Ellen Schall

Martin Cherkasky Professor of Health Policy & Management

70 Washington Square South, Room 1206 NY NY 10012
By appointment only (contact Emily Gadd at 212.998.7507)
Ellen Schall

Ellen Schall is a Senior Presidential Fellow at NYU and the Martin Cherkasky Professor of Health Policy & Management at NYU Wagner. Her research focuses on leadership and organizational transformation.

Professor Schall served as Dean of NYU Wagner from 2002 to 2013, during which time she led the school from an institution with a strong local and regional reputation to one that is widely recognized nationally and internationally. As Dean, she helped the school ascend to #6 nationally in the U.S. News & World Report rankings of public affairs schools.

Professor Schall began her career as a Legal Aid Society criminal defense attorney, and served as Commissioner of the NYC Department of Juvenile Justice from 1983 to 1990. She has extensive experience in nonprofit management and governance, including more than 30 years of active membership on the board of University Settlement House. She received a B.A. from Swarthmore College and a J.D. (cum laude) from NYU School of Law.

“Research on leader development suggests that reflection, especially for highly successful action-oriented leaders and managers, is counter-intuitive, requires disciplined and intentional practice to become a solid part of a leader’s development strategy, and is critical to success.” The goal of this course is to provide the basis on which students can begin to build the tools to become disciplined and intentional reflective practitioners. To this end, we will explore:

• the issues of self at work, including ways of paying attention to the individual, small group, and large group dynamics of organizational life;
• the concept of building theory from practice; and
• the ways to create space for reflection.

Students are expected to be working or interning at an organization during the semester they are taking this course.

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Schall, E. & Dicker, S. . A Boundless Enterprise: The Legacy of the Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children and Judith Kaye Government, Law and Policy Journal, Winter 2008, vol. 10, no. 2, pp 21-25. NYSBA



Every family has its own unique dynamics and conversations. Philanthropy adds a new dimension to these conversations which are often taking place both within and between generations. This is why 21/64 partnered with New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service to create a case study about multigenerational issues in family foundations. By exploring the issues of a hypothetical family in this case study, and utilizing questions in the accompanying Facilitator's Guide, families and professional advisors can begin to develop a healthy family process and productive philanthropic enterprise.



The Leadership for a Changing World (LCW) program is a joint endeavor between the Ford Foundation, the Advocacy Institute, and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. This paper focuses on the experiences of the Research and Documentation component of LCW – lead by a research team from the Wagner School – during the initial implementation phases of the research. This component formed an inquiry group consisting of both academic researchers and social change practitioners to collaboratively explore and discover the ways in which communities doing social change engage in the work of leadership. We used group relations theory to understand a series of critical dilemmas and contradictions experienced by the coresearchers. This paper identifies four such paradoxes that center around issues of democracy and authority.


This chapter explores the potential of appreciative inquiry for doing empirical work on leadership. We use a framework that matches a constructionist theoretical lens, an appreciative and participative stance, a focus on the work of leadership (as opposed to leaders), and multiple methods of inquiry (narrative, ethnographic and cooperative). We elaborate on our experiences with narrative inquiry, while highlighting the value of doing narrative inquiry in an appreciative manner. Finally, we suggest that this particular framework is helping us see how social change leadership work reframes the value that the larger society attributes to members of vulnerable communities.


The Ford Foundation, the Washington D.C. based Advocacy Institute and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University are partners in a new
leadership awards program called Leadership for a Changing World (LCW). The goal of this program is to recognize and better understand social change leadership in American
communities. As the research and documentation team for the project, we are partnering with the program's awardees to generate new knowledge about the ways in which communities trying to make social change engage in the work of leadership. In doing this work, we have begun to explore and test a new approach to working with practitioners to co-produce knowledge about leadership.

Schall, E., Ospina, S., Godsoe, B., and Dodge, J. . Appreciative narratives as leadership research: Matching method to lens. Advances in Appreciative Inquiry, a new book series edited by David Cooperrider and Michel Avital, Case Western Reserve University.

This paper develops a view of leadership as a social construct, as something that is created through dialogue among groups of people in a particular context. Different contexts allow us to see how leadership emerges in action. We further develop the idea that leadership is relational to highlight its social and collective nature and to stress the importance of studying leadership in context. The way people make meaning of leadership is an important focus, so it becomes necessary to understand the "knowledge principle," or dominant ideas that inform the work of leadership, as well. This approach contributes to the development of the body of literature that views leadership as a collective achievement, not something that belongs to an individual. Not only does this approach hold promise to provide interesting new insights to enrich leadership theory, it allows for the opportunity to produce new knowledge that is useful to practitioners, thereby enhancing existing leadership and inspiring new leadership to emerge.

Ospina, S., Durbin, E. & Schall, E. . Living and Learning: Women and Management in Public Service Journal of Public Affairs Education. 5:1, Winter.


Schall, E. & Voorsanger, N. . Ultimate Advocacy: A Defender's Guide to Reflective Practice monograph published by the Vera Institute of Justice



This article presents the reflections of three faculty members from New York University based on more than two years of experience in a health management education (HME) partnership with institutions in the Republic of Albania. The most significant point to be shared with colleagues considering similar initiatives in other countries is that aiding other professionals in developing health management education programs involves much more than the transfer of technical information among professionals. Based on experience in Albania, we argue that the development of viable management and policy analysis programs will require assistance to counterparts in Central and Eastern Europe in: (1) building constituencies for these activities among influential leaders and sustaining this support through changes in government; (2) providing models of and motivations for using styles of pedagogy that vary significantly from those now common in this part of the world; and (3) reconciling conflicts between pressures for investments in the largely hospital-based activity of health management and the largely public-health-based needs of relatively poor countries.

Schall, E. . Managing the Risk of Innovation: Strategies for Leadership Corrections Management Quarterly, Fall 1998, Issue 2.4, pp. 46-55.
Schall, E. . Notes From a Reflective Practitioner of Innovation in Alan A. Altschuler and Robert D. Behn, editors, Innovation in American Government: Challenges, Opportunities, and Dilemmas. The Brookings Institution Press. pp.360-377.



This article explores public-sector succession in the U.S. Most literature on succession and succession planning begin with a familiar lament: executive-level transition merits more attention than it gets in the literature. It is a serious matter that succession planning in the public sector, especially below the presidential level, has not received much attention in the literature. However, a more critical issue is that it has not received much attention in the actual world of public service. This omission, in part, reflects the fact that leaders in the public sector have themselves not taken the issue of succession planning seriously, except for obvious concerns like elections and mandates. Doing strategic executive searches in the public sector is difficult, but that is a secondary factor. What is primary is changing public-sector culture so that focusing on succession and beyond becomes a hallmark of strategic leadership. There are actually two challenges to managing succession: technology and turbulence. Public-sector leaders have limited access to search technology and search firms; they may not even understand the steps in a strategic search process. Public-sector leaders too often allow the turbulence to limit their scope of action, whereas private-sector leaders are expected to manage the turbulence.


Schall, E. & Krantz, J. . A New Vision for Public Service Education Metropolitan Universities: An International Forum, Vol. 7, No. 3.
Schall, E. & Gilmore, T. . Integrating Enactments with Case Teaching to Develop Leaders Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 15, No. 3, Summer.
Dicker, S. & Schall, E. . The Court's Role Beyond the Courtroom: A Case Study of New York's Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children and Early Intervention Children's Legal Rights Journal, Fall 1996, Vol. 16, No. 4. pp. 13-22.
Schall, E. . Facing the Bureaucracy: Living and Dying in a Public Agency by Gerald Garvey, Journal of the Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 15, No. 1, Winter.


Casciani, C. & Schall, E. . Working Inside Out: Personal Development/Public Change Lessons Learned: Reflections on Leadership from the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Children and Family Fellowship Program, Vol. 1, Issue 1, Summer .
Schall, E. . Improving Children and Family Services in Iowa: Entry Points to System Change Public Service Curriculum Exchange
Schall, E. & Krantz, J. . Revitalizing Human Service Organizations: An Action Research Perspective co-published simultaneously in Residential Treatment for Children & Youth, Vol. 13, No. 1, and in Donna Piazza, editor, When Love Is Not Enough: the Management of Covert Dynamics in Organizations that Treat Children and Adolescents. The Haworth Press, Inc..
Schall, E. . A Guide to Using the Annie E. Casey Children and Family Fellowship 360E Leadership Feedback Questionnaire 1995
Schall, E. . School-Based Health Education: What Works? American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Vol. 10, No. 3, pp. 30-32.


Schall, E. & Feely, K. . Guidelines to Grope By: Reflections from the Field Innovating, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp.3-11.


Lynch, G. & Schall, E., Travis, J. . Rethinking School Safety: The Report of the Chancellor's Advisory Panel on School Safety March .


Schall, E. . The Case of the Unhealthy Hospital case comment, Harvard Business Review, September-October 1991, pp.18-20
Schall, E. . Future Challenges: Creativity in the Business of Improving the World for the Children in Sheahan, Paula M. (ed.)., Health Care of Incarcerated Youth: Report from the 1991 Tri-Regional Workshops, Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health, pp. 141-153


Schall, E. . Panel Discussion: Incarcerated Adolescents and AIDS Journal of Prison and Jail Health, Vol. 8, No. 2, 1989.


Schall, E. . "Principles for Juvenile Detention" in Hartman, Francis X. (ed.) From Children to Citizens: The Role of the Juvenile Court. New York: Springer-Verlag. 1987. pp. 349-361.
Schall, E. . Principles for Juvenile Detention in Hartman, Francis X. (ed.) From Children to Citizens: The Role of the Juvenile Court. New York: Springer-Verlag. 1987. pp. 349-361.



Many organizations, especially public agencies, are in need of revitalization. Often the arrival of a new leader is an opportune moment to reinvigorate the agency, yet the yield from this opportunity critically depends on the way in which the leader joins with the existing staff. The following article examines some of the dynamics of a new leader's arrival and explores the power of a strategic theme to link the leader and the inherited staff productively. We examine the early phases of the emergence of a strategic theme and look at the critical transition when the theme begins to shape behavior. We conclude with advice on the use of themes as vehicles for revitalization.


Alterman, D., Ferdinand, J. & Schall, E. . Sentencing: Emphasis on Youthful Offenders Columbia Human Rights Law Review, Vol. 8, No. 2, Vol. 9, No. 1, Spring-Summer, pp. 121-124