Congratulations to Dr. Heidi Allen for Receiving Tenure at Columbia University

February 5 @ 9:04 pm

Inspired by her time as an emergency department social worker, Allen’s scholarly research focuses on social policies related to health and poverty.

The Columbia School of Social Work is proud to announce that Associate Professor Heidi Allen has been awarded tenure at Columbia University.

Allen is a nationally recognized researcher, writer, and adviser in the field of health policy who joined the School of Social Work faculty in 2012. She studies the impact of health and social policies—such as Medicaid, America’s public health insurance for the poor—on the well-being of low-income families.

“This is a remarkable achievement and reflects Heidi’s outstanding scholarship, teaching, and contributions to our School and University community,” said Dean Melissa Begg. “Heidi is an extraordinarily productive and talented scholar whose research focuses on the impact of social policies on health and financial well-being. She is also a committed and effective teacher and mentor, and a true asset to the educational and research mission of CSSW.”

Julien Teitler, Senior Associate Dean of Research & Academic Affairs, who has served as Allen’s faculty co-mentor, echoed that sentiment.

“Heidi has already established herself as one of the most influential scholars in health policy research,” said Teitler. “Her unique contributions have made clear why a social work lens is so important. She is a tremendous asset to the school and to the profession. It is so wonderful to have her as a tenured colleague and friend.”

Before joining Columbia, Allen spent several years in state health policy, where she focused on health system redesign and public health insurance expansions. She was a lead investigator on the landmark Oregon Health Insurance Experiment—the first randomized study in the United States to evaluate the impacts of a Medicaid health insurance expansion on uninsured adults—where she oversaw primary data collection for mail surveys and in-person health screenings, qualitative interviews, and development of an administrative emergency department claims database.

Allen also spent time as a clinical social work practitioner in mental health and emergency departments, where she found extreme disparities in the health of her patients and in the delivery of their care. Those experiences drove her decision to focus her research on informing evidence-based policies to reduce health and income inequality.

“This is wonderful news for Heidi and for our School and University,” said Professor Jane Waldfogel, who has also served as Allen’s faculty co-mentor. “Her work on health policy and its implications for health and wellbeing is truly pathbreaking and could not be more timely and important. We are very fortunate to have her at our School and at Columbia.”

Findings from Allen’s research have been published in high-impact journals such as Science, the New England Journal of Medicine, Milbank Quarterly, and Health Affairs. She has received funding as a principal investigator from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Russell Sage Foundation.

Allen was an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow in Health & Aging Policy from 2014 to 2015. In 2017, she delivered a widely viewed TEDMED talk on The Cost of Being Uninsured in America. Allen is a Standing Member of the NIH Health Disparities Equity Promotion (HDEP) Study Section (2018–2022), the Columbia University Just Societies Task Force, and the Close the Health Gap Committee of the Grand Challenges for Social Work. In 2019, she was honored by the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) with its annual Social Policy Researcher Award for an Emerging Scholar.