Nancy Lucero

Nancy Marie Lucero

Research Associate Professor, Senior Research Associate, Butler Institute for Families; Director of Tribal Initiatives

  • Faculty

What I do

Today, healthy and culturally connected American Indian children represent a victory in Native peoples' long struggle to resist assimilation and cultural loss. Indian child welfare practice in urban and tribal communities ensures the well-being of children, families and tribes, and it is a powerful tool that supports cultural preservation and tribal sovereignty. I'm honored that, through social work research and practice, I've been able to join with so many others in collective efforts to strengthen and preserve Native cultures, communities and families.


tribal child welfare, qualitative research design and methods, clinical social work, culturally responsive practice, evidence-based practice/implementation science, indigenous and native peoples, mental and behavioral health, trauma

Professional Biography

Research Associate Professor Nancy M. Lucero (Choctaw) also serves as Principal Investigator and co-Director for the Capacity Building Center for Tribes, a Children's Bureau project administered by the Butler Institute for Families. She has also served as the Director of Evaluation for the Center for Tribes. Lucero has experience with designing, implementing, and evaluating organizational change models in tribal and urban Indian child welfare services. She also acts as a lead for a tribal workforce excellence project through the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI).

Lucero's most recent scholarship focuses on assessing trauma experiences of Native caregivers with children involved in ICWA cases and on articulating how Native child welfare workers incorporate cultural practices and cultural preservation efforts into child welfare services. She is also author of a chapter on Native peoples in child welfare in the recently published volume, Introduction to Child Welfare: Building a Culturally Responsive, Multisystemic, Evidence-Based Approach.


  • Ph.D., Social Work, University of Denver, 2009
  • MSW, Social Work, University of Denver, 2000
  • BS, Social Welfare, Metropolitan State College of Denver, 1995

Licensure / Accreditations

  • Medicaid behavioral health provider certification
  • Board Certified TeleMental Health Provider
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Professional Affiliations

  • Society for Social Work Research (SSWR)
  • Other

Media Sources

Key Projects

  • National Child Welfare Capacity Building Center for Tribes
  • Indian Child Welfare Support
  • Choctaw Family Violence Program Implementation Support & Evaluation Planning
  • Denver Indian Family Resource Center ACYF Project
  • An Intergenerational Examination of the Effects of Urbanization on American Indian Cultural Identity and Cultural Connections


Lucero, N. M., DeSantis, J., DeWolfe, J., Leicht, C., & Barbee, A. (2019). An Evaluator's Balancing Act: Juggling the Conflicting Roles of Developmental Evaluation and Independent Evaluation. 2019 National Child Welfare Evaluation Summit. Washington, DC: U.S. Children's Bureau.
Lucero, N. M., Fong, R., Detlaff, A., LaFrance, J., & Andrews, K. (2019). Reflections on Evidence-Building in Child Welfare: Examining Power and Culture in Dominant Paradigms for Building Evidence. 2019 National Child Welfare Evaluation Summit. Washington, DC: U.S. Children's Bureau.
Lucero, N. M., & Eisen, K. (2018). "It Hurt to Hear the Story": Preparing for Secondary Traumatic Stress Reactions in Researchers Immersed in Indigenous Settings. Qualitative Methods 2018. Banff, AB Canada: International Institute for Qualitative Methodology.
Lucero, N. M. (2018). Aligning ICWA practice with Native child well-being. Utah 2018 Indian Child Welfare Conference. Midway, UT: Utah Court Improvement Project.
Lucero, N. M. (2018). Exploring Qualitative Interviewing and Analysis Techniques to Yield Deep and Nuanced Findings: Lessons from the Expressions of Culture in Tribal Child Welfare Work Project. Center for Research on Children and Families Research Seminar Series. Montreal, QC Canada: McGill University School of Social Work.