Ortega-Williams, Anna | MSW | PhD

BSW Director & Assistant Professor
Phone: (212) 396-7726
Email: Anna.Ortega-Williams@hunter.cuny.edu
Room 427

Areas of Expertise:
Historical trauma and systemic violence recovery among Black youth
Post-traumatic growth and social action
Peer-led mental health and collective wellbeing approaches among youth
Anti-oppressive and anti-racist social work practice and youth development
Group work
Participatory program evaluation and participatory action research

PhD, Fordham University
MSW, Stony Brook University (SUNY)
BA, Hunter College (CUNY)

Download CV (PDF)


Ortega-Williams, A., Booth, J., Fusselle-Ware, D., Lawrence, Y.  Pearl, D., Chapman, N., Allen, W., Reid-Moore, A., & Overby, Z. (2022). Using ecological momentary assessments to understand Black youths’ experiences of racism, stress, & safety. Journal for Research on Adolescents, 32(1), 270-289. http://doi.org/10.1111/jora.12733

Ortega-Williams, A. & Davison, D. (2021). Wringing out the “whitewash”: Confronting the hegemonic epistemologies of social work canons (disrupting the reproduction of White normative). Advances in Social Work Education, 21(2/3), 566-587. https://doi.org/10.18060/24475

DeBower, J., Ortega-Williams, A., Wernick, L., Brathwaite, B., & Gonzalez, M.* (2021). Surviving the strain of youth Organizing: Youth and organizational responses, Youth & Society.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0044118X211058216

Henderson, Z., Stephens, T., Ortega-Williams, A., Walton, Q. (2021). Conceptualizing healing through the African American experience of historical trauma. Journal of Orthopsychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1037/ort0000578

Greene, A., Ortega-Williams, A., Page, C. & Davis General, A. A. (2021). Sacred conversations: Sharing journeys of healing justice with the field of critical youth mental health. In J.N. Lester and M.O’Reilly (Eds.). The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Critical Perspectives on Mental Health. Palgrave MacMillan, Cham. Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-12852-4_84-1 


Black youth, exposed early to the violence of structural racism and systemic inequities, within the context of historical trauma, are disproportionately at risk for psychological and physiological distress. In the midst of this, Black youth are using creative peer-led approaches and social action to generate mass group-level wellbeing. Dr. Ortega-Williams' research investigates the role of organizing among Black youth to interrupt social injustice as an action-oriented trauma recovery practice and pathway of posttraumatic growth. Additional areas of research: how youth access and employ cultural traditions and historical legacies of social resistance to pursue wellbeing; intergenerational healing and wellbeing among the Black diaspora, colorism, land-based healing, and participatory scale development to measure healing.

Community Partnership(s)

  • I am an advisor for the Center for Trauma Innovation, specifically for the Community Healer Initiative. I’ll be PI on a CBPAR with the Community Healer’s Initiative at CTI in 2023.

  • I’m an advisor for the CUNY School of Professional Studies Academy for Community Behavioral Health. I advise the co-design of their trauma informed supervision initiative.