Pamela B. Paresky Ph.D.
Pamela Paresky, Ph.D., is Senior Scholar in Human Development and Psychology at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), where her primary responsibilities involve researching and communicating the psychology of thriving in a liberal democracy founded on fundamental individual rights such as the freedom of expression. She joined FIRE to work with its President and CEO, Greg Lukianoff, and his co-author, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, on their book, The Coddling of the American Mind for which she served as primary researcher and in-house editor. Her work has been published in outlets as different in perspective as The Guardian and Quillette, and she is Director of the Aspen Center for Human Development (ACHD) where a faculty of scholars in diverse fields collaborate on issues of leadership, happiness, the good life, and other topics in human development.
For several years, through her consulting practice, MultiGenerational Consulting Services, LLC, Dr. Paresky worked with individuals, companies, families, and nonprofits to create optimal relationships and organizations. She worked both one-on-one and with groups, offering customized programs that provided the opportunity to transform one’s thinking about roles and relationships, work and philanthropy, and about fundamental questions of personal meaning and happiness. She also provided consulting in areas as diverse as marketing, technical advising for television, and curriculum assessment. A featured speaker at the National Character and Leadership Symposium, and former United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) Adjunct/Research Professor, Dr. Paresky co-taught a leadership course at USAFA, consulted for the Colonel in charge of the USAFA Center for Character and Leadership Development, and worked with a team that delivered leadership courses around the world.
A Year of Kindness, her research-based guided journal, encourages people to record daily acts of kindness and thoughts of gratitude. She is also engaged in several current writing projects, including Losing Ourselves: How the pursuit of happiness makes us less happy (working title). Research for the book derives from philosophy, social science, wisdom traditions, and life stories that illuminate how to create a fulfilling life.
Dr. Paresky participated in working groups for Service Year Alliance (formerly The Franklin Project) and The Red Cross, and she served on the Advisory Panel of the Ethics and Professional Policy Committee of the American College of Medical Quality. She is a member of Heterodox Academy, and she serves on the National Advisory Board of the Miami-based United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education and the Andover and the Military Committee for Phillips Academy (Andover).
She received a PhD in Human Development and Psychology from the University of Chicago, where her work at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) focused on happiness, relationships, and “Flow,” a construct developed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a pioneer in the study of both happiness and performance. Building on his discovery that the best moments in life often occur when people stretch themselves while working toward something worthwhile, Dr. Paresky has spent over twenty years investigating the source of optimal experience and performance with a focus on bridging divides and constructing a life worth living. In addition to her interdisciplinary PhD, she holds a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology and a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology (with a concentration in Culture and Native American Studies). Before becoming a psychologist, Pamela conducted anthropological field research in New York City and in the North West Territories of Canada, where she lived with and photographed the Inuit. In New York City and Los Angeles, she had a very brief career as a professional actor.
The focus and goal of Dr. Paresky's research and work is to find ways for each of us to lead a meaningful and fulfilling life, and to develop the practices and mental habits necessary to engage in constructive dialogue and disagreement, embrace our common humanity, and contribute to and thrive in a pluralist, liberal democracy.