Deborah Bial

Deborah Bial
Deborah Bial at Mount Holyoke College.jpg
Deborah Bial receiving an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Mount Holyoke College in 2014
Born1965 (age 53–54)
New York City, United States
Alma mater
Known for
AwardsMacArthur Fellows Program
Scientific career
Alternative measures for college admissions : a relational study of a new predictor for success: the promise of the Bial Dale college adaptability index and the success of the Posse program (Harvard) (2004)

Deborah Bial (born 1965) is an education strategist, the founder and president of the Posse Foundation[1] and a trustee of Brandeis University.[2]

Bial is known for the concept of her foundation, which is to send groups of around ten students to collaborating colleges so that they can support each other and achieve a greater success rate. She is also known for the Bial–Dale College Adaptability Index, an activity-based test of college readiness that incorporates Lego play.

She was one of the 2007 winners of the MacArthur "Genius" awards[3][4] and is a frequent speaker at college graduations.


Bial was born in Manhattan[5] and grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey. Her father played bassoon with the New York Philharmonic and her mother worked as a public relations professional for the New York State Psychiatric Institute. She describes her younger self as shy and not standing out in any way: "There was nothing remarkable about me growing up." Her childhood ambition was to become a writer and illustrator of children's books.[6]

She attended Brandeis University, graduating in 1987.[7] She worked briefly as a paralegal, and then became a counselor for the CityKids Foundation in New York, where she got the idea for her own foundation.[6] After starting her foundation, she returned to graduate school, and earned master's and Ed.D. degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1996 and 2004, respectively.[8]

She delivered the 2012 commencement speech at her alma mater, Brandeis University.[9] She has also been chosen as a commencement speaker at DePauw University (2008),[10] at the University of Rochester (2015),[11] at Vassar College (2017),[12] and at Kalamazoo College (2018).[13]

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