Dr. McDonald has been teaching criminal justice at Northern Kentucky University since 2008. Her courses examine how people experience the criminal justice system differently based upon their race, class, and gender and explore what can be done to address these inequities. In 2017, she published a textbook titled Race, Class, Gender and Criminal Justice: Examining Barriers to Justice. A second edition of this textbook with coauthor Cherie Dawson-Edwards will be available in 2021.
In the classroom, Dr. McDonald utilizes service learning and student philanthropy pedagogy to encourage students to connect what they are learning in the classroom with what they are observing and/or experiencing in the community. These community partnerships have led to students working directly with nonprofits to address the needs discussed in class. Over the years, students have given thousands of hours of their own time as well as their talent and treasure to address the needs they witnessed firsthand in their community.
Dr. McDonald holds a Ph.D. in Criminology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a Master of Science in Sociology from Virginia Tech, and dual bachelor degrees in Sociology and Psychology from West Virginia University. She has experience evaluating substance abuse programming in the correctional system as well as community-based programs for prevention and post release from the criminal justice system. Her research interests include the areas of community corrections and reentry, female inmates, mental health and substance abuse treatment programs, as well as service learning and student philanthropy. Currently, she serves as the assistant chair for the Department of Political Science, Criminal Justice, and Organizational Leadership and as the 2021 inaugural Diversity Fellow at Northern Kentucky University.