Dr. Darlene Xiomara Rodriguez

Curriculum Vita | Degrees | Professional Experience


Dr. Darlene Xiomara Rodriguez is an Associate Professor in Social Work and Human Services at Kennesaw State University’s (KSU) Wellstar College of Health and Human Services. She is one of KSU’s first Diversity Fellows through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Center for Diversity Leadership and Engagement (2017) and served as the Gender and Diversity Scholar for the KSU Children and Family Program’s Two-Generation Initiatives (2020-2021). Since 2015, she has been the co-principal investigator for the Atlanta Immigrant Crossroads Project—a vertically integrated, multi-university campus and community partnership, which has spun various community-university partnerships and community-based research projects to inform and implement best practices for immigrant integration throughout Georgia.

Selected projects that she has led/co-led include founding the Georgia Immigration Research Network and the development of an Immigrant Integration Toolkit for the state. She also co-edited, Green Card Youth Voices: Stories from an Atlanta High School (Ingram/Consortium Publishers). This led her to curate a travelling art exhibit, based on the book. Over 2 million people, most notably at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and the Woodruff Arts Center, experienced the exhibit. These efforts resulted in her team receiving the inaugural RACES Outstanding Student Research and Creative Accomplishment Project Award from the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents (2019). Her collaborations with Welcoming America, garnered her national praise, when voted runner-up for the “Academy Award” for Macro-Social Work in the U.S.: The Jack Rothman Award for Structural Change Practice (2022).

Dr. Rodriguez’s research focuses on immigrant integration and the nonprofit sector’s role in facilitating it, specifically, the deployment of nonprofits as both service and advocacy partners for policy change. She has delivered keynote addresses, conference presentations, and facilitated workshops, in English and Spanish, at over 100 venues at the international, national, state, and local levels. She has over 50 peer-reviewed and practitioner publications to her credit and has earned over $350,000 in grants. This resulted in her being selected by the KSU community for the highest recognition by the Presidential Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity, the R.O.H. Social Justice Award for her contributions to KSU’s teaching, research, and public service missions in the name of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (2020).

Her decades of applied research and public service in Georgia were recognized by the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce when they named her one of the “50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia” (2019). The Latin American Association identified her as one of the most prominent leaders in the state and her image was added to the “Emblematic Flag” of Latino Leadership (2020). Nationally, her work in the community along with her research and mentoring contributions were recognized by the Omicron Delta Kappa (OΔK) National Leadership Honor Society when she received the inaugural Community Commitment Award for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity (2021).

Her teaching interests include nonprofit management and leadership, public policy, and civic engagement. She has developed and taught courses in fund development and nonprofit sustainability, human resources management, program development and evaluation, research methods, and social welfare policy, as well as internship, senior capstone, and service-learning courses. Dr. Rodriguez is known for her high expectations and rigor, which is matched by her level of investment in her students as they become her colleagues. Consequently, 90% of her students are gainfully employed in the sector upon graduation and/or are admitted into graduate/post-graduate study.

Dr. Rodriguez’s classroom instruction has been evaluated by four centers for excellence of teaching and learning throughout the U.S., and she has consistently received outstanding recognition for her mastery of high-impact practices. Her over 25 years as an educator resulted in her recognition and selection as a Georgia Governor's Teaching Fellow (2019) and nationally she was competitively selected as the recipient of the Council on Undergraduate Research's Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research in the Social Sciences Award (2022).

Prior to coming to KSU, Dr. Rodriguez was the Director of the Arts and Not-for-Profit Management Programs at Salem College (Winston-Salem, NC). She was a Goizueta Foundation Fellow through the Center for Latino Achievement and Success in Education (CLASE) and the statewide coordinator for the Latino Youth Leadership Program through the J.W. Fanning Institute. Dr. Rodriguez also has a long record of servant leadership and administration in college student development and enrollment management (i.e., campus ministries, institutional development, multicultural student affairs, women’s empowerment programs, and student volunteer engagement).

Dr. Rodriguez earned her doctorate in Public Administration and Policy and a Master of Social Work in Macro-level Community Practice from the University of Georgia. She earned a Master of Public Affairs, with a concentration in Nongovernmental Organizations at Rutgers University through the Peace Corps’ Masters International Program. She earned her B.A. in Liberal Studies and Psychology, with a minor in Women’s Studies and Environmental Science from Florida International University. She, along with her husband and son reside in Marietta, GA and are active members of several community organizations, most importantly Eastside Baptist Church.

Important Projects:

These are examples of projects that help the community and univeristy connect with each other to do applied research with relevance.