Helen R. Desfosses

(518) 442-5254





Helen R. Desfosses is Associate Professor of Public Administration and Policy, and Africana Studies at the State University of New York at Albany. She also serves as Professor in Residence at the New York State Assembly Internship Program. She has served as Interim Dean and Associate Dean of Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, and as Director of the Masterís in Public Policy Program. Formerly, she was Dean of Undergraduate Studies at the State University of New York at Albany.


Helen has a long record of public service. She was elected President of the Albany Common Council, the city legislature, in 1997, and served two four-year terms. She has been a member and treasurer of the Albany Port District Commission. She has served as a Trustee of the Albany Public Library, and was Secretary, and then Vice President, of the Board for several years. She has served as a member of the Albany Water Board and was Vice-Chair of the Albany Civic Forum, an organization of community and business leaders. She has served on the Board of the Albany-Colonie Chamber of Commerce. She has been a member and Second Vice President of the Board of the Community Foundation of the Capital Region. She has also been a member of the Board of Directors of the Albany YWCA and the Center for Women in Government. She served as President of the Board of Mercy House, an Albany shelter for homeless women, and Chairperson of the Peace and Justice Commission for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. She has also been Chair of the President's Council of the Sage Colleges, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Government Law Center, Albany Law School. She served as Co-Director of "Working Together in the Capital Region", a regionalization of government project co-sponsored by the Rockefeller Institute, the Albany Times Union, the Center for Economic Growth, and the New York Department of State.


Helen has a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College, an M.A. from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Boston University. She is a frequent policy analyst for local television and public radio. She is a weekly political commentator on the noon news on WAMC public radio. She has also served as a regular political commentator on "51%", the award-winning public radio show on women, and shared in the EMMA, the Exceptional Merit in Media Award, which the show received twice from the National Women's Political Caucus.

Helen is the author of several books and articles on national and international policy issues. Her research has been supported by the Ford Foundation, the American Association of University Women, the National Academy of Sciences, the US Department of State, and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Her most recent book, Designs for Democratic Stability. Studies in Viable Constitutionalism, was co-edited with Abdo Baaklini.

Helen has served as a facilitator at the Aspen Institute Executive Seminar Program, and as an organizational development consultant to the Refugee Policy Center and Business

Executives for National Security, to name a few. She has also conducted two multi-national lecture tours for the United States Information Agency in Sub-Saharan Africa, and has

served as a legislative consultant in Africa, South America, the Middle East, and North Africa.

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Helen has received the Coretta Scott King Fellowship of the American Association of University Women, and the Faculty Fellowship at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. She was a winner of the 1992 Albany YWCA Tribute to Women Award and SUNY-Albany's Collins Medallion for extraordinary service to the university. She also received the 1992 Capital Leadership Program Alumni Award presented by the Albany-Colonie Chamber of Commerce, and the Woman of Vision Award from the Schenectady YWCA. In 1993, she received the Woman in the News Award from the Women's Press Club of New York State, and the Making Waves Award from the Albany Chapter of the National Organization for Women, In 1998, she received the Citizen of the University Award from the University at Albany Alumni Association, and the Jim Perry Progressive Leadership Award from Capital District Citizen Action. In June 2000, Helen received the Women of Excellence Award from the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce. In 2003, she received the Public Service Award from the State Academy of Public Administration, and in 2004, the Woman of the Year Award from the Business and Professional Womenís Association of the Capital Region. For her work as a political commentator on "51%", the award-winning public radio show on women, she shared in the EMMA, the Exceptional Merit in Media Award, which the show received twice from the National Women's Political Caucus.

Radio Commentaries

You can hear Helen Desfosses on the air regularly on WAMC (90.3 FM). She is a frequent political commentator and can be heard every Friday on Mid-Day Magazine between 12:30 PM and 12:45 PM .

If you missed her commentary on the air, you can e-mail Helen at hdesfosses@aol.com to request a copy, or you can listen to this week's show online in RealAudio format. You can download a RealPlayer FREE by clicking HERE.

Listen to the latest Mid-Day Magazine commentary.

View past Mid-Day Magazine commentaries.

  • Calls For A Moratorium Against The Death Penalty
  • The Case Against Nuclear Weapons
  • Freedom of the Press
  • Patriotism And The Bill Of Rights
  • In Praise Of Civics
  • The Meaning Of Patriotism In Our Post-9/11 World
  • The Challenge Of Citizenship

Articles and Speeches

  • Stay active in the past (Article From the Times Union)
  • Citizenship in a Cynical Age (Sermon to Unitarian Church)
  • Albanyís Future: Challenges And Responses (Article From the Times Union)
  • The PATRIOT Act and Our Civil Liberties (2003 Sermon to Unitarian Church)

Related Sites 

∑ SUNY Albany Faculty Web Page for Helen Desfosses



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