Ph.D. candidates & students

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Kimberly Compton portrait

Kimberly S. Compton

Ph.D. candidate


CV » [PDF]


Ph.D. (expected 2021), Virginia Commonwealth University
M.S.W., Virginia Commonwealth University
Certificate in Nonprofit Management, Virginia Commonwealth University
B.A., The College of William & Mary

Kimberly S. Compton is a full-time instructor and a doctoral candidate at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work. Compton has developed a range of teaching expertise: online, face-to-face, as a course developer, and as a field instructor. As a doctoral candidate, her dissertation investigates the work of environmental justice advocates using a critical race lens.  

As a practitioner, instructor, and researcher, Compton is actively interested in unexpected intersections of multiple disciplines, spaces and vocations with social work. For Compton, social work has a lot to offer other disciplines, but it also is in need of its own growth and transformation. She explores these opportunities through her work in the community and across disciplines; for example, at the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, or exploring Geographic Information Systems and new directions in neighborhood and place-based research. Compton merges these intersections in the classroom, and has even developed a course giving students the tools to creatively invite the natural environment into their social work practice.  

Prior to joining the School of Social Work’s Ph.D. program, Compton was Executive Director of ReEstablish Richmond, a refugee-focused nonprofit. She also worked on an urban farm in Richmond’s East End that provided fresh vegetables to corner stores. She is a 2013 graduate of the VCU M.S.W. Program with a concentration in Social Work Administration, Planning, and Policy, and she holds a certificate in Nonprofit Management from the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, Compton earned a B.A. from the College of William & Mary in Middle Eastern Studies and a minor in Studio Art. She loves living near the river and spends her free time rock climbing, backpacking, and hiking nearby.

Notable awards, honors and appointments

  • Elaine Rothenberg Social Work Award, 2020
  • Robin M. McKinney Dissertation Honor Fund Recipient
  • VCU SSW Annual Research Symposium, 2nd place, 2018
  • VCU School of Social Work, Leadership and Service Award, 2018
  • VCU School of Social Work, Leadership and Service Award, 2017
  • Phi Kappa Phi Scholarship, 2016
  • VCU School of Social Work, Distinguished Service Award, 2013



Wagaman, M. A., Compton, K.S., Williams, E., Lange, J. Haynes, T., & Caballero, R. (In press). Youth Participatory Action Research as an Approach to Developing Community-Level Responses to Youth Homelessness in the United States: A Model for Change. In Handbook on Community Development and Participatory Action Research. Edward Elgar Publishing  

Compton, K. S., Barr, P., Bares, C., Karriker-Jaffe, K., Aliev, F. Mustanski, B. Dick, D. & Chartier, K.G. (2019). Evaluating neighborhood, social, and genetic influences on precursors of alcohol use risk behavior in African-American adolescents. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 16(17), 3078.

Nguyen, P.V., Corona, R., DeCarlo, M.P., Yaros, A., Le, A.T., & Compton, K. (2018). Help seeking behavior in a diverse sample of Asian American adults. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 5(2), 1-15.16(17), 3078

Wagaman, M. A., Compton, K. S., & Segal, E.A. (2018). Social empathy and attitudes about dependence of people living in poverty on government assistance programs. Journal of Poverty, 22(6) 471-485.

Juried conference presentations

Compton, K.S. (2021). Using Pedagogy of Play in Online Environments to Develop Critically Playful Practitioners. Paper presented for Social Work Distance Education Conference, San Antonio, TX. 

Compton, K.S. (2019). Resistance and resilience: Capturing the experiences of people directly affected by environmental hazards. 20X20 Paper presented for ResilienceCon, Nashville, TN. 

Wagaman, M. A. & Compton, K.S. (2018). YPAR as an approach to developing community-level responses to youth homelessness. Society for Social Work and Research. Washington, D.C.

Compton, K. S. & Cody, A. M. (2017). Mapping the possibilities. International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Compton, K. (2016). Social Work and participatory-action research: Why action and power matter. International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Jettner, J., Compton, K. Im, H. & Vattalaro-Hill, K. (2015) The use of container gardening to improve health among refugees: A preliminary assessment. Gardening for Good Conference. Monmouth University, Monmouth, New Jersey.