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The Black Scholar Series: Dr. Nkiru Nnawulezi

Dr. Nkiru Nnawulezi

We welcome our next speaker, Dr. Nkiru Nnawulezi, an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Affiliate Faculty at Yale School of Public Health. She earned her doctorate in Ecological-Community Psychology at the Michigan State University and has additional graduate certifications in college teaching, community engagement, and quantitative research methods. Her research examines the ecological factors that enhance equity within and across the domestic violence housing continuum. She aims to improve the social and material conditions for survivors of gender-based violence who occupy multiply marginalized social identities.

Dr. Nnawulezi also seeks to develop sustainable survivor-centered, community-based systems of support that can serve as alternatives to traditional social service systems. Her work has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, State of Michigan, and Center for Victim Research. She is an award-winning researcher and mentor and has disseminated her scholarship to academic, policy, and community audiences.

As an expert in community-based, participatory research and trained facilitator, Dr. Nnawulezi designs participatory research processes with community partners to find innovative solutions to complex social problems. She serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Family Violence and is on the editorial board of the Community Psychology in the Global Perspective Journal. She is also a Research and Evaluation Advisor to multiple systems change organizations such as the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Innovative Service, and Ujima: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community.


Thursday, March 31, 2022, 11AM – 12:30PM CT
Main Lecture w/ Special Guest Je’Kendria Trahan
Using a Community Needs Assessment to Inform Anti-Carceral Response
to Patriarchal Violence in DC
The gender-based violence field has long-relied on carceral systems such as courts, police, and prisons as viable responses to patriarchal violence. This reliance on the carceral state is often to the detriment of BIPOC queer and trans communities who experience a disproportionately greater amount of interpersonal and structural violence compared to their white, cis, and non-queer counterparts. BIPOC survivors of gender-based violence living in DC desired options to obtain safety, healing, and accountability beyond what was available to them from governmental organizations, legal systems, and non-profits. In this presentation we will discuss a participatory needs assessment led by the Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) centering the needs of BIPOC queer and trans survivors of violence. We will share preliminary results as well as discuss data-informed strategies to build the community’s capacity to engage in anti-carceral and transformative justice approaches. Register here.


Friday, April 1, 2022, 10AM – 11AM CT
Affinity Session: The Affinity Session provides the opportunity for Black students, staff, and faculty to come together in community with each other and the visiting scholar to collectively reflect on their realities of being Black and in the field of psychology. Register here.


Friday, April 1, 2022, 12PM-1PM CT
Special Session: Engaging Communities in Participatory Research
Well-designed participatory studies provide communities with powerful opportunities to produce research products that contribute to change in individuals, organizations, communities, and systems. In this interactive session, Dr. Nnawulezi will share facilitation tips, practical strategies, and lessons learned on designing and implementing participatory research studies with community providers and intimate partner survivors who have histories of complex marginalization. She will discuss how researchers can establish and build long-term partnerships, choose appropriate engagement strategies, and discuss strategies for publishing participatory research studies. Participants are also strongly encouraged to come with questions and examples from their own work to engage in collective ideation on participatory research strategies. Register here.


If you have questions about the BSSS, or any of the events described here, please contact Dr. Amanda Roy ( or Dr. Jessica Shaw (

Captioning for all sessions will be provided using Zoom’s Auto-Transcription feature.