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Kara Lawrence


Ph.D. in Public Administration

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Kara Lawrence is a Ph.D. Candidate at NC State University. I received my MPA at Southern Illinois University, where I was also a Research Fellow at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. During my time at NC State University, I have actively researched topics of volunteering, board governance, nonprofit education, accountability, equity, and public/nonprofit partnerships. Furthermore, I stayed active as a nonprofit practitioner, serving as a board member and grant writer for an Afghanistan evacuation NGO and working as a HR Generalist for a large human services nonprofit creating and maintaining performance evaluations.

Specifically, I ask questions about downward accountability, which constitutes citizen voice in the public sector and community and beneficiary involvement in the nonprofit sector. My research contributes to the literature of public-private networked governance, organizational decision-making, citizen and beneficiary voice, service delivery, stakeholder relationships, equity, and community and international development with three specific and practical aims: 1) generate methodological approaches to further knowledge of managerial and organizational decision-making 2) rebalance the accountability scales to explicitly incorporate beneficiary/community/citizen concerns in organizational decision-making, and 3) explore practical tools of engagement for accountability to reduce barriers to downward accountability. These aims are part of my passion to enhance the voices of beneficiaries, community members, and citizens through empowerment to increase their self-determination to achieve their goals.


Recent Publications

Cody, C.A., Lawrence, K.L., Prentice, C.R., & Clerkin, R.M. (2022). Examining the relationship between board member selection criteria and board boundary spanning into internal, upward, and outward accountability environments. Nonprofit Management and Leadership. DOI: 10.1002/nml.21511

Melville-Holder, J. L., Lawrence, K., Light, M., Johnson, B. A., & Stewart, A. J. (2022). Preparing nonprofit professionals: An educational needs assessment from a worker perspective. Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership,

Varkey, S., Lawrence, K., Chelbi, L., Stewart, A.J., Clerkin, R.M. (2022) Outcome insights: Applying an NPG lens to examine a capacity building initiative among the government and its partners. International Journal of Public Administration.


Ph.D. Public Administration North Carolina State University 2023

MPA Southern Illinois University 2018

M.A. Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages Southern Illinois University 2006

B.A. Psychology Murray State University 2005