ABCD Institute > Institute Faculty > Emeritus Faculty > Deborah Puntenney

Deborah Puntenney

Deborah Puntenney retired from her position of Research Associate Professor in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University in 2016. During her 25-year tenure at Northwestern, Deborah was a colleague of John McKnight and Jody Kretzmann at the Asset-Based Community Development Institute, and contributed broadly to its community-building work. In addition to authoring many of the institute’s publications, she gained extensive experience working directly with community groups designing community-based participatory research projects, and partnering with them on the implementation of those efforts. Deborah’s research has taken her beyond the traditional definition of community, exploring the application of ABCD principles to nonprofit and philanthropic settings, as well as to specific areas of interest, including aging and health. 

Currently, Deborah operates her own research and consulting firm specializing in the areas of asset-based community development, community-based participatory research, program evaluation, and social justice strategies for communities and philanthropic and nonprofit organizations. All of her work emphasizes strengthening these entities through the design and implementation of asset-oriented strategies. 

Today, Deborah’s primary work is an ongoing project in Western New York. Her main project focuses on asset-based community development as an approach for addressing the social determinants of health. Deborah provides technical support in ABCD directly to community groups and their partner organizations, and participates in the community-based participatory research effort associated with implementation and evaluation. She also works with a community health worker network in Buffalo, New York, supporting the network on the inclusion of asset- based strategies as they redefine the community health worker role to incorporate broader community building objectives. The work in Western New York has included consulting with school districts, foundations, social service agencies, health centers, historic settlement houses, and university programs. Other recent work includes several evaluation projects with KaBOOM!, most recently on a multi-community exploration of how providing playground builders with community building support impacts the way they leverage the assets they mobilized toward their playgrounds. Deborah also worked with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as a consultant on their National Culture of Health project, focusing on how engaged citizens can become effective co-producers of their own health and well-being. 

Deborah Puntenney has been published in several books and journals, including the following: 

Puntenney, D. (2014). Asset-Mapping. In D. Coghlan & M. Brydon-Miller (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Action Research. London: Sage Publications. 

Puntenney, D., & Zappia, B. (2013). Place-Based Strategies for Addressing Health Disparities. In K. Fitzpatrick (Ed.), Poverty and Health: A Crisis Among America’s Most Vulnerable. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger. 

Grimm, K., Walker, J., & Puntenney, D. (2013). Improving Health/Reducing Inequity: Asset- Based Community Development. In K. Fitzpatrick (Ed.), Poverty and Health: A Crisis Among America’s Most Vulnerable. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger. 

Kretzmann, J., & Puntenney, D. (2010). Neighborhood Approaches to Asset Mobilization: Building Chicago’s West Side. In G. P. Green and A. Goetting (Eds.), Mobilizing Communities: Asset Building as a Community Development Strategy, pp. 112-29. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. 

Grumm, C., Puntenney, D., & Katz-Kishawi, E. (2005). Women’s Biggest Contribution: A View of Social Change. In E. Clift (Ed.), Women, Philanthropy and Social Change: Visions for a Just Society, pp. 139-57. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England. 

Puntenney, D. (2000). Working at the Margins: Poor Mothers and Survival in the Inner City. In R. Hodson (Ed.), Marginal Employment: Research in the Sociology of Work, pp. 51-72. Stamford, CT: JAI Press. 

Puntenney, D. (1999). The Work of Mothers: Strategies for Survival in an Inner-City Neighborhood. Journal of Poverty, 3, (4), pp. 63-92. 

Lewis, D., Puntenney, D., & George, C. (1999). Welfare Reform in Illinois: Recent Efforts in the Context of the National Debate. In L. Joseph (Ed.), Families, Poverty, and Welfare Reform, pp. 99-138. Chicago: University of Chicago. 

Puntenney, D. (1997). The Impact of Gang Violence on the Decisions of Everyday Life: Disjunctions Between Policy Assumptions and Community Conditions. Journal of Urban Affairs, 19, (2), pp. 143-61. 

Deborah lives in Evanston, Illinois, but frequently visits family in California, North Carolina, New Zealand, and Washington, as well as friends and colleagues around the US and the world. 

Deborah​'s CV