2022: Carrie Leana

2022 Recipient: Carrie Leana, University of Pittsburgh

Carrie Leana’s research has been deeply theoretical but has also tackled very important societal problems. Leana’s research findings have affected policy and practice related to job loss, urban public schools, direct care workers and financial precarity, demonstrating how rigorous research can generate actionable insights that address societal challenges and thereby improve well-being outcomes.

Leana’s work on unemployment and re-employment informed the development of policies for the Steel Valley Authority, a public authority aimed at layoff aversion, responsible investment and innovative economic policy. Findings from her study of financial precarity (Meuris & Leana, 2018) resulted in the implementation of a “Rainy Day Savings Program” by a large transportation company, which matched employee contributions to a short-term savings program meant to enhance employee financial stability (Leana, Kamran-Morley, Yang & Berkowitz, 2021).  The results showed that the program was beneficial for employees in terms of increasing their savings, and beneficial for the company, in that those employees who were most precarious were significantly safer drivers after enrolling in the program. 

The findings from Leana’s work with nursing home aides led to changes in employee development practices and supervisor responsibilities.  For example, in a large healthcare system where she conducted this research (Leana, Meuris & Lamberton, 2019), nursing home supervisors’ own performance appraisals were changed to include employee retention as a criterion for assessment. Leana’s work on teacher social capital informed the practices at the Metro Nashville Public Schools, a 160-school system.  Here, school principals implemented practices meant to enhance social capital among teachers in their schools. 

 These examples highlight the impact that Carrie Leana’s research findings have had on policy and practice and illustrate why she is an ideal recipient of the Societal Impact Award!