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Donna E. Howard

Associate Professor Emerita, Behavioral and Community Health

For the past 30 years, Donna Howard's work has centered broadly on community-based empowerment efforts, principally among minoritized and poor populations. For the past 20 years, she has focused on adolescent risk and protective behaviors associated with interpersonal violence and teen dating relationships. Howard has expertise in qualitative methods and leadership experience with developing, implementing, analyzing and publishing qualitative research addressing adolescent violence and its psychosocial correlates.

Areas of Interest


Teen Dating Relationships; Positive Youth Development; Global Health; Social Justice

For the past 30 years, Donna Howard's work has centered broadly on community-based empowerment efforts, principally among minoritized and poor populations. Moreover, for the past 20 years, she has focused on adolescent risk and protective behaviors, particularly interpersonal and intimate partner violence.

Howard has expertise in qualitative methods and leadership experience with developing, implementing, analyzing and publishing qualitative research addressing various domains of community violence (i.e., interpersonal, dating and sexual violence) and their psychosocial correlates.

As PI of both NICHD and University of Maryland  School of Public Health-funded research on dating relationships among high school females and males, Howard has laid the groundwork for ongoing research. She has developed strong community relations and garnered a reputation for trustworthiness and effectiveness in the timely completion of project goals. 

Howard has experience conducting sensitive research with underage and under-served populations, including obtaining support and consent from parents, youth and school personnel and maintaining confidentiality. Furthermore, she has assembled an excellent transdisciplinary team of collaborators with expertise and extensive experience investigating developmental trajectories of youth, adolescent risk behavior and intimate partner violence.

Additionally, Howard is engaged in on-going academic and professional activities within a global context. During her sabbatical year from the University of Maryland School of Public Health (academic year 2008-9), she spent 4.5 months in India as a Fulbright-Pai Visiting Lecturer at Manipal Academy of Higher Education.

Howard's life, both personally and professionally, has been forever changed by her Fulbright Fellowship in India. The transformation is based more on the cumulative exposures and experiences rather than by a singular event. She feels a renewed commitment to work for tolerance, peace and social justice. The Fulbright program has catalyzed this spark and India has burnished the inward light that will continue to inspire her.

When Howard returned to the U.S. and UMCP, she developed a winter study abroad program. This program, East Meets West: Contrasting Public Health Priorities, Pragmatics and Polemics in the US and India, has become a yearly tradition, beginning with its inception in 2010. The focus is on understanding the organization and practice of public health within an Indian context and highlighting strengths that are transferable to a U.S context.

She was also involved in a five-year (2014-2019) randomized community trial evaluating the impact of Galli Galli Sim Sim (the Indian version of Sesame Street) on the literacy, numeracy, health and socioemotional development of preschool children in India.

Howard continues to serve on the SPH Global Health Advisory Committee and the UMCP Fulbright Review Panel.


DrPH, Doctor of Public Health, 1994

The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health

MPH, Master of Public Health, 1980

University of Hawaii School of Public Health

BS, Bachelor of Science, 1978

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

HLTH306 Macro-Level Influences on Community Health

HLTH665 Health Behavior I

Royalty’ Award, Highest rated overall Behavioral and Community Health Department award

Awardee, Celebrating Teaching at UMD

Five-time winner, Phillip Merrill Presidential Scholars Program Mentor Award, UMD

Faculty Recognition Award from Global Public Health Scholars students- “All of the Above”

Jerry P. Wrenn Outstanding Service Award, UMD School of Public Health

Fulbright-Pai Fellowship to India: Lecturer/Research Grantee to Manipal University, Manipal, India

Howard, D. E., Debnam, K. J., Jones, C., Saboori, Z., Aiken, N., & O’Brien, S. A. (2020). Personal Religiosity and Adolescent Females’ Characterizations of Healthy Dating Dynamics. Children and Teenagers 3, 2.

Howard, DE, Mehrotra D, Datar R, Klein T, Borzekowski DLG. (2019). “Media is Not the Devil:” An Interview Study with Experts to Inform Children’s Educational Media in India. Journal of Child & Adolescent Behavior 7(1).

Borzekowski D, Singpurwalla D, Mehrotra D, Howard D. (2019). The Impact of Galli Galli Sim Sim: A Randomized Control Trial in Lucknow, India. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 64:101054.

Bhagat K., Howard, D. (2018). The Dominant Obesity Discourse vs. Children’s Conceptualizations of Health: A Comparison through Dialogue and Drawings. Qualitative Health Research 28(7): 1157-1170. 

Hall EF, Howard D, Abebe I, Sawyer R, Abebe I. (2017). Female High School Students' Perceptions and Experiences of Gender Roles and Stereotypes in Dating Relationships. SOJ Psychology 4(2): 1-10.

Katrina J. Debnam, Donna E. Howard, Mary A. Garza, Kerry M. Green. (2017). African American Girls’ Ideal Dating Relationship Now and in the Future. Theme Issue: Adolescent Dating and Romance, Youth & Society, 49 (3): 271–294

Howard DE, Debnam K, Strausser A. (2017). “I’m a stalker and I’m proud of it: Adolescent Girls’ Perceptions of the Role Played by Social and Digital Media in Dating Relationship Dynamics”. Youth & Society. June.

Fedina L, Murray K, Howard DE, Wang MQ. (2016). Teen Dating Violence Victimization, Perpetration, and Sexual Health Outcomes among Urban, Low-income, Ethnic and Racial Minority Youth. International Quarterly of Community Health Education, 37(1), 3-12.

Howard DE, John C, Gilchrist B, Royster I, Aiken N. (2015). Adolescent Minority Males Characterizations of Healthy Teen Dating Relationships. A Challenge to One-Dimensional Stereotypes. Journal of Child & Adolescent Behavior, 3:6.

Howard DE, Debnam KJ, Cham H, Czinn A, Aiken N, Jordan J, Goldman R. (2015). The (Mal) Adaptive Value of Mid-Adolescent Dating Relationship Labels. Journal of Primary Prevention 36,187-203.