JOHN M. COLLINS MA, SHRM-SCP
Executive Coach | Facilitator | Forensic Organizational Clinician
“If you need for something to improve, start by focusing on it more often. Failures happen when something important has been starved of human attention for too long.” – John Collins
John M. Collins is an executive coach, facilitator, and forensic clinician at Critical Victories, a professional practice he founded to develop people, teams, and organizations seeking to thrive in high-pressure environments where perfection is an expectation and failure is a ticket out the door. As a prolific speaker, teacher, writer, consultant, and coach, John shares unique philosophies and perspectives gained in a high-pressure, high-stakes career. His message empowers and inspires leaders and decision-makers to thrive in spite of the many challenges and urgencies they face each day.
Forensic Science Career
John’s work and expertise were developed during a 20-year forensic science career in which he emerged as among the most respected and outspoken advocates for the improvement of leadership and administrative practices in forensic science organizations. In 1996, John was one of the primary forensic scientists assigned to the investigation of the bombing of the Olympics in Atlanta and the serial bombings that rocked the city in the months afterward. Over the years, his career brought him face to face with some of the most complex and disturbing cases imaginable.
As John explains, however, “2013 was a particularly important year for me because I began to see how my experience in forensic science had value for people in other high-impact professions. The lessons were portable, you might say.”
It was during that year that John was invited to attend a high-level meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder in the office of the Vice President of the United States. It was a meeting of firearm experts (John’s primary forensic expertise was in forensic firearm analysis) to discuss the murders of 20 children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Later that year, John received among the most prestigious awards in all forensic science when he was recognized by his peers with the Briggs J. White Award, a celebration of outstanding achievements in forensic science leadership.
In 2012, John left his position as the Director of Forensic Science for the Michigan State Police, retiring from his 20-year forensic laboratory career after leading its seven laboratories and their 260+ employees to their first-ever international accreditation. He then transitioned into private practice where he continues to make impressive contributions both inside and outside of forensic science. He is the author of HR Management in the Forensic Science Lab (Academic Press, 2018), and he continues to entertain and inform audiences across the United States and overseas with stories, lessons, and perspectives gained from his illustrious forensic science career. He now teaches forensic science as a forensic science program adjunct at Michigan State University.
Education and Credentials
John earned his master’s degree in Organizational Management in 2006. He is also formally certified as a Senior Certified Professional (SCP) by the Society for Human Resource Management. He is formally trained by the College of Executive Coaching.
Born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit, John’s parents were active professionals. His father was the director of human resources for a major architectural firm in Detroit. His mother was a manager of the Older Persons’ Commission in Rochester. John attended Brother Rice High School in Birmingham, Michigan. He went on to graduate from Michigan State University in 1992 with a degree in forensic science, while competing as a four-year, record-setting discus thrower on the MSU track and field team.
In 1993, John was hired and trained by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as a forensic laboratory scientist, specializing in firearm evidence. In 1996 he was recruited by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms laboratory in downtown Atlanta — where he would find the most exhilarating yet challenging work experience of his scientific career. He and his colleagues provided crucial forensic results in the investigation of the bombing of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and the related serial bombings that followed. John’s work resulted in a published article on the use of nails by bombers to increase the lethality of homemade explosive devices. John’s efforts later earned him a commendation from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
John moved back to the Midwest in 1998, where he would eventually become a forensic laboratory director near Chicago. By 2006, under his leadership, the DuPage County Crime Laboratory would become only the fourth forensic laboratory organization in the United States to achieve intentional laboratory accreditation, which is today’s gold standard for forensic laboratory practices.
After gaining notoriety in his career for his unique leadership style and accomplishments, John slowly emerged as a prolific writer, speaker, and teacher in the use of forensic science and the administration of forensic science laboratories. A few years later, John was appointed to serve as the first-ever executive director of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors.
In 2010, John’s life reached a crossroads. He was recruited by the Michigan State Police and accepted a position to manage its seven forensic science laboratories and roughly 260 employees. The decision to return to Michigan was difficult to make, but ultimately provided John the opportunity to directly care for his parents, who were both dealing with terminal illnesses. By January 2012, John’s mother and father had passed. John would go on to retire from crime laboratory administration a couple months later to move into private practice, but not before ensuring that the Michigan State Police achieved their first-ever international ISO accreditation.
Over the following three years, John founded the Forensic Foundations Group, a successful business that enabled him to consult, teach, and develop future leaders in forensic science. By conducting leadership and professionalism workshops, John assisted countless forensic professionals with their personal and professional growth. In 2012, John was formally trained as an executive coach by the College of Executive Coaching, where he first learned the art of helping high-impact professionals, as John puts it, “get out of their own way.”
John’s vision is to strengthen professionals from all corners of the world through his work at Critical Victories. Today, John enjoys helping individuals overcoming obstacles to strengthen their skill-sets, maximize their potential, and strive for those all-important “critical victories” — both in and out of the scientific fields – that make professional life more engaging and energizing.
Interesting Facts About John
Over the last 25 years, John has built an award-winning leadership portfolio that embodies the principles of innovation and hard work that are so critical in today’s competitive environment. Among the many credentials and achievements that highlight John’s stellar career are those listed below:
- Book Author – authored HR Management in the Forensic Science Laboratory (2018, Academic Press), the first-ever textbook specific to HR in forensic science organizations
- Book Author – Crime Lab Report (2019, Academic Press). An Anthology on Forensic Science in the Era of Criminal Justice Reform
- Briggs J. White Award – recognized with one of the most prestigious award presented by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (2013)
- Gun Violence Expert – Invited as a participant in a private, 2013 gun-violence prevention meeting hosted by Attorney General Eric Holder in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings (2013)
- Sexual Assault Panel Moderator – moderated a historic expert panel in Washington, DC to discuss best-practices in the investigation of criminal sexual assault (2013)
- Executive Coach – Formally trained in by the College of Executive Coaching
- Innovator – Founder of the Professional Orientation School for New Crime Laboratory Scientists
- Formally Certified – Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) by the Society of Human Resource Management
- Executive Leader – Led Michigan State Police laboratories to their first-ever international ISO accreditation
- Editor – Founder and Chief Editor of Crime Lab Report, which has become a respected and widely read publication on forensic science policy and practice
- Steve Molnar Award – recognized by the Association of Firearm & Toolmark Examiners for excellence in scientific publication
- Federal Commendation Recipient – Recipient of a 1998 Commendation for Excellence from the U.S. Department of the Treasury for forensic analysis conducted in the investigation of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and the serial bombings that followed
- Member – Society for Human Resource Management
- Member – American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors