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Health & Behavior Studies
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Health & Behavior Studies

Alumni Feature > Deborah List, PhD, MPH chosen to lead Tiny Miracles Foundation

Deborah List, PhD, MPH chosen to lead Tiny Miracles Foundation

My experience at TC really helped shape my career path.  I came to TC directly from Brown where I did my undergraduate work and I was not sure of exactly what direction I would take my health education degree.  My undergraduate work had been in psychology and community health and I was interested in children’s health issues, but unsure of where to go with this interest.  I was so fortunate to have John Allegrante as my advisor.  John allowed me the opportunity to work with him as part of work he was doing at the Hospital for Special Surgery and I was able to work with a multidisciplinary team doing school-based screening programs and develop the education component of the program.   From this work, I was able to not only write my thesis but also my first published research article.  John’s support and guidance really pushed me to take on academic challenges and he has remained a colleague and friend throughout my career since TC. 

Since leaving TC, I have worked in research, government and hospital settings in health education and child health policy.  I returned to graduate school and focused on more community based health and public policy, eventually completing a PhD in public health focused on children with special needs at Johns Hopkins.  When I returned to New York and became a policy director in school health at the New York City Department of Health, I had the pleasure of inviting John to join me at several meetings!  The foundation in health behavior that I learned at TC has been important throughout my career.  Coursework in health communication, cultural competence and epidemiology continue to guide decision-making in my work today. 
As I take on this newest career challenge as executive director of The Tiny Miracles Foundation, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help grow the only community-based non-profit in the US which supports premature babies and their families.  This job will allow me to work on issues such as mentoring families with babies in the NICU, initiating a policy agenda for the foundation, and expanding programs to more hospitals.   All of these draw on the important skills and knowledge I gained at TC – communication, advocacy, policy, coalition building, and education. 

I am proud to be a part of the Health & Behavior Studies Department.  The friendships I made during my time as a student remain important to me; the academic coursework provided a foundation for my career; and my advisor is truly a mentor and a friend who I have called on again and for support and advice long after receiving my degree!