"Society flies blind when it comes to health care…"
Prof. Billings, Associate Professor of Health Policy and Public Service at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, teaches in the area of health policy. He is principal investigator on numerous projects to assess the performance of the safety net for vulnerable populations and to understand the nature and extent of barriers to optimal health for vulnerable populations. Much of his work has involved analysis of patterns of hospital admission and emergency room visits as a mechanism to evaluate access barriers to outpatient care and to assess the performance of the ambulatory care delivery system. He has also examined the characteristics of high cost Medicaid patients in to help in designing interventions to improve care and outcomes for these patients. Parallel work in the United Kingdom has involved creating an algorithm for the National Health Service to identify patients at risk of future hospital admissions and designing interventions to improve care for these high risk patients. As a founding member of the Foundation for Informed Decision Making, Professor Billings is helping to provide patients with a clearer mechanism for understanding and making informed decisions about a variety of available treatments.
"The Color Bind," Co-Authored by Erica Gabrielle Foldy, Debuts at NYU Wagner
Erica Gabrielle Foldy and Tamara R. Buckley’s The Color Bind: Talking (and Not Talking) About Race at Work investigates a stubborn American phenomenon: The taboo nature of race in our work places – and how to transcend it.
Just published by the Russell Sage Foundation, The Color Bind was the focus of a well-attended dialogue held at NYU Wagner on Feb. 26. The conversation included the co-authors as well as Melody Barnes, Senior Fellow at NYU Wagner and Vice Provost for Global Student Leadership Initiatives at New York University. Wagner and its Research Center for Leadership in Action (RCLA) co-sponsored the book launch. More than 125 people attended, filling all the seats in the Rudin Family Forum for Civic Dialogue and enlivening the audience Q&A portion of the program.
Foldy is Associate Professor of Public and Nonprofit Management at Wagner; Buckley is Associate Professor of Counseling at Hunter College and Psychology at The Graduate Center, City University of New York. Their in-depth book grew out of Foldy's direct observation, over many months, of child welfare workers at one social services agency. At first she anticipated that, given the nature of their work, child welfare case workers would bring discussions of race into their team meetings readily. Instead, she found “the color bind” operating in full force, blunting the creativity, morale, and effectiveness of the teams.
One team at the agency, however, broached race and ethnicity regularly, without signs of defensiveness or worries of recrimination. Professors Foldy and Buckley dug into what made this team unique, gleaning some crucial lessons for social service organizations, advocacy groups, public agencies, schools, health providers, and many others.
In any organization, be it in the nonprofit, public, or private sector, the journey out of “the color bind” begins with mindfulness by its leaders that race matters. That’s the initial step towards fostering an atmosphere where employees can discuss fraught topics freely, and where “cultural competency,” or having the skills to communicate about race, ethnicity, and culture, can be developed, the authors said.
“Race is ever-present,” said Buckley. “The taboo of it often keeps us quiet about it. What we’re trying to do is show the assets that race brings to us in all the different kinds of conversations that we have.”
Professor Buckley, who is African American, and Professor Foldy, who is white, surfaced their own sometimes-clashing perspectives about race during the writing process. But in crossing lines that often keep others separated, both of them found that they could deepen their knowledge and advance their shared mission.
Talking about race is rarely smooth or simple, Foldy explained. “If you are going to enter this territory, you have to live with the fact that you are going to make mistakes.”
The Color Bind is published by the Russell Sage Foundation.
"The Hidden Lives of America’s Poor and Middle Class”
Jonathan Morduch, Professor of Public Policy and Economics at NYU Wagner, has co-written an article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, describing the U.S. Financial Diaries project he leads. The ongoing project deeply explores the financial lives of individual American families of lower and middle income levels. It illuminates, in part, the phenomenon of unsteady household income and expenses, and how this volatility can hamper the ability of working families to gain economic stability and upward mobility. At the same time, the project shows that financial products, programs and policies created to help working households are sometimes ill-suited to the day-to-day challenges these households actually face – whether they are living below or well above the poverty line.
Professor Morduch is Executive Director the Financial Access Initiative, a consortium of researchers focused on the most pressing issues of financial inclusion in the U.S. and in developing countries. He created the U.S. Financial Diaries project with colleagues Rachel Schneider – with whom he co-authored the article – and NYU Wagner graduate Daryl Collins (PhD, 2010).
"There's nothing comparable to public service" - Former Mayor Edward I. Koch [Video]
Former New York City Mayor Edward I. Koch, who died in the early-morning hours Feb. 1, led an informative, entertaining hour of discussion in the fall of 2010 at NYU Wagner about his eventful three terms at City Hall – years that sparked a remarkable turnaround in the condition and character of much of New York City, noticeable to this day.
Joining Koch was Jonathan Soffer, NYU Polytechnic associate professor of history and author of a critically acclaimed biography, Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City (Columbia University Press, 2010), as well as Wagner's dean Ellen Schall, who introduced Koch as “my mayor," noting that she had worked extensively for city government, including as the commissioner of juvenile justice.
“City government, I say to all my students, is really the most amazing opportunity,” she commented. “It allows you to work on incredibly important issues, have much more authority as a young person that you have any reason to have, and make a huge amount of difference.”
Koch spoke passionately about the merits of embarking on a career in public service.
“There’s nothing comparable to public service,” he said. “More than saying ‘How am I doin’?’ … more than that I said 10,000 times that public service is the most noble profession if it’s done honestly and if it’s done well. And that’s why people serve. There’s nothing like it.”
In this videotape of the Oct. 14, 2010 conversation at Wagner, the former mayor begins speaking at marker 15:48.
"We need more housing"
Wagner's Ingrid Gould Ellen was interviewed for the Bloomberg Administration's PLANYC2030 report about the planning implications arising from rapid population growth, aging infrastructure and environmental pressures anticipated during the next quarter-century. Professor Ellen's remarks focus on the growing demand for housing. She is codirector of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, a joint center between the NYU School of Law and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. The Furman Center is a leading academic research center devoted to the public policy aspects of land use, real estate development and housing. Each year, it produces a widely read reach, the State of New York City's Housing and Neighborhoods. Among the other resources hosted by the center's website is http://plannyc.com, an independent source of information about pending land use decisions that was developed by Jordan Anderson as part of his Master of Urban Planning Capstone project at Wagner. To see the PLANYC2030 video, go here.