Faculty Spotlight: Professor Susan P. Curnan

“Justice and equality are two words that define my core values and my career. Whether leading a management and policy class, a national evaluation research center, private foundation, or running a business; whether working from a remote Vermont mountaintop or on 5th Ave in Manhattan, in Harlem, Watts, Roxbury, Detroit or Soweto, South Africa.” – Professor Susan P. Curnan

Susan P. Curnan pictured with family – her life partner and their children, Summer 2015

As founding chair of the Children, Youth, and Families (CYF) Concentration, Professor Curnan teaches the required core course HS511-B: Contemporary Issues in Policies and Programs for Children, Youth & Families. In addition, Professor Curnan teaches several other required and elective policy and management courses, including:

HS335-F: Perspectives on Youth Policy, Program Management and Systems Design
HS247-F: Evaluation for Managers
HS249-F: Social Justice, Management, and Policy
HS320-F: The American Gay Rights Movement: Social Justice and Social Policy

With a commitment to “making knowledge productive” within the Heller School’s mission of “Knowledge Advancing Social Justice”, Professor Curnan’s leadership and scholarship in the CYF concentration is grounded in the promotion of social justice and well-being for children, youth and families, especially those who face greater odds as a result of economic insecurity, inequity in access, opportunities and outcomes, discrimination or disconnection.

Equity in access, opportunity and outcomes for vulnerable youth and communities is the mission – for me, and for the Center for Youth and Communities as we prepare the next generation of Heller management and policy leaders.

Success as a graduate of the MPP concentration in Children, Youth and Families requires us to be as comfortable working on behalf of children, youth and families in the White House as in a greenhouse; in community colleges or the Ivy League, pulling weeds in a garden or pushing buttons in Congress – whatever it takes to engage the grassroots advocates and practitioners and the decision makers – across all sectors – in making this world a safe, just and prosperous one for all.

As Director of the Center for Youth and Communities, Curnan works to improve the quality of education, workforce development, and community systems in order to prepare young people for college, work, and life. By combining scholarly research and practical experience with an emphasis on young people whose supports and opportunities have been few, the Center’s work is guided by three goals:

• Using science-based research to improve the quality and impact of youth programs and policies.
• Strengthening governance, leadership and management in philanthropy, the non-profit sector and socially responsible business.
• Developing and using outcome-based planning and evaluation methods to deepen public understanding, strengthen and prove the efficacy of particular programs, and shape policies.


Professor Susan P. Curnan, President, Brandeis University Faculty
Director, Center for Youth and Communities
Chair, MPP & MBA Concentration in Children, Youth and Families
Heller Profile


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