CJII is led by District Attorney Vance’s executive team, which is made up of seven members of the executive staff of the Manhattan DA’s Office, and staffed by CUNY ISLG.


  • Marc Shaw
    Chair, ISLG Advisory Board
    Marc Shaw is Senior Advisor to CUNY’s Chancellor for Fiscal Policy, following four years (2010-2014) in which he served as Senior Vice Chancellor for Budget, Finance and Fiscal Policy. Prior to this, in 2009, he served as a Senior Advisor to Governor David Paterson. Before that, he was Executive Vice President for Strategic Planning at Extell Development Co. From 2002 to 2006, he was the First Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayor for Operations to Mayor Bloomberg. As First Deputy Mayor, Mr. Shaw served as the Chief Operating Officer for the City and as acting mayor whenever the mayor was out of town. In 1996, he was appointed by Gov. George Pataki to serve as the Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Mr. Shaw also served as the Budget Director for the New York City Office of Management and Budget under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, responsible for developing the mayor’s executive budget and advising the mayor on all policy issues affecting the City’s fiscal stability and the effectiveness of its services. He was also responsible for the City’s four-year financial plans and its capital budget. He graduated magna cum laude from the State University College at Buffalo and received his MA degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

  • Michael Jacobson
    Executive Director, CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance
    Prior to joining CUNY in May 2013 to help create the Institute for State and Local Governance, Michael Jacobson was president of the Vera Institute of Justice, serving from 2005 to 2013. He is the author of Downsizing Prisons: How to Reduce Crime and End Mass Incarceration (New York University Press 2005). Holding a Ph.D. in sociology, he has had an ongoing academic career coupled with more than 20 years of government service. From 1998 to 2005 he was a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center of CUNY. He was New York City correction commissioner from 1995 to 1998, New York City probation commissioner from 1992 to 1996, and worked in the New York City Office of Management and Budget from 1984 to 1992 where he was a deputy budget director. In 2010 to 2012, Michael served as the chair of Altus, a global alliance working across continents and from a multicultural perspective to improve public safety and justice.

  • Siobhán Carney
    Policy Director, CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance
    Siobhán Carney works closely with the ISLG executive director to ensure that all initiatives and activities are consistent with the Institute’s mission, policies and current strategic plan. In addition, Siobhán leads all work in the area of performance and project management, oversees external relationships, and is responsible for building a team to effectively deliver technical assistance and executive development and for designing fellowship, visiting scholar, affiliate faculty programs. Prior to joining the Institute, she served as chief of staff and acting research director at the Vera Institute of Justice where she managed Vera’s research department and designed a performance levels system to inform staff development and promotion practices. She has also lectured on rural development and served as a consultant to the nonprofit sector in Ireland, as an evaluator for projects funded under the Peace and Reconciliation Program for Northern Ireland and the European Union LEADER program. She holds an M.A. in spatial analysis, a post-graduate diploma in education and a Ph.D. in geography from Trinity College.
  • Alison Dieguez
    Senior Policy Associate, CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance
    Alison Dieguez coordinates the Community Navigator project and Abusive Partner Intervention Program within the Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. She has more than 10 years of experience working with survivors of violence and crime, immigrants, and members of marginalized communities. Prior to working at ISLG, she was the director of planning and community resilience at the Center for Court Innovation (CCI)’s Red Hook Community Justice Center. While at CCI, Alison developed, launched, and managed several court and community programs. Her portfolio at CCI included CARES, a trauma-informed victim service program, the Red Hook Responders, an outreach & case management program focusing on building community resilience, and the Housing Resource Center, which assisted public housing tenants who were involved with Red Hook’s Housing Court. She additionally led broader efforts in the areas of strategic planning, fundraising, and data management. Prior to this, Alison worked within the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Bureau of Mental Health and at Safe Horizon’s Brooklyn Child Advocacy Center. In this latter position, Alison participated in the investigation, prosecution, and treatment of allegations of severe physical and sexual abuse of children. Alison holds a B.A. from Purchase College at SUNY and an M.S.W. from Columbia University School of Social Work.


  • Shaun Edwards
    Senior Policy Associate
    Shaun Edwards brings cost-benefit and fiscal policy experience to various projects across the Institute. Prior to joining ISLG, she worked as a senior consultant to the United States Patent and Trademark Office and provided technical assistance within the Office of Financial Management Systems for financial software solutions and business process engineering. Her experience includes analysis on federal budgeting and accounting procedures and analysis across financial transactions. While pursuing her Masters degree, Shaun worked as a policy fellow in the Office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, where she provided economic analysis and best practice research for policies in education, economic development, sustainability, and innovation delivery. Additionally, she has published a series of briefings for the Chicago Policy Review on issues tied to labor and finance, as well as child and family policy. Shaun holds a Master of Public Policy degree and a certificate in municipal finance from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy.
  • Karen Goldstein
    Counsel to ISLG Executive Director
    Prior to joining the Institute, Karen Goldstein was vice president and general counsel of the Vera Institute of Justice, serving between 2000 and 2015. In addition to her legal responsibilities, Karen supervised Vera’s large scale demonstration projects, managed its fiscal sponsorship program, created new not-for-profit organizations from existing programs, and authored Vera’s Spin-off Tool Kit (2007). She also served as Vera’s interim executive director during 2013. While at Vera, Karen served on the board of Altus, a global alliance working across continents and from a multicultural perspective to improve public safety and justice. In addition, she has had more than a dozen years of government service. She worked as general counsel to New York City’s Department of Homeless Services from 1994 to 2000 and in New York City’s Human Resources Administration, first as associate, then as deputy general counsel, from 1986 to 1990. Between 1990 and 1992, she worked at New York State’s Office of Court Administration, assisting the administrative judge to the Family Courts in the five boroughs of New York City. Karen began her legal career at the Legal Aid Society, first as a trial attorney in the Juvenile Rights Division and then as a supervising attorney in the Criminal Appeals Bureau.
  • Patrick Hart
    Senior Policy Associate
    Patrick Hart coordinates the Youth Opportunity Hub project within the Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. His areas of expertise include improving outcomes for disconnected youth, community-based anti-poverty strategies, and workforce development. Previously, Patrick worked at the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) within the Mayor’s Office of Operations. At CEO, Patrick coordinated three programs being implemented by nonprofit providers in New York and several partner cities as part of a federal Social Innovation Fund grant. Patrick’s programs at CEO included Project Rise, a cohort-based education and employment initiative for disconnected youth; Jobs-Plus, a public housing-focused employment program; and WorkAdvance, a sector-focused job training, placement, and advancement strategy. Prior to CEO, Patrick’s work included work on affordable housing policy and programming at the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. Patrick holds a B.A. from Swarthmore College and an M.P.P. from the Harvard Kennedy School.
  • Abbi Leman
    Senior Communications Associate
    Abbi Leman has more than 10 years of experience providing communications expertise to nonprofits and higher education institutions. Before joining ISLG, she was the director of communications at the City University of New York School of Law, one of the nation’s leading public interest law schools, where she lead an initiative to redesign student recruitment marketing efforts and worked with law school leadership to launch the Sorensen Center for International Peace and Justice. Previously, she was the production editor at the Vera Institute of Justice and an English language teacher at Central China Normal University in Wuhan, China. Abbi has an M.A. in applied linguistics from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a B.A. in English and history from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.


  • Christopher Lim
    Policy Associate
    Christopher Lim works with ISLG’s policy team, concentrating on the New York County District Attorney’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. Prior to ISLG, he was a research assistant at Teachers College, Columbia University, and a fellow at Southern Education Foundation, where he conducted research on racial and socioeconomic desegregation in schools, teacher sorting, school choice, and education privatization trends. Christopher also taught middle school reading and visual arts and served as an administrator for several years. He holds a B.A. in studio art from the University of Maryland and an M.A. in sociology and education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

  • Britney Mason
    Research Analyst
    Britney Mason works on a range of research tasks primarily focused on the Manhattan District Attorney’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. Prior to joining ISLG, she spent several years working as a research assistant at the University of Pennsylvania, through the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program, on a project focusing on faith-based prisoner reentry programs. She previously worked at the Bureau of Justice Statistics, where she co-authored a statistical report on elderly victimization in the United States. Britney holds a B.A. and an M.S. in criminology from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests include reentry and diversion, translating research into criminal justice policy, and experimental/quasi-experimental design.
  • Alessandra Meyer
    Senior Policy Associate
    Alessandra Meyer works with ISLG’s policy team. Before joining ISLG, she was a senior program associate at the Vera Institute of Justice where she provided technical assistance to state and local government agencies and youth-serving nonprofit organizations on a number of juvenile justice reform initiatives. Her projects at Vera included Youth Futures, a multi-site initiative to improve the labor market and education prospects of youth involved in  juvenile justice, and the Status Offense Reform Center, an online resource center designed to help jurisdictions respond to youth who commit status offenses outside of the court system. Previously Alessandra produced documentaries for Charlotte Street Films, including The House I Live In, an examination of the U.S. war on drugs, and Why We Fight. Alessandra holds an M.P.A. and M.S.W. from Columbia University and a B.A. from New York University.

  • Neal Palmer
    Senior Research Associate
    Neal Palmer is a community researcher and community psychologist with experience in primary and evaluation research. Neal works closely with the ISLG research director to advance the Institute’s research and mission. Prior to joining ISLG, he was a senior research associate at GLSEN, a national organization addressing LGBT issues in education. While there, he advanced the organization’s work on school discipline and justice system involvement, discrimination, local climate assessment, online resources and supports, and rural contexts. He also conducted mixed-methods evaluations of the organization’s programs and initiatives. Neal was instrumental in developing the organization’s international technical expertise and research capacity. He has provided technical assistance to a variety of foundations, government agencies, and other organizations focused on youth, education, and anti-violence. He has also taught courses in social science research methods. He holds an M.S. and a Ph.D. in community research and action from Vanderbilt University.


  • Kristen Parsons
    Research Analyst
    Kristen Parsons is a member of ISLG’s research team and contributes to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. Throughout her graduate education, Kristen has designed surveys, collected data, and performed descriptive as well as inferential statistical analyses on various criminal justice topics. For example, she developed several surveys to gauge the public’s perception of marijuana usage depending on the method of administration. Kristen holds a B.S. in criminal justice from Marist College and an M.S. in criminal justice from Roger Williams University. Her research interests include reentry and diversion; drug policy; eyewitness (mis)identification; the relationship between combat sports and aggression; and violence against women.
  • Monica San Juan
    Chief Administrative Officer and Senior Aide to the ISLG Executive Director
    Monica San Juan is responsible for the overall administrative operations of ISLG including human resources, facilities, office management, and technology. Working with the executive director and research and policy directors, she ensures that the Institute has the right systems in place to support its mission and various projects in an effective and efficient manner. Additionally, she provides support to the executive director by managing his calendar and prioritizing opportunities and activities. Prior to joining the Institute she worked at the Vera Institute of Justice as special assistant to the president where she was the primary point of contact within the executive department for senior management, government partners, trustees and other outside stakeholders. Before beginning her career in the nonprofit sector, she worked at MetLife analyzing economic trends in Latin America. She received her B.A. in international relations and language and culture from the State University of New York at Purchase.
  • Theresa Sgobba
    Associate Policy Director
    Theresa Sgobba is an associate policy director with ISLG supporting projects across the Policy Department, including a substantial management role on the Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. Prior to joining ISLG, she was an independent consultant working on youth and criminal justice reform in New York City, providing assistance to government, foundations, and nonprofit organizations. Before becoming a consultant, Theresa worked for many years at the Vera Institute of Justice, most recently as associate director, then interim director of Vera’s Center on Youth Justice, where she led Vera’s assistance to New York State with youth justice reform. Prior to her management roles at Vera, Theresa served as a law clerk to the Honorable Judge Deborah A. Batts of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Theresa holds a B.A. from Stanford University and a J.D. from Yale Law School.
CUNY Institute for State & Local Governance_09.22.15Michele Toplitz
  • Michele Toplitz
    Senior Policy Associate
    Michele Toplitz brings 10 years of policy research and evaluation experience to ISLG. Prior to joining the Institute, she worked as a research associate at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) in Washington, D.C. Michele was a key member of a team supporting the Transportation Security Administration’s continuous efforts toward improving its performance. This series of studies examined the scientific basis for a behaviorally-based screening approach, evaluated program effectiveness, and developed individual and organizational performance indicators. She has also co-authored several evaluations of literacy programs in urban school districts as well as supported the development and validation of assessments to measure teacher quality and effectiveness. Michele holds an M.A. in psychology from The New School for Social Research, and a B.A. in anthropology/sociology and Spanish from Lafayette College.