Office Location

Hyer Hall 306A




Ph.D., University of Texas at Dallas

My research interest lies at the intersection of public policy, community development, and human services planning and evaluation. Broadly, it encompasses four main sectors of social policy: healthcare access and utilization, education, criminal justice, and economic security. Through collaboratives incorporating state/local governments, community organizations, and nonprofits, I work as a researcher and consultant on a diverse array of topics within these sectors to devise, implement and improve social service policies and programs, including recent projects in early childhood education, mental health services, workforce opportunities for individuals with disabilities, and support services for marginalized populations.

With a leading interest in underserved and diverse populations, my work centers on the design and implementation of socially impactful innovations in community interventions and civic engagement. Current projects include:

  • Evaluation of a strengths-based intervention program for justice-involved youth
  • Development of an assessment and analytics plan for nonprofits, government agencies, and community-based organizations serving individuals with disabilities to address workplace barriers
  • Examination of availability and disparities in minority employment as part of the Good Faith Effort Plan
  • A spatial analysis of crime and criminal behavior following local nuisance abatement ordinances in South Dallas
  • Analysis of emergency response agencies to vulnerable populations at the federal, state, and local levels

Research and Teaching Interests

  • Applied sociology
  • Nonprofits and community practice
  • Evaluation research and social data analytics
  • Social innovation and inequality
  • Nonprofit and public sector organizations
  • Public policy and political economy

Selected Publications

  • 2022 “Social Determinants of Women’s Health.” In Women’s Health: Understanding Issues and Influences, edited by Jillian M. Duquaine-Watson. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
  • 2021 “Politics and Law: The Disability Rights Movement.” In Oxford Handbook on the Sociology of Disability, edited by Robyn L. Brown, Michelle Maroto, and David Pettinicchio. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. (with Richard K. Scotch)
  • 2021 "American Health Policy." In An Introduction to American Government, edited by Thomas L. Brunnell, Robert Lowry, Banks Miller, and Thomas Gray. Toronto, Ontario: Top Hat Monocle. (with Richard K. Scotch)
  • 2020 “Married in Texas.” In Same-Sex Unions, Health, and Well-Being, edited by Hui Liu, Corinne Reczek, and Lindsey Wilkinson. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. (with Richard K. Scotch)
  • 2019 “Comparative Movements: Disability Rights vs. Other Civil Rights Movements.” In Disability in American Life: An Encyclopedia of Concepts, Policies, and Controversies, edited by Sarah Parker Harris, Carol Gill, Robert Gould, and Tamar Heller. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. (with Richard K. Scotch)
  • 2019 “The Health of Texas: Health Care Policy in a Conservative State.” In Texas Politics: A Reader, edited by Euel Elliott and Doug Goodman. Dubuque, IA: Great River Learning. (with Richard K. Scotch)
  • 2018 “Impact Texas: LGBTQ Needs Assessment.” Evaluation Report. Houston, TX: Texas Pride Impact Funds. (with Richard K. Scotch)
  • 2017 “Efficacy and Cost-effectiveness of Mobile Technology Transportation Applications on Employment Outcomes for Individuals with Disabilities.” Evaluation Report. Plano, TX: Toyota Impact Foundation.
  • 2016 “Dual Status Youth: Evaluating Models for Change in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems.” Evaluation Report. Austin, TX: Outcomes for Youth Task Force.

Teaching Recognitions

  • HOPE (Honoring our Professors of Excellence) Award nomination, SMU, 2020, 2021, 2022
  • Extra Mile Award, SMU, 2021
  • Most Valuable Professor of the Year, University of Texas at Dallas Athletics Award, 2017-18
  • EPPS Outstanding Teaching Comet Nominee, University of Texas at Dallas, 2015-16
Kara Sutton