The Bureau Team
Chief (Ret.) Brendan Cox
Director of Policing Strategies
Brendan Cox is the Director of Policing Strategies for the LEAD National Support Bureau. He was born and raised in Albany, NY and maintains his Bureau office there. Prior to coming to the Bureau, Brendan worked for the Albany Police department for 23 years and retired as the Chief. Albany was the third City to adopt and implement LEAD.
Brendan enjoys the hands-on work at the Bureau and helping
communities across the country work to reform how systems look at problematic substance use, mental health, and poverty.
LEAD National Support Bureau Director
Najja Morris is the LEAD National Support Bureau Director. In her current role, Najja is responsible for providing national technical assistance and support to jurisdictions in all phases of the implementation of local LEAD programs; focusing on the areas of harm reduction, case management and direct services.
Prior to joining the National Support Bureau, Najja served as a Case Manager, then as Direct Services Supervisor, with the LEAD Pilot program in Seattle WA for 3 years. Najja has dedicated over 20 years working within the urban areas of Seattle with/on behalf of a wide array of marginalized and disenfranchised communities; including foster-care/homeless youth, those struggling with mental health and substance abuse, chronically ill/homeless and youth involved in the juvenile justice system.
Janet Ector is a Site Advisor for the LEAD Proof of Concept Cohort Project, having begun her career in social services in 2001. Prior to joining PDA, Janet managed the HIV/Hep C Prevention and Harm Reduction programs at Glide Programs in San Francisco, where she was part of the team implementing San Francisco’s LEAD project. Previously, she worked at Shrader House as Assistant Director of this acute diversion unit, and at Walden House for eight years, where she developed an educational and group process curricula focusing on client-centered counseling, harm reduction, and health promotion. A world traveler, Janet holds a bachelor’s degree from the New College of California and an MFA degree from the California Institute of Integral Studies.
Jim Pugel is a part-time Site Advisor for the LEAD Proof of Concept Cohort Project. Prior to retirement, Jim spent 31 years at the Seattle Police Department, serving as Assistant Chief and later Interim Chief. During his tenure, Jim was the department’s executive sponsor working closely with numerous community groups, non-profit organizations and government groups to establish the inaugural LEAD initiative. Jim also served on the Harvard Kennedy School of Government Executive Session on Community Corrections, focusing on ways to better integrate released offenders, as well as reducing overall incarceration of people. He has spoken nationally and internationally on police and drug policy reform. Jim holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington, and he is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the Senior Management Institute for Police at Boston University, and the Cascade Executive Management Program from the Evans School of Public Policy at the University of Washington.
Corinna Yazbek is a Site Advisor for the Proof of Concept Cohort Project at PDA's LEAD National Support Bureau. Prior to joining PDA, Corinna was with the Vera Institute of Justice, serving as Project Manager for New Orleans LEAD. In this role, she worked closely with community and government partners to plan and launch a LEAD pilot in the French Quarter and surrounding neighborhoods. In 2018, her efforts were recognized by the New Orleans Gambit, a weekly arts and culture publication, in which she was named one of the city’s 40 achievers under the age of 40.
Previously, she worked with organizations and community leaders at the intersections of economic justice, mass incarceration, and reproductive justice on local, state, and national levels. Personally impacted by the war on drugs, she understands the ways in which using a criminal justice approach to address public health issues devastates families and communities, and is committed to working with sites around the country to shift the culture, policies, and practice of policing. The first in her family to attend college, Corinna holds a bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College, concentrating on gender, race, and power in America.