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Laura Lein

Katherine Reebel Collegiate Professor Emerita of Social Work, Professor Emerita of Social Work, and Professor Emerita of Anthropology

Laura  Lein

Laura Lein is the former dean of the University of Michigan School of Social Work (2009-2016). Formerly professor of social work and anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin (UT), she was a respected researcher and teacher from 1985 to 2008. She has served as principal investigator on multiple grants on poverty, family and women's issues, and impoverished populations in Texas.

Lein directed the Women's Studies Program at the University of Texas at Austin for two terms, from 1987 to 1991, where she coordinated interdisciplinary curriculum, fund development, and new programs. She was also director of the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women from 1981 to 1985 and director of an interdisciplinary project on work, family interaction, and child development at the Center for the Study of Public Policy in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from 1973 to 1977.

She has served on boards of many organizations, including the United Way of Texas Child Care Working Group and the National Academy of Sciences Research Council Committee on Child Development Research and Public Policy.

Lein graduated from Harvard with a doctorate in social anthropology. Her work has concentrated on the interface between families in poverty and the institutions that serve them. She is author of nine books on welfare, health care, children, and families, including Poor Families in America's Health Care Crisis (Cambridge University Press, 2006), coauthored with Ronald Angel and Jane Henrici.

Research Interests/Focus

Households in poverty, NGOs and human services, health disparities, women's employment, child care, interdisciplinary and mixed methods research approaches.


Year Degree   School
1973 PhD Social Anthropology Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
1970 MA Social Anthropology Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
1969 BA Sociology/ Anthropology Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA


Social Work Grand Challenges

Tillotson, A. & Lein, L. (2017). The policy nexus: panhandling, social capital and policy failure. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 44(2).

Lein, L., Uehara, E. S., Lightfoot, E., Lawlor, E. F., & Williams, J. H. (2017). A collaborative framework for envisioning the future of social work research and education. Social Work Research, 41(2), 67-71.

Lein, L., Danziger, S. K., Shaefer, H. L., & Tillotson, A. (2016). Social Policy, Transfers, Programs and Assistance. In D. Brady & L. Burton (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Poverty and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lein, L., Romich, J., & Sherraden, M. (2016). Reversing extreme inequality. American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative Working Paper No. 16.

Lein, L. (2015). Still wating for help: The lessons of hurricane Katrina on poverty. The Conversation.

Angel, R., Beausoleil, J., Bell, H., & Lein, L. (2012). The Katrina Recovery and the Failure of the Social Contract. Cambridge University Press.

Lein, L., Angel, R., Beausoleil, J., & Bell, H. (2012). The basement of extreme poverty: Katrina survivors and poverty programs. In L. Weber & L. Peek (Eds.), Displaced: Life in the Katrina Diaspora.

Angel, R., Beausoleil, J., Bell, H., & Lein, L. (2012). Community Lost: The State, Civil Society, and Displaced Survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Cambridge University Press.

Gajewski, S, Bell, H., Lein, L. & Angel R. J. (2011). Complexity and instability: the response of nongovernmental organizations to the recovery of Hurricane Katrina survivors in a host community. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 40(2), 389-403.

Bell, H., Madden, E., Borah, E. V., Lein, L., & Beausoleil, J. (2010). Case management with Hurricane Katrina survivors: perspectives of case managers and supervisors. Journal of Social Service Research, 36(3), 216-229.

Lein, L., Murphy, K., & Campillo, C. (2009). La Maternidad Y La Pobreza En La Frontera México-Estados Unidos [Parenting and Poverty: Shaped by the US-Mexico Border]. UANM Press.

Lein, L., Angel, R., Bell. H., & Beausoleil, J. (2009). The state and civil society response to disaster: The challenge of coordination. Organization and Environment, 22(4), 448-457.

Pyels, L., Kulkarni, S., & Lein, L. (2008). Economic survival strategies and food insecurity: The case of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Journal of Social Service Research.

Kulkarni, S., Bell, H., Beausoleil, J., & Lein, L. (2008). When the floods of compassion are not enough: A nation's and a city's response to the evacuees of Hurricane Katrina. Smith College Studies in Social Work, 78(4), 399-425.

Lein, L. (2008). Child care services. Encyclopedia of Social Work. Oxford University Press.

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