Melanie Sonsteng-Person, MSW, CTP

She, Her, Hers

Department of Social Welfare, UCLA

I am a PhD candidate and Social Justice Fellow at UCLA. I have two lines of research, PhotoVoice methodology and violence and trauma intervention and prevention. 

PhotoVoice research is a participatory action research method that allows individuals and communities to create counter narratives and increase empathy through perspective taking. I use this methodology with various topics lead by different communities to advance the dreams and demands that they have for themselves and their communities. 

 

Broadly, my personal research interest focuses on the impact of, and intervention for, trauma exposure found in various systems. I am currently focused on the relationship between violence exposure, trauma, and school outcomes with the goal of identifying protective factors found within schools. 

 

I believe that in order to effectively intervene in and prevent violence, trauma, and incarceration research should seek to transform power relations and increase equity. I believe that research should be based in community-driven knowledge and lead to collective action. 

As a social worker, researcher, and educator I have proven experience in violence prevention & intervention and academic achievement. I have worked in Boston, Brooklyn, Detroit, and Los Angeles.

 

Professional Collaborations

Research is not a solitary endeavor. People's lived experiences, personal stories, and dedication make all of this work a possibility. Below are some of the wonderful students, community researchers, schools, and organizations that I work with. 

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Candido Hasan

Student, Activist, Aspiring Researcher

He, Him, His

Candido's work focuses on the impact of police violence on Black Communities. Currently, he works with Million Dollar Hoods Project in R and GIS to map data on the cost of incarceration throughout Los Angeles County. Together we are analyzing my qualitative data for a research project that seeks to understand how Los Angeles teachers understand and interact with schools impacted by community violence exposure and trauma

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Jesse Van Leeuwen

Writer, Mother Activist, Campaign Manager

She, Her, Hers

Jesse Van Leeuwen is a writer, mother activist, and the campaign manager for The Moms We Love Club — a group that campaigns for financial resources for women enduring long term hardship. Mrs.Van Leeuwen’s daughter, Nora, was diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy —Aicardi Syndrome— when she was 3 months old. Since then, Mrs. Van Leeuwen has been sharing  about her family’s journey with chronic illness at noraeverafter.com She works hard to ensure that her family, and other families like hers, receive the treatment and care that they need and deserve.

You can follow her work below: 

noraeverafter.com

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Darlene Abrams

Surfer, Mother Activist 

She, Her, Hers

Darlene Abrams is a surfer and mother activist. Owen, her son, is a spirited 4-year-old with medical complexities and uses the support of a trach/vent. Mrs. Abrams and her husband are the creators of Stoma Stoma, a clothing apparel brand, that offers resources and a new perspective for families with Trachs and G tubes with the goal of making the “abnormal” incredibly normal and approachable. They partner with Children's Hospitals throughout the US to create their unique clothing designs. Together we are working on a Participatory PhotoVoice project to highlight the lived experiences of Mother's of Children with Medical Complexities.

Check out her company and blog below: 

stomastoma.com

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Dominique Mikell

Researcher, Activist

She, Her, Hers

Dominique Mikell is a Ph.D. student in Social Welfare at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Dominique obtained her BA in Philosophy with Honors from the Graduate School of Education from Stanford University and her MA degree from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. She worked as a Stoneleigh Emerging Leader Fellow at Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia as an extended foster care implementation researcher.

Dominique’s scholarship focuses on examining the impact of state interventions such as child welfare involvement as forms of state violence on the black family and highlighting how Black families participate in care and healing during and after these interventions.

Her approach to the work is centered on a desire to contextualize state interventions on Black families within the experience of Black Americans in the United States in what Christina Sharpe refers to as “the wake of the unfinished project of emancipation.”  Her approach attempts to use research as a means to emancipatory action towards collective dreaming and care for Black families in the United States.

Together we are working on a participatory PhotoVoice project to highlight the multidimensional experiences of Black students day-to-day psychological, social, and physical realties of navigating predominantly white spaces.

To reach out to her about her work or collaboration you can email her at: 

Dominiquem@ucla.edu

Samantha Lin King-Shaw

Student-Activist, Aspiring Researcher

She, Her, Hers

Samantha King-Shaw is an undergraduate student at Washington State University studying Women’s Studies, Queer Studies, and Economic Sciences. She is involved in community outreach and education on LGBTQ+ and race-related issues, as well as work in menstrual equity activism. Samantha’s passion for activism and social justice have been strongly informed by her experiences as a queer-identifying Black womxn, and she aims to highlight the multiplicity of the Black experiences to envision a world in which Black wellness is a reality.

Together we are working on a participatory PhotoVoice project to highlight the multidimensional experiences of Black students day-to-day psychological, social, and physical realties of navigating predominantly white spaces.

Natalie O'Neill King-Shaw

Student-Activist, Aspiring Occupational Therapist

She, Her, Hers

Natalie King-Shaw is an undergraduate student at San Diego State University, studying Psychology with a double minor in Honors Interdisciplinary Studies and Leadership. She is engaged in community support and outreach and is passionate about her experience working with children and adults who have a disability, as well as people who are experiencing homelessness. Natalie believes in the importance of sharing and honoring Black stories and aims to use community engagement to help foster positive community change.

 

Together we are working on a participatory PhotoVoice project to highlight the multidimensional experiences of Black students day-to-day psychological, social, and physical realties of navigating predominantly white spaces.

Liana Sandell

MSW Student, Aspiring Clinical Social Worker and Researcher

She, Her, Hers

Liana Marguerite Sandell is a Masters Student at Boston College School of Social Work, pursuing a clinical track and specializing in the field of Health and Mental Health. Her interests are grounded in the field of trauma, particularly the study of childhood trauma, adoption, human trafficking, and the sex work industry. In her first year at Boston College, she interned at the Department for Children and Families in Dorchester, MA. As an incoming second-year student, she will be placed at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in the Obstetrics and Gynecology unit as well as the Center for Violence Prevention and Recovery (CVPR). In the past, she has volunteered on the nationwide platform Crisis Text Line, and MYS COPE Mansfield. In 2018 she received a Bachelor’s Degree in psychological sciences from the University of Connecticut. Together we are working on a qualitative research project focused on understanding how MSW interns and their Supervisors respond to secondary traumatic stress in the field.

 
 
 
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