Deborah Bial ’87, H’12
President and Founder, The Posse Foundation
Elected April 2018
Deborah Bial is an expert in the field of higher-education administration, college success and leadership development. Her extensive experience in facilitating dialogue related to issues of access, equity and diversity — and in guiding selective institutions of higher education toward improved admissions policy — has gained her national recognition in the higher-education community in the United States.
Bial is president and founder of the Posse Foundation, a youth leadership-development and college-success organization that sends teams (“posses”) of students from diverse backgrounds to selective colleges and universities, including Brandeis, which was one of the first schools to participate. Since 1989, the Posse Foundation has identified more than 8,400 Posse Scholars. These young people have won $1.2 billion in leadership scholarships from Posse’s partner colleges and universities, are persisting and graduating at a rate of 90 percent, and are active leaders both on their campuses and in the workforce. By 2020, the Posse Foundation will boast 6,000 alumni throughout the United States. In 2010, President Barack Obama named Posse as one of 10 nonprofits that would share his Nobel Peace Prize money.
In October 2007, Bial received a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She earned master’s and doctoral degrees in education, with a focus on higher-education administration, planning and social policy, from Harvard University. At Brandeis she earned her bachelor’s degree in American and English Literature.