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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Committee on Law and Justice
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

Committee on Law and Justice Staff Information


Staff Listing 


Natacha Blain, J.D., Ph.D., Director
Emily Backes, J.D., Program Officer



Mailing Address

Committee on Law and Justice

The Keck Center of the National Academies

500 Fifth Street, NW

Washington, DC 20001


Tel: 202-334-3239
Fax: 202-334-3829


Staff Biographies (alphabetical)  


Natacha Blain  Natacha Blain, JD, PhD, serves as the Director of the Board on Children, Youth and Families (BCYF) and the Committee on Law and Justice (CLAJ) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. She has over 20 years of experience working with policymakers and senior legislative officials on a variety of social justice issues and campaigns including serving as a Supreme Court Fellow, Chief Counsel to Senator Dick Durbin on the Senate Judiciary Committee and Lead Strategic Advisor for the Children’s Defense Fund’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline Campaign. Prior to joining the National Academies, Dr. Blain served as Associate Director/Acting Executive Director of Grantmakers for Children, Youth and Families (GCYF). There she played a critical role in helping convene and engage diverse constituencies, fostering leadership, collaboration and innovation-sharing through a network of funders committed to the enduring well-being of children, youth and families. Dr. Blain earned her Master of Science and Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Allegheny University of Health Sciences and MCP – Hahnemann University (now Drexel University) respectively, and her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Villanova School of Law.
Emily Backes 2019 Emily Backes, MA, JD, is a Program Officer with the Board on Children, Youth, and Families (BCYF) and the Committee on Law and Justice (CLAJ) in the Division of Behavioral, Social Sciences, and Education at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. She is currently the study director for the Committee on the Neurobiological and Socio-behavioral Science of Adolescent Development and Its Applications and the Committee on the Assessment of Health Outcomes by Birth Settings. Previously, Emily supported the Committee on Law and Justice, providing analytical and editorial assistance to projects covering a range of topics, including juvenile justice, policing, forensic science, and illicit markets. In her time at the Academies, she has contributed support to projects on early education, science literacy, science communication, and human rights. She received an M.A. and B.A. in history from the University of Missouri, specializing in U.S. human rights policy and international law. Emily also received a J.D. from the University of the District of Columbia, where she represented clients as a student attorney with the Low-income Taxpayer Clinic and the Juvenile and Special Education Law Clinic.



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