Board of Trustees Chair Daniele Levy Champions University’s Vision for Sustainable Growth and Advancement
When Daniele Levy, PhD, tells you that her greatest achievement as a psychologist is touching clients’ lives, it brings to mind the wisdom of the Chinese proverb—if you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody else. “I feel rewarded, fulfilled, and grateful to be able to connect with people at such a deep level and help them move towards the values that are important to them,” Dr. Levy says.
This desire to help others tackle life’s hurdles stems from a career path that has seen a few pivots. After earning an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering in her native Brazil, Dr. Levy took on the role of product manager at Procter & Gamble, where she oversaw strategy and design for P&G’s flagship Pampers brand across Latin America. She then chose to pursue an MBA, relocating to Palo Alto to attend the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Subsequently, she spent 15 years in leadership roles in early Silicon Valley businesses that included eBay and Yahoo—“small start-ups at the time.”
During a career hiatus, Dr. Levy reconnected with an earlier interest in the field of psychology. “I decided to transition from a business career into a field I felt would be more meaningful,” she recalls. “As a manager, helping people discover their passions, ambitions, and growth—that was the piece that energized me.” She entered the doctoral program at Palo Alto University (PAU) with a concentration in Clinical Neuroscience in Women’s Health at Stanford University’s School of Medicine and earned her PhD in 2014.
Mentorship Inspires Leadership and Insight
Dr. Levy's clinical experience includes roles as director of Integrated Behavioral Health at the San Mateo Medical Center, as well as practice in college counseling, community mental health, and the Veterans Administration. During her tenure at San Mateo County, she and her team introduced innovative behavioral health interventions into the primary care setting, including biofeedback and virtual reality for anxiety treatment.
Throughout her career, mentorship has been a cornerstone. Dr. Levy sees its value as two-fold: as an accelerator for career growth and a sounding board. She counts noted psychiatrist, Stanford professor and TEAM-CBT creator, David Burns, MD, and Alinne Barrera, PhD, Professor and Associate Director of the MADRES Lab, as two who have guided her professional growth. “David has helped shape my clinical practice,” she says. “Alinne’s patience, warm heart, and open door got me through many moments of doubt in my PhD.”
Driving Academic and Business Innovation
An active member of PAU’s Board of Trustees since 2016, Dr. Levy stepped into the role of Chair last August. As the University seeks to balance academic excellence with the economic realities facing students, faculty and the institution, the 26-member Board is carrying out key strategic priorities.
The Board’s vision for PAU encompasses a triple-pronged yet parallel strategic approach, the first of which Dr. Levy calls “more and better”—the university “continues to do what we are doing in terms of educating students and producing degrees in psychology and counseling but finding ways to be more effective and efficient in the process.”
The second strategy embraces a B2B (business-to-business) model with an emphasis on developing innovative external partnerships. A case in point is the workforce development grants totaling $6.7 million that PAU received from the State of California last year to address the significant behavioral health workforce shortage in the state. The grants fund the creation of a program to train new social workers and provide tuition for 50 current county employees seeking mental health counseling degrees.
The third initiative centers on leveraging the University’s knowledge, advancements in clinical science, and mental health technology “for startups and investors in the Silicon Valley ecosystem to validate their ideas and products as they relate to mental health,” notes Dr. Levy.
Underlying these pivotal directions should be a continuous drive towards community engagement and innovation. Dr. Levy emphasizes that “PAU’s mission is to prepare students to address important issues that equitably meet the needs of the human condition. We won’t be able to meet these needs if we don’t evolve, explore and try new approaches.”
This neatly aligns with the objectives of PAU’s Business Innovation & Strategic Advancement (BISA) Division. Launched in August 2023, BISA focuses on cultivating partnerships to drive innovation, investment, and support for PAU’s mission, ensuring the University’s long-term sustainability.
“Dr. Levy is the perfect person to Chair PAU’s Board of Trustees, with her business background and expertise in mental health, she brings a wealth of knowledge to the University for executing these various business models,” says Dr. Patricia Zapf, Vice President for Business Innovation and Strategic Advancement. “The fact that she is also an alum of PAU and understands our mission is an added bonus; we are lucky to have her,” adds Dr. Zapf.