Gena Gunn McClendon

Director of Community Engagement,
Director of the Voter Access and Engagement initiative,
Codirector of the Financial Capability and Asset Building initiative

Gena Gunn McClendon, PhD, is director of Community Engagement at the Center for Social Development. She is also CSD’s director of the Voter Access and Engagement Initiative and codirector of the Financial Capability and Asset Building initiative. Her work primarily involves policy research analysis and consultation with community-based programs, academic institutions, state and federal policymakers and advocacy groups.

Dr. McClendon’s program development and policy work focuses on issues related to voter suppression and civic participation of low- and moderate-income households and marginalized populations. Her research focuses on identifying and advancing practice and policy strategies that support an inclusive democracy and the professional training of social work students. She also leads the Financial Capability and Asset Building Initiative, which focuses on the development and research of a post-secondary curriculum in financial social work. Other interest areas are the racial wealth gap and coalition development.

Dr. McClendon earned a PhD in Urban Higher Education from Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. She received her Master of Management and Leadership from Fontbonne University in St. Louis and Bachelor of Science degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.


Financial Capability & Asset Building​ (FCAB)

Asset Building

We are building a body of evidence in financial capability, defined as both the knowledge to make optimal financial decisions and access to appropriate and beneficial financial services. 

Financial Capability & Human Services Education

Financial Capability

We address the gap in professional FCAB training of social workers and other human service practitioners who serve low- and moderate-income households.

State Assets Policy Project

Asset Building

Our research informs development of asset-building policies at the state level and is designed to include traditionally marginalized groups. 

Voter Access & Engagement

We use our expertise to assess and test innovations that remove barriers to voting and enhance voter participation.

Wealth Building in Rural America Project

Asset Building

We research asset development in rural America with a focus on underserved populations