Dr. Michelle Clark, Medical Director for Felton Institute’s Justice Services Division, brings her diverse experience working with justice-involved populations, particularly African American communities, impacted by mental health issues. Racism and societal factors greatly impact mental health, Dr. Clark stresses. “Mental health issues don’t uniquely impact African Americans,” she explains, “social injustice uniquely impacts African Americans, resulting in an overrepresentation of mental disorders, not necessarily mental illnesses.” Dr. Clark stresses overrepresentation in these areas can be attributable to America’s legacy of slavery and racism that imposed 400 years of mistreatment and abuse, resulting in negative social determinants of health followed by continued disparate treatment.

Dr. Clark began her tenure at Felton as a member of the board of directors prior to her current position as medical director. “The reason why I gravitated to work with justice-impacted patients,” Dr. Clark explains, “was out of my concern for the mental health of African Americans. We are overrepresented in the justice system. It’s really a system of injustice when it applies to African Americans.”

Felton Justice Services Division Medical Director Dr. Michelle Clark (RIGHT) presented at the 2024 100 Black Men, Inc. Community Health Fair.

To address these issues, the Justice Services Division provides services and programs for a diverse group of justice-involved individuals, including Black communities. Many of the Justice Services Division’s staff have justice-involved backgrounds, an important factor in maintaining rapport with clients. The division collaborates with various local agencies and officials to provide rapid response, community engagement, service linkage, and relationship-building assistance. Reaching across a wide demographic, the division serves clients impacted by the justice system, providing assistance and support to those who are insecurely housed or unhoused, recently released from incarceration, and those who have a substance abuse or mental health disorder. Taking a whole person and a harm-reduction approach, the division provides case management, assessments, and wellness intervention.

“Felton is absolutely committed,” Dr. Clark states. “I mean, absolutely committed. And this is the reason why I joined Felton – to create sustainable change.”


Felton Institute responds to the needs of our community by providing innovative, evidence-informed social services to transform lives. Our organization offers 50+ programs that address mental health, the unhoused, early care and education, those impacted by the justice system, transitional age youth, as well as aging adults. Our award-winning programs, which have been recognized as national models, combine the latest scientific research with cultural sensitivity and a deep commitment to supporting and reflecting the communities we serve.

Founded in 1889, Felton is the oldest secular non-profit social services provider in the City and County of San Francisco. We have expanded our services across most Bay Area counties and continue to be at the forefront of pioneering new approaches to meet the emerging needs of underserved populations.

We know what it looks like to successfully build community.

We foster impactful change by strengthening the community as a premiere service provider. We also strengthen other service providers by supporting them in their fiscal, human resources, communications, IT and overall agency operations. With Felton’s support, they are able to focus on providing the best services to their clients, doing the work they were meant to do.

Felton empowers the community and ensures successful outcomes to all we engage with.

Felton Institute is a tax-exempt organization registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit under EIN 94-1156530.