Thomas Abt

Senior Research Fellow

Thomas Abt is a Senior Research Fellow with the Center for International Development, where he leads the Center’s Security and Development Seminar Series. He is also a member of the Campbell Collaboration Criminal Justice Steering Committee and the Advisory Board of the Police Executive Programme at the University of Cambridge.

Both in the United States and globally, Abt writes, teaches, and studies the use of evidence-informed approaches to reduce urban violence, among other criminal justice topics. His forthcoming book, Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence – and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets, will be published by Basic Books in June 2019. His work is featured in media outlets such as Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, the Chicago-Sun Times, The Guardian, Vox, and National Public Radio.

Before joining Harvard, Abt served as Deputy Secretary for Public Safety to Governor Andrew Cuomo in New York, where he oversaw all criminal justice and homeland security agencies, including the Divisions of Corrections and Community Supervision, Criminal Justice Services, Homeland Security and Emergency Services, and the State Police. During his tenure, Abt led the development of New York’s GIVE (Gun-Involved Violence Elimination) Initiative, which employs evidence-informed, data-driven approaches to reduce gun violence.

Before his work in New York, Abt served as Chief of Staff to the Office of Justice Programs at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he worked with the nation’s principal criminal justice grant-making and research agencies to integrate evidence, policy, and practice. He played a lead role in establishing the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, a network of federal agencies and local communities working together to reduce youth and gang violence. Abt was also founding member of the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, a place-based development effort that was recognized by the Kennedy School as one of the Top 25 Innovations in Government for 2013.

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