Nancy Smith has more than 15 years experience working to end violence against people with disabilities. Currently, she directs the Center on Victimization and Safety at the Vera Institute of Justice, which works around the country to fashion victim services that reach, appeal to, and benefit all victims of crime. She oversees work that includes an array of initiatives focused on populations at elevated risk of harm who are often marginalized by mainstream services.
During her tenure at Vera, she has developed a diverse and robust portfolio of initiatives within the Center that address violence against people with disabilities, generally, and domestic and sexual violence, specifically. This portfolio includes a project that fosters collaborations between disability and victim service organizations and provides technical assistance to help these organizations close gaps in services faced by survivors with disabilities in their community; a national training initiative that offers conferences, institutes, and webinars to victim service providers, first responders, and other allied professionals to enhance their capacity to effectively support victims with disabilities and Deaf victims; a project developing and testing performance indicators for disability and victim service agencies to help them collect data, track progress in serving survivors over time, and identify areas that need further attention; and a National Institute of Justice-funded study in partnership with a large northeastern District Attorney’s office and a community-based, non-residential program providing services to people with disabilities to examine criminal justice outcomes and help-seeking experiences of sexual assault survivors with disabilities.
She has worked closely with more than 30 collaborations designed to improve services for survivors with disabilities; provided more than 40 trainings on a wide range of issues related to disability, Deaf culture, and victimization, including making services accessible to this population; facilitated numerous national roundtables on topics ranging from preventing sexual abuse of children with disabilities to enhancing law enforcement responses to Deaf victims; and authored numerous blog postings and reports on the topic, including Forging New Collaborations: A Guide for Rape Crisis, Domestic Violence, and Disability Organizations and Sexual Abuse of Children with Disabilities: A National Snapshot. Prior to coming to Vera, Nancy directed a collaboration of more than 40 agencies working together to prevent family violence across the life spectrum, including abuse of people with disabilities. Nancy has a bachelor’s degree in criminology and women’s studies and a master’s degree in women’s studies with a concentration in feminist policy studies from the Ohio State University.