Ari S. Gzesh, MSW is pursuing a PhD in Social Welfare at UPenn’s School of Social Policy and Practice, and is a Fellow in Leadership Education and Adolescent Health at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. They are earning certificates in both Implementation Science and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, so as to promote integration between social sciences and humanities, particularly in the use of theory for conceptualizing research design. Gzesh has been awarded the Penn Marymount Fellowship, as well as funding through the Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics, and the Eidos LGBTQ+ Health Research Initiative. Prior to their doctoral studies, Gzesh engaged in direct practice with marginalized young people for over a decade, as both an educator and therapist. A Teach for America alumni, Gzesh spent eight years in traditional and alternative classrooms, spanning from secondary schools to San Quentin Prison to domestic violence shelters. After earning a Master of Social Work from Columbia University, they worked as a community-based clinician in the Bay Area of California, supporting system-involved youth experiencing sexual exploitation, substance use, and housing instability.
Gzesh is passionate about improving psychosocial and health outcomes for sexual/gender minority youth, by exploring how chosen families can provide corrective experiences for past attachment ruptures, embodied oppression, and complex trauma. Gzesh uses critical mixed methods to leverage cultural wealth embedded in queer communities for research-informed practice and practice-informed research.