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Alumni of the Month

September 2011
Dr. Pamela D. Straker M.A. ’75; Ph.D. ’79

What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what was your fondest memory of Hofstra?

My fondest memory is that of having my grandfather present as I received my doctoral degree.  Dr. Jack Granofsky was my favorite professor. 

What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?

After finishing my master’s degree at Hofstra, I was fortunate enough to be hired as a school psychologist in the Wyandanch Public School District as an outgrowth of my internship there.  I was hired as a psychologist at Bedford-Stuyvesant Community Mental Health Center in Brooklyn following the completion of my doctoral degree.  In both settings, I was the recipient of a tremendous amount of mentorship and latitude to learn, practice, and introduce new ideas.  The critical importance of mentorship and the importance of constructive feedback, particularly for young professionals, were the most valuable lessons learned.

What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?

My current professional activities surround my roles as author, speaker, coach, and consultant.  In this phase of my career, it is my mission to blend the lessons learned from the myriad experiences I’ve had with my passion for communicating through speaking, writing, and coaching.  I am also a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist.  My interest in serving populations that might not have had all the advantages we generally take for granted was part of my initial reason for choosing the field of psychology.  Equally important was the wide range of opportunities to work in different settings.  Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work in community, hospital, clinic, university, corporate, and private practice settings.

What at Hofstra gave you your edge?

Hofstra’s focus on infusing an understanding of the “business” aspects of the various fields of study was invaluable.  As well, Hofstra’s graduate psychology program focused on the treatment of related outcomes, stressing the importance of being able to determine actual results from therapeutic interventions.  That focus and understanding have been critically important to my success, especially as the field of psychology and psychotherapy moved into the managed care arena.

What advice would you give current Hofstra students?

The world of work has changed so significantly. I would say: 1) Try to learn about and accept your strengths and challenges as early as possible; 2) Seek mentors as you progress through your career; 3) Early in your career, learn the value of, and personal satisfaction gained from, a job well done; and 4) Assess your work/personal life balance regularly, and continually envision, assess, and refine the goals you’d like to accomplish as you progress through your career.  Most importantly, I would say, see every challenge as an opportunity for growth and positive new direction.

In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?

Powerful! 

How long have you been speaking about workplace strategies?

I have been speaking since 1981 as a result of my various staff and corporate positions and through the provision of training programs and consulting services.

What do your speeches cover?

While I can address multiple topics, I currently focus on management-specific interventions with an emphasis on positive work-place interventions and constructive criticism. Through my work as a psychologist and workplace strategist for managers, small business owners, and HR personnel, I help to establish productive environments for peak performance. I provide workplace solutions and strategies that build a spirit of collaboration, respect and mutual benefit.

Who are some of your past clients?

My past clients are listed in detail on my website, www.NoMoreWorkplaceDrama.com; among them are the Hoboken Board of Education, City University of New York, NYC Administration for Children’s Services, Diva Talk Radio, Rutgers University, Excellence Charter School, Body by Brooklyn Spa, University of Rochester, and NJ Department of Health.

Pamela Straker

Dr. Pamela D. Straker (M.A. ’75; Ph.D. ’79) is a licensed psychologist; workplace strategist for managers, small business owners and human resource personnel; and author of Let Me Stop You Right There and 28 Other Lines Every CEO, Manager, and Supervisor Should Know (New York: Morgan James Publishing, 2011) for individuals and organizations that want to establish productive environments for peak performance. Dr. Straker provides workplace solutions and strategies that build a spirit of collaboration, respect and mutual benefit.

Prior to founding her speaking and writing business, Dr. Straker consulted with hundreds of senior executive and middle management team members in the mental health and leadership development arena. Managing an annual budget in excess of $8 million and with more than a dozen programs running simultaneously, Dr. Straker was president and CEO of a New York City mental health agency from 1999 to 2008. She led a staff of more than 100 full- and part-time professionals and support personnel in providing services for more than 2,300 children, adults, seniors and their families.

Having served as a trainer and program coach for emotional literacy within Yale University’s Psychology Department, Dr. Straker also provides consulting services to the Special Services Department of the Hoboken, New Jersey, Board of Education. Additionally, she serves as a psychologist peer reviewer for the Optum-Health/United-Health Group. She has served as a consultant to the Office of Special Programs for the City University of New York and recently joined the consultant panel of Management Solutions Consulting Group, Inc. She provides evaluation, coaching and psychotherapeutic services for a range of populations, including those applying for Metropolitan Transit Authority special transportation services. During her career, she has provided individual, family and group therapy, offered technical assistance, and served in foster care, Head Start, and other human service agencies.

A member of several organizations in New Jersey and New York, Dr. Straker has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Humanitarian Award, Brooklyn Borough President’s Power Women’s Networking (2006); Outstanding Contributions to Women’s Health, Amethyst Women’s Project and Life Force Salutation (2007); and Good Scout Award, Boy Scouts of America (2007).

Dr. Straker holds a doctoral degree in school and community psychology from Hofstra University, where she also earned a master’s degree, and she has achieved alumna status at Columbia University’s Executive Level Institute for Not-for-Profit Management.