Cortney Fisher, CCJS Ph.D. ’14

cortney fisher being recognized as guest coach of the game at the Maryland Women's Basketball game against Harvard

Cortney Fisher, a lecturer in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice (CCJS), didn’t initially set out to teach, advise, and support college students as a profession. But, helping students is exactly what she’s grown to love doing—with much praise and gratitude from the individuals she’s helped along the way. 

Fisher, a 2014 alumnus of the CCJS doctoral program, was recently asked to serve as “Guest Coach of the Game” for the University of Maryland Women’s Basketball team’s match against Harvard University. She was asked to be a guest coach because of her work with undergraduate students inside the classroom, and outside the classroom—most notably through her work as a member of the UMD Athletic Council’s Academics and Compliance Committee, and its Health and Wellness Committee. 

“Both of my sisters went to college on athletic scholarships, my father went to college on a full athletic scholarship, and my aunt was a college basketball coach, so I understand the pressures that student athletes face. I joined the Athletics Council to see if I could help,” she explained. “My aunt and godmother passed away in September, and she loved college basketball, women’s basketball, and Maryland basketball. So it was very cool and very special to be given this opportunity.” 

Fisher and guest Wendy Stickle, CCJS principal lecturer and director of the criminology and criminal justice program at Universities at Shady Grove, got to share in the team’s pregame meal, participate in the team’s pregame meeting, talk to Coach Brenda Frese about some of the challenges the student athletes face, and hang out courtside during warm ups. 

Fisher was presented with a dated basketball during the first media timeout of the first quarter, too. 

“Cortney is most deserving of this honor,” said Stickle. “Not only has she committed her professional career to serving and advocating for victims of crime, she has also committed herself to the success of undergraduate students. She teaches hundreds of students per semester, helps in advising students, supervises the Preventing Sexual Assault student group, and is generally committed to the growth and betterment of students and their experiences at UMD. CCJS is lucky to have her!”

Fisher received her B.A. in international politics from Pennsylvania State University, and then her J.D. from the New England School of Law. Immediately after, she took a job as the director of policy and program development for the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, where she provided legal advice and consultation to crime victims and their families and worked with the governor’s office on the state’s victim-related policies. 

Two years later, Fisher took a special assistant/policy attorney position at the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation, where she provided training on victimology and the delivery of victim services, and continued to draft policy initiatives. It was around this time that she met then-CCJS chair Sally Simpson, a Distinguished University Professor Emerita in the department, via the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, a nonprofit organization for which Fisher was providing legal services, and Simpson was serving on the board.

“She just kept saying ‘you should go get your Ph.D.’ … and so I did. I started teaching victimology in 2004 and I loved it, and I decided that this was what I wanted to do,” said Fisher. 

Over the next 10 years, Fisher juggled getting her Ph.D., teaching, and working full-time. She spent six years at the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation, one at the Maryland Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, and five at the D.C. Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants. She remained in the latter role for two years after getting her Ph.D., then continued to teach undergraduate courses part-time and work as a deputy director of the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse. 

Fisher decided to start teaching full-time in 2021. Since then, she has led classes on victimology, victim advocacy, criminal law, women in crime, ethics, courts and sentencing—and she also mentored students, continued to provide consulting services to organizations like the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence and the District of Columbia Office of Justice Grants and Victim Services, and be a faculty voice for all students.

“I love working with students,” said Fisher. “My driving passion is getting students from here, college, to the professional world, and helping them have the most successful experience they can.” 

The main photo of Cortney Fisher being recognized as the guest coach of the Maryland Women's Basketball game against Harvard is by Dylan Davies/Maryland Athletics.