Deborah Puntenney

Deborah Puntenney, PhD, recently retired from her position of research associate professor in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. She still 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 philanthropic and nonprofit organizations. All of her work emphasizes strengthening neighborhood, nonprofit, philanthropic and other organizations through the design and implementation of asset-oriented strategies. Deborah has been a colleague of John McKnight and Jody Kretzmann at the Asset-Based Community Development Institute for 25 years, and has contributed broadly to its community-building research. In addition to authoring many of the institute’s publications, Puntenney has extensive experience working directly with community groups designing community-based participatory research projects, and partnering with them on the implementation of those efforts. Her research has taken her beyond the traditional definition of community, exploring the application of asset-based community development principles to nonprofit and philanthropic settings, as well as to specific areas of interest, including aging and health. ​Her current work in Rochester, New York, focuses on asset-based community development as an approach for addressing the social determinants of health. Deborah provides technical support to four community groups and participates in the community-based participatory research effort associated with implementation and evaluation. She also works with the 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. Deborah has worked on 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. She 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. Bio and photo reposted from the ABCD Institute website. Learn more about Deborah and her work, including downloadable publications, at

How Community Action Shapes Health

About every six weeks, for the last five years, John and Peter have hosted online / dial-up conversations with community-building pioneers as their guests. For their June 6, 2017 dialog they invited Deborah Puntenney to share her experiences in...