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Amy McKlindon '09

Our 2009 JFK Awardee is pursuing her dream career as a child welfare advocate

See January, 2012 update

Our 2009 JFK Award winner, Amy McKlindon '09, is pursuing her dream career as a child welfare advocate. Currently Amy studies ways of improving the lives of at-risk children at Child Trends in Washington, DC, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center dedicated to fostering the well being of children of all ages.

Amy McKlindon '09

Amy receiving the 2009 JFK Award on campus in May, 2009. From left: Joan Melville, Carolyn Chauncey Neuman, Amy McKlindon and Mike Newman

Amy graduated in May, 2009 from the College of Human Ecology with a degree in Policy Analysis and Management. Her focus on Family and Social Welfare Policy prepared her well for her career choice. After acquiring practical, hands-on experience at Child Trends, Amy plans to return to school to earn a joint degree in law and social work. With this background she will be poised to become a law guardian and be able to achieve her dream of amending juvenile and family law procedures. “My ultimate goal is to impact large-scale policy changes to better serve at-risk youth and their families,” Amy declares. “I want to dedicate my career to insuring that those small voices are heard.”

Amy at our 45th reunion with President Skorton

Amy grew up in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, the oldest of three McKlindon children. Both her parents work in the health care field, her father as a dentist and her mother a nurse. For inspiration in dedicating her life to helping others, Amy credits her mother’s generous and giving nature -- both in her professional life and in the sensitive and competent ways in which she has cared for Amy’s grandfather.

While at Cornell, Amy was the primary author of a research brief studying children living in the foster care of their grandparents. Her guide to resources on this subject will be used, budget permitting, by policymakers and practitioners throughout the state of New York. In addition, Amy’s proposal for a research guide outlining ways to help children whose parents are in prison has been widely praised for its insightful, comprehensive, and useful approach. When written up, the guide is expected to be a key tool in the field. 

Clearly Amy is a gifted researcher and writer, but that is not all. She is also an empathic young woman able to work effectively with multi-racial clients of many socioeconomic backgrounds and ages, from grade-school youngsters to the elderly. Amy’s flexibility and openness distinguished her as a leader in her work with a variety of ethnic groups in New York City, Ithaca, and Edinburgh, Scotland – where she spent a semester studying and working in child welfare.

McKlindon Melville King

After at our 45th reunion in June, 2009 , just after speaking to our class. From left: Amy McKlindon, Joan Melville and class president Janet Spencer King.

While at Cornell, Amy participated in numerous extra-curricular activities. She helped found SMILEY, a student group aimed at fostering community, leadership, and confidence in adolescents. She was a member of the Cornell Peer Review Board for several years, becoming its Chairperson for a term. While maintaining her place on the Dean’s List, Amy found time to volunteer with the Cornell Elderly Partnership, teach for the Cornell Prison Education Program, and also work as a REACH Tutor in the Gossett Residential Facility. Through these endeavors and as a teaching assistant for Collaborative Leadership [video], Amy honed her skills, effectiveness, and ability to manage competing responsibilities.
Amy is the recipient of several academic honors, including the Cornell Tradition Fellowship and Cornell Urban Scholarship. She was chosen as a Truman Scholarship National Finalist 2008 and is a member of Kappa Omicron Nu and Golden Key honor societies.

Singled out by her Department as a PAM Outstanding Senior for displaying “the highest character and achievements both on and off campus,” Amy was recognized for her leadership abilities and the contributions she made to the Department of Policy Analysis and to the campus community during her time at Cornell. 

Upon graduating, Amy concluded her two and a half year research project for the Parenting in Context and Strengthening Families Project under the supervision of her adviser, Rachel Dunifon, who described Amy as "intelligent and mature.” Though she has received much recognition for her ability and accomplishments at Cornell, Amy remains a quietly and modestly self-confident soul, pursuing her goals with common sense, discipline, and grace.

At our forty-fifth reunion in June, 2009, Amy addressed the assembled members of the Class of 1964. She thanked us warmly for giving her the means to begin the journey towards her dream of impacting juvenile and family law -- and promised to keep in touch with us along the way.

January, 2012 Update from Amy McKlindon

After two years at Child Trends, a nonprofit research organization in Washington, DC, I returned to my hometown in the Philadelphia area to start graduate school at Temple University's School of Social Work.  My academic coursework, my field placement at Catholic Social Service's Northeast Family Service Center, and my work as a graduate research assistant all keep me very busy, and I am learning a great deal inside and outside of the classroom.  

At my field placement, I work with a homelessness prevention program and pregnancy/parenting services, in addition to providing some individual case management.

Through my position as a research assistant, I support two faculty members on their research on father involvement and the child support system.

I am also informally mentoring two young women -- one is a freshman at Temple and the other recently emancipated from DC's child welfare system (I previously served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate [CASA] for this young woman).

It has been a challenging and rewarding first semester and I'm looking forward to continuing to broaden my knowledge and experience base.  The generous support of the Class of 1964, along with the tuition assistance I receive from Temple through my assistantship, is allowing me to pursue my dreams of child welfare advocacy and policy work without the burden of excessive debt, and I will be forever grateful.

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