Meet Our Scholars
University of California, Los Angeles
Minton Spidell Jackowski Scholarship
Graduate Student 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. Some highlights of her professional background include lobbying in collaboration with Beyond Emancipation and Casey Family Programs within California state government for the California Fostering Connections to Success Act, which was signed into law in September 2010 – extending the maximum age of foster care from 18 to 21, and serving as a 2012 mayoral appointee on the San Francisco Youth Commission. In addition, 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 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. As a 2020 Point Foundation graduate scholar, 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, as she continues her education at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, Social Welfare department. Her research will primarily focus on the efficacy of peer-developed and driven social empowerment initiatives for Black queer and transgender people that address social determinants of health outside of the healthcare engagement realm.