Former Director, Office of Child Development
Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychology in Education
Dr. Christina J. Groark received her master’s degree in Education in 1976 and doctorate in Special Education/Research in 1989, both from the University of Pittsburgh. She focused on babies with the most severe and profound disabilities, taking her to a series of hands-on and leadership positions working with vulnerable children. Before taking a position at the University, Chris was director of several community programs working on behalf of families with young children.
Once at the University, she created the Office of Child Development’s emphasis on community engagement, focusing on partnerships with community organizations. She often led the project creation (bringing evidence-based practices to the project), grant writing, and project implementation processes, but always in close collaboration with one or more community organizations. This engagement style of university-community activity is now a national trend among many universities, and it constitutes one of the University of Pittsburgh’s most significant priorities.Specifically, Chris worked 25 years as Co-Director alongside Dr. Robert B. McCall, and finally was appointed as sole Director of the Office of Child Development.
In addition to her work at the OCD, beginning in 1994, Chris was a University faculty member, publishing nearly 100 articles, chapters, and books. She also was responsible for directly and indirectly bringing more than $200 million dollars in project funding to the region.
Chris has devoted her professional life to implementing evidence-based practices in services for children with few resources, whether children in Pittsburgh or orphans in the Russian Federation, Latin America, China, or most recently Kazakhstan.
- Institutional improvements
- Early care and education
- University/community engagement
- Strategic grant writing
- Scholarly Interests
- Young children without permanent parents
- Improving institutions
- University-community collaborations
- Early intervention
- Program Evaluation
- Project Director, Kazakhstan Adoption Support Program, Phase 2, Ana Uyi 2018-2020 [$155,000]
- Principal Investigator, Kazakhstan Adoption Support Program, to prepare children, staff, and families for deinstitutionalization, and adoption. Ana Uyi [$300,000] 2017-2018
- Principal Investigator, University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development Transition Planning Process, to provide the support to plan the future direction of the Office of Child Development and produce a set of priorities and directions for OCD to pursue in the next five years. The Buhl Foundation [$6,000].
- 2016-2017 Principal Investigator, Pennsylvania Project LAUNCH, The purpose of LAUNCH is to provide support for the creation of infrastructure to support services for low-income children from conception to eight years of age and their families. Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) [$1,510,205]. 2014-2018
- Principal Investigator, University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development; to provide core services of dissemination, training, services, program evaluation, and networking in areas pertaining to children, youth, and families: Howard Heinz Endowment [$400,000 (2017-2019, $500,000 (2013-2016), $500,000 (2011-2013), $500,000 (2005-2007), $300,000 (1999-2001), $300,000 (1995- 1998), $400,000 (1992-1994), $525,000 (1989-1992); R.K. Mellon Foundation $300,000 (2010-2013), $300,000 (2004-2006), $600,000 (2001- 2004), $300,000 (1998-2000)].
- McCall, R. B., Groark, C. J., Hawk, B. M., Julian, M. M., Merz, E. C., Rosas, J. M., Muhamedrahimov, R. J., Palmov, O. I., & Nikiforova, N. V. (2019). Early caregiver-child interaction and children’s development: Lessons from the St. Petersburg---USA Orphanage Research Project. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 22, 208-224
- Julian, M. M., McCall, R. B., Groark, C. J., Muhamedrahimov, R. J., Palmov, O. I., & Nikiforova, N. V. (in press). The development of children adopted to the USA following a social-emotional intervention in St. Petersburg (Russian Federation) institutions. Applied Developmental Science
- Hawk, B. M., McCall, R. B., Groark, C. J., Muhamedrahimov, R. J., Palmov, O. I. & Nikiforova, N. V. (2018). Caregiver sensitivity and consistency and children’s prior family experience as contexts for early development within institutions. Infant Mental Health Journal, 39, 432-448.
- Groark, C. J., & McCall, R. B. (2018). Lessons learned from 30 years of a university-community engagement center. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 22, 7-29.
- Groark, C. J., McCarthy, S. K., & Kirk, A. R. (2014). Early child development: From theory to practice. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Publishers (Textbook).
Awards and Honors
- University of Pittsburgh School of Education Distinguished Faculty Award (2019)
- University of Pittsburgh School of Education Faculty Research Award (2009)
- University of Pittsburgh Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award (2004)
Engagement, Partnerships, and Professional Service
- Children and Youth Services Review 2016-Present
- Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 2015-Present
- Child and Adolescent Mental Health 2014-Present
- International Perspectives in Psychology: Research, Practice, Consultation 2014-Present
- Journal of Child and Family Studies 2014-Present
- Infant Mental Health Journal 2009-Present
- Advisory Board, Center for Parents and Children, University of Pittsburgh 2018-Present
- Advisory Committee, Community Engagement Centers (CEC), University of Pittsburgh 2017-2018
- University of Pittsburgh Early Childhood Collaborative (UPECC), University of Pittsburgh 2016-2018
- Advisory Board, Carnegie Mellon University, Brain 2.0 Series: Moving from Brain Research Findings to Action 2016
- Faculty Assembly/ University Senate, University of Pittsburgh 2013-2016
- Hong Kong Baptist University, International Advisory Board 2011-2018
- University-Based Child and Family Policy Consortium, Duke University 2010-2018
- National Advisory Board, Purdue University Military Families Research Institute 2009-2018