Staff Spotlight: Laura Marra, CFRI Senior Research Coordinator
Describe in your own words what you do at UTCFRI:
I oversee research design, evaluation, and analysis for projects related to child welfare and child well-being and have a particular interest in making sure that our findings are disseminated in a way that is useful to those impacted by them.
Current projects or one key project?
I’m especially excited to be working as part of the evaluation team for a recently funded five-year national project on adoption and guardianship. This grant focuses on helping child welfare agencies build evidence-based models of support and interventions that aim to increase family stability, improve children’s behavioral health, and advance the well-being of children and families.
If you had to pick one important or exciting thing about your work at UTCFRI what would it be?
It’s exciting to come to work every day knowing that I am part of a dynamic team that values the work we do and feels passionate about disseminating our work to the community. In particular, we feel that research should not be something abstract and only understood by researchers, but rather it should be something that’s accessible and easily understood by families, youth, practitioners, advocates, and other community members who are impacted by our work.
Tell us something that might surprise us about you?
What surprises most people is that my husband and I have guardianship of two incredible teenagers. Natalya and Deanna are two resilient and amazing young women who we have the privilege of getting to walk along side as they finish high school and transition to college. I continue to learn and grow from these two every day.
What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?
One of my favorite things to do in my spare time is ballroom dance. My husband and I have been taking lessons for a year, and we particularly like Waltz, Swing, and Cha Cha. We are also huge college football fans, dedicating many of our fall weekends to supporting the UT Longhorns and Clemson Tigers.
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 conducted by The Child & Family Research Institute that is used to guide policy and social work practice #meetCFRI