New faculty spotlight: Zoila Ponce de León

May 24, 2024

"Dr. Zoila Ponce de Leon"Dr. Zoila Ponce de León will join the the Pitt community this fall as an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and an affiliate of the Center for Latin American Studies.  A scholar of comparative social policy, her research focuses on how governments and societies respond to healthcare and migration challenges.

“Before moving to the U.S. to attend graduate school, I worked at the Health Committee in Congress in Peru for a year,” she explained. “I became fascinated by health policy and the politics of policymaking.”

Ponce de León earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds a B.A. in political science from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. Her upcoming book, Political Parties and Policy Reform: Expansion of Healthcare in Latin America, currently under review by Cambridge University Press, explores variations in the expansion of social benefits across new democracies based on data gathered during 12 months of field research, including over 150 in-depth interviews with political elites, technocrats, and leaders of interest groups. Her work has been published in the Journal of Latin American Studies, Journal of Experimental Political Science, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics, and Revista de Ciencia Política.

Previously an assistant professor at Washington and Lee University from 2018 to 2024, Ponce de León is most excited about getting to know her new colleagues and students here at Pitt.

“I truly want to know my students—what inspires them, and what they are passionate about. My goal is for them to see how the different concepts and tools we learn in the classroom can be applied to further their specified interests and concerns.

Fun fact: She loves spending time with her dogs, Toby and Mochica, and enjoys traveling every chance she gets.

“Whether hiking in Italy or enjoying a lovely beach in Thailand, I'm happiest when I travel.