Jean M. Alberti, PhD, has had a multi-faceted career but always with an education component. Like many women of her generation, she began her career as a teacher, teaching 5th and 6th grade students in the Maryvale and Sweet Home school districts before deciding to pursue a doctoral degree in educational psychology at the University at Buffalo.
While pursuing her doctorate, Alberti worked as a graduate assistant and then was named director of the Office of University Research in the Student Affairs Division. Her career goal was to "teach teachers how to teach" but her career took a detour into medical education. After earning her degree, Alberti accepted the position of assistant professor at the University of Illinois School of Medicine, where she was "teaching physicians and allied health professionals how to teach and evaluate." She later became an associate professor and chair of the Department of Medical Education at the Chicago Medical School, and a grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health.
Alberti’s experience as a grant reviewer led to another career detour into the field of health education. In the 1980s, she was named the director of evaluation for two National Institutes of Health grants; the first grant was for the Chicago Heart Association and the second for Northwestern University’s Multipurpose Arthritis Center. During this time, Alberti was completing a second master’s degree, in counseling psychology from George Williams College, which set the stage for her next career detour.
For the past 30 years, Alberti has been in private practice as a licensed clinical psychologist doing cognitive-behavioral therapy. This is a continuation of her education roots, doing "as much teaching and coaching as counseling." Alberti combined her knowledge of child development and her experience in elementary education with her ongoing experience as a therapist to adult clients, some of whom have mental health problems resulting from bullying abuse or other abuse received as children. These experiences resulted in her groundbreaking theories on bullying, that children's bullying behaviors are identical to adults' abusive behaviors. She coined the phrase “bullying abuse” to link those concepts and developed the slogan, “Bullying abuse is child abuse by children.”
During conversations in 2006 to 2007 with Mary Gresham, PhD — dean of UB’s Graduate School of Education at that time — Alberti explained ideas about bullying, abuse and school violence. Gresham thought that Alberti was “ahead of the times” in her thinking about this increasingly important issue. This led to the establishment at UB's Graduate School of Education of the Dr. Jean M. Alberti Center for the Prevention of Bullying Abuse and School Violence in 2010. Subsequent events have proven Gresham’s perception correct, as we, sadly, hear about bullying abuse and school shootings more frequently.
Alberti has been recognized for her numerous accomplishments throughout her distinguished career. Among these honors are listings in Who's Who of American Women and the International Dictionary of Distinguished Leadership, and awards such as Outstanding Young Women of America, Chicago Woman of Leadership, the UB Graduate School of Education Distinguished Alumni Award, and the UB Graduate School of Education Dean's Service Award. Alberti has also served as the international president of Pi Lambda Theta, the international honor society and professional association in education.