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Maru Gonzalez

Assistant Professor, Extension Specialist



Areas of Expertise

  • Diversity and social justice
  • LGBTQ+ youth
  • Youth advocacy and activism
  • School climate
  • Critical pedagogy

Maru Gonzalez is an Assistant Professor and Youth Development Specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences at North Carolina State University. She received her doctorate in student development with a concentration in social justice education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her areas of inquiry include youth development with a focus on activism, critical positive youth development, and the experiences of LGBTQ+ young people across familial, school, and community contexts. Currently, Dr. Gonzalez is Program Director for #PassTheMicYouth, a youth-led podcast and blog which aims to amplify youth voices, shine a spotlight on youth activism, and provide educators with resources for cultivating critical consciousness. She also serves as co-PI for the Empowering Youth and Families Program, an opioid prevention education program for youth and their caregivers in rural North Carolina. 

In addition to her efforts domestically, Dr. Gonzalez has collaborated with policy makers, students, and educators in Chile, Peru, Spain, and the Dominican Republic on initiatives aimed at cultivating more respectful and affirming schools in the region. She has also served as a regular guest commentator on CNN and CNN Español and frequently contributes to The Huffington Post. Apart from research and Extension, Dr. Gonzalez teaches courses related to youth development, social justice in youth and family science, program development and evaluation, and complex families.

Programs & Initiatives

  • #PassTheMicYouth
  • Empowering Youth and Families Program

Selected Publications

Gonzalez, M., Barker, A., Clark, Megan, & Byrd, C. (under review). Examining the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of 4-H professionals related to LGBTQ+ youth. 

Gonzalez, M., Reese, B., & Connaughton-Espino, T. (under review). “A little harder to find your place:” Examining Latinx LGBTQ+ youth belongingness within a familial context. 

Gonzalez, M., Kokozos, M., Byrd C., & McKee, K. (2020). Critical positive youth development:
A framework for centering critical consciousness.
Journal of Youth Development, 15(6). 

Gonzalez, M., White, A., Vega, L., Howard, J., Kokozos, M., & Soule, K. (2020). “Making the
best better” for youths: Cultivating LGBTQ+ inclusion in 4-H.
Journal of Extension, 58(4),
Article v58-4tt4. Available at:

Gonzalez, M., Guin, A., Allen, K., Chilcote, A., Toriello, P., & Mead, E., (2020). Best practices
for engaging communities of color in opioid prevention programs. Journal of Extension,
58(3), Article v58-3tt5. Available at:

Kokozos, M. & Gonzalez, M. (2020). Critical inclusion: Disrupting LGBTQ normative
frameworks in school contexts. Equity & Excellence in Education.

Gonzalez, M. & Kokozos, M. (2019). Prejudice reduction in public schools: A dialogic
approach. Journal of Educational Research and Practice, (9)1, 340-348.

Gonzalez, M., McKee, K, Kokozos, M., Shealy, L., & Chan, S. (2019). #PassTheMicYouth
multimedia program: Setting the stage to amplify youth voices. Journal of Extension, 57(6),
Article 6TOT2. Available at:

Gonzalez, M. (2018). Advocacy for and with LGBT students: An examination of high school
counselor experiences.
Professional School Counseling, 20(1a), 38-46.

Gonzalez, M. (2016). Factors that facilitate and impede advocacy for and with LGBT students.
Journal of Counselor Leadership and Advocacy, 3(2), 158-172.

Johnson, C. W., Singh, A.A., & Gonzalez, M. (2014). “It’s complicated”: Collective memories
of transgender, queer, and questioning youth in high school. Journal of Homosexuality, 61(3),

Gonzalez, M. & McNulty, S.J. (2011). Achieving competence with transgender youth: School
counselors as collaborative advocates.
Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling, 4(3-4),

Contributing Websites