Dr. Lafrenière received her PhD from the University of McGill’s School of Social Work in 2005. She is the founding director of the Social Innovation Research Group (SIRG) which is a research and training incubator comprised of a multidisciplinary group of researchers and community practitioners dedicated to university/community collaboration. In 2013, she was appointed as the Director of the Manulife Centre for Community Health Research, which is an endowed research centre dedicated to exploring community health at a local and global level.
The guiding philosophy behind Dr. Lafrenière’s work is her belief that public intellectuals should be of service to the communities in which they operate. She currently is an associate professor in the Faculty of Social work where she teaches courses in transformational social work practice and community interventions. Dr. Lafrenière mentors undergraduate, Master’s, PhD and post-doctoral fellows in the “art and science” of community-based research and development. For the past 12 years she has been a member of the Women and Gender Studies Coordinating Committee where she also teaches courses in social justice and leadership.
Understanding how public intellectuals interact with vulnerable populations within the larger community is her main area of interest and research. Her research includes the areas of gendered violence, community development within First Nations and ethnocultural communities as well as various women’s groups and collectives both locally and abroad.
Dr. Lafrenière is also firmly committed to arts-based social development as a means for creating spaces for marginalized voices. She currently holds three different SSHRC funded projects dedicated to a variety of social justice issues.
Students interested in developing skills in community-based research are invited to connect with Dr. Lafrenière as there are opportunities for internships and work placements within the Social Innovation Research Group and the Manulife Centre for Community Health Research.