David Kass, President
David serves as the president of Fight Crime: Invest In Kids and directs its overall operations. Previously, David served as deputy assistant secretary for legislation at the U.S. Department of Housing, managing the Congressional Affairs Office. He also worked on crime and children’s issues as a staff person on Capitol Hill and for several nonprofits. David received his master’s degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public Affairs and his bachelor’s degree from Amherst College.
Miriam A. Rollin, J.D., Chief Operating Officer
Miriam joined our staff in April 2001 to increase our capacity to educate policymakers about evidence-based children’s programs that reduce future crime. She brought two decades of experience as an advocate for children, youth and families. She held leadership roles at the National Association of Child Advocates, the National Network for Youth, the National PTA and other education advocacy groups. As a lawyer, Miriam practiced both as an attorney for abused and neglected children and as an assistant district attorney, prosecuting juvenile, family violence, and child abuse cases. She served on the board of the National Association of Counsel for Children and was a recipient of the Youth Law Center’s “Unsung Hero Award.” Miriam earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from Yale University and a law degree from the Catholic University of America.
Amy Dawson Taggart, Vice President
In 1995, Amy Dawson Taggart helped launch the non-profit, anti-crime organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. Former Attorney General Elliott Richardson was a leader of the organization, and what started with a handful of police chiefs has now grown to represent over 5,000 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, attorneys general, and victims of violence advocating for the investments proven to cut crime and recidivism rates. Amy remains part of that leadership team.
In November 2008, Amy co-founded Mission: Readiness, the nonpartisan, non-profit, national security organization led by retired generals, admirals and former cabinet officials. Mission: Readiness works to prepare upcoming generations of young Americans to uphold the country’s national security and economic prosperity by ensuring that they get a good start in life so they are more likely to graduate from high school, stay physically fit and abide by the law. Since 2008, Mission: Readiness has released major national and state-specific reports, met with top-ranking federal and state policymakers and held news conferences around the country calling for evidence-based investments to improve the odds that young people will grow up to be productive citizens.
Amy graduated with honors from the University of California at Irvine with a degree in political science.
Jeff Kirsch, Vice President
Jeff joined our staff in February 2003, bringing with him over 30 years of organizing and advocacy experience. Jeff oversees our staffed state operations in California, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington, and handles other internal management responsibilities. Previously Jeff served for 20 years as field director and deputy executive director at Families USA, the national consumer health organization, where he managed the organization’s education and mobilization activities with grassroots organizations and coalitions around the country as well as the electronic communications and Web site. Jeff also worked for seven years at the food and hunger policy group Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), serving as a field organizer, a lobbyist on Capitol Hill and, ultimately, director. Jeff received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia.
Natasha O’Dell Archer, J.D., National Director
Prior to her appointment as national director, Natasha served as the membership director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. Previously, Natasha spent the better part of a decade in television production, serving as a television producer and special events manager for Black Entertainment Television, and also working for the Montel Williams Show. Additionally, the award-winning Producer served as a Consultant for Educational Talent Search (ETS) through the College of Southern Maryland from 1995-2012. Under ETS, she facilitated programming for at-risk youth to keep them in school and away from crime.
Living overseas in her early years, Natasha developed her passion for enriching children’s lives by creating youth development activities for kids attending the U.S. Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Japan and Germany. Natasha received a bachelor of science in communication studies with honors from New York University and a law degree from the University of Miami School of Law, where she conducted research on crime.
Barrie Becker, J.D., California State Director
Barrie joined our staff in December 2003 to coordinate our California office. She previously served as executive director of Legal Community Against Violence for seven years. Barrie also co-founded a small law firm where she represented clients in consumer, housing, contract and family law matters. She was the recipient of the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation Nonprofit Leader Fellowship in 2001 and is a graduate of the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law and Yale University.
Tim Carpenter, Illinois State Director
When he joined our staff in October 1998 to coordinate the Illinois operation, Tim brought 18 years of experience in issue advocacy, public education, and public relations strategies at the state and national levels. For 11 years, he was the executive director of the Metropolitan Tenants Organization in Chicago, a non-profit citywide coalition devoted to promoting tenants’ rights and the availability, affordability and quality of rental housing in Chicago. Tim received a bachelor’s degree in natural resources from the environmental advocacy program at the University of Michigan.
Kim Gore, Maine State Director
Kim joined our staff in December 2006 as Maine state director. She currently also directs activities in Connecticut and Massachusetts as New England regional director. A graduate of Indiana University, Kim worked in the White House Press Office during the Reagan Administration and as assistant press secretary to Senator Mitch McConnell early in her career. She served as a legislative staff member for former Governor John McKernan and was a staffer on Olympia Snowe’s 1994 and 2000 senatorial campaigns. Kim also has experience as a fundraiser at the University of Southern Maine and at Spurwink, one of Maine’s largest mental health agencies.
Kathy “K.P.” Pelleran, Michigan State Director
K.P. joined our staff in March 2001 to launch our Michigan office, bringing 25 years of experience in leadership development and public policy at the state, national and international level. Her legislative experience includes working for retired Michigan State Senator Mitch Irwin for two years, six years as staff to U.S. Senator Carl Levin, and working as a Congressional press secretary. She also directed several successful statewide issue campaigns, including the 1994 Arizona ballot question that increased the tobacco tax to provide health care and health education. K.P. was an elected trustee for Lansing Community College for more than seven years. She has a bachelor’s degree in social science from Lake Superior State University, and a master’s degree in public administration from Western Michigan University where she is completing a Ph.D.
Dave Curry, Montana State Director
Dave joined our staff in 2011 with deep experience working with leaders in businesses, government and philanthropy in Montana and nationwide. Previously, he was a manager with Northwestern Energy Company. He is a past president of Kiwanis International and served that organization in a number of roles, including international trustee from 2001-2003, vice president/treasurer in 2005-06, and president-elect in 2006-07. He earned distinguished honors at every level in Kiwanis, including club president, lieutenant governor and governor.
Within Kiwanis, Dave coordinated the effort to expand an orphanage in 2004 for Children of Peace International. In addition to his active involvement in Kiwanis, he has served his community as finance and budget chairman of the Butte-Silver Bow Council of Commissioners, chairman of the Butte-Silver Bow Planning Board, and member of the Economic Development Committee and Attraction of Industry Committee. He has also served as a Cub Scout master, Junior Achievement adviser, T-ball coach, Little League baseball assistant, YMCA basketball coach, and member of the Butte Literacy Board and Salvation Army Board. He is an active leader in his church.
Jenn O’Connor, New York State Director
Jenn joined our staff in December 2012. Prior to this position she was a senior policy associate at the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy in Albany from January 2007 to December 2012. In this capacity, she was coordinator of Winning Beginning NY, the State’s early care and learning coalition and provided staff support to the Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC).
Jenn is Public Policy Chair for both the NYS AEYC (Association for the Education of Young Children) and the Capital District AEYC and is a Steering Committee Member of the New York State Parenting Education Partnership (NYSPEP). In 2008, she co-chaired the Early Identification and Intervention, Family Support and Engagement, and Evidence-Based Practices Committee for the State’s Children’s Plan. Prior to joining SCAA, she spent five years in Washington, D.C. as a senior policy analyst with the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices, specializing in mental health and maternal/child health issues. As a consultant to the nation’s governors, she provided technical assistance to states on everything from Medicaid programs to mental health parity. Before moving to D.C. in 2002, Jenn spent ten years in Albany as both legislative and campaign staff and finally as Director of Legislative Affairs and Education with the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL), where she specialized in health insurance issues. Jenn has a B.A. in English/Creative Writing Arts from SUNY-Oswego and is pursuing a Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy.
Cynthia Rees, Ohio State Director
Cyndy joined our staff in March 2004 as the Ohio state director. Most recently, she served as the communications assistant in the Ohio attorney general’s office. Previously, she was the president of Riverwalk Incorporated, an Ohio-based public relations and government relations firm, where she focused on the research and development of multimedia materials and grassroots campaigns. She brings nearly a decade of experience in media production and public relations at organizations such as KidZTime TV, a violence-free children’s TV network. She has also volunteered on several statewide and federal campaigns. She attended The Ohio State University.
Martha Brooks, Western States Regional Director
Martha joined our staff in September 2004 as Oregon state director and currently serves as Western states regional director. She previously developed a successful real estate practice in the Portland, Oregon area and served in a leadership role in many local political activities. She received the State and Local Realtor Association’s “Realtor Active in Politics” Awards for her grassroots lobbying activities, candidate campaign volunteer work, local and statewide issue campaign volunteer work, and involvement as an elected local school committee member. Martha has volunteered in her community in numerous capacities, including taking the lead in creating an innovative scholarship program at Aloha High School for lower-income kids to help them participate in extracurricular programs. She attended Idaho State University.
Bruce R. Clash, Pennsylvania State Director
Bruce joined our staff in January 2001 to launch the Pennsylvania state office. He previously worked in private sector governmental relations, research and public affairs firms in Washington, D.C., to mobilize business leaders and nonprofit association volunteers to participate in the political process. His experience includes serving as the public affairs director for the International Safety Equipment Association.
Bruce majored in politics and government at Ohio Wesleyan University, and earned his master’s of public administration degree at the American University.
Laura Wells, Washington State Director
Laura joined our staff in September 2006 as the founding director of our Washington state office. She brings 25 years of experience in administration and promotion of programs for children. Prior to joining our staff, she was a member of the management team of Child Care Resources (CCR), the largest nonprofit resource and referral agency in Washington State, where she worked on early childhood issues, with a particular focus on improving quality of programs. Her work at CCR also included leadership of the King County Alliance for Human Services, a coalition of community-based organizations, religious leaders and philanthropists working with business and elected officials to stabilize funding for human services. In 2003, she received the Seattle Human Services Coalition Excellence in Advocacy Award. Laura holds master’s degrees in speech and hearing sciences and in public administration from the University of Washington.
National Team Leaders
Nicholas D. Alexander, J.D., Federal Policy Director
Nick directs the federal policy efforts of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. Prior to joining our organization in 2009, Nick served as the criminal law counsel for the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) where he assisted attorneys general from around the country in criminal justice policy matters. Before joining NAAG, Nick practiced law in Maryland, working with a firm specializing in the representation of police officers, where he handled criminal and civil litigation matters. He also has worked for the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section, where he staffed the Prosecution Function Committee and assisted the section’s governing board in developing policy recommendations. A graduate of the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law and a member of the Maryland State Bar, Nick received his B.A. in political science from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
David Batts, Strategic Planning and Development Director
David joined our staff in January 2000 with extensive nonprofit and development experience in a variety of areas, including fundraising, communications, strategic planning and public policy. He previously served as the development director for Children’s Express and the Alliance for Justice and as associate director of communications and outreach for the Alliance To End Childhood Lead Poisoning. David graduated from American University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and public communication.
Dan Barash, Director of Finance and Administration
Dan joined our staff in November 2005 as director of finance and administration. He previously worked in the private sector before joining Pre-K Now, which confirmed his passion for working for children’s advocacy nonprofits. Dan is a certified public accountant and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting at the University of Florida.
William C. Christeson, M.H.S., Research Director
Since joining our staff in August 1998, Bill has headed a research team that has produced hundreds of well-publicized reports on the impact of high-quality investments in children on reducing crime and saving taxpayers’ money. Before joining our organization, Bill served as a health policy analyst for the D.C. Department of Health, where he set up a surveillance system of intentional injuries at the two major hospitals treating victims of violence. He also worked as the principal congressional liaison for a Philippine human rights group during the 1980s. Bill majored in economics at Stanford University and received his master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where he focused his research on violence prevention.
Mary Muktarian, P.H.R., Human Resources Manager
Prior to joining our staff in 2009 in the newly created role of human resources manager, Mary served as the human resources manager for a non-profit civil legal services program in Pennsylvania serving low-income clients requiring legal assistance in the areas of domestic violence, health care, education and housing. She previously served as a technical expert in human resources issues for a nonprofit industrial resource center supported by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. Mary received a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Kent State University and is a certified human resources professional.