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+ youth, and the incarcerated.

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.

Vanessa hopes to be able to support younger queer and transgender people of color in their educational attainments by creating initiatives that center their experiential expertise in research about them. Her independent research primarily focuses on the efficacy of peer-developed and driven social empowerment initiatives for Black transgender women that address social determinants of health outside of the healthcare engagement realm. Vanessa’s seeks to improve self-efficacy and quality of life among Black transgender women by engaging them in educational literacy and professional development initiatives and creating sustainable paths towards higher education and gainful employment.