Sarah Gzesh

Sarah Gzesh, MSW

Sarah (they/she) has worked in direct practice with marginalized young people for over a decade as both an educator and therapist. They earned a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University, and as a clinician, they worked at Westcoast Children’s Clinic and Larkin Street Youth Services, supporting system-involved youth experiencing sexual exploitation, substance use, and housing instability. Sarah is now pursuing a PhD in Social Welfare at UPenn’s School of Social Policy and Practice, and is a Fellow in Leadership Education and Adolescent Health (LEAH) at Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania. 

Sarah is passionate about exploring how identity-based supports like chosen families can provide corrective experiences for past attachment ruptures, embodied oppression, and complex trauma for sexual/gender minority youth (SGMY). They use participatory methods to explore the relationship between history of victimization, future orientation, and risk-related behaviors, with an emphasis on healing-centered harm reduction. Sarah’s goal is to expand conceptualization of family systems to encompass non-biological kinship, thereby harnessing cultural wealth embedded in SGM communities for research-informed practice and practice-informed research.