Robin has a lens on youth homelessness; innovative housing models; violence (interpersonal, intimate partner and gang); positive youth development
Personal statement: In 2007, I started as a street outreach worker. I spent several years walking up and down the streets of Oregon passing out socks, condoms, matches and mediocre jokes to young people experiencing homelessness. I loved what I did and who I worked with. However, I eventually became frustrated with the constraints of the broken system I was working within. This brought me down a path that led to eventually moving to Los Angeles to obtain my master’s in social work. Through some solid mentorship, I came to realize that there was potential to make a huge impact and implement change through research. Knowledge truly is power. Research and data provide knowledge. I’ve spent the past seven years reading, writing, analyzing and contemplating in the pursuit of understanding the causes and consequences of homelessness experienced by young Americans. Professionally, I consider myself a multi-hyphenate, social worker-scientist-advocate. I am a 500 hour experienced yoga teacher and teach inclusive yoga in social service settings. I am a retired hip-hop DJ who once DJ’d for Bill and Chelsea Clinton. I get inspiration and encouragement from the people surrounding me. Gloria Steinem and Kathleen Hanna are role models. In my spare time, I analyze and obsess over the artistic vision of Kanye West. Currently, my favorite Kanye West song is “Touch the Sky”.
laura onasch vera, MSW
Onasch Vera has several years of experience overseeing research projects focused on understanding the lives of young persons experiencing homelessness.
Laura has a lens on gendered based violence and experiences of homelessness, innovative solutions to end youth homelessness, positive youth development, and racial/gender equity
Personal statement: Laura graduated with her MSW from USC and is currently a project coordinator for an innovative project that utilizes AI to have a larger impact on HIV prevention for youth experiencing homelessness. As a coordinator she is also a group facilitator for a positive youth development training about HIV prevention that focuses on leadership, communication, accessible and accurate sex education and consent. She has supported multiple research teams over the past 3 years working with youth experiencing homelessness and prioritizes working collaboratively with participants so they are partners in the research. She is currently a co-chair of the West Coast Convening which is a collective of service providers and advocates on the west coast working together to end youth homelessness.
Personal statement: Layan received her BSW from Fresno State and MSW from USC. As a student, her internships in various settings exposed her to the lived experiences of the individuals she served. She immediately became drawn to the issue of homelessness and worked as a student data collector for the 2018 Homeless Count. As she wanted to continue work related to this topic, Layan is currently the project specialist at USC where she coordinates the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count that occurs every year. Layan also worked as a research assistant on an innovative HIV prevention project for youth experiencing homelessness. She has supported other projects that focus on youth, adults, and veterans in unstable housing conditions. Layan has a strong passion to make an impact on vulnerable populations and is always eager to learn new, improved strategies to eradicate homelessness completely.