Photo of Claudia Coulton

Driven to act

Retiring after nearly 45 years on the Mandel School faculty and almost 35 leading the Poverty Center, Claudia Coulton’s career has centered on using data to make community change

When Claudia Coulton (GRS ’78, social welfare), delivered a major presentation on the potential impacts of welfare reform in Cleveland in 1996, she came prepared with four overhead projector transparencies—and a wealth of knowledge gleaned from data-driven studies.

Facing a room of politicians, reporters, human-services professionals and volunteers for the Federation for Community Planning seminar, she overlaid transparencies of maps and data points to display the spatial mismatch between where poor Clevelanders—especially those who are Black—live, and where jobs are located. In turn, she identified the barriers that kept poor individuals in those neighborhoods.

More than 25 years later, what Coulton demonstrated is now commonly known as systemic racism. And though it took time for the term to come into the national lexicon, this presentation, among many others Coulton has given across her career, brought to light the myriad, deep-rooted issues facing poor Americans.

Read more about Coulton’s career in the latest edition of Action, the magazine of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.