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Kelly Posner Gerstenhaber, PhD

Dr. Kelly Posner Gerstenhaber is a Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University and her work is saving lives all over the globe across 6 continents. The President of the American Psychiatric Association noted her work with the Columbia Protocol could be “like the introduction of antibiotics.” The U.S. Department of Defense said that her work is “nothing short of a miracle” and stated “her effective model of improving the world will help propel us closer to a world without suicide.” The Center for Disease Control noted that her work is “changing the paradigm in suicide risk assessment in the US and worldwide.” Dr. Posner has been awarded The Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service for this work saving lives across the nation. Dr. Posner’s work has been noted in a keynote speech at the White House and in Congressional hearings, and she made the lead presentation in a forum on school safety at the U.S. Senate in her partnership with the Parkland community. Jim Shelton, Former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, says her work “has the potential to keep the 64 million children in our schools safe physically and mentally by helping prevent school violence.” In Israel, where the protocol is in every school teacher’s hands, officials said her work “is not only saving millions of lives but in Israel it is literally changing the way we live our lives.” Through her advocacy, she has helped change local, national and international policy, which in turn has helped achieve reductions in suicide across all sectors of society. Dr. Posner gave the invited presentation on tackling depression and suicide at the first European Union high level conference on mental health. She was recognized as the Most Distinguished Alumna of her graduate school at Yeshiva University in the past 50 years and was named one of New York magazine’s “Most Influential.” In 2016 she was honored with the Angel Award for New York City & State’s Responsible 100, and the Ann Vanderbilt Award for Achievement Partnership with Children. In 2014 she received The Spero Award for Excellence and Profound Commitment to Community Psychiatry, and in 2013, she was awarded with the New York State Suicide Prevention Award. The Columbia Protocol is policy across all 50 states, many national agencies, and most countries. Dr. Posner was commissioned by the FDA to develop a scientific approach to suicide risk assessment that has become the gold standard for suicide monitoring and is ubiquitous across the U.S and worldwide. The FDA has characterized her work as “setting a standard in the field” and a lead article in The New York Times called it “one of the most profound changes of the past sixteen years to regulations governing drug development.” Her scholarly work has been included in the compendium of the most important research in the history of the study of suicide. Dr. Posner has also been a long-standing advocate of education reform. She is the Founding Chairman of the Board of Turnaround for Children, a groundbreaking model that is the first to fix failing schools in high-poverty communities. She founded a New York City Independent School with a public mission. The Speyer Legacy School is the first school for accelerated learners, with a particular focus on the low-income high-achieving student, often called the most underserved student in the nation. For her work in both of these innovative educational initiatives, Avenue and New York Family magazines named her “Education Philanthropist of the Year.” She was also granted The Turnaround Impact Award, along with Joel Klein, Merryl Tisch and John Legend. Dr. Posner has been honored by Save a Child’s Heart and by The Lincoln Center/Kaufman Music Center with their annual Educational Leadership Award. She also serves on the Boards of the Hereditary Disease Foundation and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and has served as a Member of both the Caring Commission and the Trauma Task Force of the United Jewish Appeal.

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