Faculty and Researchers

The Heller School for Social Policy and ManagementReturn to this website's homepageBrandeis University

Associate Professor and Director, Center for Youth and Communities

curnan@brandeis.edu  •  Heller-Brown Building  • 341  •  781-736-3771


Social Policy and Management, emphasis on leadership and management innovations with mission driven organizations and businesses.


  • HS 247f - Evaluation for Managers
  • HS 249f - Social Justice, Management, and Policy
  • HS 256f - Community Building for Managers
  • HS 317b - Children, Youth and Families: Problems, Policies and Programs
  • HS 320f - The American Gay Rights Movement: Social Justice and Social Policy
  • HS 335f - Perspectives on Youth Policy, Program Management, and System Design
  • HS 511b - Contemporary Issues in the Management of Child, Youth, and Family Services


  • Curnan, S. P., Hughes, D.M., Lanspery, S., Singleton, S., LaCava, L., O'Sullivan, K.. Enough is Known for Action! Ready to Employ, Educate, and Support Youth Brandeis University Briefing - A Photo-Text Summary. Waltham, MA: The Center for Youth and Communities: 2015.
  • Curnan, S. P., Lord, B.. Systems Change for Student-Centered Learning: A New Logic for District Level Systems Change. Quincy, MA: Nellie Mae Education Foundation: 2014.
  • Curnan, S.P., Lanspery, S., Kingsley, C., LaCava, L., Hughes, D.M., Melchior, A., & Perlmutter, A. Practical Advice Guides: Smart Strategies to Employ, Educate and Support Youth in Employability Development Programs. Waltham, MA The Center for Youth and Communities: 2014.
  • Melchior, A., Curnan., S.P., Lanspery, S.. Creating New Pathways to Postsecondary: Evaluation of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Postsecondary Success (PSS) Initiative. Waltham, MA: The Center for Youth and Communities: 2013.
  • Melchior, A., Lanspery, S., & Curnan, S.P. Postsecondary Success Initiative Fact Sheet: Supporting Low-Income Youth to and through Postsecondary Education, Careers, and Community Leadership. Waltham, MA The Center for Youth and Communities: 2013.
  • Curnan, Susan P, Lanspery, S., Kingsley, C., LaCava, L., Hughes, D.M., Melchior, A., & Perlmutter, A. Reconnecting Systems to Reconnect Youth: The Walmart Foundation's 2012 SMART SUMMER initiative to employ, educate, and support youth. Waltham, MA The Center for Youth and Communities: 2012.
  • Curnan, Susan P., Hahn, A., Bookman, A., Hughes, D.M., Jacobs, C., Isenberg, L., & Rabinow, L. Moving From Talk to Collective Action: Effective Strategies for Alleviating Hunger and Food Insecurity in America, A Report on Brandeis Research and Interviews with Members of the Corporate Coaltion. Waltham, MA The Center for Youth and Communities and The Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy for the Corporate Coalition Fighting Hunger in America: 2012.
  • Hughes, Della M., Susan P. Curnan, Lisa A. LaCava, and Sheri Dursin. Unitarian Universalist Association "Leap of Faith Evaluation Report: Growth and Vitality in the UU Congregation". 2012.
  • Curnan, S.P., Lanspery, S., Kingsley, C., LaCava, L., Hughes, D.M., Melchior, A., & Perlmutter, A. The Walmart Foundation's 2011 Investment in Summer Youth Employment: Encouraging Results and Lessons Learned. Waltham, MA The Center for Youth and Communities: 2011.
  • Curnan, Susan P, Della M. Hughes and Susan Lanspery (eds.). Curnan/Hughes, Co-PIs. Resilience, Resolve, Results: A Compilation of Readiness Phase Studies of The Skillman Foundation's Good Neighborhoods and Good Schools Initiative, 2008-2010. 2011.
  • Curnan, Susan P., Della M. Hughes, Susan Lanspery. Curnan/Hughes, Co-PIs. From Tower to Ground: Systems and Policy Change in the Good Neighborhoods/Good Schools Initiative. 2011.
  • Hughes, Della M., Erika Moldow and Susan Lanspery. Curnan/Hughes, Co-PIs. Changing the Odds for Kids: Part 1 and Part 2. 2011.
  • Hughes, Della M., Erika Moldow, Susan Lanspery, and J.F. Morgan Associates. Building Neighborhood Capacities to Support Youth and Families in Good Neighborhoods and Good Schools Initiative. 2011.
  • Hughes, Della M., and Susan Lanspery. Curnan/Hughes, Co-PIs. Resilience, Resolve, Results: Background of the Readiness Phase of The Skillman Foundation's Good Neighborhoods and Good Schools Initiative. 2011.
  • Curnan, Susan P, Andrew B. Hahn, Lawrence Neil Bailis, Joseph Frees, Christopher Kingsley, Lisa A. LaCava, Susan Lanspery, Alan L. Melchior, Erika Moldow. Innovating Under Pressure: The Story of the 2009 Recovery Act Summer Youth Employment Initiative: Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis & Marion County, Phoenix & Maricopa Count. Employment and Training Administration (ETA), US Department of Labor. 2010.
  • Curnan, Susan P. "Memories and Lessons from Eleanor Roosevelt's Kitchen Cabinet, 1931-1970." The Hudson River Valley Review: A Journal or Regional Studies Vol.26, No.1. Autumn 2009 (2010): 9-20.
  • Curnan, Susan P. "The View from Val-Kill." Brandeis Magazine Fall 2010: 20-25.
  • Susan P. Curnan, Christopher Kingsley, Lisa A. LaCava, Alexandra Pineros Shields. Emergency Assistance (EA) Reform in Massachusetts: A Report from Ten Regional Forums. Center for Youth and Communities, Heller School, Brandeis University. Boston: 2010.
  • Susan P. Curnan, Christopher Kingsley, Lisa A. LaCava, Joseph Frees. Unfinished Work: Building Excellence in Washington DC's Summer Youth Employment Program. Center for Youth and Communities, Heller School, Brandeis University. Washington: 2010.
  • Curnan, Susan P. "Memories and Lessons from Eleanor Roosevelt's "Kitchen Cabinet." A four-part series of articles." The National Trust for Historic Preservation Newsletter (2009).
  • Curnan, Susan P. "Youth Development and Ordinary Days at Val-Kill Farm." Hudson River Valley Review (2009).
  • Curnan, Susan P with Della M. Hughes. "Evaluation Readiness and the Culture of Learning". Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. New York City: 2006.
  • Curnan, Susan P with Della M. Hughes. "Proving the Possible - Improving Systems: Transferable Lessons for Managing Growth and Change." A Report on Business Expansion 2004-2006. MY TURN, Inc. Brockton, MA: 2006.
  • Curnan, Susan P. "Lobbying for Social Change." Rev. of Lobbying for Social Change, by Willard C. Richan. November 2006: Back cover.
  • Curnan, Susan P. "The Power of Combining Youth Development Principles with Culture & Arts Programs: Findings of a Study of the Culture & Arts Youth Development Initiative". The Skillman Foundation. Detroit, MI: 2006.
Susan P Curnan's picture


With a commitment to "making knowledge productive", Professor Curnan's leadership and community-engaged scholarship 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.
“Justice and equality are two words that define my career. Whether leading a management and policy class, a national evaluation research center, private foundation, a government program or running a business; whether working from a remote Vermont mountaintop or on 5th Ave in Manhattan, in Harlem, Watts, Roxbury or Detroit, Cherokee Nation, N.C., Martha’s Vineyard or Soweto, South Africa. Seeking and measuring equity in access, opportunity and outcomes for vulnerable youth and communities is the mission – for me, and Heller’s Center for Youth and Communities as we prepare the next generation of leaders to strengthen education, workforce and community systems. Commitment to the triple bottom line (social, economic and environmental outcomes) requires us to be as comfortable in the White House as 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 and the tops - 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.



Yale University

State University of New York at New Paltz

SUNY at Stony Brook

Awards and Honors

  • Elected Chair, Brandeis University Faculty Senate (2015)
  • Appointed Yale University, Alumni Association Board (2014)
  • Appointed, Trustee, First Parish of Sudbury, Unitarian Universalist (2014 - 2016)
  • Catalyst Award from Mayor of Philadelphia, The Honarable Michael Nutter, and Philadelphia Youth Network (2013)
  • 2017 Task Force, Nellie Mae Education Foundation, New England Education Reform (2012 - 2016)
  • 2016 Task Force, Co-Chair, Detroit, Results oriented leadership for community change (2010 - 2016)
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation National Leadership Team for Post Secondary Success Initiative (2010)
  • Center for Law and Social Policy, CLASP, Postsecondary and Economic Success Advisory Committee, Washington DC (2010 - 2013)
  • Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Thought Leader Advisory Panel for New England Education Systems Change (2010)
  • Northeast Institute for Quality Community Action Advisory Board (2010 - 2012)
  • Honored for 25 years of dedicated service to Brandeis University. Celebrated with President, Provost, Dean and colleagues. (2008)
  • United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley Youth Council. Three year commitment. (2008 - 2010)
  • Appointed, National Research & Evaluation Advisory Board. The Skillman Foundation. Up to 10-year term (2007 - 2017)
  • Appointed, National Scientific Research Council, America's Promise: The Alliance for Youth, Washington, D.C. (2005 - 2012)
  • Appointed Fellow of Berkeley College, Yale University in recognition of leadership and shared interest in environmental matters (on-going) (2003)
  • Awarded sabbatical from Brandeis University. Traveled around the world, worked on manuscript for book about growing up at Val-Kill Cottage in the 1950's and 60's. (2003)
  • Board on Children, Youth and Families of the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C. Frequent workshop discussant. (2003)
  • National Governors' Association's Youth Development Faculty Member, Washington, D.C. (on-going) (2003)
  • Selected Disney Corporation "Thought Leader" for Community Relations Department to help shape their brand and platform for "Helping Kids Shine" (2003)
  • The Hitachi Foundation, Yoshiyama Fellowship Award Committee, San Diego, CA (on-going) (2003)
  • Co-Founder and Chair, Institute for Just Communities (2001)
  • Co-Founder and Editor of the Community Youth Development Journal and CYD Anthology (2000)
  • VIP at Presidential Summit on National Community Service, Philadelphia, Spring (1997)
  • Who's Who in America, Who's Who in American Women, Who's Who in American Education (1995 - 1996)
  • Presented with the Key to the City of New Orleans and Certificate of Honorary Citizenship by Mayor and City Council in recognition of work on behalf of at-risk youth (1993)

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