My research agenda addresses the social determinants of health for Black youth by bridging macro, mezzo/meso, and micro-level approaches. My research centers the voices of Black youth initiating creative strategies to heal. In my research with Black youth who organize, I have found that the pathways they initiate in their outrage at social conditions are deep collective attempts to secure wellbeing.
In the process of disrupting social injustice, they recover from mass group level historical trauma. I uncovered features of organizing that facilitated individual healing and collective post-traumatic growth, such as collective self-care, an ability to redefine destiny, and faith in a healed Black future. My research expands the current discourse of trauma-informed clinical social work practice to incorporate client-led, macro-level interventions.
As a researcher, I am committed to strengthening trauma scholarship by designing interventions in partnership with the communities we aim to serve. In my research experience, community engagement, specifically through the use of community-based participatory action research (CBPAR), can promote relief and wellness, while leveraging resources for social change. The partnership fostered through CBPAR with those impacted by social injustice can facilitate productive knowledge-building as well as healing, which represents the core values of our profession.
My teaching is focused upon the holistic development of social workers that are committed to human rights, social justice, and community wellbeing. Social work students in my classroom are being trained as fierce allies to the individuals, couples, families, groups, and communities with whom they will work. We build a collaborative learning space that is collectively generated from our lived experiences, best practices in social work, cutting edge research, and hope for the world we want to live in. I seek to support my students’ abilities and confidence as they gain the tools they need to be versatile, flexible, well-rounded and responsive social workers. I believe that social work education can support healing and shift power to create social change. I support my students to sharpen their critical thinking skills and expand their reflexive practices to nimbly employ micro, mezzo/meso, and macro-level interventions. I encourage students to become competent researcher-practitioners, who can move strategically between evidence-based interventions and innovative solutions emerging from the experiences of their clients.
I believe that program evaluation can be an empowering force for organizations. It is an opportunity to tell the story of one’s process as well as impact. I guide organizations through designing evaluation in ways that reflect the depth and direction of their programs. My goal is to equip organizations to better articulate how their outcomes align with their inputs and outputs, as well as in textures that speak to multiple stakeholders. I support with envisioning participatory evaluation processes that are meaningful to those involved. I strengthen the capacity of organizations to become knowledge producers for their fields. I employ qualitative and quantitative methods to answer the questions needed to drive effective programs. I also guide organizations with devising database solutions, such as with Salesforce, that improve evaluation reporting. Lastly, I have experience training program participants, including youth, and staff to design evaluation processes that leave them prepared to be the shapers of their own stories and essential data-drivers for program improvement.
My direct service work social work practice is grounded in individual and collective healing, human rights, hope and power. I have provided short and long-term counseling for individuals, couples, and families in several settings: a community center, school, continuing day treatment center, clubhouse for people with persistent chronic serious mental illness, a crisis hotline, and in individuals’ homes. I have provided referrals, case management, and advocacy for clients to ensure they have access to all of the resources they have deserved and needed. I have designed and implemented group curricula reflecting various evidence-informed modalities such as solutions-focused brief-therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, play therapy, multi-family social work group, Motivational Interviewing, and trauma-informed practice perspectives.
I have designed and facilitated workshops for parents, teachers and school staff in group work, communication techniques, and stress reduction and have led staff-mediation. I have provided workshops emphasizing emotional health for youth as well as facilitated therapeutic activity groups for people with persistent and chronic mental illness. I have assisted homebound clients with HIV and AIDS-related health challenges. I believe deeply in recovery-oriented approaches in which the people with whom I ally are affirmed, are connected to supportive peer-networks, and are respected in their lived experiences and daily healing and wellness practices.
I believe deeply in recovery-oriented approaches in which the people with whom I ally, my clients, are affirmed, are connected to supportive peer-networks, and are respected in their lived experiences of healing and the pursuit of wellness.