Sue A. Kaplan

Sue A. Kaplan
Clinical Associate Professor of Public Policy

Sue Kaplan, Clinical Associate Professor, is the Associate Director of the Center for Health and Public Service Research and Interim Director of the Health Program. Current projects include an evaluation of a CDC-funded initiative to eliminate racial/ethnic health disparities in the South Bronx; the evaluation of a national program to improve the delivery of cardiovascular care to minority populations; and NIH initiative to develop and evaluate a faith-based outreach program; and technical assistance for an effort to enhance health literacy by linking adult education programs and health care providers.

Before coming to the Wagner School, Professor Kaplan was the Vice President for Planning and Director of Special Projects and Policy at the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. A graduate of Harvard Law School and Wesleyan University, Professor Kaplan practiced law for five years at the Washington, DC, firm of Hogan and Hartson, where she specialized in health and education law. She then served as the founding Executive Director of the New York State Council on Graduate Medical Education, and then as the Acting Vice president for Program Demonstration and Assistant to the President of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. Professor Kaplan has served on the boards of and counsels several not-for-profit organizations, and is the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Bank Street College of Education.

Date Publication/Paper

Kaplan, S.A. 2009. Stirring up the Mud: Using a Community-Based Participatory Approach to Address Health Disparities through a Faith-Based Initiative Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. Vol. 20.4

The paper provides a mid-course assessment of the Bronx Health REACH faith-based initiative four years into its implementation.


Kaplan, S.A. & Schall, E. 2007. Engaging the Next Generation in Family Philanthropy Case Study No. 1, Andreas and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies

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.


Kaplan S.A., Calman N.S., Golub M., Ruddock C. & Billings J. 2006. Fostering Organizational Change Through a Community-Based Initiative Health Promotion Practice 2006; 7:1-10.

Program funders and managers are increasingly interested in fostering changes in the policies, practices, and procedures of organizations participating in community-based initiatives. But little is know about what factors contribute to the institutionalization of change. In this study, we assess whether the organizational members of the Bronx Health REACH Coalition have begun to change their functioning and role with regard to their clients, their staff, and in the broader community, apart from their implementation of the funded programs for which they are responsible. The study identifies factors that seemed to contribute to or hinder such institutional change, and suggests several strategies for coalitions and funders that are seeking to promote and sustain organizational change.

Kaplan S.A., Calman N.S., Golub M., Davis J.H. & Billings J. 2006. Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health: A View from the South Bronx Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved 2006; 17:116-127.

This study seeks to understand the perspective of Black and Hispanic/Latino residents of the South Bronx, New York, on the causes of persistent racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes. In particular, it focuses on how people who live in this community perceive and interact with the health care system. Findings from 9 focus groups with 110 participants revealed a deep and pervasive distrust of the health care system and a sense of being disrespected, exacerbated by difficulties that patients experience in communicating with their providers. The paper suggests how health care institutions might respond to these perceptions.

Calman, N.S., Golub, M., Ruddock, C., Le, L. & Kaplan, S.A. 2006. Separate and Unequal Care in New York City Journal of Health Care Law & Policy, Vol. 9, Number 1. 
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Bronx Health REACH, a coalition of community- and faith-based groups, health care providers, and an academic institution, recently examined the causes of racial and ethnic health disparities in the southwest Bronx and identified separate systems of care for uninsured and publicly insured patients, who are predominantly people of color, and those with private insurance. We found evidence that patients are sorted into segregated pathways of care, a system of medical apartheid in which differential care contributes to disparities in health care and health outcomes.

Kaplan S.A., Calman, N.S., Golub M., Davis J.H. & Billings, J. 2006. The Role of Faith-Based Institutions in Providing Health Education and Promoting Equal Access to Care: A Case Study of an Initiative in the Southwest Bronx Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved 2006; 17.2: 9-19.

Although many public health initiatives have been implemented through collaborations with faith-based institutions, little is known about best practices for developing such programs. Using a community-based participatory approach, this case study examines the implementation of an initiative in the Bronx, New York, that is designed to educate community members about health promotion and disease management and to mobilize church members to seek equal access to health care services. The study used qualitative methods, including the collaborative development of a logic model for the initiative, focus groups, interviews, analysis of program reports, and participant observation. The paper examines three key aspects of the initiative’s implementation: (1) the engagement of the church leadership; (2) the use of church structures as venues for education and intervention; and (3) changes in church policies. Key findings include the importance of pre-existing relationships within the community and the prominent agenda-setting role played by key pastors, and the strength of the Coalition’s dual focus on health behaviors and health disparities. Given the churches’ demonstrated ability to pull people together, to motivate and to inspire, there is great potential for faith-based interventions, and models developed through such interventions, to address health disparities.

Kaplan, S.A. & Garrett, K.E. 2005. The Use of Logic Models by Community-Based Initiatives Evaluation and Program Planning 2005; 28:167-172

Many grant programs now require community-based initiatives to develop logic models as part of the application process or to facilitate program monitoring and evaluation. This paper examines three such programs to understand the benefits and challenges of using logic models to help build consensus and foster collaboration within a community coalition, strengthen program design, and facilitate internal and external communication. The paper concludes with recommendations for how to make the logic model development process more useful for community-based initiatives.

Kaplan, S.A. 2005. Healthy Relationships: A Guide to Forming Partnerships between Health Care Providers and Adult Education Programs Literacy Assistance Center.

Simply stated, health literacy is the ability to obtain, understand, and effectively use health-related information. In a recent report entitled "Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion," the Institute of Medicine estimated that 90 million adults may lack the needed literacy skills to effectively use the U.S. health care system. Extrapolating from the National Adult Literacy Survey, approximately 36 percent of New York City adults would not be able to identify the name of a hospital in a short article; an additional 27 percent would not be able to fill out a standard health insurance form. Health care providers and patients typically do not identify low health literacy as a major issue, but both groups are well aware of its consequences. Health care professionals know they need improved communication with their patients so that they can better understand patient concerns and priorities, engage them as active partners in their care, improve their grasp of protocols for care management and the need for preventive care and screening, and ensure that they know when and where to seek care and how to navigate the health care system. Conversely, adults with low literacy skills often feel intimidated by the complexity of the health care system, by the forms and instructions, and by medical terminology. To avoid appearing ignorant, they may be hesitant to ask questions or express concerns, thereby compounding the problem. All of these difficulties are exacerbated when patients do not speak English well and are unfamiliar with the U.S. health care system.


Kaplan, S.A., Dillman, K.N., Calman, N.S. & Billings, J. 2004. Opening Doors and Building Capacity: Employing a Community-Based Approach to Surveying Journal of Urban Health. 2004;81:291-300.

Although many community-based initiatives employ community residents to undertake door-to-door surveys as a form of community mobilization or for purposes of needs assessment or evaluation, very little has been published on the strengths and weaknesses of this approach. This article discusses our experience in undertaking such a survey in collaboration with a coalition of community-based organizations (CBOs) in the South Bronx, New York. Although resource constraints limited the already-strained capacity of the CBOs to provide supervision, the CBOs and community surveyors helped us gain access to neighborhood buildings and to individuals who might otherwise have been inaccessible. The survey process also contributed to the coalition's community outreach efforts and helped to link the CBO leadership and staff more closely to the coalition and its mission. Many of the surveyors enhanced their knowledge and skills in ways that have since benefited them or the coalition directly. The participating CBOs continue to be deeply engaged in the coalition's work, and many of the surveyors are active as community health advocates and have taken leadership roles within the coalition.

Kaplan, S.A. & Greene, J. 2000. Educating Medicaid Beneficiaries about Managed Care: Approaches in Thirteen Cities Commonwealth Fund of New York Field Report
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This issue brief based on findings from The Commonwealth Fund 1999 National Survey of Workers' Health Insurance reports that most Americans believe employers are the best source of health coverage and that they should continue to serve as the primary source in the future. Almost all of those surveyed also favored the government providing assistance to low-income workers and their families to help them pay for insurance.


Cantor, J.C., Weiss, E.W., Haslanger, K., Madeala, J., Heisler, T., Kaplan, S.A. & Billings, J. 1998. Ambulatory Care Providers and the Transition to Medicaid Managed Care in New York City Remaking Medicaid: Managed Care for the Public Good. Eds. S. Somers and S. Davidson. San Francisco: Josey-Bass, , pp. 339-356.

This book is a collection of 18 essays by health services researchers that analyze Medicaid managed care, its historical context, its implementation in several states, its applicability to disabled and other special needs populations, and its potential for monitoring quality and provider performance.