Joanna Weiss was the Director of Criminal Justice at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. Joanna created and managed the Foundation’s fines and fees portfolio, garnering millions of dollars of support for 20 research, litigation and technical assistance projects to address the negative impacts of fines and fees in the justice system. She helped develop projects to measure the scope and impacts of both adult and juvenile fines and fees across the country, the fiscal impacts of various practices for collecting fines and fees and to study the use of alternative practices including means-adjusted fines and community service. Joanna also worked with litigators to expand their efforts to pursue broader statewide reform strategies and to create a community of practice where litigation strategies, successes and failures could be shared. Joanna also helped develop the program at Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Policy Program to pilot fines and fees reforms in five states. She is a member of the National Task Force on Fines and Fees, the ABA’s Taskforce to address fines and fees, and is working with Fair and Just Prosecution to help develop an agenda for fines and fees reform by prosecutors. She has spoken extensively at meetings and conferences to educate policymakers on the problem and potential solutions to fines and fees.
Prior to her work at the Foundation, Joanna had a varied career in New York City government, where she held legal, operational and policy positions. Joanna worked in the Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator in the Mayor’s Office improving efficiency, transparency and fairness in administrative courts. She helped develop and implement a code of ethical conduct for the city’s administrative judges to ensure fairness in the courts and to implement protections and improved access to justice for self-represented litigants. She also served as the chief program officer for the city’s Business Integrity Commission and oversaw the implementation of the city’s first agency-wide cloud-based data management system. Prior to that, she worked in the Office of the Mayor as the executive director of the New Business Acceleration Team, a group dedicated to simplifying and accelerating the process of opening a new business in New York City. Joanna began her career in the New York City Law Department and served as a senior counsel representing the city in 9/11-related litigation and policy decisions.
Joanna holds a J.D. from the George Washington University Law School, an M.A. from the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs, and a B.A. in political science from Bryn Mawr College.