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Maru Gonzalez, EdD

Assistant Professor

Extension Specialist

4101 Beryl Road, 240J


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

Primary Teaching Responsibilities

  • AEHS 510: Supervised Professional Experience (rotation)
  • AEHS 533: Complex Families
  • AEHS 552: Program Development & Evaluation in Youth and Family Settings
  • AEHS 553: Applied Concepts in Child & Youth Development
  • AEHS 590: Social Justice & Diversity in Youth and Family Sciences

Contributing Websites

Professional Honors/Offices/Recognitions

  • 2023 – Outstanding Faculty Award, Chancellor’s Creating Community Awards at NC State University
  • 2022 – Outstanding Graduate Instructor, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NC State University
  • 2022 – Group Recipient Award for Equity for Women Awards, NC State University
  • 2021 – Excellence in Healthy Living Programming Award, National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals
  • 2021 – NC State University Impact Scholar
  • 2021 – U.S. Speaker Program, United States Embassy, Peru
  • 2019 – Dialogue 2.0 Faculty Fellow, NC State University
  • 2019 – Community Engaged Faculty Fellow, NC State University

Selected Publications

  • Gonzalez, M., Reese, B., & Connaughton-Espino, T. (under review). “I’m going to live my life freely:” Authenticity as an Indicator of Belonging among Urban Latinx 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., Barker, A., Clark, Megan, & Byrd, C. (2021). Examining the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of 4-H professionals related to LGBTQ+ youth. Journal of Youth Development, 16(5).
  • 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.

View All Publications


BS Psychology Georgia State University

MS School Counseling Georgia State University

EdD Student Development University of Massachusetts Amherst

Area(s) of Expertise

  • Diversity and Social Justice
  • LGBTQ+ Youth
  • Youth Advocacy and Activism
  • School Climate
  • Critical Pedagogy