People

Robert J. Blendon, Sc.D., Executive Director
John M. Benson, M.A., Managing Director
Gillian SteelFisher, Ph.D., M.Sc., Research Scientist and Deputy Director
Justin M. Sayde, M.S., Administrative and Research Manager

Robert J. Blendon, Sc.D., Executive Director

Robert Blendon is Senior Associate Dean for Policy Translation and Leadership Development at the Harvard School of Public Health. He also serves as Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis at both the Harvard School of Public Health and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He directs the Harvard Opinion Research Program. Dr. Blendon co-directs the Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) survey project, and a project for NPR and KFF on American attitudes toward health care. He is Past President of the Association of Health Services Research and winner of their Distinguished Investigator Award. He is also a recipient of the Baxter Award for lifetime achievement in the health services research field and the Warren J. Mitofsky Award for Excellence in Public Opinion Research.

John M. Benson, M.A., Managing Director

John Benson is Managing Director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program. At Harvard since 1992, John has directed numerous national and international polling projects leading to more than 80 publications in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, New England Journal of Medicine, Health Affairs, Public Opinion Quarterly, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Social Science Research, and other domestic policy and polling journals. Since 1995, John has played a key role in the design and analysis of a series of surveys with The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation on public knowledge, values, and attitudes on domestic policy issues. He has managed survey projects with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, National Public Radio, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and The Boston Globe. John is specifically interested in public attitudes about end-of-life decisions and other issues involving moral values. He also serves as survey consultant to Medscape.com. Previously, John was associate editor of Public Perspective and senior opinion analyst at The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, where he was instrumental in the development of the POLL database, an essential research tool in the field of public opinion. He has an M.A. in History of Science from the University of Wisconsin.

Gillian SteelFisher, Ph.D., M.Sc., Research Scientist and Deputy Director

Gillian SteelFisher is a Research Scientist and is Deputy Director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program.  She directs HORP’s program on biological security and the public, which involves a series of surveys at both the national and state level to understand the public response to the threats of public health emergencies, including terrorism / bioterrorism and emerging infectious diseases, as well as global climate change and its health consequences.  Gillian also directs HORP’s international projects, aiming to better understand the ways that the public is responding to major public health issues across the globe.  Gillian has worked in the field of public opinion for more than a decade.  Prior to coming to HORP, she served as a Senior Project Director and the Director of Strategy for Cogent Research, an opinion research firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  In that capacity, she directed dozens of quantitative surveys and qualitative studies both domestically and internationally.  Gillian lectures regularly on the history of politics in health policy, the role of public opinion, and the use of mixed methods to study health, including focus groups and in-depth interviews, as well as quantitative surveys.  She received her Ph.D. in Health Policy from Harvard University and served as an Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ) Fellow in Health Services Research in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health.  Gillian received her Masters in health behavior and communication from the Harvard School of Public Health.  She completed her undergraduate degree in Ethics, Politics and Economics at Yale University.

Justin M. Sayde, M.S., Administrative and Research Manager

Justin Sayde is Administrative and Research Manager for the Harvard Opinion Research Program.  He maintains the HORP archive of polling research and publications and assists colleagues with all aspects of the polling process.  He completed his undergraduate degree in English Literature and Psychology at Lafayette College, and received an M.S. in Experimental Psychology from Villanova University.