Cindy Dell Clark, PhD, Cofounder


Cindy Dell Clark is an anthropologist of childhood who has spent her adult life doing research that focuses on children’s experiences and vantage points. She holds a PhD in Human Development from the University of Chicago. Her background includes pragmatic research experience as an applied researcher and consultant and an accomplished career conducting child-centered research in academia to uncover the substantial part children play in sustaining and shaping social and cultural dynamics.

As an applied researcher in the 1980s and 1990s, Clark ran a qualitative research consultancy and achieved a national reputation for her expertise in qualitative research with children. Clark amassed a clientele of blue chip corporations, including Kraft, Oscar Mayer, McDonald’s, Levi-Strauss, Nike, and many others, for whom she was an important link to children’s and parent’s voices. She also did projects for non-profit clients such as the Brookfield Zoo, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the New York City Food Bank. In recognition of her accomplishments in developing methods for qualitative and interpretive research with kids and families, Clark was named a fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology.

At the turn of the millennium, Clark shifted to a full-time academic career, first gaining tenure in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State Brandywine and later joining the anthropology faculty at Rutgers University-Camden. Clark is an internationally known expert on children’s qualitative research methods, therapeutic play, kids’ chronic illness, and family culture and holidays. She is the author of In Sickness and In Play, a book that describes how children and their families cope with childhood diabetes and asthma. She is also the author of Flights of Fancy, Leaps of Faith, a child-focused ethnography of the American childhood rituals, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. Her most recent book, In A Younger Voice, provides an accessible methodological toolkit for those who seek to do child-centered ethnographic inquiry.

Clark has been the chair of the American Sociological Association’s Children and Youth Section and a board member of the Qualitative Research Consultants Association. She is currently a board member of the American Anthropological Association’s Children and Youth Interest Group. She also serves on the editorial boards of the journal Medical Anthropology Quarterly and the Rutgers University Press Childhood Studies book series. She has organized and led conferences for three different academic/professional organizations.

Clark has edited or coedited several publications. She has two edited books hitting the shelves in 2016: Play and Wellbeing (published by Routledge) and the two-volume set Youth Cultures in America (coedited with Simon Bronner, published by Greenwood). She has also edited academic journals, including a special 2013 issue of the International Journal of Play on Play and Wellbeing and the 2009 volume in the Play and Culture Series, Transactions at Play.

Clark continues to do ethnographic work with kids and families in the United States. Works in progress include an eight-year study of children’s experiences during American patriotic holidays, a recent in-home study of Jewish children and Hanukah, and a study of Christmas rituals in low-income families.