In November, Debra Fitzpatrick assumed the directorship of the Center on Women and Public Policy, succeeding Professor Sally J. Kenney, who is leaving the University to head the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College Institute at Tulane University in New Orleans.
Founded in 1985, the Center on Women and Public Policy is one of the nation's first teaching, research, and outreach centers devoted to women and public policy. Faculty members and staff associated with the center use a gender analysis to challenge fundamental assumptions about politics, law, and economics on issues ranging from human rights to judicial selection and independence.
"Social policy is a pillar of our teaching and research program," said J. Brian Atwood, dean. "Women and public policy is an important concentration and an element of our curriculum that makes the Humphrey School degree programs unique."
As associate director and then interim director, Fitzpatrick has lead several major, multi-year research projects. In partnership with the Women's Foundation of Minnesota, she directs the Status of Women and Girls in Minnesota project, a new initiative that systematically examines key indicators for women and girls in Minnesota, raises public awareness of issues important to the lives of women and girls, and identifies policy solutions for decision makers. She also leads the center's research efforts in the area of women and electoral politics, including a longitudinal study examining the effectiveness of programs designed to help women achieve elected office. Finally, Fitzpatrick directs the Infinity Project, a collaboration of legal scholars and lawyers working to increase gender diversity on the federal bench.
Before joining the center, Fitzpatrick served as a program director for the Center for School Change, conducting major research projects on education policy with such partner organizations as the National Governors Association and the Gates Foundation. She holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Minnesota and a master's degree in public policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.