Natalie Fensterstock

Natalie Fensterstock is a Ph.D. student in Social Welfare in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. She holds a M.A. in Social Sciences and Comparative Education from the UCLA School of Education & Information Studies and a B.A. in English with minors in Secondary Education and Sociology from Wake Forest. Her research focuses on reducing the barriers to learning for our most vulnerable youth populations and on interventions for promoting holistic youth well-being. She is currently working on projects related to ongoing school readiness, teacher leadership and whole child education within the community schooling context, secondary trauma within schools, and developing policy solutions for addressing harm experienced by school staff and faculty during the COVID era. Prior to her time at UCLA, Natalie spent five years teaching middle and high school English and coaching new teachers in the Bay Area in California.

Domonique Henderson

Domonique Henderson (she/her/hers) is a Compton, California native who graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Baylor University Garland School of Social Work with a Master of Social Work. Currently, she is a first-year doctoral student in UCLA’s Social Welfare program.

Domonique previously taught English in Spain and has traveled to various countries such as France, the United Kingdom, Greece, Germany, Mexico, in addition to some Caribbean islands. Throughout her work in the psychology and social work fields, she has gained significant experience in mental health, substance use, the prison population, children and adolescent population, LGBTQ+ populations, at-risk populations, international populations, and populations from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. During her studies at Baylor University, she interned at The Menninger Clinic which is an inpatient psychiatric hospital, worked as a Research Assistant in the SERVE research program which provided full funding for its students. As a Research Assistant, she assisted in investigating the female incarceration population, their physiological health, mental health, the impact on their families, and submitted a publication. She previously assisted in researching African caregivers and assisted with an NIH and NIAA funded study with the Choices4Health program with UT-Austin.

Domonique’s research interests are gendered racism and its implications on the mental health of Black women and girls. She is a firm believer in being a lifetime learner and enjoys opportunities to expand her knowledge. Currently, she is a part of research projects focused on Black youth civic engagement, a validation study with Casey Family Programs, experiences of ageism by youth of color, and she was awarded funding by the Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. Social Justice Award for her study focused on the invisibility of Black girls in schools.

Along with clinical and research experience, Domonique values community. Watching mentees take tools and wisdom passed down to them as they navigate their journey as a woman is an amazing process. She genuinely enjoys guiding youth in their journey of growth. She has experience with mentoring marginalized youth and she recently founded a nonprofit organization, CRWND Incorporated, which centers mentorship and mental health for Black girls. Outside of professional and community interests, she relishes reading about/watching historical period dramas, especially about monarchs in Europe. Toni Morrison and Ta-Nehisi Coates books are some of her favorites. She also enjoys listening to R&B artists such as Stevie Wonder, Anita Baker, Toni Braxton, especially Lauryn Hill.

Taylor Reed

Taylor Reed was born in New York but raised in Dallas, Texas which gave her mixed perspective as to both the social and political aspect of how one’s race impacted their life experiences. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Global Public Health and Sociology with a minor in Chemistry from New York University. As a Black first-generation American woman, Taylor learned the many ways in which systems operate against the success of not only women, but specifically Black women. Prior to attending UCLA, she worked on projects that examined violence throughout major cities in the United States and the impact of incarceration and community violence on Black people. Taylor also serves as a graduate research assistant at UCLA’s BRITE Center conducting research and preparing manuscripts for publication centered around incarceration and life hardships of Black men, as well as a researcher at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work where she is analyzing the conceptualization of trauma among racial minority youth exposed to community violence.

Taylor is currently a second-year doctoral student in the Department of Social Welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Her research focuses on analyzing how policies influence the re-entry experience of Black young adults from a life-course perspective. This includes studying the socioeconomic environment in which justice-involved Black young adults were raised. She hopes that her work will allow for policy makers and stakeholders to comprehensively understand what occurs in urban neighborhoods and identify vulnerable areas that can serve as intervention points to help mitigate recidivism rates and the likelihood of incarceration among community members. Additionally, she would like to determine how to design and scale up effective policies and programs that addresses the challenges of reentry by equipping Black young adults with the necessary tools to avoid recidivism.

Vanessa Warri

Vanessa Warri is a Nigerian-American community-based researcher, strategist, and advocate, committed to the liberation, empowerment, and safety of Black transgender women, queer and transgender people of color, and all communities existing at the various intersections of oppression. For over 12 years Vanessa has provided empowerment based direct services and peer education for transgender communities, LGBTQQIA+ young people, and system-involved individuals.

Vanessa worked as a research associate for the UCSF Center of Excellence for Transgender Health, where she facilitated several behavioral health interventions aimed to improve transgender women’s engagement with a primary healthcare provider, and led community-based research efforts in partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH) and the Arming Minorities Against Addiction and Disease (AMAAD) Institute, exploring the experiences of Black LGBTQ+ people and their mental health needs.

As a 2018 Point Foundation undergraduate scholar, Vanessa attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), receiving a double major in Anthropology and Sociology and leading the development and implementation of the first QTBIPOC Student Experiences Survey through the UCLA LGBT Campus Resource Center in 2019. As a Social Welfare Ph.D. Student, Vanessa hopes to be able to support the next generation of Black queer and transgender people in their educational attainments by creating initiatives that center their lived experience and expertise in research about them. Her research will primarily focus on peer-developed and driven social empowerment interventions for Black transgender and gender diverse (TGD) populations that address social determinants of health outside of the healthcare engagement realm. Vanessa is interested in exploring how utilizing social research education and community participatory action research (PAR) can improve mental health outcomes, increase self-efficacy, and facilitate pathways to greater educational attainments for historically excluded populations.

Emily M. Waters

Emily M. Waters is an incoming Doctoral Student in the Department of Social Welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and works as a Policy and Research Advisor at the Transgender Law Center. Emily has extensive experience conducting community-based research and policy advocacy on issues related to queer and trans rights, with a particular focus on domestic, sexual, and state violence. She focuses on developing and advocating for policy solutions that move power and resources into community and challenge systemic oppression rather than reinforce the carceral state. Her work can be found in The New York Times, HuffPost, and The Advocate. 

As a Doctoral Student, Emily is interested in exploring the social and political regulation of gender-segregated services and environments (e.g., domestic violence shelters, bathrooms, or sports teams). She would like to examine the social norms, attitudes, and beliefs that uphold the perceived need for gender-segregated spaces. For example, gender essentialism and benevolent sexism which uphold the perceived need for segregation for ‘women’s’ safety. She is particularly interested in the association between these beliefs and implicit and explicit prejudice toward transgender and gender nonbinary people. Finally, she would like to explore how people from seemingly different political affiliations (e.g., conservative and feminist) find alignment in their political goal of maintaining gender-segregated spaces. 

Previously, Emily served as an Adjunct Professor at the School of Social Work at Columbia University, where she taught courses on Program Evaluation and working with LGBTQ Communities. She holds a Masters of Social Work and a Masters of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an undergraduate degree in International Relations and Human Rights from the University of Southern California.

Personal website:

Juan C. Jauregui

Juan C. Jauregui, MSW, MPH is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Social Welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. His research interests are focused around addressing LGBTQ+ mental health inequities both in the U.S. and low- and middle-income countries, specifically by targeting LGBTQ+ minority stressors through structural-level interventions. Juan is passionate about conducting research using a community-based participatory research approach to ensure that decision-making power is shared with community members throughout the research process. 

Before entering the doctoral program at UCLA, Juan worked with the Resilience + Resistance Collective at the University of Michigan School of Public Health where he was involved in LGBTQ+ mental health projects in the U.S., Kenya, and Zambia. He also worked with the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Program at Michigan Medicine where he focused on examining health inequities for LGB people with bipolar disorder. Juan’s previous professional experiences also include working as a Research Associate for the UCLA Adolescent Trials Network and as a Crisis Worker for a national suicide hotline. 

Juan earned his BS in Psychobiology from UCLA in 2017 and Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan in 2021.

Selected Publications: 

Jauregui, J. C., Rucah, C., Crawford, J., Jadwin-Cakmak, L., Concehla, C., Onyango, D. P., Harper, G. W. (In Press). Experiences of Violence and Mental Health Concerns among Sexual and Gender Minority Adults in Western Kenya. LGBT Health.

Loeb, T. , Jauregui, J. C., Wyatt, G. E., Chin, D., Hamilton, A., Zhang, M., Holloway, I. W., Patron, D. J. (2021). Does Gender Role Conflict Moderate the Relationship between Lifetime Adversity and HIV Stigma in a Community Sample of HIV-Seropositive Black Men? Journal of Men and Masculinities. 

Julia Lesnick

Julia is a student in the combined Masters of Social Work-PhD in Social Welfare program. This year, she is completing her MSW and beginning the PhD program. Her scholarship focuses on understanding mechanisms of change in youth justice, and the implications for transforming juvenile legal policy and practice to promote equity, healing, and thriving for youth and their communities. Some of her specific questions include:

–       Who leads changes in youth justice? How does the juvenile legal system need to change in order to bring currently and formerly system-involved youth and families to the forefront of leadership?

–       Why do systemic changes in youth justice come about? What cultural values, financial or political objectives shape its evolution? What ideals and intentions would best guide youth justice for the future?

–       What are the processes through which change unfolds in youth justice? What are the ideological and logistical barriers that interfere with change in youth justice? When there is need for change, how can it be pursued more proactively and adaptively?

Since starting at UCLA, Julia has worked on research envisioning future approaches to youth justice in collaboration with community partners. She completed her MSW internships in Los Angeles at the Disability Community Resource Center as an advocate and case manager for adults with disabilities, and at the Social & Emotional Wellness Initiative, where she provided clinical counseling for youth and facilitated social-emotional learning curriculum for elementary summer school students and high school students in foster care.

Prior to UCLA, Julia graduated from Cornell University in 2018 with her B.S. in Human Development and a minor in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. At Cornell, her scholarship focused on research-practice partnerships, and adolescent relationships and mental health. She also worked with Cornell Cooperative Extension to develop trauma-informed care training for afterschool programs, and taught in a degree program for incarcerated students. After graduating, she worked at NYC’s child welfare and juvenile justice agency, and at a community-based social service agency on the evaluation and quality improvement of youth leadership and mental health programs.

Sawyer Hogenkamp

Sawyer completed an M.Ed. in Human Development and Psychology at Harvard University. He also holds a M.Ed. and B.Ed. from Queen’s University, and B.A. from University of Waterloo, majoring in Music, and Human Geography & Environmental Management. He is pursuing a PhD to further the study of relational youth violence and school climate to encompass under-supervised contexts within and outside of school grounds, such as in neighborhoods, virtual spaces, or on school buses. He serves as a consultant with an organization in Canada that trains school bus drivers on bullying prevention and mental health awareness. He’s also engaged in supporting social emotional learning in underserved populations domestically (urban and rural America), and abroad (urban and rural China). Research skills include both qualitative and quantitative analysis as well as mixed methods, having participated with interdisciplinary research groups collaborating with Canadian Federal and Provincial Government Agencies, Universities, and private organizations. Currently Sawyer is working with the APA Taskforce on Violence Against Educators, organizing and analyzing data and policy of qualitative data from school psychologists, social workers, counselors, administrators, teachers, and school staff.