As a physician working in inner-city hospitals and neighborhood clinics, Prothrow-Stith recognized violence as a significant public health issue. Appointed in 1987 as the first woman and youngest-ever Commissioner of Public Health for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, she expanded treatment programs for AIDS and drug rehabilitation. Garnering numerous awards for her work in public health and violence prevention, including the World Health Day Award in 1993, Prothrow-Stith was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the National Commission on Crime Control and Prevention.
As a chief spokesperson for a national movement to prevent violence, Prothrow-Stith developed and wrote the first violence prevention curriculum for schools and communities titled, "Violence Prevention Curriculum for Adolescents" and co-wrote "Deadly Consequences." "Deadly Consequences" was the first book to present a public health perspective on violence to a mass audience thus leading to numerous appearances and requests for her participation on national media and public health forums.
The Fred R. Leventhal Family Endowed Lecture is the eighth Wittenberg Series event this year and is made possible by a gift to Wittenberg University from the Fred R. Leventhal Family of Springfield, Ohio. Previous Leventhal lecturers include the late Malcolm S. Forbes, Boston Globe syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman, Charles Osgood of CBS news, and William Gray III, president of the United Negro College Fund. The lecture is open to the public at no charge.