Our team

Gigi Amateau

Gigi Amateau, MS, PhD

Assistant Professor

Email: amateaugg@vcu.edu


  • Social Connection and Trauma, Transitions, and Loss
  • Direct Care Workforce Well-being
  • Aging and Disability Resource Centers
  • Trauma-informed Care for Organizations Serving Elders


  • PhD in Health-Related Science, 2021, from Virginia Commonwealth University
  • MS in Gerontology, 2018, from Virginia Commonwealth University
  • BS in Urban and Regional Planning, 1988, from Virginia Commonwealth University

Research Interests 

To understand, raise awareness of, and transform working conditions of the direct care workforce. Transforming the direct care workforce environment via research requires listening to the stories and insights of direct care providers and connecting providers’ lived experiences with the evidence base by elevating narrative practices, understanding historical racial and health inequities, identifying best practices, and engaging local stakeholders in addressing issues related to compensation and organizational culture. Related research areas are trauma-informed approaches and social connection.


Gigi Amateau serves as Assistant Professor for the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Gerontology. She holds a Master of Science in Gerontology and a Ph.D. in Health Science. She is also a certified personal care aide in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is certified by Yoga Alliance as an RYT-200 Yoga Instructor. In her role with the Department, she focuses on developing trauma-informed approaches in nursing homes, evaluating a statewide training initiative for the direct care workforce, and teaching in the graduate program.

She speaks and trains at the national, state, and local levels on topics related to social connection, person-centered practices for direct care providers, and trauma-informed care for agencies serving elders. She serves on Virginia’s No Wrong Door Resource Advisory Council.

Gigi’s professional goal is to foster respect, appreciation, and fair compensation and treatment for direct care providers working in all settings. She is also a children’s book author interested in how diverse stories in children’s literature can promote appreciation and celebration of elderhood and intergenerational friendships.


  • Best Data Insight Award, Presented by Homeward for early identification of an increase in older adults experiencing homelessness in the Richmond region (2019)
  • Pat Asch Social Justice Fellowship, Presented by YWCA Richmond (2017)


  • Thelma Bland Watson Person-Centered Personal Care Aide School. 2021. Co-PI.
  • Trauma-informed Culture Change in Nursing Facilities. 2021. Funded by the Civil Monetary Penalty Fund: Co-PI.
  • Trauma-Informed Training for the LTSS Workforce. 2019. Funded by the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. Curriculum Developer.
  • Health Equity and the Arts: A Photo-narrative Celebration of the Direct Care Workforce. 2019. Funded by Richmond Memorial Health Foundation. Collaborating artist with Penelope Carrington and community partner, Family Lifeline.
  • Trauma and Resilience Among Certified Nursing Assistants. 2018. Funded by the Civil Monetary Penalty Fund. Research Coordinator.
  • Amateau, G., Gendron, T.L., Rhodes, A. (in press). Stress, strength, and respect: Viewing direct care staff experiences through a trauma-informed lens. Journal of Gerontology and Geriatrics Education.
  • Welleford, E. A., Amateau, G., White, J. T., Stanculescu, N. (2021). Bridging classroom and community: Innovations toward appreciation, compassion satisfaction and professional identity development. Journal of Appreciative Education.
  • Van Aartrijk, A., White, J., Amateau, G., Welleford, E.A., (12 July 2021). Community EngAGEment: University, nonprofit and municipal partnerships emerging from the pandemic. American City and County.
  • Watson, T. B., Welleford, E. A., Amateau, G., White, J. T., & Van Aartrijk, A. (2021). Walking greatly through this storm: Social connection among older people during COVID. A preliminary report to RMHF. Unpublished white paper.