Office of Work/LifeEstablished in 2007, the Office of Work/Life promotes the University's commitment to a working and learning environment supportive of its faculty, researchers, administrators, staff and students in their pursuit of productive and fulfilling professional and personal lives.
The office has three primary goals:
- Promote awareness and utilization of Columbia University's existing work/life initiatives
- Improve work/life policies, benefits, services, programs, practices, and culture throughout the University
- Enhance the experience of Columbia University as a family-supportive institution
The Office of Work/Life helps members of the Columbia community address the daily challenges of personal, work, and family life. For concerns ranging from parenting to elder care, Columbia offers a variety of resources to help Columbia faculty, staff, and students better manage their work and life responsibilities.
These resources include the Breastfeeding Support Program, School and Child Care Search Service, Back-Up Care, Housing Information and Referral Service, Spouse/Partner Dual Career Services, Employee Assistance Program, Wellness programs, and more.
Click here to read what the Columbia community is saying about our programs and services.
Staff Bios - Alphabetical by last name
Deborah Ashe - Director, School and Child Care Search Service
Debbie relocated to New York City more than 15 years ago as a single parent with two young children who are now both in college. She now assists Columbia families who are searching for schools in the New York metropolitan area, consulting individually with parents and presenting workshops for the Columbia community.
Before joining Columbia University's Office of Work/Life, Debbie was the Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at Trevor Day School (Nursery through Grade 5) for 11 years. She was an involved member of the Independent Schools Admissions Association of Greater New York (ISAAGNY), serving as Co-Chair and Communications Chair during her tenure as an Officer.
Debbie earned her B.A. in Comparative Literature and M.A. in English from University of Pittsburgh and a J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (Yeshiva University, New York). She is also certified to teach English as a Second Language.
Rebecca Balkin - Administrative Coordinator, Office of Work/Life
As the administrative coordinator for the Office of Work/Life, Rebecca performs a variety of administrative duties and is responsible for financial management and event and program support. She also manages the Breastfeeduing Support Program and Backup Care Program. Before coming to Columbia, Rebecca spent three years working as an administrative assistant in the Department of Economics at Harvard University.
Rebecca received a B.A. in Sociology from Tufts University in 2005 and is currently working toward a Master of Education degree at Teachers College.
Carol Hoffman - Associate Provost and Director of Work/Life
Carol was recruited to Columbia in 2007 to create the Office of Work/Life. She has launched several new programs at Columbia, including backup care, breastfeeding support, faculty recruitment and relocation service, including spouse/partner dual career service, housing information and referral service, and wellness. Carol has also been able to expand existing programs and policies, such as the School and Child Care Search Service, the affiliated child care centers, flexible work arrangements and faculty family friendly policies.
Before coming to Columbia, Carol served as the Founding Director of Work/Life at the University of California at Berkeley. Also at UC Berkeley, she founded and directed the employee assistance program, expanded child care opportunities, inaugurated the university's elder care program, and developed programs to respond to trauma, disaster and deaths. She gives presentations at regional and national conferences and has been published on some of these same topic areas.
Carol is on the Board of the College and University Work Family Association (CUWFA). She received her B.A. from SUNY Buffalo and her M.S.W. from SF State University; Carol is a California-licensed Clinical Social Worker and a native New Yorker.
Alice Lesman - Director, Housing Information and Referral
Alice joined the Office of Work/Life in September 2008. Prior to coming to Columbia, Alice managed the relocation department of the New York office in a large financial institution. Her primary focus was on housing in the New York area. She managed property owned by the institution, and was responsible for international and domestic moving, temporary housing, permanent housing, and metropolitan area orientation. Additionally, Alice was an interior architect for many years and worked on a variety of commercial and residential projects.
Also, as a native New Yorker, Alice is well-acquainted with New York City and the greater New York area. She utilizes this knowledge when counseling members of the Columbia community on relocation, housing and real estate concerns. Additionally, she has some personal relocation experience, having relocated internationally with her family when her children were young.
She earned her M.S. in Interior Architecture from Pratt Institute and a B.B.A. in Marketing from Pace University. Alice is currently a Member and Certified Relocation Professional (CRP) of the Employee Relocation Council (ERC).
Deborah Hughes Ndao – Director, Wellness
As the Director of Wellness, Deborah develops and executes programs designed to improve the health and wellness for the people who work at Columbia University.
Prior to joining the Office of Work/Life, Deborah was the Program Manager of the Integrative Therapies Program in the Division of Pediatric Oncology, Columbia University Medical Center. In her role, Deborah devoted her work to designing, implementing, and evaluating wellness programs for clinicians, children, adolescents and young adults, and their caregivers, and oversaw program communications, education, outreach, and policy initiatives, both nationally and internationally. Deborah is involved in a number of professional organizations, including the American Public Health Association.
Deborah earned her B.A. in English with a concentration in Pre-Medicine from Barnard College and her M.P.H. in Health Promotion-Sociomedical Sciences from the Mailman School of Public Health.
Irma Pacheco - Program Coordinator, Work/Life
Irma provides direct support to The Office of Work/ Life's Housing Information and Referral and School and Child Care Search Service divisions. Before joining the Work/Life team, Irma worked as a communications and marketing consultant for The University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, and prior to that, directed the orientation program and coordinated multi-cultural events for The University of Texas at Brownsville.
Irma earned her B.A. in Sociology from Loyola University Chicago.
Carolyn Sachs Singer - Child Care Resource Specialist, School and Child Care Search Service
Carolyn provides resources and information to expectant parents as well as families with young children as they make decisions related to parenting and child care choices. Through individual consultation and workshops, Carolyn supports families in finding quality and appropriate early care and education programs.
Prior to her arrival at Columbia, Carolyn served as the Director of Early Childhood Education and Managing Director of Early Childhood and Children's Services at the Riverdale YM-YWHA. During her tenure, she developed a new area of service: recreational and therapeutic programs for children with special needs. Recently, Carolyn also served as Senior Director of Family Life at the JCC in Manhattan.
Carolyn holds a M.S.Ed. in Curriculum and Teaching from Fordham University and a B.A. in Judaic Studies from the University of Cincinnati. She is a native of New York City and lives on the Upper West Side with her husband and children.
As necessary, the Office of Work/Life works with senior administrative officers within Columbia University to provide faculty recruitment and relocation services, in particular the Faculty Spouse/Partner Dual Career Service which is staffed by Columbia University career counseling and placement specialists.