Dr. Jennifer LeBaron serves as Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC). She has been with the JJC since 1998, serving in numerous leadership roles, focusing on program and policy development, research and evaluation, launching new initiatives, and collaborating with various stakeholders throughout the state to effect informed change within the youth justice system. During her tenure as Executive Director, the JJC has implemented many innovative reforms, including, for example, launching a Youth Worker Apprentice Program for former JJC residents, opening the agency’s first Independent Living Home, and expanding post-secondary and career and technical training opportunities for youth.
Most recently as Deputy Executive Director of Policy, Research and Planning, Dr. LeBaron served as advisor to the Executive Director on all matters pertaining to the agency’s policy agenda, spanning all operational offices, divisions, and units. She formulated positions and recommendations regarding legislation, regulations, and rules, and oversaw the completion of research and data analysis required to support the JJC’s stance on matters affecting the agency and to improve the overall functioning of the youth justice system statewide. She also spearheaded the development of the JJC’s Reform Plan for Transforming Agency Practice and Culture designed to enhance the JJC’s capacity to effectively care for the youth in its custody.
Dr. LeBaron previously served as the JJC’s Director of Local Programs & Services, overseeing the development, enhancement, and funding of local continuums of youth justice services. Importantly, for two decades, Dr. LeBaron was responsible for leading the implementation of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) in New Jersey. It was in this critical role that Dr. LeBaron proved to be a trailblazer in youth justice reform. During her tenure, New Jersey was named the only state Model Site for JDAI by the Annie E. Casey Foundation; Dr. LeBaron then worked to develop and implement a two-day training curriculum for delegations from visiting states to assist in their efforts to bring detention reform to scale statewide.
Over the course of her career, Dr. LeBaron has prepared training curricula, written user’s guides and manuals, conducted comprehensive staff trainings, carried out quality assurance reviews, developed assessment tools, case planning processes, and behavior management systems, and conducted the empirical and qualitative evaluation of various programs. She also served as Co-Chair of the New Jersey Council on Juvenile Justice System Improvement and as Chair of the Governor’s Task Force for the Continued Transformation of Youth Justice in New Jersey.
Dr. 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, Dr. LeBaron was the recipient of multiple awards and scholarships, most notably the Rutgers University Doctoral Excellence Fellowship. She also taught college courses in criminology and juvenile justice. Dr. LeBaron is the recipient of four NJ Attorney General Awards for Excellence, the W. Haywood Burns Institute’s Courageous Leadership Award, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Juvenile Detention Reform.