Sara McClellan

Sara McClellan

Assistant Professor of Professional Studies & Program Coordinator, Public Administration Certificate Program

Sara McClellan, PhD, MPA

Sara McClellan teaches and consults with individuals and organizations working to navigate unprecedented levels of change and uncertainty with curiosity, courage, and mental and emotional agility. She emphasizes exploration and action in support of the public good across sectors and professions because she believes we need a whole society response to address problems such as climate change, political polarization, and mental health crises.

Dr. McClellan’s approach draws on her cross-disciplinary academic background in Organizational Communication and Public Policy & Administration as well as her 20-plus years of experience as a practitioner and consultant. She currently serves as Assistant Professor of Professional Studies and Coordinator for the University of Virginia Public Administration Certificate Program. She also consults with organizations on behalf of Engaged Advisors and Org Management Group. Dr. McClellan uses a variety of tools and disciplinary lenses to engage in co-inquiry and co-creation as she has found all problems and possibilities are rooted in local context and are generally best approached via curious inquiry and selective adoption of tools and practices by critical stakeholders.

Before coming to UVA, Dr. McClellan served as the Hazel Cramer Endowed Chair in the Department of Public Policy and Administration at Sacramento State University, where she taught and conducted applied research on organizational communication, planning, leadership, and stakeholder engagement. Prior, she taught as an adjunct professor for the Price School of Public Policy and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California (USC).

Dr. McClellan has served in multiple practitioner and consulting roles. She worked as Associate Director and Organizational Development Specialist for the California Comprehensive Center at WestEd, an educational research, development and service agency. She also served as a deputy county administrative officer, personnel director, and First 5 director in northern California.

​Dr. McClellan earned her Ph.D. in Organizational Communication at the University of Colorado at Boulder, her Master of Public Administration from USC, and a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies from CSU Monterey Bay.

Dr. McClellan enjoys teaching in a variety of formats and has more than a decade of experience in designing and delivering online classes.

In her spare time, Dr. McClellan loves hiking, dancing, cooking and eating with friends, and reading detective novels (slowly) in Spanish. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia with her husband, Bryon, and their two amazing cats.