Robert Ledger Burton - Biography
Bob Burton, Founder of VisionQuest and Chairman of its Board of Directors, began his involvement with youth in crisis as a VISTA volunteer working on American Indian reservations in Nevada and Montana. Bob had no idea at the time of the impact this experience would have on his future.
When an automobile accident in Montana changed the direction of his life, ending his dreams of playing professional football, he moved home to Delaware. He started working in the juvenile correctional system, first in Delaware and later moving on to Nevada. It was in Clark County, Nevada that Bob acted on his belief that locking kids up was dishonoring and damaging, and decided to leave the system in order to offer an alternative to razor wire and locked cells.
In 1973, with the support from his family and the Honorable John P. Collins, a juvenile judge in Tucson, Arizona, Bob started VisionQuest with six youth placed by the Juvenile Court. Drawing on his experience as a volunteer with the Crow Tribe of American Indians, he developed a unique philosophy which has remained consistent through VisionQuest’s growth to its current population in 2007 of over 1500 young people in affiliated programs in 7 states.
Bob’s idea from the beginning was to be an employee owned company which could keep the child at the center of growth and program development. This consistency of the VisionQuest “fabric” has allowed for replication of successful current programs and development of new program concepts in response to needs of agencies throughout the country. Bob has directed the company to its current position, over 30 years later, as a leader in the field of youth services and behavioral health.
Internationally recognized as a leader in the juvenile justice field, Bob has made presentations and been the subject of documentaries in Italy, France, Australia, Japan, England, and Russia. In 1995 he was one of the first non-Russians to visit a juvenile correctional institution in Siberia.