A Look Inside the FBI: Shalom Austin COO Attends FBI Citizens Academy | Shalom Austin

A Look Inside the FBI: Shalom Austin COO Attends FBI Citizens Academy

Community News, The Jewish Outlook

Aug 24, 2021

Shalom Austin Chief Operating Officer Janet S. Elam participates in the FBI Citizens Academy. Photo credit: Dave Hawks.

There is a saying that is common in FBI circles that “the better we know our communities, the better we can protect them.” To that end, the Community Relations Unit at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and FBI community outreach specialists in field offices across the country create and strengthen relationships locally and nationally with minority groups, religious and civic organizations, schools, non-profits, and other entities. These partnerships have led to a host of crime prevention programs, enabling families to stay safe from fraudsters and cyber predators, businesses to protect themselves from hackers and economic espionage, schools and workplaces to safeguard against violent rampages and illegal drugs, and all citizens to become alert to potential acts of terror and extremism.  

One of these programs is known as the FBI Citizens Academy. This is an engaging eight-week program that gives business, religious, civic, and community leaders an inside look at the FBI. Classes meet in the evenings at FBI field offices around the country. The mission of the FBI Citizens Academies is to foster a greater understanding of the role of federal law enforcement in the community through frank discussion and education. The class is not open to the general public. Candidates must be nominated by FBI employees or former Citizens Academy graduates. Participants are selected by the special agent in charge of the local FBI field office.   

One of the 21 business and community leaders selected for the class was Shalom Austin Chief Operating Officer Janet S. Elam. Elam was nominated by Shalom Austin Security Director Andy Dooher.  

“I was excited to nominate Janet for the FBI’s Citizen’s Academy. Janet brings a lot to the table as our COO, and I thought she would enjoy this very unique opportunity to see behind the scenes at the FBI. I also knew Janet would be an excellent representative of Shalom Austin and could help deepen our relationship with the Bureau,” said Dooher. 

Elam returned to Shalom Austin as COO in January 2020 after nearly fifteen years at Jewish Community Center Association, serving as Chief Experience Officer and before that as Senior Vice President for community consultation and executive leadership. Elam worked with 160 JCCs and managed the agency’s executive leadership programs, focusing on first-time JCC executive directors. Elam moved to Austin in 2000 when the Dell Jewish Community Campus opened and served as the first COO, after spending 20 years at the JCC in Cincinnati, starting her career as a resident camp director and concluding her tenure there as executive director. Elam has a degree in sociology from Brandeis University and she and her husband have three adult children. 

Recently, the FBI San Antonio Division held the FBI Citizens Academy class in Austin, Texas. Business and community leaders from around the region met each week to learn more about the mission, the work and the people of the FBI. 

Rosanne Hughes, Community Outreach Specialist at the FBI San Antonio Division, has been in the position for the last four years. A former journalist and Capitol Hill press secretary, Hughes said the Division has developed a strong relationship with the Jewish community throughout the state of Texas.  

“We have an outstanding relationship with the FBI’s Austin Resident Agency and the local Joint Terrorism Task Force. The FBI understands the unique security concerns of the Jewish community and we are very fortunate to have their support in keeping our community safe,” Dooher explained. 

“The FBI Citizens Academy gives participants the opportunity to meet the men and women of the FBI in a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look … to hear from the Special Agents and their supervisors about actual cases we have investigated,” Hughes said. 

Elam described her experience saying, “Being part of the FBI Citizens Academy was very interesting. The high-level programs each week broadened my knowledge of the breadth and depth of the work of the FBI. Participating with a diverse group of leaders throughout the area enhanced the experience.” 

Class was held on Thursday evenings at the Round Rock Public Safety Training Center. 

Topics included:  

  • Introduction/Welcome/Overview of the FBI and the FBI San Antonio Division – Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs 
  • Presentation on the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and a look at trends in both International and Domestic Terrorism  
  • Evidence Response Team – this was a hands-on practical exercise that allowed participants to learn crime scene investigation techniques 
  • White Collar Squad – gave a presentation about complex financial crimes, health care fraud and public corruption cases the FBI has investigated. 
  • Violent Crimes Against Children and the FBI’s Cyber Program – included a presentation about online child predators and a computer hacking demonstration 
  • The FBI’s Legal Program and Civil Rights – presentation included an explanation of hate crimes 
  • Range Day – participants went to the DPS Tactical Training Center in Florence, Texas, and heard a presentation about the FBI’s firearms program – then a hands-on opportunity to shoot FBI weapons, including the famous Thompson Machine Gun, also known as the “Tommy Gun”. 
  • Counterintelligence/Violent Crimes/Gangs – presentation from these squads 
  • Graduation Night at the Renaissance Austin Hotel – where participants received graduation certificates

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