Donna AguinigaPh.D., MSW

Mountains behind College of Health logo
Assistant Dean, SSWEND Scholar Mentor
School of Social Work
PSB 222C


  • Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work, 2010 — University of Texas at Austin; Austin, TX
  • Master of Social Work, 2001 — Boise State University; Boise, ID
  • Bachelor of Science in History and Psychology, 1998 — Easter New Mexico University; Portales, NM


Donna M. Aguiniga is the Assistant Dean and a Professor in the School of Social Work. Her research interests are primarily focused on issues of child welfare, including adoption, kinship care, and the effect of poverty on family functioning. Dr. Aguiniga has experience in community-based research and collaboration and served as the Interim Director for the UAA Center for Community Engagement & Learning, supporting community-based projects and partnerships across UAA. From 2014-2022, Dr. Aguiniga led the UAA Dialogues for Public Life program where she trained campus and community members how to facilitate community dialogues and deliberations and facilitated events for campus and community organizations. Dr. Aguiniga’s practice background is in child protective services, community mental health, and case management.

Teaching Responsibilities

  • Practice with Individuals
  • Social Welfare Policy
  • Generalist Practicum

Professional & Department Service

  • CSWE Council on Conferences and Faculty Development
  • CSWE Social Welfare Policy & Policy Practice Track

Research Interests

  • Child Welfare: Permanency, Adoption, Kinship care
  • Family Functioning
  • Community Development
  • Rural Communities
  • Social Work Education


  • Aguiniga, D. M., Madden, E. E., Goodwin, B.., & Ryan, S. (2023). Post-adoption contact experiences of birth mothers. Adoption Quarterly.
  • Bowers, P. H., Aguiniga, D. M., Reamer, D., & Reynolds, J. (2022). Homeless youth shelters and services for transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) clients: Results from a nationwide survey. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services.
  • Aguiniga, D. M., & Trawver, K. E. (2021). Perspectives of low-income mothers about their intimate partner relationships. Journal of Family Social Work. Advance online publication.
  • Madden, E. E., Aguiniga, D. M., & Ryan, S. (2020). Birth mothers’ options counseling and relinquishment experiences. In G. Wrobel,, E. Helder, & E. Marr (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Adoption (pp. 219-237). Routledge.
  • Tobolowsky, B. F., Scannapieco, M., Aguiniga, D. M., & Madden, E. E. (2019). Former foster youth experiences with higher education: Opportunities and challenges. Children and Youth Services Review, 104, 104362.
  • Aguiniga, D. M., & Madden, E. E. (2018). Foster care placement process and settings. In E.Trejos-Castillo & N. Tevino-Schafer (Eds.), Handbook of Foster Youth (pp. 20-56). Taylor & Francis.
  • Madden, E.E., Ryan, S., Aguiniga, D.M., Killian, M., & Romanchik, B. (2018). The relationship between time and birth mother satisfaction with relinquishment. Families in Society, 99(2), 170-183.
  • Aguiniga, D. M., & Bowers, P. H. (2018). Teaching note – Partnering macro social work students with agencies addressing youth homelessness: A model for service learning. Journal of Social Work Education, 54(2), 379-383.