Ashleigh Herrera

Ashleigh Herrera’s research focuses on the treatment of co-occurring psychiatric and substance use disorders in minority populations.

This research endeavor seeks to provide insight into population characteristics related to experiences with trauma and psychiatric conditions in order to guide practice and policy related to the provision of SUD treatment services for patients and the importance of integrated treatment for trauma, PTSD, and other psychiatric conditions.

Her dissertation utilizes secondary data in order to examine the role of lifetime experiences of trauma and psychiatric conditions and distress on residential substance use disorder (SUD) treatment outcomes for patients with Medi-Cal in Los Angeles County

Ms. Herrera specializes in quantitative methodology and program evaluation. She has training in

the following software systems: ARC-GIS, SPSS, and NVivo. She has worked as a research assistant for faculty members at UCLA as well as the University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work, culminating in several publications in peer-reviewed journals, such as Social Work and the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. She has presented her work at both national and international social work conferences, including in Hong Kong and Sweden. Ms. Herrera has taught undergraduate courses at UCLA. These have included classes in aging and human behavior in the social environment.

Additionally, Ms. Herrera has worked in direct clinical practice since 2015. In 2017, she obtained her LCSW. She is currently working as the onsite clinician at a residential SUD treatment facility. In this capacity, she conducts assessments, develops treatment plans, provides individual counseling, facilitates psychoeducational groups, trains AOD counselors, and collaborates with

DMH, SAPC, DCFS, and DOC to address the needs of her patients.

Prior to entering the doctoral program at UCLA, Ms. Herrera graduated at the top of her class from the MSW program at the University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work, where she focused on Macro Practice and obtained a specialization in Trabajo Social (Social Work Practice with Latinos). During her MSW program, she completed internships in Houston, Texas, and Hong Kong. She also served as the President of the Hispanic Student Association. In 2010, she graduated Cum Laude with her bachelor’s degree in History and minor Sociology from the University of Houston.

SELECTED BOOKS & PUBLICATIONS

“Factors Contributing to Depressive Symptoms among Mexican Americans and Latinos”

“The Perceived Role of Family in Heroin Use Behaviors of Mexican-American Men.”

Joanna Barreras

Dr. Joanna L. Barreras’ research focuses on understanding and addressing health and mental health disparities among Latinos. Joanna is particularly interested in the role of Latino cultural factors, such as familism, fatalism, family cultural conflict, acculturation, and acculturative stress, with regard to wellbeing and healthcare service utilization. Through her research, Joanna aims to develop culturally grounded policies and interventions to increase health and mental health service utilization.

Ms. Barreras is well-trained in both quantitative and qualitative research methods. In collaboration with faculty at UCLA, the Medical College of Wisconsin, the RAND Corporation, and Kaiser Permanente’s Department of Research & Evaluation, Ms. Barreras has worked on projects funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)— including PI and Co-I roles. Joanna has presented her work at interdisciplinary academic conferences, has taught graduate and undergraduate classes at UCLA and California State University Los Angeles, and has publications in high impact journals.

Joanna is currently the Associate Director of Research and Evaluation at Bienestar Human Services, Inc., a community-based organization that focuses on identifying and addressing health issues faced by Latino sexual and gender minority (SGM) populations. Drawing upon 10 years of research experience on Latino health and mental health disparities, five of which include research with the SGM communities and HIV prevention and intervention. Further, Joanna has contributed to several community-based initiatives and professional undertakings that address the needs of disenfranchised and marginalized groups.

Through her research, Joanna aims to develop interventions to improve the well-being of diverse minority communities. Joanna is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach (BA in Psychology) and California State University, Los Angeles (MSW). She was born and raised in East Los Angeles, California and is fluent in Spanish.

Courtney Demko

Courtney Demko’s research focuses on caregiver health and well-being. She is particularly interested in Alzheimer’s caregivers and young adult caregiver burden. Courtney’s dissertation uses national survey data and focuses on the multidimensional factors associated with caregiver burden among young adult caregivers from the millennial population. This research is of particular importance given the increase of the older adult population in the U.S. and will demonstrate to policymakers and program planners the unique needs of an overlooked population.

Courtney has training and experience in both quantitative and qualitative methodologies and has used her research skills on several grant-funded research projects at UCLA. She is a member of the Latino Economic Security (LES) team at UCLA which researches the economic impact of a nation growing older and more diverse. Courtney served as the Project Director for the team’s latest project which included conducting focus groups and surveying older white conservative adults in Orange County, CA looking at their attitudes and beliefs towards immigration and immigration policy. She has published in peer-reviewed journals such as The Journal of the American Society on Aging and book chapters on topics related to aging and diversity.

As part of Courtney’s doctoral training, she has also acquired management and administrative experience as the Assistant Director for the Center for Policy Research on Aging at UCLA’s Department of Social Welfare and Public Policy. Courtney’s expertise includes writing grants for leading foundations.

Courtney also has several years of teaching experience. She has assisted in teaching both master’s and undergraduate courses at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs Department of Social Welfare. These include classes in Social Work Research Methods, Social Work Policy and Diversity and Aging. She’s also served as a Guest Lecturer at UCLA’s Department of Social Welfare including topics on Caregiving and Public Policy. Prior to entering the doctoral program, Courtney acquired training leading support groups and providing one-on-one counseling with homeless women at the Downtown Women’s Center on Skid Row in Los Angeles. She also gained experience providing care consultations and co-facilitating support groups for early-stage Alzheimer’s patients and their family caregivers at the Alzheimer’s Association in Los Angeles.

Courtney earned her B.A. in Political Science from Davidson College (2005), and an M.S.W from UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, Department of Social Welfare with a specialization in Gerontology (2013).

SELECTED BOOKS & PUBLICATIONS

The Politics of Aging in a Majority-Minority Nation and Later-Life Social Support and Service Provision in Diverse and Vulnerable Populations.

Lia W. Marshall

Lia W. Marshall’s research focuses on older adult well-being. She is particularly interested in understanding prolonged independence and ability to age in place by investigating the interconnections between social isolation, mobility, and the built environment. Lia’s mixed methods dissertation, situated at the nexus of social welfare, gerontology and urban planning, seeks to understand the mobility experiences of socially isolated older adult women. This research is an important step in guiding policymakers to effectively allocate resources to enable aging in place and to enhance the lives of older women.

While Lia has training in both quantitative and qualitative research methods, she is particularly skilled in employing qualitative methodologies. In collaboration with faculty in both UCLA’s Urban Planning and Social Welfare Departments, she has served as a graduate research assistant for several projects, including “Disrupting Aging & Building Livable Communities: Los Angeles”, and with The Los Angeles Community Academic Partnership for Research in Aging (L.A. CAPRA). Lia has presented her work at conferences across academic disciplines, and has taught and guest lectured with both master’s students and undergraduates. Lia’s interests in social welfare, gerontology and urban planning inspired her to develop and teach the course entitled: “Environmentally Sustainable Aging: Diversity, Resilience, and Health” as a teaching fellow at UCLA.

In addition to teaching, Ms. Marshall continues her community engagement work with the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust as a Steering Committee member for Golden Age Park, the first intergenerational park in Los Angeles, and as the Service Learning Coordinator for the UCLA undergraduate gerontology cluster. Lia received a Masters of Social Work from California State University, Los Angeles and a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Javier Garcia-Perez

Javier Garcia-Perez is a Doctoral Student in the department of Social Welfare in the Luskin School of Public Affairs. He is a Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellow, a fellowship for doctoral students from underrepresented backgrounds. Broadly, Javier’s research interests include LGBTQ+ Latinx youth mental health, LGBTQ+ Latinx experiences, Latinx mental health, identity-based trauma and mental health, trauma, LGBTQ+ mental health, intersectionality, youth development, multiple minority identity and inequities. The specific aim of his research is to better understand the lived realities or LGBTQ+ Latinx youth at the intersection of their multiple identities and the reality of their daily experiences.  

Prior to UCLA, Javier obtained his BA in Chicana/Chicano Studies from the University of California, Davis and completed his MA in Sociocultural Anthropology from Columbia University. He received a dual MSW/MS in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2). Previously, he served as the program director for an ExpandED learning Time program working to achieve educational equity for low-income and marginalized middle school students in Harlem, New York.  Javier has served as a member in the Doctoral Student Committee for the Society of Social Work and Research (SSWR) and as the doctoral representative for the Social Welfare department Doctoral Committee. 

Currently, he is working on projects around mental health disparities, inequities, multiple minority identities, and identity-based trauma. 

Twitter: @GarciaPerezJavi

PUBLICATIONS

Garcia-Perez, J. (2020) Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer + Latinx youth mental health disparities: A systematic review, Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 32:4, 440-478, DOI: 10.1080/10538720.2020.1764896

Garcia-Perez, J. (2016). The Fear of Writing: How White Supremacy Normalized My Cognitive Distortions. Collectivist Journal Volume One, School of Social Policy & Practice, University of Pennsylvania. https://www.sp2.upenn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Collectivist-SP2-Journal-2016.pdf

Skye Allmang

Skye Allmang is a fifth-year PhD student in the Department of Social Welfare at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She holds a Master of Public Policy from Brandeis University and a Master of Social Welfare from UCLA. Prior to starting the PhD program, Skye worked as a project coordinator for a job-training program at a nonprofit in Southern California. Her research interests center around youth employment issues, with a particular interest in addressing barriers to employment, such as mental health issues and juvenile justice system involvement. She is currently a Hilton Scholar at the WORLD Policy Analysis Center, and is working on a research project that compares legislative protections for employer-provided job-training across 193 countries. Her dissertation is on the association between precarious employment and long-term health outcomes for young adults in the United States.

Jianchao Lai

Jianchao Lai is a fifth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Social Welfare at the Luskin School of Public Affairs. She received her Bachelor of Social Work from Nanjing University and Masters of Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research interests focus on examining the underreporting and service outcomes of child maltreatment among Asian American communities.

During her doctoral program at UCLA, she gained experience in both quantitative and qualitative research studies. Her primary work focuses on undermining the model minority myth and investigating how this population’s social problems are often overlooked by the public due to this stereotype, especially child maltreatment incidence among Asian communities. Her independent mixed-method research study, which was funded by the Pearl Wang Fellowship, utilizes a national-scale child case file archive and grounded theory interviews to examine the unique social and cultural factors of the Asian American population that contribute to the underreporting of child maltreatment and service adequacy of child maltreatment incidents. In addition, she is also involved in a collaborative research project with the Center on Children, Families and the Law at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln evaluating the Alternative Response program using longitudinal state-wide child protective service case files.

Upon completing her undergraduate and MSW program, she worked at various government agencies, non-profits, and community centers such as the Wisconsin Children’s Trust Fund and Center for Community and Non-Profit Studies. Her work focused on early childhood development and prevention of adverse childhood experiences.

As the Asian population is gaining attention in the United States and internationally, the demand for culturally appropriate services for this population is expected to increase. However, the dearth of empirical research on child maltreatment among Asian communities remains striking.  Lai’s scholarly research aims to fill significant research gaps about this population and to promote adequate and effective services for marginalized children. She plans to expand her current research agenda to seek an applicable and effective child protective services model for Asian populations globally in the future.

 

Fellowships & Awards

  • Pearl Wang Fellowship (2019-2020), Asian American Studies Center
  • Adam Smith Fellowship (2017-2018), Mercatus Center
  • Graduate Summer Research Mentorship (Summer 2017), UCLA
  • Graduate Summer Research Mentorship (Summer 2018), UCLA

Kristen Brock-Petroshius

Kristen Brock-Petroshius is a fourth year doctoral student in Social Welfare. She studies political social work with a focus on community organizing, racial and ethnic politics, and political psychology. She uses both quantitative and qualitative methods, including field experiments. Her community engaged scholarship explores methods to change dominant racial and political attitudes in predominantly white communities within the United States.

Kristen is an affiliate of the UCLA Race, Ethnicity, Politics & Society Lab and Marvin Hoffenberg Fellow in American Politics & Public Policy. She received her BA in Sociology with a minor in Gender Studies from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and her Masters of Social Work (MSW) from the University of California, Los Angeles.

You can learn more about her work here: www.kristenbrockpetroshius.com.

Twitter: @4heartsnminds

Brenda Morales

Brenda Morales is currently a fifth year doctoral student in the Department of Social Welfare at the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA. Her research interests include investigating risk factors that contribute to disparities in health care and mental health among undocumented Latino immigrants and their children.

She is currently a recipient of the Eugene V. Cota-Robles four-year fellowship, one of the most prestigious fellowships awarded by UCLA. Her research at UCLA has mainly focused on examining the mental health needs of Latino immigrants. One of her studies examined the fear of deportation and psychological wellbeing of immigrants, through the use of field research in a predominantly Hispanic community. Her research projects at UCLA have been funded through two Summer Graduate Research Mentorship ($6,000) awards in 2016-17 and 2017-18. Brenda is a graduate student researcher at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research (CHPR), where she is involved in qualitative data analysis for the Center’s Research on Immigrant Health and State Policy (RIGHTS) project, which examines how state-level policies impact Chinese and Mexican immigrants’ access to health care and health status.

Before entering UCLA, she was part of the University of Michigan/CSULA Social Work Bridges to the Doctoral Program, where she analyzed secondary data from the California Health Interview Survey examining health care disparities among immigrant populations. Given the national attention to the concerns of the undocumented and immigrant community in the nation and the crisis and dangers facing families, her research informs the mental health and public policy community about responding to the needs of undocumented and immigrant community to better serve their mental health needs.

Brenda Morales was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She obtained her B.A. in Social Work in 2014 and her Master of Social Work (MSW) in 2016 from California State University, Los Angeles.

Lei Chen

Lei Chen is a fourth-year doctoral student of Social Welfare. Her research interests include health and aging policy, cross-cultural studies, older adults’ social support and psychological well-being, immigrant’s access to health care, and mixed methods. 

Lei is a graduate student researcher at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. She is currently involved in two mixed-method projects: The Research on ImmiGrant HealTh and State policy (RIGHTS) Study and the Use of Long-Term Services and Supports in California (LTSS). The RIGHTS study examines how California’s immigrant policy environment influences access to health care by identifying how the state’s cross-sectional policies shape Asian and Latino immigrants’ daily lives. The LTSS study aims to address the need for data that assesses the use of and demand for long-term services and supports (LTSS) in California. She is doing data analysis for these two projects and working on several papers related to cross-cultural researchers’ positionality in immigrant health studies, law enforcement and public charge, and social support for Asian and Latino immigrants.

Apart from being an academic, Lei has assisted the policy-making process of the Master Planning on Aging in California, which will serve as a blueprint that can be used by state government, local communities, private organizations and philanthropy to build environments that promote an age-friendly California. She is the author of the recent policy paper (Solving the Economic Security Gap for California’s Older Adults) for the California Commission on Aging to examine the trends in population growth, diversity, and the economic inequity experienced by many older adults in California.

Before joining the Ph.D. program at UCLA, she worked as research assistant for several companies, international organizations, and universities, including McKinsey & Company, Fudan University, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Washington University and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).