Mary Ellen O’Connell Promoted to Head DBASSE

Mary Ellen O'Connell
Mary Ellen O’Connell

Mary Ellen O’Connell has been appointed as the executive director of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, or DBASSE, at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine effective November 14. She succeeds Robert M. Hauser, who announced his retirement earlier this year.

O’Connell’s selection comes after an extensive national search. She has been at the National Academies for 15 years, including serving as DBASSE’s as deputy executive director since 2012.  She has also served as the acting director of the Board on Environmental Change and Society, as deputy director of the board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences and the Board on Human-Systems Integration, and as a senior program officer with the Board on Children, Youth and Families.  She has led studies on a wide range of topics including an evaluation of disability and rehabilitation program outcomes; home healthcare; prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders; ethical considerations for research; and an evaluation of international education programs.

Before joining the National Academies, O’Connell developed and led a variety of policy and program initiatives at the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Welfare.  O’Connell received a B.A. from Cornell University and an M.S. in the management of human services from the Heller Graduate School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.

Hauser has served as DBASSE’s executive director since 2011, following a six month stint as interim executive director. He has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1983. Before becoming a staffer, he spent 41 years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he was professor of sociology and founder of the Center for Demography of Health and Aging.

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