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Maru Gonzalez, EdD

Assistant Professor

University Faculty Scholar

Extension Specialist

Ricks Hall, 229


Maru Gonzalez is an Assistant Professor and Youth Development Specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences. Her areas of inquiry and outreach include youth development with a focus on belonging, civic and community engagement, storytelling, and the experiences of LGBTQ+ young people across familial, school, and community contexts. Dr. Gonzalez is co-director of #PassTheMicYouth, a youth-led multimedia program which aims to amplify youth voices, shine a spotlight on youth-led community engagement, and provide educators with resources and research-based curricula for cultivating critical consciousness.

She is also the co-founder of Georgia Safe Schools Coalition and has collaborated with U.S. embassies in Peru, Chile, and the Dominican Republic on initiatives to cultivate respectful and affirming schools across Latin America. Dr. Gonzalez is currently co-authoring a book, Teaching Storytelling in Classrooms & Communities: Amplifying Student Voices and Inspiring Social Change. In addition to research and Extension, she teaches courses related to youth development, social justice in youth and family science, complex families, and storytelling for social change. Dr. Gonzalez also leads a study abroad program in Spain, as well as a course in Puerto Rico. 

Programs & Initiatives

Primary Teaching Responsibilities

  • AEHS 533: Complex Families
  • AEHS 553: Applied Concepts in Child & Youth Development
  • AEHS 538: Social Justice & Diversity in Youth and Family Sciences
  • AEHS 590: Spain: Exploring Community Engagement, Family, & Culture in Barcelona and the Camino de Santiago
  • HON 295: Storytelling for Social Change
  • HON 398: Puerto Rico After Maria

Contributing Websites

Professional Honors/Offices/Recognitions

  • 2024 – University Faculty Scholar
  • 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., Kokozos, M., Byrd C., & McKee, K. (in press). Storytelling through a critical positive youth development framework: A mixed methods approach. Journal of Youth Development.
  • Kokozos, M. & Gonzalez, M. (in press). Collaborating for social change: Promising practices for effective youth-adult partnerships. Journal of Extension.
  • Gonzalez, M., Kokozos, M., Nyota, N., & Byrd, C. (2023). Youth storytelling for social change: Guiding questions for effective and ethical delivery. Journal of Extension, 61(3), Article 3. 10.34068/joe.61.03.03
  • Gonzalez, M., Reese, B., & Connaughton-Espino, T. (2022). “I’m going to live my life freely:” Authenticity as an indicator of belonging among urban Latinx LGBTQ+ Youth. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension, 10(2).
  • 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.

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

  • Storytelling
  • LGBTQ+ Youth
  • Youth Leadership & Community Engagement
  • Belonging
  • School Climate
  • Critical Pedagogy