On December 31, 2017, Policy Research Associates, Inc. (PRA) celebrated a major milestone—its 30th Anniversary.

Founded by Dr. Henry J. Steadman in 1987 with one grant, four employees, and one partner, over the years PRA has risen to be one of the foremost experts in behavioral health and systems serving disadvantaged populations. Since 2014, PRA has been led by President Pamela Clark Robbins, who has been with PRA since its inception in 1987—one of the original four employees! PRA currently employs 62 staff members, operates 30 projects, and has partners at the local, state, and federal levels.

Commenting on the impact of its “Pearl Anniversary” President Pamela Clark Robbins said, “It’s very rewarding to be doing so much meaningful work that has an impact in the lives of people who are disadvantaged.  We have a tremendously talented and dedicated group who continue to contribute in ways that make PRA a special place.”

PRA has much to be proud of from its first 30 years in business:

  • 1987: PRA founded with a National Institute of Mental Health grant studying insanity defense reforms
  • 1988: Vice President Deborah Dennis joined PRA to lead the National Resource Center on Homelessness and Mental Illness
  • 1989: PRA began research on the MacArthur Risk Assessment Study, in collaboration with the University of Virginia to study risk assessment of violence for acute psychiatric inpatients after their release to the community
  • 1990: Vice President Joseph Cocozza joined PRA to lead work in the juvenile justice area
  • 1995: PRA awarded a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) contract to operate the GAINS Center for Behavioral Health and Justice Transformation
  • 1997 : PRA is contracted by the U.S. Secret Service to conduct research related to risk factors associated with politically, socially, or ideologically motivated group violence
  • 1999: Through a National Institute of Mental Health Small Business Innovative Research  contract, PRA is contracted to incorporate data from the MacArthur Risk Assessment Study into a software application that can be used to assist in the clinical assessment and management of risk.
  • 2001: The National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice is founded
  • 2001: PRA is contracted by the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention to improve the ability of systems to respond to the needs of youth in the juvenile justice system with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders by reviewing existing data, collecting new data, and in turn, developing the Blueprint for Change: A Comprehensive Model for the Identification and Treatment of Youth with Mental Health Needs in Contact with the Juvenile Justice System
  • 2009: PRA awarded a SAMHSA contract to operate the SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) Technical Assistance Center
  • 2010: PRA awarded a SAMHSA contract to operate the Service Members, Veterans, and their Families Technical Assistance Center
  • 2012: PRA named #4 Top Government Contractor in the Capital District
  • 2013: PRA named #1 Small Employer by the Times Union
  • 2014: Pamela Clark Robbins became CEO of PRA
  • 2015: PRA awarded SAMHSA contract to operate the Program to Achieve Wellness’
  • 2016: PRA’s leadership is restructured; Lisa Pellitteri is named Vice President, Operations, and Terri Hay, Chanson Noether, Jacquelyn Greene, Karli Keator, and Kristin Lupfer are named Program Area Directors
  • 2017: Hank Steadman retires and PRA celebrates 30 years!

Over the past 30 years, much has changed at PRA—but its values have remained the same. When PRA was founded it was meant to be a place where employees could have fun while doing good work. Thirty years and 242 employees later, these original values still ring true: doing good work at a fun place with a hardworking bunch to make an impact.

On January 11, 2018, PRA celebrated its 30th Anniversary by opening its doors to the public for an open house. Bethlehem residents, local officials, local businesses, and friends and family stopped in to tour the building, meet the employees, and view displays to get a better sense of the work that PRA does.

It has been an honor for PRA to serve the community and the country over the past 30 years in both its professional and community service work. From our little building on Delaware Avenue we have been able to touch the lives of thousands of people all over the country and in our own community. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next 30 years!