Lisa Wexler, PhD

Professor, School of Social Work

Research Professor, Research Center for Group Dynamics, Institute for Social Research / Research Professor, Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention

Social Work Faculty Profile
ISR Faculty Profile
Injury Prevention Center Faculty Profile


Headshot of Lisa Wexler

Lisa Wexler is a Professor of Social Work and a Research Professor in the Research Center for Group Dynamics at the Institute of Social Research at the University of Michigan. She received her doctoral education from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and, did her critical ethnographic dissertation while working full time as a tribal community organizer for suicide prevention, where she developed insights and practical ideas in partnership with Indigenous Elders, community members (including young people), and service providers. Her federally-funded, participatory research program uses a variety of methods to engage family members, leaders, young people, service providers, and others in rural and remote arctic communities in learning, reflecting and mobilizing to reducing suicide risk and promote youth wellness.

Her program of research aims to (1) translate research into strategic, self-determined community action; (2) describe and amplify sources of strength in Indigenous communities; and (3) develop practical multilevel approaches to reduce youth suicide risk across the prevention spectrum. Her current projects include a clinic-based universal intervention to increase safe firearm storage in people’s homes (PI for R61MH125757; Subrecipient of CDC R49-CE-003085), a community mobilization approach to suicide prevention (PI for R01 MH112458), and a descriptive study of community strengths that correlate with youth wellness (co-PI with Drs. Allen and Rasmus for U19 MH113138). This work uses a variety of mixed methods including intergenerational and digital storytelling, social network analysis, narrative analysis, and community-level measurement to generate useful information for action. Her participatory research program is based in and developed with Alaska Native communities; and can offer possibilities for other groups suffering from behavioral health inequities and/or desiring to re-orient programs and services toward local, culture values and practices.