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M. Alex Wagaman, Ph.D.

Associate professor

Email: mawagaman@vcu.edu

Phone: (804) 828-2873

Ph.D., Arizona State University
M.S.W., Arizona State University
B.S.W., Winthrop University

Alex Wagaman, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the VCU School of Social Work. Her research focuses on participatory research and service approaches that promote engagement and resilience among youth and young adults who belong to populations that face marginalization and discrimination. Current initiatives include he Youth Empowerment through Eviction Research (YEER) project in partnership with the RVA Eviction Lab and three teams of Richmond-based youth doing housing research on issues that concern them, and Advocates for Richmond Youth – a participatory action research team that works to end youth homelessness in the Greater Richmond community.

Research conducted by Advocates for Richmond Youth has been used to develop a set of community-wide recommendations, has spurred outh-led community housing advocacy, and has supported the efforts of multiple stakeholders in a Youth Housing Stability Coalition. Their work has also received national attention through selection as a Grand Challenge community with A Way Home America (2019-2021) and serving on a national team that developed a research agenda on LGBTQ+ youth homelessness in partnership with True Colors United. Wagaman is involved with the International Partnership for Queer Youth Resilience (INQYR), which brings together reasearchers, community partners and students to expand the knowledge base on the well-being of LGBTQ+ youth.

Wagaman’s primary teaching interests are in macro social work practice and community organizing. She also facilitates community-engaged co-curricular opportunities for students to learn how to do justice and advocacy work, including legislative advocacy. She currently works with the Black Lives Matter Student-Alumni-Faculty Collective which plans an annual orientation to racial (in)justice in Richmond called Richmond [Re]Visited.

Learn more about Advocates for Richmond Youth

Notable awards, honors and appointments

  • Peacemaker of the Year, Richmond Peace Education Center, 2019
  • 7th Annual Florence W. Vigilante Award for Scholarly Excellence in recognition of the best article published in the Journal of Teaching in Social Work - Queering the Social Work Classroom, 2018
  • Council member, Council on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (CSOGIE), Council on Social Work Education - 2014-2020
  • Honorable Mention - Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity & Expression Scholarship Award, Council on Social Work Education, 2016
  • Awardee – Social Justice Award, School of Social Work, Virginia Commonwealth University, 2014


Selected publications

Wagaman, M. A., & Kemmerer, A. (2020). Transgender and nonbinary youth empowerment. In S. K. Kattari, M. K. Kinney, L. Kattari, & N. E. Walls. Social work and health care practice with transgender and nonbinary individuals and communities: Voices for equity, inclusion, and resilience. Routledge.

Wagaman, M. A., Watts, K., Lamneck, V., D’Souza, S., McInroy, L., Eaton, A., & Craig, S. (2020). Managing stressors online and offline: LGBTQ+ youth in the southern United States. Children and Youth Services Review

Wagaman, M. A., Alessi, E. J., Goffnett, J., Watts, K. J., Iacono, G., Thomas, D., Paceley, M., & Craig, S. L. (2019). Interrupting hetero- and cisnormativity in social work programs: LGBTQ+ student strategies for increasing inclusion. Journal of Social Work Education. DOI: 10.1080/10437797.2019.1671261

Wagaman, M. A., Odera, S. G., & Fraser, D. V. (2019). A pedagogical model for teaching racial justice in social work education. Journal of Social Work Education.

Wagaman, M. A., Shelton, J., Carter, R., Stewart, K., & Cavaliere, S.J. (2019). “I’m totally transariffic”: Exploring how transgender and gender-expansive youth and young adults make sense of their challenges and successes. Child & Youth Services, 40(1), 43-64.

Wagaman, M. A., Obejero, R. C., & Gregory, J. S. (2018). Countering the norm, (re)authoring our lives: The promise counterstorytelling holds as a research method with LGBTQ youth and beyond. International Journal of Qualitative Methods.

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.

Wagaman, M.A., Shelton, J., & Carter, R. (2018). Queering the social work classroom: Strategies for increasing inclusion of LGBTQ people and experiences. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 38(2), 166-182.

Wagaman, M. A. (2017). Practice with the queer community. In M. P. Dentato (Ed.). Social work practice with the LGBTQ community: The intersection of history, health, mental health and policy factors (pp. 351-365). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Shelton, J., Wagaman, M. A., Small, L., & Abramovich, A. (2017). I’m more driven now: Resilience and resistance among transgender and gender expansive youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. International Journal of Transgenderism.

Segal, E. A. & Wagaman, M. A. (2017). Social empathy as a framework for teaching social justice. Journal of Social Work Education, 53(2), 201-211.

Wagaman, M. A. (2016). Self-definition as resistance: Understanding identities among LGBTQ emerging adults. Journal of LGBT Youth, 13(3), 207-230.


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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