The Doris Duke Fellowships for the Promotion of Child Well-Being—seeking innovations to prevent child abuse and neglect were launched in 2010 by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, with generous funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Inc. The fellowships are designed to identify and develop leaders who conduct practice and policy-relevant research that enhances child development and improves the nation’s ability to prevent all forms of child maltreatment. Since its beginning, 120 fellows have been selected from a range of academic disciplines and universities from around the country to create a robust peer learning network that includes in-person meetings, information exchanges through webinars and online resources, small group projects, and a strong mentoring component.

Doris Duke Fellowships Cohort One, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, September 2011

Doris Duke Fellowships Cohort One, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, September 2011

First, we selected smart, accomplished scholars completing their dissertation work. Our fellows embody the human and intellectual capital essential to maintain the sustained commitment necessary to measurably influence policy and practice.

Second, we built individual cohorts of like-minded scholars who use research to improve the lives of children through direct service and systemic reforms. They buy into the idea of interdisciplinary practice—they look over the fence and learn from others in different disciplines or who are examining different issues.

Third, we strengthened individual fellow and cohort performance by forming a learning network and fostering strong interdisciplinary thinking and product development. We provide opportunities for fellows to meet both in-person and virtually and encourage them to co-create written products and collectively share their ideas in public forums.

Finally, we launch them in their careers with the tools to make change—the fellows boast a nearly perfect doctoral completion rate and go on to obtain employment in the field. Once in their new setting, these fellows flourish, both individually and by working in partnership with their peers, tackling prevention challenges and fostering innovations across disciplines and geographic boundaries.

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Inc. is shaping the prevention field by investing in the next generation of scholars and leaders. We believe this investment has made a measurable difference in the fellows themselves and in demonstrating how others might approach and influence policy and practice. This is an investment that will keep on giving. We are honored to be involved in this work.

In 2018, the fellowships began moving into a new phase and launched two innovative initiatives to facilitate the transition. The first is the formation of a Leadership Committee, comprised of fellows from each cohort, which will create a sustainability plan for the fellowships’ mission. The second initiative is the creation of the Research to Action Grants Pilot Program. Three teams of Doris Duke fellows and their policy or practice partners are working together to design and implement applied research projects that address a specific policy or practice challenge. More detailed information, including the grant recipients, is available here on our website.


The Leadership Committee was formed in late 2018 to usher the fellowships into a new era where fellows themselves take responsibility for sustaining the fellowships’ mission and expanding the peer learning network. The Leadership Committee is driven by three goals:

  1. To identify strategies to sustain the fellowships’ mission beyond the selection of additional fellows.

  2. To identify new mechanisms to extend the fellowship’s peer learning opportunities to other doctoral students or early career professionals, especially those who are traditionally underrepresented in social science research.

  3. To generate innovative ideas fellows can use within their respective institutional homes to promote the use of research in policy and practice at the local, state and federal levels.

2019 Leadership Committee Members

Kaela Byers, Cohort Three, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

Jackie Duron, Cohort Two, Rutgers University

Megan Finno-Velasquez, Cohort Two, New Mexico State University

Leah Gjertson, Cohort Four, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

Bart Klika, Cohort One, Prevent Child Abuse America

Francesca Longo, Cohort Five, SRCD Fellow

Alysse Loomis, Cohort Seven, University of Connecticut

Elizabeth Miller, Cohort Five, University of Pittsburgh

Lisa Schelbe, Cohort One, Florida State University

Maria Schweer-Collins, Cohort Eight, University of Oregon

Jennifer Daer Shields, Cohort Six, Oklahoma State University

Doris Duke Fellowships Staff

Deborah Daro.JPG

Deborah Daro, Senior Research Fellow and Fellowship Chair


Colleen Schlecht, Researcher and Evaluation Coordinator


Lee Ann Huang, Researcher and Fellowship Manager


Mickie Anderson, Project Associate


Doris Duke, the only child of James Buchanan Duke, founder of the American Tobacco Company, inherited half of her father's fortune at the age of 12. She utilized her wealth to pursue her many interests; she was a committed environmentalist, appreciated diverse cultures, cherished the arts, and gave back to a number of causes as a philanthropist. In her will, she endowed the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Inc. with assets which, since 1997, have been awarded through four national grant-making programs. The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Inc. located in New York, holds at its core the mission to improve the quality of people's lives through funding projects in four areas that were important to Doris Duke: performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research, and child well-being. 

In terms of promoting child well-being, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Inc. has three goals: building a repertoire of prevention strategies, developing and disseminating knowledge, and expanding the capacity of existing systems that support the well-being of children. The Doris Duke Fellowships for the Promotion of Child-Well-Being fall under the Foundation's mission to develop and disseminate knowledge; by supporting developing talent in the field of child well-being promotion and maltreatment prevention, the Foundation builds research and practice capacity, thus creating long-lasting change.