Deborah Klein Walker, EdD, received the 2012 Martha May Eliot Award, which honors exceptional achievements in the field of maternal and child health.
She is a vice president and senior fellow who leads the Public Health and Epidemiology practice in the U.S. Health Division of Abt Associations. In her more than 40 years of professional experience, Walker has developed and implemented programs and led research, evaluation, policy analysis and consulting on a broad range of public policy issues across the lifespan.
Trained as a developmental psychologist, Walker has used her extensive knowledge and behavioral science skills in the academic, community program, state and federal government arenas to improve the lives of children, youth and their families. Before joining Abt, she worked for 16 years at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, where she specialized in child and family health, health promotion and data systems. She directed the Bureau of Family and Community Health for more than a decade and was responsible for all infant mortality reduction initiatives, women’s health across the lifespan and services for children with special health care needs.
Before that position, Walker was a full-time faculty member at the Harvard School of Public Health and Graduate School of Education, an evaluator for several community-based child development programs and a professional staff member in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
“Through her leadership, teaching and research, Dr. Klein Walker has had a profoundly positive impact on the field of maternal and child health,” said Michael D. Kogan, PhD, director of the Office of Epidemiology and Research for the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. “In my opinion, she has few peers in the totality of contributions made to improving the health of mothers and children in the United States.”
Walker has authored three books and more than 100 policy and research articles on a wide range of issues in child and family policy, program implementation and evaluation, disability policy, health outcomes and data systems. Her many awards and honors include the Vince L. Hutchins Partnership Award from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Ziegler Founder’s Award for Visionary Leadership for Individuals with Disabilities from the Federation for Children with Special Needs and the National Leadership Award from the Coalition for Excellence in MCH Epidemiology.
She is a former president of APHA and the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, a founder of New England SERVE and a founding member of the Research Consortium on Children with Chronic Conditions. She is an adjunct professor on the faculty of the Boston University School of Public Health, a trustee of the Cambridge Health Alliance and a board member of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. Walker also has served on several Institute of Medicine panels, the HHS Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality and in various advisory capacities for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.