Gelb headshot Aug 2021

Adam Gelb

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

Adam Gelb has been working for a more just and effective criminal justice system throughout a 36-year career as an award-winning journalist, congressional aide, senior state government official, and nonprofit executive. He currently is founder, president and CEO of the Council on Criminal Justice, an invitational membership organization and nonpartisan think tank dedicated to building consensus for policies and practices that enhance safety and justice for all.

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’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, before joining Pew, as vice president for programs at the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse where he oversaw youth reentry and methamphetamine control programs.

Gelb speaks frequently with the media about national trends and state innovations and advises policy makers on formulation of practical, cost-effective policies that are grounded in facts, evidence, and fundamental principles of justice. His comments have appeared in nearly every major media outlet, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Associated Press, Reuters, TIME, Newsweek, the Economist, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, NBC News, PBS NewsHour, and C-SPAN.

Gelb serves on the advisory boards of Recidiviz and Act Now, and has served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (now All Rise) and the Stephanie Roper Committee and Foundation, on the Executive Session on Community Corrections at the Harvard Kennedy School, the Executive Session on Reimaging the Role of the Prosecutor in the Community at John Jay College, and the Reentry Ready Roundtable of the Convergence Center for Policy Resolution.

Gelb’s week-long series of articles on drunk driving in 1991 won a National Headliner Award as well honors from the State Bar of Georgia, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Georgia Nurses Association, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.