Robert L. Listenbee
Robert Listenbee, Jr.
Robert L. Listenbee serves as the Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). He was appointed by President Barack Obama in February 2013 and was sworn in to the position on March 25, 2013. As Administrator, Mr. Listenbee is working to realize the agency’s vision of a nation where all children are healthy, educated, and free from violence and, if they do become involved in the juvenile justice system, that the contact is rare, fair, and beneficial to them. To fulfill this vision, he is leading efforts across three overarching priority areas: addressing the core protections outlined in the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act; reducing out-of-home placement; and reforming the juvenile justice system so that it utilizes a developmental, trauma-informed approach with a focus on evidence-informed and evidence-based practices.
Before his appointment to OJJDP, Mr. Listenbee was Chief of the Juvenile Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia for 16 years and was a trial lawyer with the association for 27 years. In this capacity, he was instrumental in developing a drug court, a delinquency/dependency crossover court, and a graduated response court. These specialty court programs helped to divert youth out of the juvenile justice system and reduce their risk of residential placement.
As a member of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, Mr. Listenbee helped advise Pennsylvania’s governor on juvenile justice policy. While a member of the Commission, he served on the Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Subcommittee and advocated for protecting the rights of juveniles and improving their access to counsel.
In 2009, Mr. Listenbee was selected to be part of the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice, which was established in response to the “kids for cash” scandal in the juvenile courts of Luzerne County. In 2010, the Commission issued a report recommending major reforms to the statewide system to ensure that a similar injustice did not occur again. Mr. Listenbee was also a member of the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Fairness and helped create the Juvenile Defender Association of Pennsylvania, the first organization in the Commonwealth to establish a community of juvenile defenders focused on the interests of practitioners serving children and youth. He also served for a decade on the Philadelphia DMC working group that created a curriculum used at the Philadelphia Police Academy to help improve relations between youth and law enforcement.
Mr. Listenbee was also actively involved in the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Initiative. His work on this initiative included serving with both the Juvenile Indigent Defense and Disproportionate Minority Contact Networks. In 2011, he was honored by the Foundation as a Champion for Change in juvenile justice reform for his leadership in reforming the juvenile justice system in Pennsylvania. He 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. Prior to his appointment, he was also a member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice, which advises the Administrator of OJJDP, the President, and Congress on juvenile justice policy.
Mr. Listenbee played a central role in the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood Initiative. As co-chair of the National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence, he was instrumental in the development of recommendations for launching a coordinated national response to address children’s exposure to violence.
Mr. Listenbee received his B.A. degree from Harvard University and his law degree from the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley.