Center for Human Rights and Social Justice

About the Center Center for Human Rights and Social Justice

Welcome to the Center for Human Rights and Social Justice! The CHRSJ has a primary mission of advancing crucial human rights and social justice initiatives in our local and global communities through targeted education, research, service, and leadership. The CHRSJ values collaboration and partnerships with community members, organizations, and university faculty, staff and students. We approach our human rights and social justice work through an anti-oppressive lens which acknowledges the influence of privilege and oppression on the existence and maintenance of human rights violations. The CHRSJ values equally the voices of all community members and commits to work in authentic partnership with the communities being served.

Our Initiatives born out of the School of Social Work’s strong collaborations represent some of the most pressing needs of our community, and are inclusive of some of the most underserved and marginalized populations locally and globally. Specifically, our Center is committed to the following five initiatives (1) Combating Human Trafficking (2) Preventing Sexual Victimization (3) Creating Inclusive Communities sexual and gender diverse Individuals (4) Advancing Trauma Informed Research, Education and Practice, and (5) Promoting Wellness in Marginalized Communities.

The Center is proud to host affiliated faculty and community partners with decades of experience who are fiercely committed to advancing human rights and social justice across countless critical issues impacting our communities. The Center’s affiliates possess unparalleled practice and advocacy skills necessary to mobilize positive change. Moreover, our faculty are engaged in research and scholarship which impact practice and policy across multiple pressing human rights issues in contemporary society.

Through the power of collective action and collaborative social justice work, the Center for Human Rights and Social Justice in the Barry University School of Social Work aims to a create safe, stable, and inclusive society for all individuals. Welcome to our Center and please spend time exploring our website further to learn more about our faculty, community partners, resources, upcoming events, and the ways to get involved in our work. We hope you will contact us with ideas for collaboration that can advance the human rights and social justice initiatives of the Center.

Contact the Center Annual Report

Funded by the Ware Foundation

Engagement Educational Community Programming

The Center for Human Rights and Social Justice creates multiple opportunities to engage in an array of social justice and human rights projects outside of the classroom.

Opportunities include film screenings, lectures, trainings, activist events, consultations, conferences, summits, vigils, and remembrances.


  • 1 Human Trafficking Coalition

    The CHRSJ/1HTC team consists of nationally and internationally recognized experts in several areas important to effective anti-trafficking efforts.

  • Translating Trauma-Informed Care Into Practice Certificate Program

    Four-day post-masters training that prepares professional helpers to deliver trauma-informed services in a variety of settings with a range of problems and populations.

  • Trauma-Informed Resilience Skills at Times of Societal Crisis Webinar

    Half-day webinar training that will describe how professional helpers can help others build resilience in these uncertain times.

  • TRACKS Intergroup Dialogue Program

    Intergroup Dialogue Program is an effective strategy to help community members engage in peaceable, focused, and organized dialogue about social justice issues.

Research and Scholarship

  • Finley, L., Rosenwald, M., & Perez, S. (2015). Intergroup dialogue: A campus-wide initiative toincrease acceptance and inclusivity. In Peace and Social Justice Education on Campus: Faculty and Student Perspectives. (Eds., L. Finley & K. Concannon). (pp. 236-249). Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press.

    Landsman, M. & Rosenwald, M. (abstract accepted; manuscript under review). Building research capacity in supportive housing partnerships. Special Issue of Child Welfare,“Improving the Use and Usefulness of Research in Child Welfare

    Rosenwald, M. & Landsman, M. (Scheduled). The use of evaluation to strengthen the “system of care” for youth: The example of supportive housing models in child welfare. 29th Annual Research and Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health (March 13-16) Tampa, FL.

    Rosenwald, M. (scheduled). “Housing First:” Research findings on the HEART model. National Association of Social Workers, Florida Chapter (June 16-18) Orlando, FL.

    Rosenwald, M., McGhee, T., & Noftall, R. (2013). Perspectives on Independent Living Services among resilient youth. Journal of Family Social Work, 16(2), 148-163.

    Rosenwald, M. & Riley, B. N. (2011). A model of foster care advocacy for child welfare practitioners. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 5(2-3), 251-270.

    Rosenwald, M. & Riley, B. N. (2010). Advocating for children in foster and kinship care: A guide to getting the best out of the system for foster parents, kinship caregivers and practitioners. New York: Columbia University Press.

    Rosenwald, M. & Bronstein, L. (2008). Foster parents speak: Preferred characteristics of foster children and experiences in the role of foster parent. Journal of Family Social Work, 11(3), 287-302.

    Bartone, A., Rosenwald, M. & Bronstein, L. (2008). Examining the structure and dynamics of kinship care groups. Social Work with Groups, 31(3/4), 223-237.

  • Rosenwald, M. 2012-2017 Co- Evaluator, HEART (Housing, Empowerment, Achievement, Recovery, and Triumph) Alliance for Sustainable Families. U. S. Health and Human Services, Administration on Children and Families. Children’s Bureau. ($479,235). Clinical trial of a supportive housing model intervention for families involved in the child welfare system in Broward County.

    Rosenwald, M. 2011. Faculty Incentive Grant, Barry University ($2,109): The Experiences of Youth Aging out of Foster Care (2011).

  • Austin, A. (In Press). “There I am”: A grounded theory study of young adults navigating a transgender or gender nonconforming identity within a context of oppression and invisibility. Sex Roles.

    Austin, A. (In Press). Activism and Advocacy for the Transgender Community: Stop Violence and Create Peace through Transgender Affirmative Change.

    Craig, S.L., & Austin, A. (In Press). The AFFIRM Open Pilot Feasibility Study: A Brief Affirmative Cognitive Behavioral Coping Skills Group Intervention for Sexual and Gender Minority Youth. Child and Youth Services.

    Craig, S.L., Austin, A., Alessi, E. McInroy, L. & Keane, G. (In Press). Minority Stress and HERoic Coping among Ethnoracial Sexual Minority Girls: Intersections of Resilience.Journal of Adolescent Research.

    Dentato, M.P., Lloyd, M.R., Craig, S.L., Kelly, B., Wright, C., & Austin, A. (In Press). Homophobia within schools of social work: The critical need for affirming classroom settings and effective preparation for service with the LGBTQ community. Social Work Education: The International Journal.

    Austin, A., Craig, S. L. & McInroy, L. (In Press). Toward transgender affirmative social work education. Journal of Social Work Education.

    Austin, A. & Craig, S. L. (2015). Adapting empirically supported interventions for sexual and gender minority youth: A stakeholder driven model. Journal of Evidence Informed Social Work DOI: 10.1080/15433714.2014.884958.

    Austin, A. & Craig, S. L. (2015). Transgender affirmative cognitive behavioral therapy: Clinical considerations and applications. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 46(1), 21-29.

    McInroy, L., Craig, S. L., & Austin, A. (2014). The perceived scarcity of gender identity content in Canadian social work programs. Canadian Social Work Review, 31(1), 5-21.

    Austin, A. & Craig, S. L. (2013). Support, discrimination and alcohol use among racially/ethnically diverse sexual minority youth. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 25, 420-442.

    Craig, S.L., Austin, A. & McInroy, L. (2013). School-based groups to support multiethnic sexual minority youth resiliency: Preliminary effectiveness. Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal DOI: 10.1007/s10560-013-0311-7.

    Collazo, A., Austin, A., & Craig, S. L. (2013). Facilitating transition among transgender clients: Components of effective clinical practice. Clinical Social Work Journal, 41(3), DOI:10.1007/s10615-013-0436-3

    Craig, S. L. Austin, A. & Alessi, E. (2012). Gay affirmative cognitive behavioral therapy for sexual minority youth: A clinical adaptation and approach. Clinical Social Work Journal. DOI:10.1007/s10615-012-0427-9

    Craig, S. L, McInroy, L., Austin, A., Smith, M., & Engle, B. E. (2012). Promoting self-efficacy and self-esteem for multiethnic sexual minority youth: An evidence-informed intervention. Journal of Social Service Research 1-11. DOI: 10.1080/01488376.2012.718194

    Winter, E., Elze, D., Salzburg, S. & Rosenwald, M. (2015). Social services for LGBT youth in the United States: Are we there yet? In Social Work and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Health Inequalities: International Perspectives. (Eds., J. Fish & K. Karban). (pp. 113-129). Bristol, UK: The Policy Press.

    Rosenwald, M. (2009). A glimpse within: An exploratory study of child welfare agencies’ practices with LGBTQ youth. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, 21(4), 1-14.

    Rosenwald, M. (2008). Group work with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. In Gittterman, A. & Salmon, R. (Eds.). (pp. 198-201). Encyclopedia of Social Work with Groups. London: Routledge.

    Rosenwald, M. (2008). “Group work practice with LGBTQ people.” In G.P. Mallon, (Ed.). Social work practice with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. 2nd ed. (pp. 221-239). New York: Routledge.

    Clements, J. A. & Rosenwald, M. (2007). Foster parents’ perspectives on LGBT youth in the child welfare system, Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services,19(1), 57-69.

  • Austin, A. (PI). The Ware Foundation ($1,500). Bridging Efforts to Enhance Safety and Support for the Transgender Community (2014).

    Craig, S.L. (PI), Austin, A., Lawless, M., Brennan, D. & Flicker, S. Canadian Institute of Health Research ($32,981). Community-Based Affirmative Coping Skills Training to Reduce HIV/AIDS Risk for Sexual Minority Youth: An Open Pilot Feasibility Study (2013-2015).

    Craig, S.L & Austin, A. Faculty of Social Work Research Grant Competition. S.S.H.R.C. Institutional Grant Program (SIG). The development of a cognitive behavioral group intervention curriculum to enhance coping and reduce depression in multi-ethnic sexual minority youth (2013-2014).

    Austin, A. Faculty Incentive Grant, Barry University ($3,800): Developing an affirmative intervention for sexual minority youth: A participatory research approach (2012).

    Austin, A. Creative Activity Grant, GLS, Barry University: Experiences of Gender Non-Conforming Young Adults: In Their Words (2012).

  • Levenson, J. S., & Grady, M. D. (in press). Childhood Adversity, Substance Abuse, and Violence: Implications for trauma-informed social work practice. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions.

    Zgoba, K., Miner, M., Levenson, J. S., Knight, R., Letourneau, E., & Thornton, D. (2015). The Adam Walsh Act: An Examination of Sex Offender Risk Classification Systems. Sexual abuse: a journal of research and treatment.

    Nowakowski-Sims, E. (2016). Group exercise as an adjunct treatment for trauma. Paper accepted for presentation at National Association for Social Workers’ Florida Conference, Ft Lauderdale, FL.

    Nowakowski-Sims, E. & Rowe, A. (2015). Treating youth who perpetrate violence against a family member using trauma informed interventions. Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma, 8(4), 237-244.

    Nowakowski-Sims, E. (2015). Group exercise as an adjunct treatment for trauma. Journal of Trauma & Treatment, S2-014. doi:10.4172/2167-1222

    Nowakowski-Sims, E. & Rowe, A. (2014). Treating youth who perpetrate violence against a family member using trauma informed interventions. Paper presented at American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children’s 22nd National Colloquium, New Orleans, LA.

    Nowakowski-Sims, E. & Mattern, K. (2014). An exploratory study of the characteristics that prevent youth from completing a family violence diversion program. Journal of Family Violence, 29(2),143-149.

  • Levenson, J. S., & Zgoba, K. (2015). Community Protection Policies and Repeat Sexual Offenses in Florida. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology.

    Levenson, J. S., & Socia, K. M. (2015). Adverse childhood experiences and arrest patterns in a sample of sexual offenders Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

    Levenson, J. S. (2015). Adverse childhood experiences and subsequent substance abuse in a sample of sexual offenders: Implications for treatment and prevention. Victims and Offenders.

    Levenson, J. S. (2014). Incorporating Trauma-Informed Care into Sex Offender Treatment. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 20(1).

  • Zaoui, S. (In press) The Lighthouse Effect: A therapeutic conversation about childhood sexual abuse and its relationship to sexual exploitation, commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking

    NASW Miami-Dade Chapter presentation: Systemic Overview of CSEC Survivors through a Clinical Lens, a neurobiological, relational, physiological, spiritual implications of childhood sexual trauma and it’s direct relationship to CSE in children and adults

    Peace-In Event, Barry University: Systemic Overview of CSEC Survivors through a Clinical Lens, a neurobiological, relational, physiological, spiritual implications of childhood sexual trauma and it’s direct relationship to CSE in children and adults

    The Life of Freedom Center: Working with women in trauma using narrative therapy

    Trauma Informed Practice, DCF Leadership Academy 2014-2015 .

    Human Trafficking, Deliberative Dialogue, Barry University

    The Neurobiology of women and trauma with a special focus on childhood survivors of sexual abuse and human trafficking, Agape Women’s Rehabilitation Center

    Working with women in trauma using narrative therapy, The Life of Freedom Center.

    Peace-In Workshop Barry University: Systemic Overview of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

    Systemic Overview of CSEC Survivors through a Clinical Lens: The 11th Annual Light up the Night Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect

About the Research Lab Trans Perspectives Research Lab

Welcome to the Trans Perspectives Research Lab. Our research team, led by Dr. Ashley Austin, is committed to engaging in transgender affirmative research which centers the voices and experiences of trans and gender-diverse people. Our lab is focused on developing knowledge that has the potential to improve the well-being transgender and gender diverse individuals across the life span. 

For us, this includes a focus on research which: advances knowledge and understanding of experiences of gender dysphoria, addresses understudied aspects of the trans experience across the life span, and explores contemporary transgender issues through a trauma responsive lens.

Meet our Team Get Involved

Current Project Expanding Knowledge About Gender Dysphoria, Previous Projects

Our most current research project, Expanding Knowledge about Gender Dysphoria, a photo-elicitation exploration of experiences of gender dysphoria, emerged in response to the needs of the TGD community for more accurate, nuanced, and in-depth narratives about living with gender dysphoria.

This study is a two-phase research project targeting a diverse range of trans and non-binary adults. Historically, experiences of gender dysphoria have often been reduced to a single narrative; in reality, these experiences vary across transgender individuals.

Gaining more accurate information about the ways in which gender dysphoria is experienced among a diverse transgender individuals is a critical aspect of ensuring that transgender individuals have access to informed and affirmative care from mental-health and medical providers.

Expanding Knowledge Video Consent

Opportunities Student Engagement


  • Please join us in congratulating Ms. Noemi Marquez on receiving the 2019 Doctoral Fellowship Award from the Center for Human Rights & Social Justice (CHRSJ).

    Her innovative and important research: The Lived Foster Care Experiences of Transgender and Gender Diverse Young Adults is consistent with the CHRSJ’s Pillar: Promoting Inclusive Communities for Individuals with Diverse Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities initiative. This research is innovative and addresses a notable gap in the literature. Moreover, the study represents a promising step toward advancing knowledge about a particularly underserved and marginalized subgroup of transgender young people.

    We commend Ms. Noemi for her advocacy and commitment to human rights and social justice!

  • Joshua Holzworth, a Bachelor of Social Work student in his junior year, was awarded the Center for Human Rights and Social Justice's 2019 Research Fellowship to work with Dr. Ashley Austin on qualitative and quantitative research projects focused on elucidating risks to well-being, as well as sources of resilience, faced by transgender and gender diverse youth and adults. Josh’s primary clinical and research foci include mental illness, stigma, marginalized populations, and Jungian approaches to clinical intervention. Congratulations on this prestigious award!

  • Please join us in congratulating the CHRSJ 2019 Student Advocate Award Winners.

    Their passion and commitment to activism and are an inspiration to students across the Barry University Campus. Their efforts align with the mission of the CHRSJ to create safe and inclusive spaces on campus and in communities locally and globally.

    Michidael Ceard

    Michidael Ceard was born in Port Au Prince, Haiti. She immigrated to Miami in April 2013 with her family at the age of 13. She is currently a junior studying English Literature and seeking to minor in Africana studies at Barry University.

    Ceard has worked on numerous civic engagement projects with the most notable being the Temporary Protected Status Workshop for undocumented people in Opa-Locka and the Rights-for-Restoration campaign that successfully helped in adding amendment 4 to the Florida Constitution. With time, she plans to become a civil rights attorney working with a nonprofit for social justice and exclusivity.

    Jamie Vaughn

    Jamie Vaughn is currently a 1st year graduate student in the School of Social Work at Barry University and currently works as a Graduate Assistant for 1HTC. She comes to Barry with a master's in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Florida Atlantic University. Her future career paths include working in sexual assault prevention, comprehensive sex education, and sex therapy. After graduating, she hopes to receive her PhD in Human Sexuality or Clinical Sexology.

  • The CHRSJ awarded doctoral student, Ms. Maria Tapia, with the 2018 Doctoral Fellowship Award. Her proposed research titled, “Understanding School Mental Health Perspectives Toward LGBT Populations,” is a promising step toward creating safer and more inclusive schools for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning/Queer (LGBTQ) youth in South Florida. Moreover, findings from her proposed study have the potential to extend existing knowledge and research in this area.

  • On behalf of the School of Social Work and The Center for Human Rights & Social Justice (CHRSJ), we are delighted to congratulate Paola Montenegro and Paris Razor for receiving the Student Advocate Award.

    As active student leaders involved in consciousness raising as well as social and political activism, they have helped instigate community and state level change. Their efforts align with the mission of the CHRSJ and our commitment to promote wellness in marginalized communities — locally and globally.

    Paola Montenegro

    Paola Montenegro’s most significant accomplishment as a civically engaged student leader is her contribution to the development of community service programs and projects, including: (1) the growth of collaborative and long-term community partnerships; (2) student recruitment and financial support of students’ participation in service programs; and (3) community and campus education efforts focused on human and environmental rights. Her leadership in the Alternative Breaks Executive Board led to the creation of two new programs with deep community partnerships dedicated to long-term social change: the Port-de-Paix, Haiti Solidarity Partnership and the McAllen, Texas Border Encounter.

    Paris Razor

    Paris Razor is a third-year English major specializing in literature and professional writing. A Barry Service Corps Fellow, she works with the Student/Farmworker Alliance as a steering committee member to advocate the rights of farmworkers. Dedicated to human rights and social justice, she has made it a priority in her life to be active in her community.

  • Dr. Nowakowski-Sims was awarded a $1000 research grant from the Center for Human Rights and Social Justice to explore trauma-informed services for families impacted by child-to-parent violence. Dr. Nowakowski-Sims’ innovative and timely grounded theory research used focus groups to explore experience of 20 youth/families who participated in diversion programs for child-to-parent violence in South Florida. The study was aimed at better understanding the role of trauma in youths’ experiences with child-to-parent violence and subsequent violence prevention and intervention programs. Data highlighted the overlap between childhood adversity, household dysfunction, and family conflict among participants. Findings also indicated that adverse childhood experiences were often ignored or overlooked within the existing violence prevention programs.

    Dr. Nowakowski-Sims is disseminating her findings locally through trauma informed trainings and workshops with local service providers. Her focus involves facilitating a shift away from using punitive intervention approaches to violence prevention work with youthful offenders, and toward trauma informed, rehabilitative approaches which recognize the importance of addressing childhood trauma in violence prevention and intervention work. Dr Nowakowski-Sims has presented the study’s findings at national and international venues. Specifically her research was presented at the Council for Social Work Education in Dallas and at the Society for Social Work and Research in Washington, DC. In addition, Dr. Nowakowski-Sims joined more than 2,500 practitioners, researchers, and educators in Dublin, Ireland to explore the latest developments in social work and social development

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