News & Events


April 23, 2019

Danielle Lucero

UW School of Public Health Facebook post of April 2, 2019

UW MPH Program in Health Services is with Danielle Lucero.

April 2 at 9:27 AM ·

Second-year Health Services MPH/MSW student Danielle Lucero is conducting her master’s thesis on perceptions of violence, abuse, and culture among the Native American community. Danielle’s project aims to involve the community of the Pueblo of Isleta in understanding perceptions of violence and abuse, and also explores what cultural tools can be used to help address these issues.

“The Pueblo of Isleta is a strong and resilient community in New Mexico,” says Danielle. “It has several health and social service organizations, including a 638-contract clinic, behavioral health services, social services, a victim’s advocate office, a cultural committee, and it also operates its own police department. The community also faces economic challenges. Isleta has a total population of about 3,900 members, and more than 1 in 5 people (and nearly 1 in 3 children) is living in poverty. Nearly 1 in 5 children are living with families where neither parent is employed. Beyond these statistics, it is also the tribal home of my People, and the place where I grew up.”

For her thesis project, Danielle is conducting focus groups with youth aged 12 to 14, and interviews with adult community members in the Pueblo of Isleta. Says Danielle, “I’ve been asking questions about community sayings and stories in our language that talk about violence and abuse, but also for stories about their counterparts, such as good relationships and safety. I’ve also asked what they feel the community can do to prevent violence and abuse. What I’m learning from all of these conversations is that the violence and abuse we see today is a result of colonization.”

Danielle’s choice to focus on these issues in her MPH thesis grew out of her own experiences. As she explains, “My focus on violence and abuse prevention is personal. I grew up on the rez. I grew up surrounded by songs and dances, and I know that we have the power to heal. As an adult, I’ve become more aware of the specific threats to the good in our community. In the summer of 2017, I interned for my tribe’s victim advocate office, and I found that many of the people I grew up with were experiencing various forms of violence and abuse. I have decided to dedicate my work to community-driven prevention initiatives for violence and abuse.”

After earning her BA in Public Health from Fort Lewis College, Danielle worked as a residential counselor at a combined acute treatment and detox unit in Durango, Colorado. “It was then that I realized I wanted to do more at the prevention level,” Danielle recalls, “so I started to look into programs that would give me the skills I would need to do multi-level prevention work.” It was this search that led Danielle to her studies at the University of Washington, in her concurrent MPH/MSW training. “Being in both the University of Washington School of Public Health and UW School of Social Work has given me many opportunities to prepare for this work,” says Danielle.

“The courses that have supported me most have been the HSERV 589 (Community-Based Participatory Research) course taught by Dr. Bonnie Duran, as well as admin-policy courses in social work, and my practicum working with tribal communities on their public health accreditation journeys through strategic planning sessions, environmental scans, and community health assessment trainings.

Last year, I had the incredible opportunity to be part of ‘Our Nations, Our Journeys’ which was an indigenous public health forum sponsored by Seven Directions, A Center for Indigenous Public Health. I also plan local events for Seven Directions. We have an upcoming Story Slam with the prompt, ‘Health Looks Like…’ Stories can be based in the past, present or future and be about individuals or communities.” (See below for a link to sign up.)

Danielle is conducting her thesis work in collaboration with UW faculty Drs. Bonnie Duran and Myra Parker, who are both part of the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute (IWRI) housed in the UW School of Social Work. Says Danielle, “Bonnie and Myra do incredible work with indigenous communities around the country – I actually came to UW with the intention to work with them. They have been very supportive and have lots of insight on how to work with one’s home community.”

In working to heal her community, Danielle is carrying on a legacy that stretches back for hundreds of years. “My ancestors always figured out a way to address harm to the community,” she says. “I want to carry on their strength, and I know that others in the community want this, as well. In the Pueblo of Isleta, cultural experiences offer rich and protective experiences for Native youth. However, the prevalence of violence and abuse threaten these experiences. The violence at the individual and community level we face today is tied to colonization, both past and present. It is a result of power imbalance. My community’s strength is their ability to come together when we know something is out of balance. We have songs, dances and organized discussions that involve community leaders and members. The challenge is that no one wants to admit that violence or abuse is happening. We have to acknowledge this issue if we want to heal and create a vision for change.”

Ultimately, Danielle’s goal is to pursue a DrPH. Says Danielle, “I plan to always work with my community and other indigenous communities around the world. Eventually, I want to create a space that combines all my passions and helps myself and others experience a holistically well life, by bringing together organizations and individuals who share that dream.”

To learn more about Danielle’s work, visit:

To sign up for the Seven Directions Story Slam, visit:

To learn more about National Public Health Week “Violence Prevention” Day on April 2, 2019, visit:

#NPHW2019 #NPHW19 #NationalPublicHealthWeek2019