ON MAY 8, Amy Keller completed the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Citizens’ Academy, a seven-week program that enables business, religious, and civic leaders to develop stronger relationships with the FBI on behalf of their communities.
Keller was nominated for the program in recognition of her professional work as external affairs director of security initiatives at the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey and her personal service throughout the broader community, from environmental causes to public education.
Keller is part of the federation’s Security Task Force, which convenes local and federal law enforcement personnel, private citizens, and businesses specializing in security, as well as Jewish and other faith-based organizations, to make communal gathering places safer and more secure. Through the task force, the federation conducts and sponsors security training; oversees information-sharing networks; fosters relationships with law enforcement, public safety, and elected officials; awards federation security grants; and facilitates applications for Homeland Security grants.
Keller was one of 30 chosen from a field of 80 applicants who were nominated by FBI employees, Citizens’ Academy graduates, and community leaders. Participants were selected by the special agent in charge of community relations with the bureau’s Newark field office.
“The FBI has been a long-time valued partner of the Jewish federation through our Security Task Force and our interfaith initiatives combatting hate,” said Keller. “Selecting me to participate in its Citizens’ Academy is a testament to the federation’s close working relationship with the bureau. I look forward to helping the Jewish federation bring even stronger relationships, insights, and tools gained from the Citizens’ Academy to the Jewish community and our interfaith partners.”
Participants in the Citizens’ Academy, part of the FBI’s Community Outreach Program, were introduced to the operations of an FBI field office and some of the techniques used in the bureau’s criminal, counterterrorism, and counterintelligence investigations. They also took part in firearms training and simulated tactical scenarios.
Keller said the classroom work — which included active-intruder case studies and human trafficking awareness training — helped debunk myths portrayed in TV crime dramas. With all its robotics, crime labs, and other impressive technological resources, Keller said, the FBI is at its heart people caring for people.
“I came away knowing the FBI welcomes organizations and citizens having a direct line into its communication channels, resources, and services,” she said. “We have someone to talk to, someone to bounce ideas off of. And the FBI needs us — the community. They can only connect the dots if the community reports things.”
Keller is now part of the FBI National Citizens’ Academy Alumni Association, supporting local, state, and federal law enforcement through community education and outreach.
“Amy will serve as an ambassador for the FBI, to foster a greater understanding of the role of federal law enforcement in the community through frank discussion and education,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie. “Our Citizens’ Academy graduates are an invaluable asset to the mission of the FBI, which is to protect the American people and uphold the constitution of the United States.”