Leading disability expert to head Heller School's Lurie Institute

Susan Parish starts new job July 1

Susan Parish

The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University today announced the appointment of Susan Parish as the Nancy Lurie Marks Professor of Disability Policy and Director of the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy.

Parish, currently a faculty member at the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will start July 1. She earned her doctorate at the School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago in 2002. She has won numerous scholarly awards in her field and authored dozens of papers. She has also worked in the field, leading group homes and family support programs. “My research is very much informed by having witnessed the day-to-day struggles of parents trying to care for their children with developmental disabilities, and having to fight for meager public services,” said Parish.

The Lurie Institute was created by the Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation to help people with disabilities, particularly autism, successfully integrate into the mainstream of society. Through research, policy development, education, and public engagement, the Lurie Institute provides a comprehensive approach to addressing disability issues across the lifespan. Brandeis’s ongoing scientific research into developmental disabilities, including autism, will also inform the Institute’s activities.

“As a teacher and a scholar, my goal is to collaboratively leverage the reputation and the resources of the Heller school to advance the interests of people with disabilities and their care-giving families,” said Parish, whose first experience in the field of disabilities took place when she volunteered at a camp for adults and children with developmental disabilities during high school.

 “Susan Parish’s arrival at the Heller School positions Brandeis as a leading university in the research and development of disability policy,” said Dean Lisa Lynch. “Professor Parish’s work lies at the intersection between health care policy, poverty alleviation policy and disability policy so she will complement and build upon the existing strengths at Heller in health care and poverty analysis. We are thrilled that she is joining the Heller community.”

“The timing of the appointment couldn’t be better,” said Marty Wyngaarden Krauss, PhD’81, Brandeis’s provost, senior vice president for academic affairs and the John Stein Professor of Disability Research. “We need to develop progressive social policies across the lifespan for people with disabilities and their families, and Susan Parish will play a key role in helping shape such policies.”

“We are thrilled about this partnership and anticipate that the Lurie Institute will fuel the development of innovative social policies at this critical time for people with disabilities, especially as they and their families seek a greater voice in decision-making related to their life-long needs,” said Krauss.

“I would like to see the Lurie Institute become the preeminent disability policy research center in the world,” said Parish. “We will collaborate with other institutes and scholars at the Heller school because disability policy is intricately connected to health policy and poverty policy. I envision the Lurie Institute becoming a major contributor to state and national policy makers on disability issues.”
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