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Cornell University Cornell Brooks Public Policy

Meet The Dean

Colleen L. Barry

Colleen Barry outside

Colleen L. Barry, a nationally and internationally recognized research scholar, educator and leader in the areas of mental health and addiction policy and policy communication, is the inaugural dean of the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy. 

She formerly was the Fred and Julie Soper Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.   

As the founding dean, Dr. Barry has an influential role in building Cornell’s newest school into one of international prominence, developing its academic programs, partnerships across campuses and in major policy centers, and long-term mission to improve lives through evidence-based policy. 

Barry is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Social Insurance. While at Johns Hopkins, she was founding director of the Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy and the Johns Hopkins StigmaLab. She co-chaired the Forum on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and has served as a board member and vice president for the Association of Public Policy and Management. 

Barry’s research focuses on how health and social policies can affect a range of outcomes for individuals with mental illness and substance use and communities at risk for violence. She also studies how communication strategies can increase public support for evidence-based policies to improve the health and wellbeing of people with mental illness and substance use disorders and reduce stigma. She directed the NIMH funded pre- and post-doctoral mental health services and systems training program at Johns Hopkins. She has served as Principal Investigator of numerous large-scale research studies funded by the National Institutes of Health and health-oriented foundations. 

Dean Barry presenting in front of classroom

In addition, Barry led major public opinion survey research projects including the bi-annual Johns Hopkins National Gun Policy Tracking Survey and the longitudinal Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Civic Life and Public Health Survey cohort study.  Examples of her contributions include widely cited public opinion research in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy that informed policymakers about effective strategies for reducing gun violence with broad public support, including among gun owners; and research to build an evidence base for public policies to combat the devastating opioid crisis in the U.S. 

Barry has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed publications on a range of health policy topics in top policy and medical journals, and considers communicating research findings a top priority. Through the pandemic, she was a regular guest host of her school’s podcast, “Public Health on Call,” leading conversations with experts. 

Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, Barry was a faculty member at the Yale University School of Public Health from 2004-10. She began her career in government and legislative affairs in Washington, D.C., and worked as a state health policy analyst in Massachusetts. 

Barry received her Ph.D. in health policy from Harvard University (2004), her Master of Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University (1999), and graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in political science and Russian language and literature from Drew University (1992). 

cbarry@cornell.edu | @colleenlbarry