Katherine Maldonado Fabela


Katherine Maldonado Fabela

Research Assistant

Katherine Maldonado Fabela is a mother of three from South Central Los Angeles, and a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research interests include health disparities, inequalities, critical criminology, and visual methodology. She earned her B.A. in Chicana/o Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. While at UCLA, Katherine was awarded the McNair Scholars Research Fellowship for her project on gang-affiliated mothers’ resistance through education. She received her Master’s degree in Sociology where she examined the ways gang-affiliated women experience institutional violence and developed a conceptual model on life course criminalization. She continues this line of work in her dissertation by examining the experiences of Chicana mothers with the carceral system—specifically the Child Welfare system. The investigation centers on the institutional violence that mothers navigate via child welfare, how it affects their mental health and the ways they resist and heal from multiple forms of criminalization through motherwork. 

Katherine is a Pre-Doctoral Ford Foundation Fellow, American Sociology Association Minority Fellow, and American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education fellow. Her research has been funded and recognized by the Abolitionist Teaching Network Grant, Women’s Health, Gender and Empowerment Grant, and others. Katherine’s research has been published in the Journal of Critical Criminology and the Aztlán Journal of Chicana/o Studies as well as multiple book chapters. She has been invited to speak to international audiences at the European University Institute and the United Nations. In other collaborative research projects, Katherine has testified on behalf of asylum seekers and continues to explore the impacts of the immigration regime on Latinx families.  

In addition to her research, Katherine is also involved with Underground Scholars and other activist organizations where she supports currently and formerly incarcerated as well as system impacted students and mothers. She provides workshops to community members, mothers, and incarcerated youth and organizes with a system impacted families involved in CPS. In her organizing, she centers on trauma-informed praxis as she develops tools with criminalized communities. Katherine hopes that her research, teaching, advocacy, and passion for social justice can push for abolition while supporting mothers in crisis in ways that assist healing and mental health for themselves, their children, and their communities. 

GLP Research Assistant