Dr. Cheryl L. Clark

Dr. Clark is co-founder of Social Synergetics. She retired from her 36-year career in State service in November 2010, as the Director of Shock Incarceration and the Willard Drug Treatment Campus (WDTC) for the New York State Department of Correctional Services (NYS DOCS), both programs that she designed, developed and directed. Shock Incarceration is internationally recognized as the leading program of its type in the world. As of reporting for 2010, NYS DOCS research documents the Shock program contributing more than $1.4 billion in cost savings to the taxpayers of New York State for the institutional phase alone.

The cost savings realized are due to the unprecedented success rates for graduates of this intensive substance abuse treatment program, including higher success rates postrelease, the highest passing rate of the GED (General Equivalency Diploma) in the nation, and significantly lower recidivism rates for graduates of the program. As graduates have an average of 1.5 to 2 children each, the impact of their parent's success on these children has also been significant.

Shock graduates are more likely to be working, contributing positively to their communities and involved with raising their children than comparison groups. Research supports that this has been the case throughout the life of the program. The first graduates had earned early release in 1988, gaining as much as two years off their court-mandated sentences. In her 36 years of State Service, Dr. Clark has been honored for her innovations in the field of Criminal Justice, for both staff and inmates. Through Dr. Clark's efforts, tens of thousands of inmates in corrections systems throughout the United States have been able to transform their lives and create opportunities for themselves and their children. Her innovations received international recognition for the unprecedented benefits to individuals and society.

Dr. Clark began her tenure in Criminal Justice in 1974, where, within 6 months, she was named Director of Training for the Commission of Corrections, and was next promoted to Director of Operations. While at the COC, Dr. Clark designed and developed the Network Program, the first Total Learning EnvironmentTM (TLETM) in a correctional facility. The Network Program was implemented in 1979, in four correctional facilities, and eventually grew to 31 units in 29 facilitates by 1985. A few of the Network units still remain, one since 1981, at the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility, in Clinton, NY. During this period, Thomas A. Coughlin, then Commissioner of NY DOCS, visited a Network Unit at Fishkill Correctional Facility in Fishkill, NY. Commissioner Coughlin was impressed by the positive environment and results he saw at Fishkill.

While touring the Network unit in Fishkill, he asked, "Clark, why can't they all be this way?" Her answer, "They can." In 1985, Dr. Clark was appointed Director of Staff Development for the NYS Division of Parole, to assist with the implementation of the Division's Regional management system. She developed Supervisory, Management and Leadership Training Programs for the Division and was charged with streamlining and improving training programs for all levels of Parole staff. She considers one of her most significant accomplishments for that agency the design and implementation of the first Street Survival course for Parole Officers in New York State, increasing the safety for officers and the community they serve. Commissioner Coughlin continued to think about what he had seen on the Network units in many of the DOCS facilities, and, in 1987, Dr. Clark was asked to return to DOCS to develop the Shock Incarceration program. Shock was to be a 6-month program that would prepare young, nonviolent felony offenders for early parole release consideration after successful completion of the intensive program. The program was to be based in the TLETM model developed by Dr. Clark for Network, and would operate in specially designed facilities, providing a holistic focus on the participants, including a schedule of rigorous physical activity, military discipline, academic education, comprehensive life-skills for success, and intensive substance abuse treatment. In 1987, the first Shock program opened in Monterey Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility (SICF), near Corning, NY.

It was quickly followed by the opening of Summit SICF in March 1988, Moriah SICF in February 1989 and Lakeview SICF, the largest such facility to every operate in this model (750 beds, originally), which opened in August of 1989. Both men and women participated in the program, with the first women beginning in June 1988. Because of the outstanding, unprecedented success of Shock, in 1995 Dr. Clark was asked to design the Willard Drug Treatment Campus (DTC) and expand Shock staff training to include all staff of the DTC. The Willard DTC is unique as a stand-alone correctional Drug Treatment Campus. Based in both military and Network community models, Shock Incarceration and the DTC have an equal emphasis on self-discipline, treatment and life skills education. As of 2004, with 28,000 graduates, the documented savings for the taxpayers of the State of New York as a direct result of the Shock Program exceeded $1.18 billion. As of 2009 more than 40,000 young men and women had graduated from the Shock Incarceration Program and reintegrated successfully into their communities. The documented savings were then estimated at more than $1.33 billion for the institutional phase alone. At the time of Dr. Clark's retirement, cost savings were estimated at more than $1.45 billion.

In addition to these costs, more than 65,000 children of participants, their spouses or partners, as well as many thousands of other family members benefitted from the impact of the Shock Incarceration program. In 2005, Dr. Clark was invited to become a member of the Transformational Leadership Council where she is a founding member.


In 1990, Dr. Clark was awarded the Governor's Productivity Award for outstanding contributions to State Government.

In 1995, the American Correctional Association acknowledged her for her outstanding contributions to corrections, as "Best in the Business".

In 2001, Dr. Clark earned a Ph.D. in the School of Health and Human Services at Columbia Commonwealth University after obtaining a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology from the College of St. Rose in Albany, NY. She has studied accelerated learning and transformation technologies for more than 30 years. Her doctoral dissertation, 12 Degrees Of Freedom: Synergetics and the 12 Steps to Recovery, is considered a ground-breaking work in the field of substance abuse treatment. It includes a comprehensive overview of the model she named Social Synergetics™, offering an innovative, fully integrated model for recovery from addictions and transformation.

In 2009, Dr. Clark received the Excellence in Leadership Award from the Transformational Leadership Council, In honor of the longevity and creativity of your dedication to supporting the aims and functioning of TLC.

On June 6, 2010, the Women's Prison Association (WPA), the nation's oldest service and advocacy organization committed to helping women with criminal justice histories, honored Dr. Clark with the Isaac T. Hopper Award for outstanding service to women and children of formerly incarcerated women. In part, the award commends, “Her holistic approach (that) taps the physical, mental, spiritual, emotional and educational potential of incarcerated women, and prepares each to achieve their goals upon re-entry to society. One of numerous strategies designed by Dr. Clark to spark social change, Shock focuses on self-respect, respect for others, joy, capability and harmonious community life.

In July 2010, the TLC granted her the High Five Award for her Extraordinary Achievements in her service to humanity. Dr. Clark is internationally recognized as a leader in her field and an expert in substance abuse treatment. She is the principal author of DOING LIFE! A Life Skills Program for Recovery from Addictions, and S.M.A.R.T. CHOICES: A Guide for Making Choices That Work. She also co-authored two Facilitators Guides for Instructors of these curricula. Throughout her career she was asked to consult with many other State and Local correctional agencies in the development and implementation of programs based in the TLETM model. In addition to NYS Corrections staff, Dr. Clark has trained staff of State and County Correctional Facilities in California, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, Vermont and Washington.

She has been a key contributor to the development, training for, and evaluation of similar programs for the American Correctional Association, the National Institute of Justice and the National Institute of Corrections Dr. Clark is most proud that the graduates of the Shock Program have achieved the highest passing rate of the GED (General Equivalency Diploma) of any program in the country in less than 1/4 of the time as students (including inmates) in longer GED programs, and at twice the average passing rate of students in GED programs nationwide. She was instrumental in introducing the Quantum Learning Network to the Department and having the Quantum Learning Technologies taught to teachers throughout the DOCS academic programs.

Graduates of the program acknowledge her work as saving their lives. Many have written to say that without the tools of the programs she initiated, they would be dead or incarcerated for life.