Elizabeth Mendoza's profile photo

Elizabeth Mendoza

Project Scientist, University of California, Irvine

Elizabeth Mendoza's profile photo
Location: Santa Ana, CA
Start Year: 2023
TRHT Pillar: Racial Healing and Relationship Building


Guided by a desire to design educational spaces that center healing and learning, Dr. Elizabeth Mendoza has focused her research on the intersection of sociocultural theories of learning, critical theories of race, participatory action research, and curanderismo, a traditional Mexican healing art. With this aim, she co-founded the Healing, Empowerment, and Love (HEAL) program for women of color graduate students. HEAL completed its second cohort in the spring of 2021, and has fostered academic and racial healing to deepen participants’ connection to their inner wisdom and relations to each other, and to Mother Earth. 

Dr. Mendoza is currently a project scientist at the University of California, Irvine, where she supports efforts to integrate youth voice and inquiry in career development and career equity for racialized youth. Previously, she worked alongside teachers, community members and researchers co-creating professional development frameworks that foster equity in math classrooms and was the director of the Latinx Student Services Center at the University of Colorado, Denver. Dr. Mendoza co-edited Power, Equity and (Re)Design: Bridging Learning and Critical Theories in Learning Ecologies for Youth. Recently, she co-authored “The Ability to Lay Yourself Bare: Centering Rupture, Inherited Conversations and Vulnerability in Professional Development” to underscore human elements of teaching. She is the upcoming keynote speaker for the Teachers of Color and Allies (TOCA) conference, themed Heal for Real: Finding, Creating, and Sustaining Communities that Prioritize Educators of Color. 

She earned her Ph.D. in learning sciences and human development at the University of Colorado, Boulder.



Future Focus

Through the promotion of meritocracy, scarcity and competition, the educational system causes harm, particularly to racialized bodies. The HEAL program, which Dr. Mendoza and her colleagues co-founded, seeks to center healing, learning and liberation to contribute to normalizing care and love in education. Programmatically, HEAL provides a space for women of color graduate students to work toward healing academic harm. Theoretically, HEAL seeks to contribute to design theory that includes spirituality, love and intuition, and can help institutionalize initiatives that nourish participants holistically. As HEAL develops, we anticipate building an online community and expanding to include educators more broadly while continuing to center wisdom and experiences from women of color.



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Culture of Health Leaders Institute for Racial Healing

A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Program