Affiliates of the Center for LGBTQ+ Research & Advocacy


Brittanie Atteberry Ash (she/her/hers) is an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work. Brittanie conducts research to better understand how best to support and build environments that are inclusive and affirming of and with LGBTQ+ people and communities. Her work relies heavily on an intersectional lens to deepen the discipline’s understanding of risk and resilience among people with marginalized identities. Brittanie also focuses on promoting social justice and inclusion within social work classroom experiences and identifies strategies for educators to more fully integrate a critical social justice lens into pedagogy.
Keywords: SOGIE, social justice, social work education

Melinda Chen is an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma Department of Women & Gender Studies. She holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies from KU and a B.A. in Global Liberal Studies concentrating in Law, Ethics & Religion from New York University. Her research draws extensively from queer of color critique and transnational feminisms to understand how marginalization manifests and functions at rape crisis centers under the present U.S. neoliberal landscape. In her free time, Melinda volunteers as a victim advocate and enjoys whipping up delicious food in the kitchen.
Keywords: sexual violence, rape, victim advocacy, queer of color critique, transnational feminisms, feminist ethnography, queer methodologies

Darren Cosgrove (they/he) uses arts-based methodologies and participatory action research to work in partnership with transgender and nonbinary communities to explore identity development, affirmation and social stigma. Upon joining Miami, Dr. Cosgrove launched the Queer Social Work Research Lab. The lab offers opportunities for students to work with scholars on research designed to improve social work services to LGBTQI+ people. Currently, the lab is hosting a multi-state photovoice study focused on nonbinary community connectedness, and a national mixed-methods study examining trans and nonbinary affirming mental health services.
Keywords: Nonbinary wellness, participatory action research, arts-based research

Flint Hills Human Rights Project is a volunteer organization dedicated to serving the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer folks in Manhattan, Kansas and the Flint Hills region of Kansas. The organization is led by its Board of Directors, who meet monthly. Members of the organization support the activities of FHHRP and enjoy connecting through social events, volunteering, and activism. Our primary mission is to ensure and promote the dignity, safety, equity, and liberation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex, queer, and questioning (LGBTTIQ) individuals in the Clay, Geary, Marshall, Morris, western Pottawatomie, Riley, western Wabaunsee and Washington counties of Kansas.
Keywords: Queer liberation, LGBTQ advocacy, Civil Rights, Community Organizing

Rey Flores, MA, LSW, (they/them/theirs) is a public health researcher at the University of Illinois Chicago, Department of Family and Community Medicine. Mx. Flores’ provides administrative and analytic support to the department focused on the prevention and treatment of cervical cancer in both local and international contexts. Additionally, they work to further research and knowledge about sexual and gender minority folks impacted by stigma, HIV, and their relation to their overall health. Keywords: HIV, sexual and gender minorities, stigma, cervical cancer

Donny Gerke (he/him) is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver. His research agenda broadly examines health promotion and social and environmental determinants of health and health disparities in LGBTQ+ populations, with a focus on HIV prevention and care. His scholarship is informed by over five years of post-MSW practice experience in community-based health promotion with adolescent and adult LGBTQ+ populations at risk for HIV, STIs, and substance misuse. His recent studies include: an examination on the relationships between exposure to violence (child abuse and neglect, intimate partner violence, community violence), mental health problems, substance use, and HIV risk behaviors in young Black and White gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men (YMSM) recruited from community-based HIV prevention agencies, evaluations of a live and automated two-way text-messaging intervention and a peer educator intervention to improve HIV-related health outcomes among Black YMSM living with HIV, a group model building study aimed at understanding barriers to PrEP adoption and sustainment among YMSM and young transgender individuals in Colorado, and an exploration of health literacy and health care access among transgender and non-binary Coloradans.
Keywords: social work; HIV; substance use; health disparities

Braveheart Gillani (he/him/his), MSW is a queer, immigrant, transdisciplinary scholar who is seeking to contribute to conversations of identity, structural integrity and change. His work focuses on Queer health, healthy masculinity, dismantling of oppressive structures and innovative pedagogies. He is a system scientist and is a current Ph.D. student at the Mandel School of Applied Social Science at Case Western Reserve University.
Keywords: Queer, Healthy Masculinity, Caring, System Dynamics, AntiRacist

Jacob Goffnett, Ph.D. (hey/they) is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University. Jacob’s research uses a biopsychosocial framework to explore the etiology of behavioral health outcomes and inequities for sexual and gender minority youth. Jacob is currently investigating emotions & related processes as mechanisms connecting discrimination and victimization to substance use, non-suicidal self-injury, disordered eating. Dr. Goffnett has 10 years of clinical social work practice with youth across different systems of care.
Keywords: youth; emotions; social determinants of health; mixed-methods research

Liz Hamor, Center of Daring (she/her) Center of Daring is a leadership coaching and consulting business that meshes leadership principles with principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Through these lenses and built on decades of collaborative experience, Center of Daring provides education, tools, and other supports to those ready to create cultures of courage within their organizations, businesses, churches and communities.
Keywords: Leadership, Coaching, Consulting, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Courage, LGBTQ

Shanna K. Kattari, Ph.D., MEd, CSE, ACS (they/them) is an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, the Department of Women and Gender Studies (by courtesy), and director of the [Sexuality|Relationships|Gender] Research Collective. A White, Jewish, nonbinary, disabled, chronically ill, neurodivergent, middle-class queer fat Femme, their practice and community background is as a board-certified sexologist, certified sexuality educator, and social justice advocate. Dr. Kattari’s extant research focuses on sexuality and sexual health; disability and ableism; and queer and trans-affirming health care.
Keywords: sexuality; health; transgender; gender diverse; nonbinary; queer; disability, mixed methods; arts-based; discrimination; affirmation

LB Klein (they/she) is an assistant professor in the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work and core faculty member of the Sexual Violence Research Initiative at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Klein uses mixed methods, intersectional, and community participatory approaches to study the systems within which minoritized youth and young adults experience interpersonal violence and revictimization in order to develop interventions to prevent that violence and revictimization. Their recent research focuses on preventing and responding to sexual and intimate partner violence experienced by LGBTQ+ college and university students and benchmarking campus violence prevention and survivor advocacy practices in the United States. They have worked in various capacities (e.g., survivor advocate, prevention educator, program director, evaluator, trainer, researcher, consultant) to prevent and respond to interpersonal violence for over 18 years.
Keywords: sexual assault, intimate partner violence, LGBTQ+, prevention, college & university campuses

Rachel Levitt (they/them) holds a PhD in American Studies and two graduate certificates: the first in Race and Social Justice and the second in Women Studies. They work at K-State's Social Transformation Studies Department where they teach courses on Queer Studies, Hate Crimes, Sexual and Gender Violence, Social Movements, and Legal Injustice. Off campus they do community organizing with the Flint Hills Human Rights Project where they work with other queer folks on behalf of our community to create progressive changes that make queer lives more livable, and oppose policies and practices that lessen our life chances. Keywords: Queer Studies; Hate Crimes; Violence; Social Movements; Queer Leadership; Feminism

Shawn Mendez's (she/they)  research and teaching focus on the ways that race, sexuality, gender, class and other social locations are interrelated, negotiated, and context dependent. Her previous work has focused on the experiences of LGBTQ people of color as they navigate the racialized contexts of their neighborhoods, and the ways that LGQ parents teach their teenagers about race and queer culture. She teaches courses in queer and family sociology as well as women, gender, and sexuality studies.
Keywords: family studies, queer theory, qualitative research

Nicholas Ensley Mitchell (he/him) is a curriculum theorist whose scholarship focuses on the intersection of diversity and education, critical pedagogy, the complex ways in which individuals learn, and how knowledge, culture, and historical narratives are elevated into curriculum.
Keywords: curriculum theory, critical pedagogy, sexuality studies, public policy

Amanda L. Mollet (she/her/hers) is an assistant professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the Higher Education Administration program at the University of Kansas. Her research explores questions of equity and inclusion in higher education from individual, organizational, and ecological perspectives. Dr. Mollet primarily focuses on experiences of students, faculty, and staff with historically minoritized sexual and gender identities with a particular focus on asexuals' experiences.
Keywords: asexuality, LGBTQ, college students, higher education

Amy Nourie is a social work Ph.D. student at the University of South Florida with a specific interest in child welfare. Her research aims to capture the experiences of youth identifying as LGBTQ+ in foster care and upon aging out.
Keywords: LGBTQ+, child welfare, feminism, social welfare history, foster care

Jenny Pearson (she/her) is Professor of Sociology at Wichita State University. Her research explores the importance of social contexts such as schools and families for adolescent development and well-being, and her work is driven by an interest in how inequalities are reproduced within these institutions. Her research appears in Gender & Society, Journal of LGBT Youth, Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Sociological Perspectives, and Social Science Research, among others. Dr. Pearson serves as faculty advisor for the student organization Spectrum: LGBTQ & Allies and she collaborates with organizations on and off campus to make spaces and policies more inclusive and equitable.
Keywords: gender, sexualities, education, adolescent development, LGBTQ+ youth, quantitative research

Jenny Robinson is a social worker, LGBTQIA affirmative therapist & behavioral health consultant with Heartland Community Health Center. Her goal is to continue learning and to cultivate a practice that is gender-affirming, queer-positive, anti-racist, and anti-ableist.
Keywords: Federally Qualified Health Center, Integrated Health Care, Behavioral Health

University of Kansas - Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity works to center Queer and Trans students in their work on The University of Kansas campus. Through their advocacy, connection, education, and wellness initiatives, they celebrate QT students and education everyone.
Keywords: LGBTQ, QT, intersectionality, collaboration, advocacy

Ryan Wade, PhD, MSW (he/him) is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His interests include a broad focus on social determinants of health, structural and community-level racism, the racial patterning of sexual/social networks, and health disparities among LGBTQ+ communities of color. At present, Professor Wade is investigating a phenomenon known as Racialized Sexual Discrimination (RSD), or 'sexual racism,' as experienced by sexual minority men of color who use mobile apps and/or websites to seek intimate partners. His work examines the association between RSD and psychological wellbeing using a newly validated multidimensional scale of RSD.
Keywords: Race; discrimination; sexual minorities; sexual racism; mobile-apps; mental health

N. Eugene Walls (he/him/his) conducts intersectional research to better understand risk and resilience within LGBQT/NB communities across the lifespan. His primary focus at this point in his career is supporting emerging queer and transgender/nonbinary scholars who wish to be researchers in the academy and in furthering critical approaches to quantitative research. He also works on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in social work education.
Keywords: social justice, social work education, critical methodologies, transgender, nonbinary, LGBQ, risk and resilience

Steven Wang (he/him) is a postdoctoral researcher at the Hall Center for the Humanities. I study media as the cultural and technological infrastructure for minority communities. I was trained in journalism and had experience coordinating organizational communication for community projects.
Keywords: media, mass communication, journalism, civic engagement, digital technology, queer studies

Nic M. Weststrate, University of Illinois Chicago (he/him/his) (PhD, University of Toronto) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and member of the Center for Research on Health and Aging at the University of Illinois Chicago. Nic studies positive aging within the LGBTQIA+ communities. Currently, he has been exploring the potential for intergenerational storytelling between LGBTQIA+ elders and youth to bolster their health, well-being, and psychosocial functioning, while also sustaining the LGBTQIA+ communities’ rich cultures and histories. In Nic’s community-engaged research, he partners with the Senior Services Program at the Center on Halsted and Pride Action Tank of the AIDS Foundation Chicago.
Keywords: LGBTQIA+ positive aging, psychosocial development, intergenerational relationships, intergenerational storytelling, cultural memory

Darren L. Whitfield (he/him/his) is an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. Dr. Whitfield’s research interests include health and mental health disparities among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities, biomedical HIV prevention among gay and bisexual men of color in the United States, and intersectional measurement development. His research is grounded in an intersectional framework, where he specifically examines the impact of intersectional identity on psychosocial, sociocultural, and structural factors associated with health and mental health outcomes of LGBTQ communities of color and biomedical HIV prevention among Black gay and bisexual men.
Keywords: HIV Prevention, LGBTQ people of color, mental health, intersectionality

Angie Wootton is a medical & behavioral health social worker, teacher in higher education & research professional focusing primarily on behavioral health and the LGBTQ community. Wootton is currently a doctoral student in Social Welfare at UC Berkeley studying behavioral health disparities in sexual and gender minority women, focusing on resilience within a community context.
Keywords: behavioral health, resilience, strengths, social support, coping, intersectionality