens; recognize that race and ethnicity often serve as proxies for structural inequality; and include an assessment of racially disparate impacts of programs, policies, and practices.
  • Infusing technology research with a strong implementation science component. NIJ will support evaluations of technology’s implementation in the field and identify both its impacts and its unintended consequences.
  • Encouraging interdisciplinary research that includes both quantitative and qualitative inquiries and examines net costs and benefits.

Major Initiatives of the NIJ Office of the Director

W.E.B. Du Bois Fellowship for Research on Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Justice System. This program supports quantitative and qualitative research that furthers the Department’s mission by advancing knowledge regarding the intersections of race, crime, violence, and the administration of justice within the United States.

Learn more about the program and review a list of recipients.

Elevating the Field. The work of criminal justice practitioners forms the foundation for everything that NIJ does, and the Institute works to be responsive to the most pressing needs of the field. The Office of the Director has taken numerous measures to strengthen the Institute’s connection to practitioners.

Learn more:

Building the Research Field through Career Development. NIJ is committed to building the field and developing the careers of criminal justice researchers and practitioners investing in the development of researchers’ careers as a cornerstone of its leadership agenda. NIJ has a long history of making such investments, and the level of attention, the size of the investment, the number of opportunities and the planning for the future development of this element of NIJ’s work has substantially increased in recent years, with a particular increased focus on practitioners engaged in research.       

Learn more about:

Contact NIJ Office of the Director

  • For press and congressional inquiries, contact a public affairs specialist in OJP’s Office of Communications at 202-307-0703 or [email protected].
  • Use our AskNIJ box for general questions about NIJ and our funded research.
Date Published: May 10, 2022