Profile: Person of the Year Robby Owens


Robby has impacted the community in ways beyond his job. In 1992, when he became Shelby County’s district attorney, he made plans to develop a child advocacy center. The next year, the Owens House Children’s Advocacy Center opened.

In the 20 years since its opening, the center has served thousands of children and families through therapy, forensic interviews, abuse prevention programs, support groups and more.

Robby said he got experience in how a child advocacy center could benefit a community after helping to start one during his time as a DA in Jefferson County. He said at first he and his colleagues worried about the expense of such a center, but their worries quickly faded when they saw the impact a center could have.

“When I saw how much good we did for kids and saw what abuse can do down the road, it actually saves us a lot of money in the long run,” said Robby, who added that childhood abuse is often a common denominator among those who grow up to commit crimes.

“If you help people with their problems right now, you don’t have to deal with them later on,” he said.

Robby was also a part of the Leadership Shelby County class of 2012.

Leadership Shelby County, which is based at the University of Montevallo, is an annual program that offers participants a chance to become leaders for Shelby County through participating in full-day sessions on high-priority topics in Shelby County, such as education, economic development or the justice system. The program’s mission is to enhance the quality of life in Shelby County.

Every year, Leadership Shelby County classes split into groups, each of which is tasked with coming up with a project to help improve the community. Robby’s group chose to do a project based on his idea, a drug awareness program especially for middle school students in Shelby County.

That became the “Nah, I’m Good” program, which features a website — — and a classroom presentation and video.

Robby said he envisioned the “Nah, I’m Good” program as a way to help make up for the loss of the D.A.R.E. program, which educated younger kids about drugs for years until it lost its government funding.

“What most people don’t understand is that somewhere between 60-70 percent of all crimes are drug- or alcohol-related,” Robby said. “Anything you can do to help people not to choose that path is a good thing.”