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.