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Meet NIC Deputy Director Holly Busby

Holly Busby is the deputy director of the National Institute of Corrections (NIC). She has had an expansive career in criminal justice, serving over 30 years in a variety of roles from deputy sheriff to victim services and child protection social worker. All this includes a variety of roles in pretrial, probation, and parole services within Dodge and Olmsted Community Corrections, a two-county community corrections system in the state of Minnesota.

“The variety of positions that I’ve held has really shaped how I view the work of the institute,” Busby says. “I worked with people to help them identify and make the changes that they need…to repair harm to victims, to heal relationships with their family, to address substance use disorders, to get the kind of treatment that they need to keep them[selves] out of the system.

“All of those experiences,” Busby says, “all of those different people I’ve met with at different and challenging times in their lives really shaped who I am and how I see that the system can have a very positive impact. It can change lives. I’ve seen it happen.”

For the past 50 years, divisions at NIC have worked collaboratively to address the needs of professionals who work with justice-involved adults throughout the span of the criminal justice system, from law enforcement and the courts to corrections, including probation and parole. It’s this collaborative aspect of NIC that makes Busby so passionate about her work and that of the institute. She says it’s an opportunity to apply all of the experiences in her career to help others who are helping people in the system.

Busby first joined NIC through an Intergovernmental Personnel Act agreement and served as a correctional program specialist with the NIC Academy Division. Within two years, she joined NIC full time. Taking on higher-level positions, Busby served as chief of the NIC Community Services Division and then as deputy director of the agency. Today, she oversees the management of NIC’s internal operations and supports the division chiefs and the work of each division.

“As deputy director, I want to support NIC’s existing goals of increasing staffing, increasing NIC budgetary funding, and expanding services to federal, state, tribal, and local criminal justice agencies and practitioners,” Busby says.

Expanded services include (1) creating resources to help jurisdictions improve outcomes for people with mental health and substance use disorders, (2) helping corrections practitioners learn how to make better use of data, (3) facilitating the expansion of the use of peer support programs, and (4) expanding opportunities for people with lived experience to inform the development of innovative corrections programs in partnership with criminal justice practitioners.

Personally, Busby is also generally concerned with NIC’s well-being. “It’s really important to me to address the internal operation challenges that NIC has, including expanding our use of technology and seeking out more modern methods to standardize and automate our administrative processes,” she says.

Planned improvements to NIC’s customer service is one example of how new technology will be applied. Developers have been asked to create software that streamlines how customers request technical assistance. Replacing an old system of email and spreadsheets, the new system will allow customers to make requests and receive response plans in a central location. Busby hopes the system will benefit customers and employees alike, because it should alleviate much of the administrative work that can impede employees’ ability to do their best work.

Using technology to collect and analyze data is another goal. Busby hopes NIC can use the insights that data can bring to better anticipate and evaluate the needs of criminal justice agencies.

With less than a year in office, Busby says that so far the most rewarding part of being deputy director has been her ability to work with passionate people, others who are committed to the mission and vision of NIC and devoted to work collectively to improve the field of criminal justice and the lives of individuals and families who have been affected.

“[NIC employees] are some of the most resilient people I have ever worked with,” Busby says. “I love the people who are NIC. I love the institute and our mission. And I respect and learn a lot from our constituents and stakeholders. It is an absolute privilege to get to work with all these great people, and I’m committed to doing my part to help NIC prepare for another 50 years of service to the country.”

Holly Busby, Acting Deputy Director, NIC