Community Resources for Justice’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce that it has unanimously selected Deborah M. O’Brien, RN, MPA, to serve as CRJ’s new President and CEO, effective Sept. 1, 2020.
Ms. O’Brien brings 25 years of experience working to improve the lives of at-risk individuals, most recently as President and Chief Operating Officer at The Providence Center in Providence, Rhode Island. She will succeed John Larivee, who will retire in August after 46 years with the organization and its predecessor, including more than two decades as CRJ’s chief executive.
Ms. O’Brien is joining CRJ after three years as the President and COO at The Providence Center, a leader in providing treatment and supportive services to children, adolescents, and adults affected by psychiatric illness, emotional problems, or addiction. The organization is the largest provider of substance use treatment in Rhode Island’s prison system. She brings to her new role strategic vision, seasoned leadership experience, and a collaborative style, making her ideally suited to lead CRJ forward. Her personal and professional experience align with CRJ’s mission of changing lives and building stronger, safer communities.
Click here to read a press release about Deborah O’Brien’s selection as President and CEO
Ms. O’Brien has over 25 years of experience in management and executive leadership through her work with The Providence Center, Rhode Island Hospital, and South Shore Mental Health Center in Charlestown, Rhode Island. She has led many innovative programs and services at the intersection of healthcare delivery, integrated behavioral health, and primary care to address recovery services across Rhode Island, including partnering with police departments to embed clinicians in response teams and provide clinical services in the Providence Schools. She has both a nursing degree and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Rhode Island.
The board is grateful for the enormous contributions John has brought to CRJ, providing innovative and forward thinking leadership as it grew from a small organization focused on corrections reform to a 750-employee human services provider and public policy workshop.
John was a driving force in the creation of CRJ in its current form. He oversaw the 1999 merger of the Crime and Justice Foundation, where he served as executive director, and Massachusetts Half-Way Houses, creating a unique organization working across the intersection of policy development and direct services.
During his career, John helped to reshape the criminal justice field, working through the transition from the draconian tough-on-crime era into the emergence of evidence-based, data-driven policy work focusing on reducing recidivism and improving outcomes for individuals. He was instrumental in the creation of the first day reporting center, revolutionizing community supervision with a model now used around the world. He spearheaded the reemergence of reentry services in Massachusetts and the opening of four centers across the state. And he led efforts to reduce over-incarceration of adults, juveniles, and individuals with developmental disabilities.
At CRJ, John oversaw remarkable growth in the organization’s programs and its scope of work. CRJ opened its eighth community-based residential reentry center earlier this year in Buffalo, New York, adding to its programs supporting adults transitioning home after incarceration. The organization also operates 38 group homes for adults with developmental disabilities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. And the Crime and Justice Institute, the direct descendant of the Crime and Justice Foundation where John spent his early career, now uses its data and policy expertise to further reforms in adult and juvenile justice systems nationwide as a division of CRJ.