Staff Spotlight: Monica Faulkner, CFRI Co-Director

Learn more about Dr. Monica Faulkner, CFRI Co-Director!

Describe in your own words what you do at UTCFRI:

As the Co-Director, I am responsible for making sure that we produce quality work that will truly help children and families.  I manage our budgets, resources, design studies, collect data, hire and supervise amazing people.  I also represent us in the community.

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

When I finished my PhD program five years ago, I decided that I needed to find a way to pave my own path in research and advocacy.  I started with one project and now have roughly ten projects that our team juggles.  When I sit back and look at everything we have done in five years, I feel immensely proud, not of the volume of work, but of the impact that we have made.  This is my dream job.  If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would take a trip around the world and end up right back at my desk.

What is the most exciting or rewarding thing about your work at UTCFRI?

Our team has been able to use our research, our knowledge of social service programs and most importantly, our experience working with families to sit at the table with very important decision makers and help them figure out next steps.

What advice do you have for students or aspiring professionals who are interested in your field?

Same advice that I have for my kids- I have faith in your ability to figure it out.

Before working at UTCFRI what was the most unusual or interesting job you had?

I worked as a cashier at HEB and got written up for not smiling.  I argued with my boss on the definition and meaning of a smile.  It was very philosophical.  She hated me and still wrote me up.  I also met my husband at that job.  He wrote me up too for showing up ten minutes late.  I still married him though.  I am not good at customer service.

What’s your personal philosophy?

This is more of my feminist work philosophy.  As a feminist, I believe that for every step I take up a ladder, I have a responsibility to turn around and help the next person up that step.  The work that I do is not about competition, power and hierarchies.  Rather, it is about creating a culture of equality and respect that will lead to real change.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you?

I don’t like mushrooms, olives or bell peppers and I am a vegetarian.

How do you define success?

Success is contributing something to the world that is greater than yourself.  It doesn’t have to be something large.  It can be holding someone’s hand while they grieve or figuring out if a program is really helping people.  I get to do these things as part of my job and I consider myself very lucky.

What would be the title of your autobiography?

Stop whining and figure it out.

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

I want to be a dolphin.


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 created and developed by The Child & Family Research Institute. #meetCFRI