Obituary: Gena Gunn McClendon, CSD Engagement Director, 65

Social Work

Gena Gunn McClendon, director of community engagement at the Brown School’s Center for Social Development (CSD) at Washington University in St. Louis, died Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023, in St. Louis after a battle with cancer. She was 65.

McClendon also served as director of CSD’s voter access and engagement initiative and co-director of the financial capability and asset building initiative. Her work primarily involved policy research analysis and consultation with community-based programs, academic institutions, state and federal policymakers, and advocacy groups.

McClendon began working at the university in 2001 as a project associate at the Center for Social Development.

“Across more than two decades at the university, Gena was a highly productive director of community engagement at the CSD,” said Michael Sherraden, the George Warren Brown Distinguished University Professor and CSD’s director. 

“Throughout her career, Gena was interested in evidence and positive action toward racial equity, democracy and full participation in society. Her work has resulted in substantive and continuing changes, including asset-building policies in U.S. states, and regional asset-building coalitions in the South,” he said.

“Gena was welcoming and cordial to everyone,” Sherraden said. “She was highly valued as a colleague at the university and in the community. Dr. McClendon was a woman of understanding, kindness, steady vision, positive action and grace. She will be greatly missed.”

A celebration of life will be held at 10 a.m. Nov 4 at Christ Pilgrim Rest MB Church, 1341 N. Kingshighway Blvd., St. Louis, Mo., 63113.