Professor Social Work Department
School of Social Work, Leadership, and Youth Advocacy
Office: Boston Campus, Activities West 305F
M.S.W., Washington University
Ph.D. (Human Development and Family Studies), University of Connecticut,
Lenette Azzi-Lessing is the author of Behind from the Start: How America's War on the Poor is Harming Our Most Vulnerable Children (2017, Oxford University Press). She joined the Wheelock faculty in 2006, with more than 25 years' experience as a social worker, administrator, and policy advocate. Her work focuses on improving the wellbeing and life chances of vulnerable, young children and their families, particularly those living in poverty and those involved in the child protective system. Dr. Azzi-Lessing is the founding director of Wheelock's Graduate Certificate Program in Early Childhood Mental Health and is faculty leader of the college's Partnership for Early Childhood Development in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
Dr. Azzi-Lessing founded the Rhode Island Center for Children At-Risk to focus on meeting the needs of highly vulnerable young children and their families. Under her leadership the organization, which was re-named Children's Friend, developed nationally recognized programs serving children and families in Rhode Island's poorest communities. She is a member of the Child Welfare League of America's National Commission on Public Policy. She co-chaired the League's Committee on Prevention, Protection, and Family Preservation for several years and served on the advisory board to the National Center for In-Home Services for Children and Families. She has also served as an expert witness in federal court on behalf of children abused and neglected in the child protective system.
In 2017, she was named a Fulbright Specialist, to engage in diverse, collaborative projects focused on higher education and training in nations across the globe.
Dr. Azzi-Lessing teaches a number of courses in the Master of Social Work program, including Social Policy Practice, Social Work Leadership and Administration, and Early Childhood Mental Health: Practice, Policy and Research. She developed and co-teaches the college's South Africa Service-Learning Course.
- Azzi-Lessing, L. (2017). Behind from the start: How America's war on the poor is harming our most vulnerable children. New York: Oxford University
- Azzi-Lessing, L. (April 12, 2016). Hold leaders accountable for DCYF Disasters. The Providence Journal.
- Azzi-Lessing, L. (January 22, 2016). The hidden harms of the US foster-care system. The Conversation
- Azzi-Lessing, L. (2013). Serving Highly Vulnerable Families in Home-Visitation Programs. Infant Mental Health Journal, 34(5), (in press).
- Azzi-Lessing, L. (2011). Home visitation programs: Critical Issues and future directions. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26, 387-398.
- Azzi-Lessing, L. (2010). Growing together: Expanding roles for social work practice in early childhood settings. Social Work, 55(2).
- Azzi-Lessing, L. (2010) Meeting the mental health needs of poor and vulnerable children in early care and education settings. Early Childhood Research and Practice, 12(1).
- Azzi-Lessing, L. (2009) Quality support infrastructure in early childhood: Still (mostly) missing. Early Childhood Research and Practice, 11(1).