New York University Names New Dean for Its Social Work School

Portrait of Dr. Michael A. Lindsey

Noted mental health scholar and social justice institute leader Michael A. Lindsey to start in July 2022

Contact: Sheryl Huggins Salomon,

NEW YORK, January 31, 2022 — The Silver School of Social Work at New York University has appointed Michael A. Lindsey, PhD, MSW, MPH to be its new Dean. He is a nationally-known leader in the search for knowledge and solutions to generational poverty and inequality, as well as a widely-recognized scholar of child and adolescent mental health. The announcement was made by New York University (NYU) President Andrew Hamilton and Provost Katherine Fleming.

Portrait of Dr. Lindsey smiling outdoors on the NYU campus
Dr. Lindsey is currently Executive Director of NYU McSilver

Dr. Lindsey currently serves as the Executive Director of the NYU McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research, where he leads a team of researchers, clinicians, social workers and other professionals who are committed to disrupting generational poverty through research, policy and action. He is also the Constance and Martin Silver Professor of Poverty Studies at the Silver School and an Aspen Health Innovators Fellow.

Dr. Lindsey’s focus on leveraging resources to advance equity across schools, departments and disciplines extends to his leadership of NYU’s Strategies to Reduce Inequality initiative from the McSilver Institute, as well as his faculty affiliation with the university’s Cross-Cutting Initiative on Inequality. During his tenure at SRI, the university launched an Inequality minor. He also co-led a “Big Ideas” course with former Deputy Provost C. Cybele Raver, which was a focused exploration of racial inequality in the U.S. featuring expert guests in law, public health, education, social work and policy.

“A careful listener who does not shy away from difficult conversations, Michael is innovative and reflective; he excels at fostering community and managing change; he is down-to-earth and politically sophisticated,” said President Hamilton and Provost Fleming in a joint announcement to the NYU community. “He is committed to Silver and its aspirations; to research, practice, and teaching; to anti-racism and equity; and to making affordability and access priorities. He has a successful record as a fundraiser, an ability to see the big picture, and a vision for the school. We are confident that NYU’s Silver School of Social Work will be in excellent hands and that the school will thrive under his leadership.”

Dr. Lindsey sitting at a round table with young people
Dr. Lindsey speaking with youth organizers at a conference co-hosted by NYU McSilver

“It’s such a momentous time to be working in a new way with my colleagues and our students here at the Silver School,” says Dr. Lindsey. “Social work has a pivotal role to play in these challenging times, as we create a new normal that is healthy, equitable and socially just. More people than ever are vulnerable to poverty and poor health, and our profession has the tools to help both individuals and systems to address these challenges. Furthermore, we must commit our expertise, people and passion to New York and the world as they chart a path forward that includes all of our communities.”

Dr. Lindsey’s passion for social work was shaped by his adolescence during the 1980s in the nation’s capital, which was reeling from the crack cocaine epidemic of that era. “You saw immediate devastation in neighborhoods that had been upwardly mobile, whose residents had long been striving to make a better life for their families, even under segregation,” he says, recalling his youth as the son of an early childhood educator and a pastor.

Dr. Lindsey pointing at a presentation screen
Dr. Lindsey advocating for youth social services in Albany, New York

“Getting to school safely, playing pickup basketball on neighborhood courts, going to teen parties without the risk of being shot —these are all experiences that young people in many communities take for granted, but that I couldn’t because prevailing conditions had robbed us of that. I knew that I wanted to do something about it. I needed to understand why it wasn’t safe for young people to arrive at school safely and be educated without the stress of crime, poverty, hunger and family upheaval thwarting their progress, not to mention the racism that Black and brown people have always faced throughout American history.”

The desire to understand how such conditions could be allowed to persist without a strong public response helped to propel Dr. Lindsey through his undergraduate studies in sociology at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Seeing the mental toll that the pressures of violence, deprivation and inequity had taken on his childhood peers galvanized his scholarship at Howard University in his hometown, where he received a master’s degree in social work for direct service practice, concentrating on mental health; as well as at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, where he received a master’s degree in public health, focusing on health services administration, and a doctor of philosophy degree in social work. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Following in his mother’s footsteps, Dr. Lindsey has focused his scholarship and practice on the needs of young people. His body of research and scholarship in child and adolescent mental health has garnered positions as a Distinguished Fellow of the National Academies of Practice (NAP) in Social Work and a Board Member of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (AASWSW). He was also appointed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to serve on the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF). Additionally, he serves on the editorial boards of the following journals: Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, Psychiatric Services and School Mental Health.

He has led the McSilver Institute since 2016. “Both Dr. Silver’s vision of an institute that practices social work through a social justice lens, and the commitment of our amazingly talented team to high-impact work that’s embedded in the communities we serve, have left an indelible mark on how I view social work at its best.”

In 2019, Dr. Lindsey was selected to lead the working group the working group of experts supporting the Congressional Black Caucus Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health. They created the seminal report Ring the Alarm: The Crisis of Black Youth Suicide in America, which informed a companion bill titled The Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act. Co-sponsored by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D, New Jersey) and Rep. John Katko (R, New York), H.R. 1475 passed the U.S. House of Representatives on a bipartisan basis in May 2021, and a companion bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate. The legislation aims to authorize $805 million in grants and other funding to support research, improving the pipeline and training of culturally competent providers and interventions that reduce stigma and increase access to mental health services in communities of color.

Dr. Lindsey speaking on a stage
Dr. Lindsey speaking at the University of Arkansas.

“A key part of holding systems accountable is working with community advocates, grassroots service providers and policy makers to ensure that the research, programs and education necessary to tackle poverty, injustice and disparities are funded and resourced,” says Dr. Lindsey. “I’m excited about the opportunities that the Silver School has to shape policies and actions that truly matter to the lives of people that we serve. Our work must not only impact those we touch directly, but the communities they live in as well.”

He is also inspired by last year’s gift by the Silvers of $16 million between the Silver School and the McSilver Institute, to leverage data science and artificial intelligence in their work. “We marry excellence in training and research with innovation at the Silver School and its institutions,” says Dr. Lindsey. “This enables us to better investigate society’s most pressing challenges and achieve broad and transformational social impact—while holding systems accountable for equitable outcomes where AI, predictive analytics and other data science tools are employed.”

The search process for the Silver School Dean began by inviting the Silver community to reflect on their hopes for the future of the school and the role that social work could play in bringing about a more just world. Listening carefully to the comments and contributions they received from the Silver community, the Dean Search Committee formulated a concept of what they hoped for in a new dean and identified Dr. Lindsey as the right candidate.

Dr. Lindsey will begin his tenure as Dean in July 2022. Outgoing Dean Neil Guterman will be returning to the Silver faculty to continue his research and teaching in his role as the Paulette Goddard Professor. He is one of the longest serving deans in a U.S. school of social work, between NYU and his prior post at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.

“Neil’s long and distinguished stewardship of the Silver School community continues an amazing legacy of service by Silver School deans and provides a strong foundation for us to build upon. I am grateful to follow in their footsteps.”

Learn more about Dr. Lindsey.

Learn more about the Silver School of Social Work.

Learn more about NYU McSilver.

Photo of Dr. Michael A. Lindsey
Michael A. Lindsey, PhD, MSW, MPH
Dean of the Silver School of Social Work