July | August 2019

Staff Spotlight: Cynthia Pappas, Senior Policy Advisor
Photo of Cynthia Pappas, OJJDP Senior Policy AdvisorCynthia Pappas, OJJDP Senior Policy Advisor.
As Senior Policy Advisor in the Special Victims and Violent Offenders (SVVO) Division, Cynthia Pappas oversees OJJDP initiatives to prevent youth violence and support child and youth victims of violence and sexual exploitation.

These initiatives include efforts to increase the availability of direct support services for young victims of gang-related violence and their families, and to develop comprehensive prevention and public health and safety plans that address violence in homes, schools, and communities.

In May 2019, Cynthia and SVVO leadership organized the first meeting of OJJDP’s K–12 School Safety Best Practices Working Group, which consists of experts in education, law enforcement, school safety, and threat assessment. The working group’s goal is to develop national school safety guidelines and best practices as well as a training curriculum for school stakeholders.

In addition, Cynthia helps develop and guide OJJDP programs that support services for children and youth who are victims of child sexual exploitation and domestic sex trafficking. One OJJDP grantee, Youth Collaboratory, has worked jointly with Wichita State University’s Center for Combating Human Trafficking to produce a toolkit that offers information about emerging research and best practices in addressing the sex trafficking of young people.

left quoteOur children are exposed to so much trauma—physical and sexual abuse, peer victimization, and community violence. Left untreated, this trauma can lead to lifelong health and social issues. I’m passionate about helping professionals in the field better identify and respond to children exposed to violence and supporting programs and practices that help to make homes, schools, and communities safer for children and youth. right quote

—Cynthia Pappas
Senior Policy Advisor

Cynthia is supporting the work of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges’ National Judicial Institute on Domestic Child Sex Trafficking, which helps judicial officers better understand the dynamics of domestic child sex trafficking, the applicable laws and legal considerations involving trafficking victims, how to identify trafficked and at-risk children, and how to connect these youth to appropriate services.

Through an award to the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Cynthia is responsible for OJJDP’s intervention and treatment programs for adolescent sex offenders and youth with sexual behavior problems, their child victims, and their family members.

Before joining OJJDP in August 2014, Cynthia served for 10 years as a senior social science analyst with the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, where she designed and managed national programs to advance community policing with a focus on child abuse and neglect, child sexual predators, and school safety. 

Cynthia earned dual bachelor’s degrees in psychology and administration of justice from the Pennsylvania State University and a master's degree in forensic sciences from the George Washington University, where she served as a university police officer and crime prevention training coordinator from 1995 to 1999.