The Center for Youth and Communities

Susan P. Curnan

Florence G. Heller Chair, Associate Professor of the Practice; Center for Youth and Communities

Susan P. Curnan, Director, Center for Youth and Communities

Susan P. Curnan, founding Chair of the MPP Concentration in Environmental Justice and Executive Director of the Center for Youth and Communities, holds the first Florence G. Heller Chair as Associate Professor of the Practice at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. The honor of this inaugural Chair in the name of the School's founder was conveyed in 2019 in recognition of Susan's distinguished career as a practitioner-scholar.

She joined the Brandeis faculty in 1983, after gaining leadership experience in philanthropy, non-profit management, government, and private business. Always focused on education equity, the environment, and the economy, Professor Curnan was instrumental in the development of the MPP and MBA in Social Impact Degree programs and founding chair of the concentration in Child, Youth and Family Policy in which she taught core courses for more than two decades.

A graduate of The Yale School of the Environment, Curnan brings an ecological perspective and results-oriented leadership to all of her work at the Center for Youth and Communities, with university-community partnerships and in classrooms, as well as Board rooms. During her tenure at the Heller School, where "knowledge advancing social justice" defines the mission, she has taught more than 110 courses to hundreds of graduate students.

At the University, Professor Curnan was elected and served an unprecedented four terms as President of the Brandeis University Faculty Senate, the elected representative body of the faculty which advises and consults with the President, Provost, and Board of Trustees on University governance matters.

As co-founder, and long time Director of the Center for Youth and Communities, Curnan led a senior research and capacity building team dedicated to improving the life options and environmental conditions of young people whose supports and opportunities have been few by combining scholarly research and practical experience with an emphasis on education, workforce development, and community systems.

The Center's work under Curnan's leadership has been generously supported by government and philanthropy for nearly four decades. Funders include: USAID; USDOL; CNCS; New Profit; FIRST; The Nellie Mae Education Foundation; The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Save the Children, Inc; Walmart Foundation; The Skillman Foundation; W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO); Leaves of Grass Foundation; and Heidenreich Foundation. Others are listed on the CYC website. Grant and contract support under Curnan’s leadership has exceeded $100M during her tenure.

Over the years, Professor Curnan has been a frequent keynote speaker at National and International Conferences, a consultant for the National Academy of Sciences, The White House Domestic Policy Council, UNESCO, and state and federal and global policy agencies in addition to philanthropic partners.

Please see the rest of Center for Youth and Communities website for detailed information on our people, projects and publications.


Susan P. Curnan,
Executive Assistant, Lanni Isenberg,, (781) 736-4835