Dr. Lawrence serves as both Professor and as the founding director at the University of Houston – Downtown Center for Public Deliberation, where she has worked since 2002. As Professor, she teaches a number of communication courses, including Facilitating Public Deliberation and Political Communication. In her role as Professor, she also serves on the editorial board for the Southern Communication Journal
and researches the intersection between communication and deliberation. In 2020, she was recognized by her colleagues and was awarded the UHD University Faculty Award for her outstanding leadership in service. As CPD Director, since founding it in 2008, she leads and designs annual events and initiatives for the purposes of improving our civic capacity to deliberate across differences about critical issues, build stronger relationships, and bolster collaborative action. Sustaining a valued, 12-year partnership with the Kettering Foundation and the National Issues Forums Institute, where she was recently nominated to serve as a member of their board, these organizations have been critical relationships in the success of many of the CPD's initiatives and learnings surrounding deliberative democracy. In the past 5 years, she has organized or supported others in organizing 130 days of CPD interactive forums. Additionally, in her role as CPD director, she builds relationships with internal and external community leaders and organizations in order to foster more impact. In the last five years, she has developed partnerships with approximately 50 external community members and/or organizations, 80 staff and administrators, and 65 faculty across UHD. Also, in this role, she provides 'high impact" experiences for students to help students hone their civic agency knowledge and skills. Her work benefits not only students enrolled in her courses, but throughout the entire university, reaching 2,800 students in the last five years. Dr. Lawrence is nationally recognized as a thought leader in deliberation and higher education and actively contributes to the wider, academic fields of deliberation, such as contribution as first author to her 2019 chapter entitled, “The Cultivation of Practical Wisdom: A Collaborative Perspective on Civic Learning in Higher Education." In 2018, the Chronicle of Higher Education
published an article, which recognized the UHD Center for Public Deliberation, under her directorship, as one of the pioneering centers in the U.S. that is a critical contributing leader to discussions around democratic learning. And, in 2019, the American Association of Colleges & Universities featured UHD CPD's work as their “spotlight grantee."