Membership & Strategic Communication Team
Finance & Administration Team
Chalachew Alemu, M.S.
Senior Grant Accountant
Chalachew Alemu joined JIRN staff in January 2019 as a Senior Grant Accountant. He is responsible for all activities related to the management of Federal-funded grants. He received his Master’s of Science in Accounting & Finance from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. Before joining JIRN, Chalachew was a manager at a nonprofit accounting consulting firm that dealt with federal government contracts and business organizations. Chalechew has over 15 years of experience in Accounting & Finance. His experience includes serving as a board of directors member for a credit association and a commercial bank and as an instructor for undergraduate accounting and financial management courses.
Devorah Braswell joined the JIRN staff in January 2019 as an Accounting Specialist. She is responsible for processing payroll, bank reconciliation, accounts receivable, and payables. Devorah is completing studies for Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. Prior to joining JIRN, she worked at Global Express Financial Services as a Staff Accountant and came to JIRN with over 15 years of experience in Accounting.
Katrina Cole, Ph.D.
Katrina Cole joined JIRN in May 2023 as a Research Analyst. She received her Ph.D. in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Massachusetts Lowell in 2023 and her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from San Diego State University in 2017. Prior to joining JIRN, she served as a research assistant on multiple U.S. State Department-funded studies to estimate the prevalence of forced labor and human trafficking in different industries in Morocco, Tunisia, and Vietnam. Her past research has focused on sentencing and recidivism of individuals convicted of sexual offenses, the association between sex buying and sexual violence, and public opinion of criminal justice policies related to the commercial sex industry.
Methodologies: Survey design, quantitative analysis, data coding and transformation, multilevel modeling, statistical graphics
Research areas: Sexual violence, sex work, human trafficking, courts and sentencing, public opinion, public policy, prevention
Director of Finance
Audrey Fleming joined the JIRN staff in October 2016. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business with an Accounting Concentration from Strayer University. She is responsible for managing all aspects of the financial and administrative operations of the JIRN. She supports JIRN’s Executive Director in strategizing a path for the Association’s Financial health. Prior to joining JIRN, Audrey worked as an Accounting Manager at the Alliance for Academic and Internal Medicine (AAIM), a non-profit association.
Shaun Gann, Ph.D.
Shaun Gann joined JIRN in May 2022 as a Research Associate. He received his Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati in 2017 and his Master of Arts in Criminal Justice from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2010. Prior to joining JIRN, he served as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Boise State University and as a Parole Officer with the Arkansas Department of Community Corrections. He is the coauthor of two books: Correctional Assessment, Casework, and Counseling and Constitutional Rights of Prisoners. His recent research has appeared in Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, Journal of Crime and Justice, Journal of Developmental and Life Course Criminology, Journal of Juvenile Justice, and Journal of Criminal Justice Education.
Methodologies: Causal inference; Treatment effect estimation; Data collection and coding; Experimental and quasi-experimental designs; Longitudinal data analysis; Program evaluation
Research areas: Juvenile court decision-making, racial and ethnic disparities, adolescent development, courts and sentencing, correctional law and policy, parole and reentry, constitutional law, developmental criminology
Lily Hanrath, Ph.D.
Lily Hanrath joined JIRN in April 2023 as a Research Associate. She received her Ph.D. in Criminology from The Pennsylvania State University in 2021. Prior to joining JIRN, Lily worked at the Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, which is housed in University of Minnesota’s law department. She is particularly interested in racial and gender disparity in criminal justice outcomes, actor decision-making, and the interplay between different divisions of the justice system. Her research has been published in academic journals such as Justice Quarterly and Crime & Delinquency as well as in multiple state reports..
Methodologies: Selection models (propensity score models, Heckman analysis, hurdle models); Administrative data merging and analysis; Survey writing and analysis; Content analysis; Risk assessment evaluation
Research areas: Courts & sentencing probation & parole, police, pretrial, race & gender disparity in criminal justice, criminal justice policy
Susan Smith Howley, J.D.
Project Director, Center for Victim Research
Susan Smith Howley joined the JIRN staff in October 2017, becoming the Project Director for the Center for Victim Research. Prior to coming to JIRN, Susan was Director of Public Policy for the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC). She has more than twenty-eight years of experience with crime victims issues, including analyzing federal and state legislation regarding the rights and interests of crime victims, exploring the capacity of the crime victim services field and identifying needed areas of improvement, exploring the integration of research and practice in victim services and developing recommendations to foster that integration. She earned her Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University Law Center.
Expertise: Victims & victimization
Strategic Communication Specialist
Kimberly Puerto joined JIRN in August 2022 as an intern and formally in February 2023 as a Strategic Communications Specialist. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Criminology from the University of La Verne in January 2023. While working for JIRN, Kimberly also works as the Communications Secretary for St Joseph Catholic Church in Southern California.
Expertise: Multimedia productions, social media design, public media relations, online course design
Diba Rouzbahani, M.A.
Diba Rouzbahani joined JIRN in May 2023 as Research Analyst. She holds a Master’s of Arts from Rutgers University and is pursuing her Ph.D. in Criminal Justice at the John Jay College-Graduate Center (CUNY). Before her role at JIRN, Diba held research positions in diverse sectors, including nonprofit organizations, philanthropy, and academia. Most Recently, she worked as a graduate research associate at Arnold Ventures.
Methodologies: Time series analysis, discourse analysis, spatial analysis, mixed methods, and storytelling through visualization.
Research areas: Pretrial justice, punishment and inequality, policy and program evaluation, and jail trends.
Jeffrey Sedgwick, Ph.D.
Jeffrey Sedgwick joined JIRN as Executive Director in January 2015, previously serving as Director of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). Dr. Sedgwick is responsible for the overall management of JIRN, including administrative functions, program development and implementation, and liaison to other national criminal justice organizations. He provides staff support to JIRN’s Executive Committee and the Association’s members.
Dr. Sedgwick received his MAPA in Public Administration and Public Policy and his Ph.D. in Government and Public Affairs from the University of Virginia. He is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where he taught multiple courses, including Policy Analysis and Evaluation and Public Policy. Dr. Sedgwick also co-founded the consulting firm Keswick Advisors, which aids in developing program outcomes and performance measures for various projects, including evaluating youth crime prevention programs funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).
Alexa Singer, Ph.D.
Alexa Singer joined JIRN in June 2023 as a Research Associate. She received her Ph.D. in Criminology and Criminology Justice from Florida State University in 2019. Prior to joining JIRN, she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Western Carolina University. Her research focuses on local jail related issues, including jail reentry and behavioral health concerns faced by jail detainees including mental health conditions and substance use disorders. In addition to jails, her work has focused on public opinion about criminal justice institutions and policies in a cross-national context.
Methodologies: Program evaluation, data collection, qualitative methods, quantitative methods, mixed methods
Research areas: Local jails, jail reentry, prisons, prisoner reentry, behavioral health conditions, public opinion; cross-national research
Nicole (Nikki) Thomas
Nicole Thomas joined the JIRN staff in September 2017 as an Administrative Coordinator. Nicole is responsible for monitoring and managing sub-award agreements and audits, conference and in-house meeting logistics, and maintaining membership data. She is currently enrolled at the University of the District of Columbia, pursuing an AA Degree in Business Management. She has over 25 years in the Administrative field. Prior to joining JIRN, she worked at the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) as a Staff Associate. She is a member of the Martha’s Table Child Development Center Healthy Start Program.
Jason Trask, M.S.
Strategic Communication Associate
Jason Trask is a Strategic Communication Associate who joined the Justice Research and Statistics Association in October 2000. In that time, he has worked in several positions on a variety of data collection, program evaluation, and training and technical assistance (TTA) projects, including the Weed and Seed Data Center Project and the Bureau of Justice Assistance Center for Program Evaluation and Performance Measurement Project. Currently, Jason works on the Center for Victim Research, Incident-Based Reporting Resource Center, and the State Justice Statistics project, providing technical expertise in a variety of areas. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Administration of Justice from the Pennsylvania State University and a Master’s of Science in Justice, Law, and Society from American University.
Expertise: Data collection, program evaluation, technology for training & technical assistance, training & technical assistance, strategic communication
Leah Valenti, M.S.
Knowledge Base Administrator
Leah Valenti formally joined JIRN in May of 2023. She completed a practicum with the organization in 2021 while working on her Master’s of Science degree in Library and Information Science. Leah is a PMP-certified Project Manager and Certified Scrum Product Owner with over a decade of experience. She received her MSLIS from The Catholic University of America and her BS in Marketing from Rutgers University.
Expertise: Project management, Scrum, SDLC, management