Alumni Spotlight: Craig Clark ’90

Craig Clark graduated from Penn State in 1990 with a bachelor of arts degree in Administration of Justice. After completing his degree, he was sure that his education would lead him to a career in law enforcement, but when a job position opened at Adelphoi Village, a non-profit human services agency, Craig was intrigued.

He began his counseling career with Adelphoi as a counselor at the Hilltop Home—a residential shelter for at-risk youth. In 1993, Craig was asked to join the team at Family Intervention Crisis Services, located in Hollidaysburg, and was instrumental in the start-up of various counseling services, including the Delinquency Prevention Program, Functional Family Therapy (FFT), Truancy Initiatives, and the NCTI Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Groups.

Currently, Craig is executive director and co-owner of Evolution Counseling Services, LLC, located in downtown Altoona. The organization celebrated its one-year anniversary this past July, and has already tripled in size to serve more members of the Blair County community. Evolution Counseling Services implements a customized approach for each family, utilizing effective, research-based counseling techniques. Craig, along with co-owner Jeff Colbert, and their staff seek to promote the well-being of the individuals and families in the Blair County community by providing accessible, quality behavioral health and in-home counseling services for the care of children,  adolescents, and their families, utilizing a service system that emphasizes strength-based empowerment, trust, respect, confidentiality, and compassion.

Since he began his career, Craig has had an ongoing working relationship with Blair County Children, Youth & Family Services; Blair County Juvenile Probation; and the Blair County Department of Social Services, to name a few. He believes this collaborative relationship is crucial to the role he plays in the reduction and prevention of out-of-home placements, child abuse, recidivism, truancy, drug abuse, and crime.

At the time Evolution Counseling Services first opened its doors, Pennsylvania was in the midst of the state budget impasse. For the first six months, Craig received notices from the state that funding for the agency was not a guarantee, but Evolution Counseling Services kept providing the much-needed counseling services to their clients. Craig remarked that he was amazed to see how people came together during this time, offering their support to assist the organization through the difficult economic time.

Craig compares his counseling approach to a jigsaw puzzle, with each family member playing a role—small or big—so it is vital to understand and help each individual within the family unit in order to fully assist the child in need. Evolution Counseling Services offers a variety of unique trauma-focused therapy programs using art, culinary skills, and fitness. Craig’s daughter Taylor Clark holds certifications in Expressive Arts for Healing as well as Criminal Justice and Addictions and is working toward earing her licensure. She and fellow counselor Ashleigh Nearhoof, a Penn State Altoona alumna, offer art therapy sessions for the children and families who use Evolution Counseling Services. Ashleigh also offers special sessions using her skills as a cake decorator and as a Zumba instructor.

Craig Clark at Evolution
Craig Clark ’90, LSFW, Evolution’s Executive Director and Owner (middle) with Evolution counselors and Penn State Altoona alumni, Layla Hendricks ’08, MSW, Evolution’s Program Director of the Attendance Counseling Team 360 Program (left), and Ashleigh Nearhoof ’12, Evolution’s Program Director of the Delinquency Prevention Program & Evolution Expressions (right).

Evolution Counseling Services has built a strong relationship with local schools. The Attendance Counseling Team 360⁰ (ACT 360⁰) helps all of the Blair County school districts with attendance struggles. During the 2015-16 year, there was a 90% attendance improvement for students completing the ACT 360⁰ program. Layla Hendricks, MSW, is program director of the ACT 360 program and is a Penn State Altoona alumna.

Craig is an active member of the Children’s Round Table, Blair County Drug & Alcohol Advisory Council, Truancy Task Force Team, Youth Activities Committee, Suicide Prevention Task Force, Youth League, Integrated Family Service Plan Committee, CASSP Advisory Member, Blair County Providers Association, Provider Advisory Committee, and System of Care, and previously served on the Joint State Governor’s Commission as a Truancy Advisory Committee member. As a member of all these important county and state-wide initiatives, Craig is not only there to help others around the table, but also to identify community needs and determine how Evolution Counseling Services can best serve them.

Craig resides in Hollidaysburg with his wife, Sue. Sue graduated from Mount Aloysius College with an associate’s degree in nursing before completing her bachelor of science degree in nursing at Penn State Altoona. The couple has three daughters—Cameryn, who is 15 years old; Chelsey, a junior at Mount Aloysius College; and Taylor, a graduate of Mount Aloysius College and full-time counselor at Evolution Counseling Services.