Ms. Kay Chopard Cohen - Executive Director
Ms. Kay Cohen has been a leader and catalyst for change in the justice systems of this country at every level, breaking new ground and transforming the way justice professionals do business to garner more resources, effectively use technology and research, and empowering them to new levels of excellence in public service. Through over a decade of leadership for the nation’s state planning agencies, Kay has transformed statewide justice policy leaders to use evidence-based programs, create meaningful strategic plans, and make their work key stakeholder driven.
One of Kay’s greatest strengths is her ability to create collaborations around national initiatives and sensitive issues. For example, she oversaw the creation of the Integrated Justice Information Systems (IJIS) Institute, a national nonprofit membership organization of information technology companies. Beginning as a grant from the DOJ to NCJA, the employees were initially NCJA employees until the new organization could be fully functioning and able to incorporate on its own. The IJIS Institute is now uniquely positioned to bring together industry and government in an effort to improve national security and promote effective information sharing across all levels of the justice, public safety, and homeland security communities. Kay also led a diverse group of national organizations to develop a coalition around the sensitive issue of sex offender management. Today NCJA and this coalition have the credibility of neutral subject matter specialists, pushing for the success of these laws rather than their demise. Building this coalition and changing the conversation has required maneuvering around many political landmines surrounding issues of sex offender management but also has helped Congress, practitioners, and the Administration remain focused on achieving the ultimate goals of the law.
Kay will become a full time employee of TFS to support the Secretariat and use her collaborative skills to support the Chair of the Steering Group Plenary in forming the Working Groups and Standing Committees. She will also provide legal help in setting up the transition of the Steering Group to form a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation.
National Criminal Justice Association, Deputy Executive Director
Supervise the operations and member services for association membership consisting of 51 states and territories, 800 individual public safety practitioners, 10 tribal governments, and 9 national nonprofit organizations with combined memberships over 10,000.
Collaborate with policymakers and practitioners at the federal, state, local and tribal levels including representing the NCJA Board of Directors made up of state, tribal and local criminal justice officials in all areas of crime control and public safety, using online and social media to facilitate communication and liaison work.
Design, manage, coordinate, and facilitate two national training and technical assistance projects: one on strategic planning capacity building for criminal justice stakeholders at all levels of government and the second on state-tribal intergovernmental coordination with the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). Products include webinars, online toolkit of promising practices, curriculum development and training, and websites in support of each project.
Manage a cadre of academic researchers to produce a literature review on several issues in sex offender management, and develop and implement an inventory on best practices and experts in sex offender management of national organizations and their members.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Acting Division Chief
Created two multimillion-dollar national programs by analyzing the strategic plans, short term and long term goals of NHTSA and the national organizations representing prosecutors and judges, and combining their mutual interests and objectives.
Lead the Traffic Safety Summit II for the Secretary of Transportation selecting invitees; coordinating the agenda, media and logistics; and overseeing publishing of multiple outcome reports.
Managed a 10-member staff of the Driver Control Division for all issues involving alcohol, drugs, and highway safety with a $30 million budget.
Iowa Attorney General’s Office, Assistant Attorney General
Authored trial manuals and training materials for prosecutors and other criminal justice system professionals. Created a statewide trial advocacy training program. Instructor for local, regional, state and national public and private sector groups on justice issues and legislative topics.
Provided legal counsel on criminal justice issues to prosecutors, judges, law enforcement, and other local, state, and Federal government personnel.
Private Practice of Law
Johnson County Attorney’s Office, Assistant County Attorney; Iowa City, IA
Prosecuted and litigated to jury trial, felony and misdemeanor criminal cases.