Speaking to the World
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Youth Violence Expert / Physician
Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith is a nationally recognized public health leader. As a physician working in inner-city Boston, she broke new ground with her efforts to have youth violence defined as a public health problem, not just a criminal justice issue. Her passion for prevention was not satisfied with the emergency room work of “stitching people up and sending them out.” She turned to public health and, along with others, created a social movement to prevent violence that has had an impact on Boston and the nation. Dr. Prothrow-Stith was recently appointed as Dean and Professor Medicine for the College of Medicine at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. Read More >
In 1987, Governor Dukakis appointed her as the first woman Commissioner of Public Health for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In that role, she established the first Office of Violence Prevention in a state department of public health, expanded prevention programs for HIV/AIDS, and increased drug treatment and rehabilitation programs.
A pioneer and innovator, Dr. Prothrow-Stith developed programs and nurtured partnerships with community-based organizations locally, nationally, and internationally, including the critically acclaimed Partnerships for Preventing Violence satellite broadcast training series and exciting partnerships with both Florida A & M University and University of Massachusetts (Boston) to reduce health disparities funded by NIH-National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities.
She has participated in several international delegations and conferences. For the French American Foundation, she co-hosted a delegation of French social scientists in New York to investigate children and violence. She hosted a delegation of scholars from Latin American countries at the Harvard School of Public Health for a two-day meeting to learn of the violence prevention work in Boston. Dr. Prothrow-Stith and her family lived in Tanzania for two-and-a-half years during her husband’s tenure as US Ambassador; there she worked with several local projects with including Muhimbili Hospital and WAMATA (an NGO of people living with HIV).
As a chief spokesperson for a national movement to prevent violence and a frequent speaker in national media and public forums, Dr. Prothrow-Stith supports the application of rigorous scientific methods to strengthen violence prevention programs. She developed and wrote The Violence Prevention Curriculum for Adolescents, a forerunner of violence prevention curriculum for schools and communities. She is the author of Deadly Consequences, the first book to present the public health perspective on violence to a mass audience. She has authored and/or co-authored over 80 publications on medical and public health issues. She and co-author Howard Spivak, M.D. offer a blueprint for community-based violence prevention work in their book, Murder is No Accident, and a guide for parents of girls in their book Sugar and Spice and No Longer Nice. She is also co-author of a high school health education textbook, Health (Pearson 2014) that is in its third publication.
Prior to assuming her roles as an executive search consultant in the life sciences practice at Spencer Stuart, Dr. Prothrow-Stith served as Associate Dean for Diversity and the Henry Pickering Walcott Professor of Public Health Practice at the Harvard School of Public Health, where she created and led the Division of Public Health Practice, and secured over $14 million in grant funding for public health programs. She currently specializes in public health, leadership development, workforce diversity, and career development for younger clinicians.
She is a Spelman College and Harvard Medical School graduate and a member of the prestigious Institute of Medicine. She has received ten honorary doctorates, the 1993 World Health Day Award, the 1989 Secretary of Health and Human Service Award, and a Presidential appointment to the National Commission on Crime Control and Prevention. In 2003, Dr. Prothrow-Stith was elected to membership in the prestigious National Academy of Medicine. In 2015, she was inducted into the honor roll of women physicians in the Massachusetts Medical Society. Read Less ^
Community and Family Violence
Preventing Youth Violence
"Deborah was the PERFECT speaker for our event yesterday. She was passionate, informative, really connected to the event and people involved, and hit a home run with her talk. Please pass along my great thanks and appreciation for being part of this important event. And thanks to [APB] for your help!"
"We were absolutely thrilled to have Dr. Prothrow-Stith open up our conference - we received lots of laudatory feedback from our attendees both during and after the event. We want to express our utmost gratitude for her presence and contribution!"
"The lecture was amazing! The attendees were overwhelmingly pleased with her presentation. I spent some one-on-one time with Dr. Prothrow-Stith and she is absolutely one of the warmest, down-to-earth but poised people I have ever met. I was beyond impressed with her personally and professionally, and really pleased that she was able to visit with us and present. Thanks so much for all of your assistance!"
"Dr. Prothrow-Stith, thank you so much for coming to Austin to give the keynote speech at CARY’s 5th Annual Autumn Benefit last week. Almost 200 supporters of our youth violence prevention program really enjoyed your presentation, “Combating the Deadly Consequences of Violence and Our Youth.” We heard so many positive comments about your view of youth violence as a public health crisis. We especially enjoyed the American history of dueling and we all learned a lot! Thank you again."
"Deborah was a joy! Her presentation was great. She spoke with such enthusiasm and compassion. She was very happy to come to a community-based organization convened conference of this nature. Even though we only had her for a short time, she was very impactful. Thank you so much for your assistance in scheduling her to come here. She is an amazing person and we are looking towards future interactions with her."
"Deborah was awesome!! After all the bumps along the way, it was a relief to see her smiling face and hear her words. Her pic does not do her justice, she's more even more beautiful and her aura makes you want to listen to what she has to say. The comments from our evaluations give similar comments. I am sold!"
"Thank you for the important role you played in making the AMA Alliance’s Leadership Confluence II such a great success. Adolescent Violence Prevention is a compelling public health issue. You certainly convinced participants on the need for communities and agencies to work together. The lively question and answer period demonstrated how much the audience was engaged and inspired. One women commented that she wish the program could have lasted even another hour."
"The program went really well. Prothrow-Stith is definitely the most impressive speaker we've had for this particular lecture in quite some time. She's very down to earth and engaging as well. She will be a hard act to follow."
"Our MLK event went very well and Dr. Prothrow-Stith did a marvelous job in incorporating the teamwork theme and MLK theme into her own presentation. She is a phenomenal and dynamic speaker."
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