Meet Judy Stevens – Long

Hello, I’m Judy Stevens-Long, Ph.D., author of  Living Well, Dying Well with my co-author, Dohrea Bardell. It is a guidebook to the experience of dying in America. I am also founder of the website Dying with Wisdom offering research and commonsense about the end of life. I am a developmental psychologist, who has been teaching and writing about positive development across the lifespan for decades.

My career began at UCLA where I earned my Ph.D. in psychology and wrote a dissertation about the behavior of adults caring for children with emotional disorders. I had been working with autistic children at the Neuropsychiatric Institute at UCLA, but became more interested more interested in the development of normal children and adolescents. I wrote a number of textbook chapters on physical development in childhood, and then turned to the study of adolescents, with the publication of Adolescence and Young Adulthood. At the same time, my interest in adulthood, sparked by my dissertation, led to the publication of a series of editions of Adult Life, a textbook emphasizes positive development in adulthood.

After earning my Ph.D., I taught at psychology of women at UCLA, and then moved to a full-time tenure position at California State University at Los Angeles, where I earned tenure and was promoted to full professor. I stayed for twenty years, publishing many works on childhood, adolescent, and adult development and building a consulting practice in team building and communication with organizations from family-owned real estate companies to America West Airlines, and the California Endowment. I left L.A. for Seattle for love, marrying the man who has become my life’s partner and a wonderful step-parent to my two children.

In Seattle, I managed to land a tenured position as a full professor at the University of Washington, helping build the first branch of the University at Tacoma, where we developed a curriculum in the liberal arts, and I served as the psychology and business departments, bringing together my interests in human and organizational development. I was one of twelve founding faculty, and the only woman who was a full professor. I also continued to practice as a consultant, facilitating team building, communication and conflict management for the Provost’s office of UW, Seattle, the Law School, Group Health, the Kohala Center on the big island of Hawaii, and the Superior Court Judges and Administrators of the State of Washington.

But I missed California, and soon accepted a position as Associate Dean of the doctoral program. After leaving administration at Fielding, I served as the Malcolm Knowles Chair in Adult Learning and Development. Fielding offered me the opportunity to design unique programs for midlife adults who have decided to pursue a graduate education. Much of my recent published work examines the impact of graduate education on midlife learners.

I have also published work on sex-role development, the emergence of empathy, the mature personality, and work on theory in developmental psychology. I also have written about group process and family dynamics. All of this background has culminated in my book on end of life. It seems appropriate as I live the last quarter of life, to reflect on the opportunities for growth and positive development at any age.

My approach emphasizes healthy coping with life’s great challenges. I am interested in the common events people encounter as they age. How do we react to big events—like marriage, parenthood, divorce, education, career change, and loss? I have always considered the whole person in my work, taking note of emotional, intellectual, behavioral and spiritual aspects of development. I have published a number of articles that explore each of these aspects in relationship to the big events of life.

I believe that positive development is a possible response to all the challenges of life. With the right information and support, we can continue to mature throughout the life span, until the final moments. My work has been devoted to exploring the optimal conditions for maturity, which I define as being able to think about a wide range of ideas with curiosity and good judgment, to work and play well with others, to be capable of compassion and patience, and to make the best of the hand you are dealt in life.