Dr. Sara R. Abelson is a Senior Director at The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, leading the organization’s Education and Training teams and services. Sara is a sought-after national expert who has worked at the intersection of research and practice in higher education for more than 15 years, focusing on advancing student health, mental health, wellbeing, and equity at colleges and universities across the US. She is a recipient of the American Association of Colleges and Universities K. Patricia Cross Award and the American College Health Association Lewis Barbato Award. Her research and programmatic contributions have been featured in The New York Times, NBC Nightly News, NPR, The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and the Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, among others.
Prior to joining the Hope Center, Sara served as Co-Investigator and Lead for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Projects with the Healthy Minds Network where she helped to lead and disseminate findings from the largest, national study of college student mental health and spearheaded new data collection focused on better understanding on how college policies, practices, and experiences shape the lives and outcomes of marginalized and minoritized students. Before that, Sara served as Vice President at the higher education nonprofit, Active Minds, for nearly a decade where she led an amazing team and worked closely with students, faculty, and administrators at hundreds of colleges and universities nationally. She designed, scaled, and demonstrated the organization’s positive impact on students and school culture and climate. In addition to her work with Healthy Minds and Active Minds, Sara has consulted and collaborated with the American Council on Education, American Association of Colleges & Universities, Great Lakes Colleges Association, Michigan’s community colleges, Association of Public & Land-grant Universities, Association of College and University Educators, Jed Foundation, National Center for Institutional Diversity, Steve Fund, The University of Minnesota’s President’s Office, and others to advance holistic, equitable supports for student wellbeing.
Sara received her Ph.D. and Master’s in Public Health from the University of Michigan and her BA from Cornell University.
Sara’s hope: That our work helps higher education redesign systems, structures, and policies to achieve its potential to enhance equity, justice, and health for ALL.