Nkiru Nnawulezi, PhD
Associate Professor, Community Psychology
University of Maryland Baltimore County
Affiliate Faculty & REIDS Scholar, Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS
Yale University School of Public Health
Dr. Nnawulezi (she/her) is deeply committed to improving social and material conditions for survivors of gender-based violence who experience structural marginalization and stigmatization, specifically survivors of color, survivors living with HIV, queer and trans* survivors, low-income survivors, survivors who are unhoused, survivors with addictions, and survivors with severe mental health conditions.
Her research is grounded in intersectionality, systems, and empowerment theories and actualized through transformative participatory research methods. Transformative research methods are a set of practices that engage community members in the full research process with the aim to create change that transforms community conditions.
Using these methods, she develops, tests, and evaluates multi-level interventions to improve the effectiveness of various housing programs across the domestic violence housing continuum: crisis shelters, transitional housing, rapid rehousing, and permanent supportive housing. She is primarily interested in how formal housing interventions can be designed to honor survivors' complexity, increase their power, and sustain their healing.
In her work, Dr. Nnawulezi moves beyond traditional approaches to intimate partner violence that rely on individual treatment models or interpersonal behavioral interventions and exist solely within social service systems. Instead, she develops meaningful collaborations with survivors, practitioners, organizers, and other community stakeholders to co-create innovative solutions to violence and housing instability that engage entire systems and communities.
Dr. Nnawulezi also evaluates community-derived interventions designed to support survivors who experience barriers accessing traditional social service systems. This includes survivors who are denied services, survivors who are kicked out of services, and survivors who cannot rely on carceral systems to get support. She is invested in supporting sustainable community practices that keep survivors well-resourced and living in healthy communities.
Her work has been funded by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities, National Institute of Mental Health, State of Michigan, Society for Community Research and Action, and the Center for Victim Research. She is an award-winning researcher and mentor and has disseminated her scholarship to academic and community audiences through peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, community toolkits, invited academic and community talks, and national and international conferences.
Dr. Nnawulezi 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 and community 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.