Sara Lafkas

Academic Title

Assistant Professor of Practice, Master of Social Work

Research Interests

  • Women’s perceptions of self-compassion
  • Women and career advancement
  • Spirituality and faith development


  • Ed.D., Human Development and Psychology, Harvard University Graduate School of Education
  • MSW, Social Work, University of Washington
  • BA, Psychology with a Specialization in Education, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA

Recent Publications

Lafkas, S. M., Christensen, M., & Madsen, S.R. (2023). The Impact of COVID-19 on Women and Work: Career Advancement Challenges. Merits, 3, 167-185.

Lafkas, S. M., Fox-Kirk, W., Madsen, S. R., & Scribner, R. T. (2021). Strengthening sisters: How Latter-day Saint missionary service prepares women for leadership. Journal of Leadership Studies, 15 (2), 1-27 DOI:10.1002/jls.21777

Professional Experience

Dr. Lafkas began her career working as an elementary school teacher in South Los Angeles. After receiving her MSW, she was a social worker in Child Protective Services in Northern California. Some of her additional professional experiences include working as a psychotherapist in private practice and at college counseling and community mental health service centers. Dr. Lafkas has also previously served as a social work faculty member and as an instructor for graduate-level counseling courses. Dr. Lafkas’ dissertation focused on Latter-Saint (Mormon) Women who experienced parental divorce. She has also presented and written on many other topics, including self-compassion practice. Some of her recent research has focused on women’s perceptions of self-compassion.