Juvenile Justice Commission Announces Leadership Transition
Executive Director Kevin M. Brown to Retire at End of October;
Dr. Jennifer LeBaron to Serve as Acting Executive Director
TRENTON — Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced a leadership transition at the Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC), with Executive Director Kevin M. Brown retiring at the end of October and Deputy Executive Director Jennifer LeBaron, Ph.D., assuming the role of Acting Executive Director. To assist with the transition, Erin O’Leary, an Assistant Attorney General in the Division of Law, will serve for a four-month period as Counsel to the Acting Executive Director.
Executive Director Brown has served as JJC Executive Director since 2012. Before that, he served as the Assistant Director of Probation Services at the Administrative Office of the Courts.
“Executive Director Brown has dedicated his career to serving the youth of our state,” said Attorney General Grewal. “I thank him for his three decades of public service and commend his dedication and commitment to juvenile justice reform.”
Dr. LeBaron, who has spent more than two decades at JJC, will assume the role of Acting Executive Director on October 18, 2019. As the Deputy Executive Director of Policy, Research, and Planning, LeBaron serves as the advisor to the Executive Director on all matters pertaining to the agency’s policy agenda, spanning all operational offices, divisions, and units.
Since 2004, LeBaron has overseen the implementation of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), spearheading a statewide effort that has dramatically reduced the juvenile detention population in New Jersey’s state and county facilities. Over this fifteen-year period, the number of juveniles committed to JJC facilities have declined by approximately 85 percent, to fewer than 200 youths, and the number detained in county facilities has declined more than 80 percent, to approximately 2,500 youths. Because of JJC’s tremendous work in juvenile justice reform, New Jersey has been recognized by national experts as a national model for state-led juvenile detention reform, and was the first state to receive state-level JDAI model designation in 2008.
LeBaron received a B.A. in Psychology from Georgetown University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University. Her dissertation focused on risk prediction and risk assessment, examining the role of community context in juvenile recidivism. While in graduate school, LeBaron was the recipient of the Rutgers University Doctoral Excellence Fellowship, the Rutgers Graduate School Walter Russell Scholarship, the School of Criminal Justice Fellowship, and the NJ Association of Business & Professional Women’s Mary Johnston Scholarship.
“Dr. LeBaron offers tremendous leadership, as well as dedication and commitment to juvenile justice and the care of our young people,” said Attorney General Grewal. “She has been a trailblazer in juvenile justice reform and I’m certain she will serve this state well as Acting Executive Director.”
“I am honored to be appointed by Attorney General Grewal for this leadership position and eager to continue the vital work of turning lives around and improving outcomes for young people in our juvenile justice system,” said Dr. LeBaron. “Much great work has been done, but much remains to be done for juvenile justice reform, as we strive to minimize racial disparities in the system, maximize diversion of low-level offenders into community-based programs, and strengthen our partnerships with communities, families, and schools.”
During the transition, Dr. LeBaron will be joined by Erin O’Leary, who will serve temporarily as Counsel to the Acting Executive Director. O’Leary currently serves in the Division of Law as the Assistant Attorney General overseeing litigation involving the Department of Children and Families (DCF), and will continue in that role while advising the JJC. Earlier in her career, O’Leary served as Deputy DCF Commissioner, where she oversaw the Office of Legal Affairs and Licensing, the Institutional Abuse Investigation Unit, the Office of Advocacy, and the Office of Policy and Legislative Affairs.
Later this fall, JJC will begin a nationwide search for a permanent Executive Director. The position of Executive Director is a gubernatorial appointment and is subject to the advice and consent of the State Senate.