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Cristina Santamaría Graff, Ph.D.

Community Engaged Scholar/Practitioner

Committed to Equity, Inclusion, & Racial Justice


Cristina Santamaría Graff (biracial Mexicana) is an Associate Professor of Special Education, Urban Teacher Education at Indiana University Purdue University in Indianapolis (IUPUI) (Ph.D., University of Arizona, 2009). She is also currently serving as the Interim Assistant Dean of Student Support & Diversity. She has expertise in bilingual/multicultural special education and applies her skills in working with Latinx immigrant families of children with dis/abilities in family-centered and -driven projects. Her scholarship focuses on the ways community-engaged partnerships with families and other stakeholders can transform inequitable practices impacting youth with dis/abilities at the intersections of race, language, and other identity markers of difference. She is one of the Editors for the journal Multiple Voices: Disability, Race, and Language Intersections in Special Education, the AERA SIG Program Chair for Spirituality and Education and served six years as a Board Member of IN*SOURCE (Indiana Resource Center for Families with Special Needs). Her scholarship has been nationally recognized through The Ernest A. Lynton Scholarship of Engagement Award (2019) and AERA’s award for Exemplary Contributions to Practice-Engaged Research (2019). Selected publications include: Co-investigation and co-education in ‘Family as Faculty’ approaches: A repositioning of power (2021), Examining preservice special education teachers’ biases and evolving understandings about families through a Family as Faculty approach (2020), and Models of School-Family Relations (2020).  

Current Curriculum Vita – HERE

A bit about me…


Family/Community-Centered Research

Co-Decolonizing Approaches

Teaching & Mentoring


“Campus Compact’s efforts aim toward full-participation communities in which the humanity of each person is recognized and cultivated,” said Campus Compact president Andrew Seligsohn. “In their work as scholars, teachers, and partners, Professors Abdo and Santamaria Graff exemplify the profound possibilities of higher education’s commitment to this vision. Driven by their fundamental commitment to human dignity, this year’s recipients demonstrate in practice that colleges and universities can contribute to justice and equity. We are proud to celebrate them.”

Andrew Seligsohn, Campus Compact President

What she learned grounds what she does now with her community-based participatory research work: to never enter a community to impose her beliefs on someone else or to try to “save” a community, to remember that many voices help contribute to your goal, and community engagement means that every stakeholder has a voice and feels empowered to make a difference, she said.

IUPUI Office of Community Engagement