Thomas Abt is a Senior Research Fellow with the Center for International Development, where he leads CID’s Security and Development Seminar Series. Both in the United States and globally, he teaches, studies, and writes on the use of evidence-informed approaches to reducing gun, gang, and youth violence, among other topics. Abt is a member of the Campbell Collaboration Criminal Justice Steering Committee and the Advisory Board of the Police Executive Programme at the University of Cambridge. He also serves as a Senior Fellow to the Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard Law School and the Igarapé Institute in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Before joining Harvard, Thomas 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, Thomas led the development of New York’s GIVE (Gun-Involved Violence Elimination) Initiative, which employs evidence-informed, data-driven approaches to reduce violence. He also established the Research Roundtable on Criminal Justice, a statewide criminal justice community connecting research with policy.
Before his work in New York, Thomas served as Chief of Staff to the Office of Justice Programs at the US 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. Thomas was also founding member of the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, a place-based development effort that was recognized by HKS as one of the Top 25 Innovations in Government for 2013.
Thomas received a BA in Economics from the University of Michigan and a law degree with honors from the Georgetown University Law Center.