Laura C. Leviton, PhD, a distinguished applied social researcher, evaluator, and academician, is special adviser for evaluation at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Since joining RWJF in 1999, she has overseen evaluations in most of RWJF’s areas of focus and continues that role today on the Foundation initiatives in preventing childhood obesity and on behalf of vulnerable populations. Leviton describes her special adviser role as “striving to represent the quality and consistency of the Foundation’s research and evaluation and its impact on health and health care nationwide.” She credits RWJF with fundamentally changing policy and practice in philanthropic research and evaluation and with helping other foundations do the same.
Previously, Leviton was a professor of public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and on the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health. During this time, she collaborated on the earliest randomized experiment on effective ways to prevent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in gay and bisexual men. She is a leading writer on evaluation methods and practice, in particular for disease prevention, and has published more than 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals, numerous book chapters, and several books.
She was president of the American Evaluation Association in 2000. She is the co-author of two books—Foundations of Program Evaluation and Confronting Public Health Risks—and has served on several editorial boards for evaluation journals. For her work in HIV prevention and worksite health promotion, she received the 1993 award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest from the American Psychological Association.
Leviton also served on three Institute of Medicine Committees: the committee to evaluate progress in obesity prevention; the committee to evaluate preparedness for terrorist attacks, and the committee to assess the Hearing Loss Prevention Program of the National Institute on Occupational Safety and Health. She was a member of the National Advisory Committee on HIV and STD Prevention of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She also led a multi-hospital randomized trial to encourage practice change in obstetricians and collaborated with the Vermont-Oxford Network on a similar trial with neonatology.
She received a PhD in social psychology from the University of Kansas and postdoctoral training in evaluation research from Northwestern University. She earned a BA in psychology from Reed College.
A Chicago native, Leviton now resides in Highland Park, N.J., with her husband, a historian of technology. They both enjoy travel.