Dr. Christen with Angel Contrera, an alumnus from Futures and Options' summer 2008 internship program.
Dr. Barbara L. Christen
Dr. Barbara L. Christen was first and foremost an extraordinary educator. Her passion and commitment to excellence in education inspired all those who had the privilege of working with her as well as the many students whom she taught. Dr. Christen began her distinguished career in education as an English teacher in New York City's public high schools. In 1970, she was appointed assistant principal for English at the High School of Art and Design. In 1975, she became the founding principal of Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers in Lower Manhattan, which gained international attention for its "magnet" program to educate New York City students for both college admission and entry-level occupations.
In cooperation with the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association, Dr. Christen set the pattern for business/education partnerships. She pioneered an innovative business curriculum, established the first high school computer science program for business, and required internships of all students at Bergtraum. This unique combination of a strong academic curriculum and internships anticipated the needs of businesses and established ties with the Downtown business community. Dr. Christen's innovations as principal of Bergtraum reflected the depth of her commitment to internships for high school students as a venue for their education and for their access to the economic mainstream.
Retirement from New York City's public schools did not end Dr. Christen's efforts to positively impact the lives of New York City's youth. As Vice President for Workforce Development at the Alliance for Downtown New York, she created Futures and Options, and served as President of the organization from 1995 until 2007.
Dr. Christen was a native New Yorker who attended the College of Mount Saint Vincent as an undergraduate, and received her M.A. from CUNY, and Doctorate in Education from Teachers College of Columbia University. Her expertise in business education partnerships resulted in a number of collaborations in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Russia. She chaired and served as a member of many educational boards and committees.