Ford Brings FBI Background to Piedmont’s Criminal Justice Offerings
Dr. Kristin Ford’s reputation preceded her at Piedmont University.
It was a badly kept and slightly incorrect secret that a former Federal Bureau of Investigation profiler was teaching classes at Piedmont this fall. Ford is hesitant to talk much about her background except to explain that she was a crime analyst who supported profilers, not an actual profiler.
What Ford does say illustrates a stick-to-it attitude that got her where she wanted to be.
“Growing up, I was interested in some aspect of the crime world,” Ford said. “I was a freshman in high school when I decided I wanted to work in the FBI’s crime lab.”
As a freshman in college, she was an undeclared biology major because she wanted to work with DNA analysis. The classes — zoology, organic chemistry — were not what she’d imagined they would be. In her second semester, she took a psychology class.
“I thought, ‘Wait a minute. This is what I want to do.’ The human brain, to me, is the most fascinating thing in the world. I just grew a love for psychology,” Ford said.
Ford grew up in Long Island, New York. When she was in high school, her family moved to Virginia. She was a first-generation college student who achieved two degrees there — an undergrad in psychology and special education from James Madison University and a graduate degree in forensic psychology from Argosy University. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in criminal justice/law enforcement administration from Capella University.
Between her undergraduate and graduate studies, Ford worked for a police department in a town that measured just two square miles. The town was small, but her job as a 911 dispatcher was not. She answered the phone and dispatched law enforcement officers, fire, and EMS. That experience solidified her desire to work in criminal justice.
After two years, Ford applied for and secured an administrative position with the FBI. As she completed her master’s degree, she set her sights on the bureau’s exceptionally selective Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU).
“I was extremely blessed that I got in — on my fifth attempt,” Ford said. “It was there that I absolutely knew what I wanted to be doing.”
Ford stayed with the FBI for 19 years, eight of them in the BAU. She also provided criminal intelligence support for other units. The conversation about what she did for the FBI ends there. She cannot divulge specifics.
Since 2009, Ford has also been a college professor, mainly teaching online classes as an adjunct for three different schools. At Piedmont, she is a full-time professor with a mix of in-person and online courses. She enjoys face-to-face interaction with undergraduates eager to learn more about criminal justice and possibly follow a path like hers.
“From talking to students and others who have been around for a while, I know a lot of students were in internships that led to careers. That is awesome. I didn’t have that at my undergrad, but I went to a big state school, and you were just a number.”
Ford teaches victimology, abnormal psychology, introductory courses for research methods and criminal justice, and a senior seminar for the social sciences. She will teach other psychology courses as needed.
Piedmont has the potential to grow its offerings around criminal justice, including a possible forensic psychology graduate program.
“Most people believe that forensic psychology is just offender profiling, and that’s all we do. But forensic psychology is anywhere the criminal justice system touches the world of psychology,” Ford said. “I think there is an opportunity for the program to expand here and include more of the forensic psychology aspect.”
For more information about Piedmont’s programs, visit piedmont.edu/criminal-justice or piedmont.edu/forensic-science.