Our team

Waganesh Zeleke

Waganesh Zeleke, PhD, LCPC, NCC

Associate Professor

Email: zelekew@vcu.edu

Dr. Waganesh Zeleke is an Associate Professor of Mental health Counseling in the Department of Rehabilitation Counseling at Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Zeleke is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in Pennsylvania, Montana, Maryland, and Virginia, and she is a National Certified Counselor (NCC).

Dr. Zeleke's research focuses on the interplay between culture, context, and mental health across healthcare educational systems. She also focuses on the development and validation of intervention to alleviate the unmet mental health needs to improve the wellness outcomes of caregivers and individuals with autism from underserved and underrepresented populations. Current intervention work includes validating Caregiver Skills Training (an intervention developed by WHO), family wellbeing, mindful parenting, emotion regulation, and positive psychology for immigrant families and individuals with autism. Her research focuses on clinical issues, including mental health disorders (e.g., PTSD, depression, anxiety, attachment issues) and neurodevelopmentally diverse (e.g., autism spectrum disorder). She has published more than 35 articles and book chapters and disseminated over 65 professional conference presentations in the areas of autism, parenting, trauma, and immigrant mental health. Dr.Zeleke has been a principal investigator or co-investigator of various research grants in immigrant mental health, trauma intervention, autism, and social skills training grants.

As a practitioner, Dr. Zeleke provides counseling services in several mental health settings. Her clinical experience includes assessment, counseling, supervision, and consultation services in trauma-informed treatment, mindful practice, parenting, autism intervention, and culturally responsive mental health and wellness care.

Dr. Zeleke is also an Associate Editor for Frontiers special needs education and guest associate editor of public mental health for Frontiers in psychiatry, Frontiers in public health, and frontiers in sociology. She is a recipient of more than 18 awards, including a Fulbright Scholar (2022-2023), the Cultural Diversity Research Awarded by the International Society for Autism Research, a creative teaching award, and an early career faculty award for excellence in scholarship from Duquesne University.