Head of DOJ Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention under Obama administration to return to Philadelphia as Stoneleigh Foundation Fellow.
Former Chief of the Juvenile Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia to lend national expertise to juvenile justice reform efforts in the region.
Philadelphia, PA (June 20, 2017) – The Stoneleigh Foundation today announced the selection of Robert L. Listenbee, Esq., as a Visiting Fellow. After serving as Administrator of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) in the Obama administration, Listenbee returns to Philadelphia, where he previously served as Chief of the Juvenile Unit of the Defender Association for 16 years. He will bring a national perspective to the Foundation’s work improving outcomes for vulnerable young people involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.
“Before taking his expertise to the federal level, Mr. Listenbee played an instrumental role as a bridge builder in Philadelphia. He helped cultivate a unique relationship between the District Attorney’s office and the Defender’s office and fostered cooperation among various stakeholders in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems,” said Ronnie L. Bloom, Esq., executive director of the Stoneleigh Foundation. “We’re thrilled by the opportunity to bring him back to the region equipped with the knowledge, perspectives, and relationships he developed during his time in Washington.”
In his role as a Stoneleigh Visiting Fellow, Listenbee will again serve as a bridge builder, not only between different players within and across systems, but also between the city’s past and its future as a new generation of leaders comes to the fore.
“The City of Philadelphia has served as an incubator of cutting-edge reform in juvenile justice, and the Stoneleigh Foundation’s Fellows have been involved in advancing a number of those innovations. I’m excited and honored to be returning to Philadelphia as part of Stoneleigh’s team,” stated Listenbee, who added that he had followed the Foundation’s work while he was based in Washington, D.C.
The Stoneleigh Foundation was established in 2006 by the late John and Chara Haas to improve the life outcomes of Greater Philadelphia’s most vulnerable youth. The Foundation awards Fellowships to leading practitioners, researchers, and policymakers working to advance change in systems that serve these young people, such as juvenile justice, child welfare, education, and health.
The objectives for Listenbee’s fellowship include working with the city and state’s juvenile justice, criminal justice, and child welfare agencies and organizations to advance shared policy priorities. During his Fellowship, Listenbee will also focus on mentoring the Stoneleigh Fellows, accomplished professionals working across systems to improve youth outcomes, as well as Stoneleigh’s Emerging Leader Fellows, early career professionals getting the hands-on experience needed to become social-change leaders in their fields. He will also examine ways to improve employment opportunities for youth experiencing homelessness, especially those who have been involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Listenbee will be housed at Drexel University’s Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab for the duration of his Fellowship.
“Bob Listenbee is a national leader in juvenile justice reform,” said Robert Schwartz, co-founder and executive director emeritus of Juvenile Law Center and Stoneleigh’s inaugural Visiting Fellow. “In Washington, Bob used his OJJDP pulpit to improve the lives of the nation’s children. Bob gave an eloquent and passionate voice to efforts to reduce youth incarceration, solitary confinement, and transfer of youth to criminal court. We are fortunate to have Bob return to Philadelphia to share his expertise and inspire a new generation of leaders.”
Listenbee served as the Administrator of OJJDP from March 2013 until January 2017. During his tenure, his signature innovations included the Smart on Juvenile Justice initiative, which supports grant programs that provide training and technical assistance for implementing comprehensive, data-driven statewide reforms. Six states have launched significant legislative overhauls of their juvenile justice systems, improving public safety in the four states for which at least one calendar year of data was available, reducing the number of youths removed from their homes into state custody by as much as 60%, and collectively saving a projected $315 million over five years. In March, a seventh state signed its new reforms into law.
Prior to his appointment to OJJDP, Listenbee was Chief of the Juvenile Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia for 16 years and a trial lawyer with the association for more than two decades. In this capacity, he was instrumental in developing several specialty court programs designed to divert youth out of the juvenile justice system and reduce their risk of residential placement.
At the state level, Listenbee served as a member of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the commission’s Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Subcommittee, and Philadelphia’s DMC working group. In 2009, he was part of the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice established in response to the Luzerne County “kids for cash” scandal. He also played an instrumental role in creating the Juvenile Defender Association of Pennsylvania.
Listenbee has contributed his expertise on policy committees of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association and the National Juvenile Defender Center and served on the advisory board of the National Center for Juvenile Justice. He also played a central role in the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood Initiative and served as co-chair of the National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence. The MacArthur Foundation honored him as a Champion for Change in juvenile justice reform in 2011.
Listenbee received his BA from Harvard University and his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
“What motivates me, and what motivated all the great leaders and reformers in Philadelphia I’ve worked with over the years, are the kids. We all want better outcomes for the kids. No matter what area we’re working in, whether it’s structured programs, outcome measurements, or evidence-based reform, the goal is to improve outcomes for children’s lives,” asserted Listenbee.
About the Stoneleigh Foundation
The Stoneleigh Foundation was founded by John and Chara Haas to improve the life outcomes of Greater Philadelphia’s most vulnerable youth. The Foundation meets its mission by awarding Fellowships to leading practitioners, researchers, and policymakers working to advance change in systems that serve these young people, such as juvenile justice, child welfare, education, and health. Over the past ten years, Fellows have developed new approaches to program design and delivery, changed how systems work together to better meet the needs of youth, and generated new knowledge through action-oriented research. For more information, visit www.stoneleighfoundation.org.
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