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Lenette Azzi-Lessing

Clinical Professor of Social Work, Boston University

Lenette Azzi-Lessing, PhD, is the author of "Behind from the Start: How America's War on the Poor is Harming Our Most Vulnerable Children." Oxford University Press, 2017.

She is a Clinical Professor of Social Work at Boston University. Before coming to BU, Dr. Azzi-Lessing was on the faculty of Wheelock College, where she was the founder and director of Wheelock’s Graduate Certificate Program in Early Childhood Mental Health and faculty leader of the college’s South Africa Partnership for Early Childhood Development. She returned to higher education after more than 25 years as a frontline social worker, nonprofit administrator and policy advocate.

Azzi-Lessing served as Executive Director of Children’s Friend, which provides a wide range of services to Rhode Island’s most vulnerable children and their families. In that role, she founded one of the nation’s first programs for drug and alcohol-affected families in the child protective system. Azzi-Lessing teaches, consults, and writes about vulnerable children and their families and the programs and policies that affect them in the US and in other parts of the globe.


  • 2018–present
    Clinical Professor of Social Work, Boston University


Commissioner’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Congressional Angels in Adoption Award, Fulbright Specialist