Home Our Work Awards Award for Lifetime Leadership in Youth Justice Reform

Award for Lifetime Leadership in Youth Justice Reform

About the Award:

The Award for Lifetime Leadership in Youth Justice Reform is presented to advocates who have made extraordinary contributions toward the vision of a safe, fair, and equitable youth justice system over the course of their careers. 

Past Winners:


Patti Puritz
 is widely recognized as a national leader in working to strengthen juvenile defense practices and policies and ensure that all children have access to competent counsel throughout the duration of the juvenile court process. In 1984, she founded the American Bar Association's Juvenile Justice Center, which she directed for nearly 20 years. While there, she conceived of the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC), which she founded in 2005, and which she has directed for the past decade, while also running a separate D.C.-based nonprofit focused on developing alternatives to sentencing and incarceration, monitoring conditions of institutional confinement of youth, and designing and implementing innovative programs and services for youth in the justice system. During her 40 years in the juvenile justice field, she has taught street law to youth, and been a researcher, consultant, advisory board member, and director of many juvenile justice organizations. Throughout, she has served on numerous boards and commissions including the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, The National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, Coalition for Juvenile Justice, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Vera Institute of Justice, National Legal Aid and Defender Association, Reclaiming Futures, and the Girls Justice Initiative. In addition to her many publications and presentations, she has been honored by organizations like the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the American Bar Association, and Harvard School of Law.  

Robert Schwartz is the executive director of the Juvenile Law Center, the first public interest law firm for children in the United States, which he co-founded in 1975. In his 40-year career, Schwartz has represented dependent and delinquent children in Pennsylvania juvenile and appellate courts, brought class-action litigation over institutional conditions and probation functions, testified in Congress before House and Senate committees, and spoken in over 30 states on matters related to children and the law. In 1993 he co-authored the American Bar Association's report, America's Children at Risk, and in 1995 he helped author a follow-up report on youth's access to quality lawyers, A Call for Justice. From 1996-2006, Schwartz was a member of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice. As part of the Network, he co-edited Youth on Trial: A Developmental Perspective on Juvenile Justice, which came out in 2000. Schwartz has received numerous awards, including being honored by the Philadelphia Bar Association, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the American Bar Association, and the National Association of Counsel for Children.