Ruth Finkelstein, ScD

Contact information


Interim Co-Director and Associate Director

Ruth Finkelstein, Associate Director of the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center, leads the translation of interdisciplinary scientific knowledge on aging and its societal implications into policy-focused practice.  The goal of the Center’s policy work is to maximize productivity, quality of life, and health across the life course.  Dr. Finkelstein is an Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Mailman School of Public Health.  She also serves as director of ILC-USA.

Prior to joining Columbia, Dr. Finkelstein was the Senior Vice President for Policy and Planning at The New York Academy of Medicine, where she directed the Age-friendly New York City Initiative, which won the 2013 award for "The Best Existing Age Friendly Initiative in the World" from the International Federation on Ageing, as well as the Archstone Award for Excellence in Program Innovation from the American Public Health Association. In 2012, Ruth was named one of the nation's "Game Changers" by Metropolis Magazine for her leadership on the Age-friendly NYC initiative.

Dr. Finkelstein has over thirty years experience in health policy, planning and research, focused on promoting health for vulnerable populations. As an expert in health care financing, HIV/AIDS care, and drug policy, she has led studies that motivated the integration of adherence support and drug treatment into HIV/AIDS care and also authored policy papers that helped provide a public health framework to overturn the Rockefeller drug laws in New York State. She has also provided technical assistance to other cities in the U.S. and around the world on planning, implementation, and evaluation of systems-level aging initiatives.  


Education & Training:
ScD, 1990, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
MA, 1979, Medical Anthropology
BA, 1977, University of Michigan 


Honors and Awards:
2013, Archstone Award for Excellence in Program Innovation, American Public Health Association
2013, Summa Age Friendly Cities and Communities International Innovation Award for Age Friendly NYC Initiatve, International Federation on Aging
2012, Havermeyer Award from the Education Fund for research challenging accepted perceptions in design
2012, Game Changer 2012, Metropolist Magazine 


For more information, please see her Mailman School of Public Health page.

Ruth Finkelstein: Productivity is the Way to Age from ColumbiaNews on Vimeo.