People

Robert J. Blendon, Sc.D., Executive Director
John M. Benson, M.A., Managing Director
Gillian SteelFisher, Ph.D., M.Sc., Research Scientist and Assistant Director
Kathleen J. Weldon, Research and Administrative Manager

Blendon (blendon.gif)Robert J. Blendon, Sc.D., Executive Director

Dr. Robert J. 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 in both the Harvard University School of Public Health and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He directs the Harvard Opinion Research Program. Dr. Blendon also 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 also a 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 M. 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. He also helps direct the Harvard School of Public Health’s Project on the Public and Biological Security. 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 Assistant Director

Gillian SteelFisher is a Research Scientist and the Assistant Director at 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 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 also 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.

Kathleen Weldon, Research and Administrative Manager

Kathleen Weldon is Research and Administrative Manager for the Harvard Opinion Research Program. She has worked for HORP for over a decade, playing a key role on projects with CDC, Kaiser Family Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and National Public Radio. She also maintains the HORP archive of polling research and publications.