Elise T. Simonsen

Policy Analyst
NGA Center For Best Practices

Dr. Elise Simonsen serves as a policy analyst for the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices’ Public Safety and Legal Counsel program. At NGA, Dr. Simonsen has provided research, policy analysis, and technical assistance to governors and senior state officials across a range of public safety and criminal justice issues, including broad criminal justice reform from pretrial to reentry, juvenile justice, probation and parole, stimulants and polysubstance use, and impaired driving and traffic safety.

Dr. Simonsen supports a national network of governor’s criminal justice policy advisors. She has written on topics including school safety, data sharing, immigration, civil asset forfeiture, ghost guns, citizen review boards, juvenile justice, opioids, cannabis, emergency communication with minority communities, and isolated confinement. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Simonsen has engaged on a number of additional issues, including early release, state mask requirements, allowable expenses with COVID funding, and statutory tolling.

Prior to joining NGA in 2018, Dr. Simonsen worked in academia. She served as an instructor at two higher education institutions in Florida. During her academic career, she was a principle investigator on multiple data collection efforts, including one for a government agency. Her data collection has ranged from student samples across universities to evaluating program implementation for a police department. While at NGA, she has continued data collection efforts on executive-level criminal justice priorities, state opioid data sources, and preventing targeted violence.

Dr. Simonsen’s published work includes topics such as gangs, substance use, childhood antisocial behavior, gubernatorial criminal justice priorities, and state-level opioid data.

Dr. Simonsen holds a doctorate in criminology, sociology and law with a concentration in criminal justice from the University of Florida, as well as master’s and bachelor’s degrees in criminology from the same institution.

Elise originally hails from New York and Florida.