Dr. Caragata completed her PhD at the University of Toronto focused on the interplay between land use, social movements and the democratization of public space. Her return to academe to do a PhD followed an almost 20 year career that included grassroots community organizing, social housing development, public policy coordination and public administration in non-profit community organizations and in government.
Lea continues to blend academic and research interests with her interest and commitment to public policy change and community development. Her recent book Not the Whole Story: Challenging the Single Mother Narrative is an illustration of her participatory, activist work.
Lea’s areas of research and specialization include gender, poverty and marginalization including in international context. She has most recently focused on how labour market changes and welfare state cutbacks have affected low income single mothers. She was the Principal Investigator on a SSHRC-funded Community University Research Alliance exploring this area with partners in government, non-profits and academe.
Lea's most recent SSHRC-funded research examines resilience in low income lone mothers and explores individual, familial, community and structural factors that help these women overcome risk and adversity.
She recently climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro as a fund raiser for an innovative wilderness program for abused women run by Outward Bound Canada as a way of giving back to the many women who have shared their stories as part of her research.
Lea is very active in graduate advising both at Laurier’s Faculty of Social Work and in the Brantford master's program in Social Justice and Community Engagement. As well she frequently advises and co-supervises students from other universities.
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