Friday, November 12, 2010

Community Practitioner Spotlight: Laura Clark

Impacting Children’s Lives through Research and Evaluation
“I feel really lucky to have found a career that fits so well with my own personal values and beliefs. I go to work every day knowing that my training will be utilized in a variety of ways; it’s not just some esoteric degree. I’m also really glad that as a community psychology practitioner, I’m able to connect the principles that guide our field to the real world issues facing health and human service providers.”
Laura Clark, M.A.

Name: Laura Clark, M.A.
Title: Director of Research and Evaluation
Employer: Council for Children’s Rights
Affiliations: American Psychological Association, Society for Community Research & Action, International Society for Child Indicators
Laura Clark is a community psychologist practitioner who is effectively using her skills and knowledge to help protect the rights of children. The Council for Children's Rights is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the rights of children in Charlotte, North Carolina. As the Director of Research and Evaluation, Laura oversees the internal program evaluation for three advocacy programs and represents Council for Children’s Rights on relevant community committees. She is also responsible for staffing the Council for Children’s Rights Research Advisory Committee and maintaining relationships with local research institutions, universities and graduate student interns for various research projects.

The Larry King Center for Building Children's Futures is a Council for Children’s Rights initiative on which Laura leads the community planning, research, and program evaluation efforts. Laura’s work on this initiative involves  developing comprehensive community plans to address a number of issues affecting children in the community, compiling and monitoring community indicators related to well-being, and researching and disseminating evidence-based practice research to community stakeholders. She also works with staff to develop public policies that support evidence-based practices in the community. Laura’s service doesn’t end with the Council for Children’s Rights; she also serves on two non-profit boards and teaches undergraduate classes in community psychology and program evaluation.

It is clear that this area of work requires an array of skills in areas such as research, evaluation, and community relations. These skills are very well nestled in Community Psychology. Laura, who earned a Master’s feels that her graduate education prepared her for her career. The skills Laura gained in program evaluation were particularly conducive to her job which involves developing surveys, conducting needs assessments and helping stakeholders to develop appropriate evaluation plans.

As a student, Laura’s field experiences allowed her “to see community psychology in action by working directly with neighborhoods and community agencies.” Laura was able to learn hands-on how to work with diverse populations towards common goals, how to listen to the needs of community members and how to bridge the gap between science and practice. Additionally, the mentorship she received in graduate school was certainly beneficial to her professional development.

Laura’s training in community psychology and extensive experience in community settings has equipped her to work with all sorts of people in many different settings. Her work with the Council for Children’s Rights illustrates just how community psychology utilizes research, policy and community collaboration to evoke social change. Read Laura's full interview here


This profile was written by Kyrah Brown, from Wichita State University.  It is part of a series of community psychology practitioner profiles.  If you have a suggestion for future profiles, please email

Laura Clark graduated from the Clinical/Community Psychology M.A. Program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2002.  Find out more about that program here

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