Gelb headshot Aug 2021

Adam Gelb

President and CEO, Council on Criminal Justice
Member, Board of Directors

The Council’s founder, Gelb has been working for a more just and effective criminal justice system throughout a 36-year career as a journalist, congressional aide, senior state government official, and nonprofit executive.

Gelb’s first job out of the University of Virginia was as a reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, covering police and the drug war at its height in the late 1980s. After earning a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, he staffed the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee during negotiations and final passage of the landmark 1994 federal crime bill. From 1995 to 2000, as policy director for the lieutenant governor of Maryland, Gelb established several initiatives that focused comprehensive crime control and prevention efforts toward at-risk people and neighborhoods. He served as executive director of the Georgia Sentencing Commission from 2001 to 2003 and then as vice president for programs at the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse, where he oversaw youth reentry and methamphetamine control programs.

From 2006-2018, Gelb led criminal and juvenile justice reform initiatives at The Pew Charitable Trusts, producing groundbreaking national research that documented the high cost and low public safety return of traditional sentencing and corrections policies and helping 35 states develop, adopt, and implement increasingly comprehensive and impactful reforms.

Gelb founded the Council on Criminal Justice, a nonpartisan think tank and invitational membership organization, in 2019. He speaks frequently with the media about national trends and state innovations and advises policymakers on formulation of practical, cost-effective policies that are grounded in facts, evidence, and fundamental principles of justice.