Valerie Leiter

MPH Steering Committee Member

PhD in Sociology and Social Policy, Brandeis University 

Valerie Leiter teaches courses on medical sociology, research methods, and sociology of childhood and youth. These topics dovetail with her research on children and youth with disabilities, medicalization, and gender and health. At Simmons, Leiter is the Co-Chair of the Institutional Review Board, Co-Director of the Public Health program, and a member of the steering committee for the Master in Public Policy program.

Leiter’s first book, Their Time Has Come: Youth with Disabilities on the Cusp of Adulthood, was published in 2012, a result of her William T. Grant Foundation Scholars project on the “Transition to Adulthood Among Youth with Disabilities.” The Sociology of Health & Illness: Critical Perspectives (9th edition), co-edited with Peter Conrad, was also published in 2012. 

Leiter is active in the Society for the Study of Social Problems and the American Sociological Association (ASA), where she has multiple leadership positions, including membership on ASA’s Committee on Professional Ethics and the Editorial Advisory Board of Social Problems. She received the Irving K. Zola Award for Emerging Scholars in Disability Studies in 2004 for her work on “Parental Activism, Professional Dominance, and Early Childhood Disability.”

Leiter mentors several students each year on their independent research projects. Recent topics include women’s body images, health care for refugees and asylees, the role of faith and spirituality in medical care, calorie count menu policies, youth culture in Korea, and STDs among women who have sex with women.

Leiter is also a dedicated student of Iyengar yoga, learning from multiple teachers in the Boston area.