Professional Biography

As the director of the Center for School Study Councils, Dr. Sokoloff is responsible for working with school superintendents, school boards, and district staff to help them keep pace with state-of-the-art educational and management theory, research, and practice. In that role, he develops and conducts more than 50 workshops and seminars on educational leadership issues each academic year for school superintendents in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

His initiatives with school districts and community organizations include a variety of projects to create opportunities to engage students in school and community problem-solving, as well as to build stronger, more productive relationships between schools and their communities. For example, he worked with high school students, teachers, and community officials in Bensalem Township (Pa.) to develop community-based principles and designs for developing the waterfront there. In the Camp Hill School District (Pa.), he worked with the district and community to provide common-ground values-based principles that provided the foundation for the construction of a community performing arts center. In the Hopewell Valley School District (N.J.), Dr. Sokoloff guided the district in creating a "community agenda" of values and goals that could serve as a touchstone for the district's educational strategic planning efforts. He developed the Franklin Conference on School Design as well as the National Summit on School Design for the American Architecture Foundation.

Dr. Sokoloff is currently on the Executive Committee of the Education Policy Leadership Center and has served on the on the boards of the National Liberty Museum and Education Center, Perelman Jewish Day School, American Theater Arts for Youth, and was an associate of the Kettering Foundation.

As founder and director of the Penn Project for Civic Engagement (PPCE), he has designed and implemented community engagement projects ranging locally and nationally. His Citizen Voices, a project of the Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial Board, won the National Batten Award for Civic Journalism. PPCE sponsors the Civic Engagement Institute, a summer institute at Penn GSE that focuses on teaching the theory and practice of deliberative democracy.

Research Interests and Current Projects


Ph.D. (Foundations of Education) Syracuse University, 1982.

M.Ed. (Philosophy of Education) Temple University, 1973.

B.A. (Philosophy (Sociology and Psychology minors)) Temple University, 1971.

Areas of Expertise

Civic engagement and deliberative democracy
School/community relations
Central office leadership
Negotiation and conflict resolution
Strategic leadership

Selected Publications

Sokoloff, H. (2018). A social innovation to rethinking parent engagement. Social Innovations Journal, 48.

Sokoloff, H. (2012). Building common ground. Fels Institute of Government, University of Pennsylvania.

Sokoloff, H. (2008). Working to build the next great city. The Daily Pennsylvanian. 

Sokoloff, H., Steinberg, H. M., & Pyser, S. N. (2005). Deliberative city planning on the Philadelphia waterfront. In J. Gastil, & P. Levine. The deliberative democracy handbook: Strategies for effective civic engagement in the twenty-first century, pp. 185–196. San Francisco: Wiley-Jossey-Bass.

Charles, M., Sokoloff, H., & Satullo, C. (2005). Electoral deliberation and public journalism. In J. Gastil, & P. Levine (eds.), The deliberative democracy handbook: Strategies for effective civic engagement in the twenty-first century, pp. 59–67. San Francisco: Wiley-Jossey-Bass. 

Sokoloff, H. (2003). Conversations with the community. The American School Board Journal, September issue.

Sokoloff, H. (2001). Engaging the public: How school boards can call for community involvement in important school decisions. American School Board Journal, September issue, 26-29.

Sokoloff, H. J. (1999). Rallying a community around youth violence. The School Administrator, September issue, 14–15.

Sokoloff, H. (1997). Convening the community. The American School Board Journal, November issue, 25–27.

Sokoloff, H. (1996). Deliberative model for engaging the community. The School Administrator, November Issue, 12–18.