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Lisa M. Wexler

Professor of Social Work, School of Social Work, and Research Professor, Research Center for Group Dynamics, Institute for Social Research

Lisa M. Wexler

Lisa Wexler is a professor of social work and a research professor in the Research Center for Group Dynamics at the Institute of Social Research at the University of Michigan. She received her doctoral education from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and did her critical ethnographic dissertation while working full time as a tribal community organizer for suicide prevention. There, she developed insights and practical ideas in partnership with Indigenous Elders, community members (including young people) and service providers. Her federally-funded, participatory research program uses a variety of methods to engage family members, leaders, young people, service providers,and others in learning, reflecting and mobilizing to reducing suicide risk and promote youth wellness. Her program of research aims to (1) translate research into strategic, self-determined community action; (2) describe and amplify sources of strength in Indigenous communities; and (3) develop practical multilevel approaches to reduce youth suicide risk across the prevention spectrum.

Her current projects include the Family Safety Net, a clinic-based universal intervention to increase safe firearm storage in people’s homes (PI for R61MH125757; Subrecipient of CDC R49-CE-003085); a community mobilization approach to suicide prevention called PC CARES: Promoting Community Conversations About Research to End Suicide (PI for R01 MH112458); and a Collaborative Hub that features a descriptive study, Alaska Native Community Resilience Study focused on community strengths correlated with a reduction in youth suicidal behavior and youth wellness (co-PI with Allen and Rasmus for U19 MH113138). This work uses a variety of mixed methods including intergenerational and digital storytelling, social network analysis, narrative analysis and community-level measurement to generate useful information for action. Her participatory research program is based in and developed with Indigenous communities, and can offer possibilities for other groups suffering from behavioral health inequities and/or desiring to re-orient programs and services toward community resources, cultural values and practices and support for families.

Research Interests/Focus

American Indian/Alaska Native Suicide Prevention; Indigenous Youth Resilience; Culturally-Specific Behavioral Health Services; Digitally-Enhanced Participatory Research


Year Degree   School
2005 PhD Social Work University of Minnesota
1996 MSW Social Work Florida State University
1991 BA University of West Florida

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