Dorothea E. de Zafra-Atwell, MPIA


de Zafra-Atwell, DorotheaDirector of Science Education, Senior Program Analyst (Retired)
United States Department of Health and Human Services
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Silver Spring, MD, USA
Industry: Government
Field: Policy and Program Development

Dorothea E. de Zafra-Atwell went into the federal government civil service in 1969 with a strong conviction to make a positive difference in the world. She chose to work with the United States Department of Health and Human Services, where she saw an opportunity to improve the nation’s quality of life. Although unable to view the direct impact her work had on people because it was several levels removed, she nevertheless felt that helping to shape federal policies and programs was really worthwhile. Furthermore, her involvement in a field that was traditionally considered to be male-dominated distinguished her as a pioneering female who capitalized on opportunities and excelled in her positions. Her ability to adapt to various environments was an invaluable asset as she progressed through the ranks of analytical and program management positions in health agencies and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health.

In 1963 she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Non-Western Civilizations from the University of Rochester, which was followed by a Master of Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh in 1965 and a diploma from the Advanced Management Program in Information Resources from the National Defense University in 1994.

After four years in the field of international education, Ms. de Zafra-Atwell took the civil service entrance exam and came into the federal government in 1969 as a management intern. After subsequent positions in legislative and management analysis, she entered the then-new field of information law, holding policy and oversight positions as privacy act officer and information systems security program manager covering all agencies of the United States Public Health Service. Then, in her position as the director of science education for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism from 1995 to 2002, she managed all aspects of the contracting process for the development and field testing of science education curriculum supplements and publications for health professionals related to alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Concurrently, she serviced as senior program analyst there.

In addition to her work for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Ms. de Zafra-Atwell has contributed to the publication of several works as a project officer and editor of “Identification of At-Risk Drinking and Intervention with Women of Child-bearing Age: A Guide for Primary Care Providers,” “Identification and Care of Fetal Alcohol-Exposed Children: A Guide for Primary Care Providers,” and “Personal Steps to a Healthy Choice: A Woman’s Guide.” She also authored “A Management Model for the Implementation of Omnibus Legislation: A Case Study from the U.S. Public Health Service,” which was published in the American Society for Public Administration’s May/June 1978 issue of Public Administration Review.

Since her retirement in 2002, Ms. de Zafra-Atwell has married, taken on eldercare responsibilities, and been active in her church and graduate school alumni association. She is still very interested in her field and keeps up-to-date with current events via her membership in the Council of Former Federal Executives and Associates. She is currently an advocate for higher quality eldercare in the United States based on her personal caregiving experience and history as a former employee of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. In the near future, she would like to consult on a senior level with a nonprofit organization. Continue reading