Staff Spotlight: Kate McKerlie, CFRI Communications & Research Coordinator

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Describe in your own words what you do at UTCFRI:

I have two jobs at CFRI. I coordinate our communications and promotion, and manage our social media (so yes, I am posting this about myself :)). I also manage the data analysis and reporting of the evaluation of our two teen pregnancy prevention projects.

What are your professional areas of interest/ research interests?

I am interested communications strategic planning, I think it is important that we make our communication efforts count by making them coordinated, meaningful, and useful to our stakeholders, which includes our project partners and the children and families they serve. I am also interested in promoting positive and healthy adolescent sexuality by providing inclusive, trauma-informed, and empowering sexuality-related information that focuses on the whole person within their environment.  I also study and advocate for sex education policies that promote these values.

If you had to pick one important or exciting thing about your work at UTCFRI what would it be?

The one thing that stands out to me about my experience here is the opportunities for learning and growth. I can always ask questions and seek out other team members. We are a collaborative team here at CFRI where we utilize each other’s strengths to strive towards a shared vision of promoting the well being of children and their families.

What have you gained from working at UTCFRI?

So much! I found my way here volunteering for the HYP teen pregnancy prevention needs assessment a few years ago as a graduate student. That opportunity led to a MSSW final field internship and finally a staff position. I learn new things everyday whether it be the intricacies of conducting a program evaluation, to the constant trial and error when trying to build a communications infrastructure within an organization.

What are the three things you can’t live without?

Coffee, music, and nature, particularly bodies of water. I am an ex-barista, aspiring ukulele player who grew up by the ocean, and I miss it.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you?

I recently took up two-stepping and go dancing at least once a week, that might not be surprising to the Texans reading this, but if you asked this native New Yorker about it a year ago she would have scoffed at you.

Would you rather be a tiny elephant or a giant hamster? Why?

Tiny elephant! Elephants are awesome, they remember where they bury their family members and go visit them, recognize themselves in mirrors, and they can paint pictures. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=He7Ge7Sogrk  I can get mini canvases.

In the upcoming months, our social media platforms and the CFRI blog will be highlighting the staff and students of CFRI. Get to know us and learn more about the passionate people behind the quality research that is used to guide policy and social work practice at The Child & Family Research Institute. #meetCFRI