Policy Advisor, Department of Justice
Maria oversees the justice and behavioral health discretionary grant portfolio and collaborates with multiple private and federal agencies, to assist states, local government, and their behavioral health service providers to better understand the relationship between the criminal justice system, the behavioral health system, and people with mental illness (MI), intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD) and co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse. In this role, she assists states, tribes and local governments develop best practices to reduce the number of people with MI and IDD in the criminal justice system. She administers the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Grant Program, and other justice and mental health initiatives, to meet the needs of communities and the citizens they serve. Maria joined BJA from the North Carolina Governor's Crime Commission where she addressed the needs of victims of violent crime with policy, statute, federal law, and federal block grant funding. She has also served as a North Carolina Law Enforcement Instructor and assisted with curriculum development through the North Carolina Justice Academy. Her work history includes: intensive case management in community corrections for people with co-occurring disorders, family services, adjunct criminal justice professor and service in the United States Military Police Corps. She has a Master’s of Science in Criminal Justice and with a minor in Educational Psychology from North Carolina Central University.