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Kimberly S. Compton, Ph.D., M.S.W.

M.S.W. Program assistant director and instructor

Email: comptonk2@vcu.edu

Phone: (804) 828-0688

Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University
M.S.W., Virginia Commonwealth University
Certificate in Nonprofit Management, Virginia Commonwealth University
B.A., The College of William & Mary

Kimberly S. Compton, Ph.D., M.S.W., is assistant director of the M.S.W. Program and an instructor at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work. Dr. Compton has developed a range of teaching expertise: online, face-to-face, as a course developer, and as a field instructor. Her teaching philosophy centers compassion and creativity.

As a practitioner, instructor, and researcher, Dr. Compton actively seeks out unexpected intersections of multiple disciplines, spaces, and vocations with social work. For Dr. Compton, social work has a lot to offer other disciplines, but it also is in need of its own growth and transformation. She explores these opportunities for growth through her work in the community and across disciplines; for example, at the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU or exploring methodologies in Geographic Information Systems and new directions in neighborhood and place-based research. As a researcher, she investigates the work of environmental justice advocates using a critical race lens. Dr. Compton merges these intersections in the classroom, and has even developed an elective course giving students the tools to creatively invite the natural environment into their social work practice.

Prior to joining the School of Social Work in 2019, Dr. Compton was Executive Director of ReEstablish Richmond, a refugee-focused nonprofit. She also worked on an urban farm in Richmond’s East End that provided fresh vegetables to corner stores. She is a 2021 graduate of the School of Social Work's Ph.D. Program and a 2013 graduate of the VCU M.S.W. Program with a concentration in social work administration, planning, and policy. She also holds a certificate in Nonprofit Management from the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs. Dr. Compton earned a B.A. from The College of William & Mary in Middle Eastern Studies and a minor in Studio Art. She loves living near the river and spends her free time rock climbing, backpacking, and hiking nearby.

Notable awards, honors and appointments

  • Racial Justice Task Force, 2020 - Present
  • Elaine Rothenberg Social Work Award, 2020
  • Robin M. McKinney Dissertation Honor Fund Recipient, 2019
  • VCU School of Social Work Annual Research Symposium, 2nd place, 2018
  • VCU School of Social Work, Leadership and Service Award, 2018
  • VCU School of Social Work, Leadership and Service Award, 2017
  • Phi Kappa Phi Scholarship, 2016
  • VCU School of Social Work, Distinguished Service Award, 2013

Teaching areas and interests

  • Course Sequence Coordinator and Course Lead Developer for MSW Online
  • Social Work and Social Justice
  • Foundations of Social Research
  • Social Work Planning & Administrative Practice I & II
  • Concentration Social Policy
  • Advanced Standing Planning and Administrative Practice
  • Social Work Practice – Organizing for Social Change
  • Social Work and the Natural Environment 

Dr. Compton mentors current students and recent graduates as they transition to social work practice, and has found it particularly meaningful to mentor students in fields that are not explicitly social work. For example, she works with graduates who are farmers and food justice advocates, graduates who are undertaking innovative human service apprenticeship programs in the for-profit space, and graduates who are working to bridge the gap between using art as an individual therapeutic intervention and using socially-engaged art as a community intervention.


Selected recent publications

Wagaman, M. A., Compton, K.S., Williams, E., Lange, J. Haynes, T., & Caballero, R. (In press). Youth Participatory Action Research as an Approach to Developing Community-Level Responses to Youth Homelessness in the United States: A Model for Change. Handbook on Community Development and Participatory Action Research. Edward Elgar Publishing  

Compton, K. S., Barr, P., Bares, C., Karriker-Jaffe, K., Aliev, F. Mustanski, B. Dick, D. & Chartier, K.G. (2019). Evaluating neighborhood, social, and genetic influences on precursors of alcohol use risk behavior in African-American adolescents. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health16(17), 3078

Nguyen, P.V., Corona, R., DeCarlo, M.P., Yaros, A., Le, A.T., & Compton, K. (2018). Help seeking behavior in a diverse sample of Asian American adults. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 5(2), 1-15. 

Wagaman, M. A., Compton, K. S., & Segal, E.A. (2018). Social empathy and attitudes about dependence of people living in poverty on government assistance programs. Journal of Poverty, 22(6) 471-485.

Juried conference presentations

Compton, K.S. (2021). Using Pedagogy of Play in Online Environments to Develop Critically Playful Practitioners. Paper presented for Social Work Distance Education Conference, San Antonio, TX. 

Compton, K.S. (2019). Resistance and resilience: Capturing the experiences of people directly affected by environmental hazards. 20X20 Paper presented for ResilienceCon, Nashville, TN. 

Wagaman, M. A. & Compton, K.S. (2018). YPAR as an approach to developing community-level responses to youth homelessness. Society for Social Work and Research. Washington, D.C.

Compton, K. S. & Cody, A. M. (2017). Mapping the possibilities. International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Compton, K. (2016). Social Work and participatory-action research: Why action and power matter. International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Jettner, J., Compton, K. Im, H. & Vattalaro-Hill, K. (2015) The use of container gardening to improve health among refugees: A preliminary assessment. Gardening for Good Conference. Monmouth University, Monmouth, New Jersey.


Virginia Commonwealth University
School of Social Work
Academic Learning Commons
1000 Floyd Avenue, Third Floor
Box 842027
Richmond, Virginia 23284-2027

Phone: (804) 828-1030
Fax: (804) 828-0716
Email: sswinfo@vcu.edu
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