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john a. powell (who spells his name in lowercase in the belief that we should be "part of the universe, not over it, as capitals signify") is an internationally recognized expert in the areas of civil rights, civil liberties, structural racism, housing, poverty, and democracy.  He is the Director of the Othering & Belonging Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, a research institute that brings together scholars, community advocates, communicators, and policymakers to identify and eliminate the barriers to an inclusive, just, and sustainable society and to create transformative change toward a more equitable world.

john holds the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion and is a Professor of LawAfrican American Studies, and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. Previously, he was the Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University where he also held the Gregory H. Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties at the Moritz College of Law. He has won several awards including the 2021 Housing Hero Award, 2021 John W. Gardner Leadership Award, and the Convergence Bridge-Building Leadership Award for 2022.

He regularly appears in major media offering expert insights on a host of issues. Recent appearances include NPR and WYNC's On The Media in an episode about free speech and the constitution, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver in an episode about housing segregation, and CBS Evening News where john discussed the Institute's frameworks like Targeted Universalism. john gives frequent keynotes talks at a range of institutions such as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Washington State University, the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General, Nonprofit Quarterly, Project Democracy, the Gates Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, the InterFaith Leadership Council, the Permanente Medical Group, and many more.

john has written extensively on a number of issues including structural racism, racial justice, concentrated poverty, opportunity-based housing, voting rights, affirmative action in the United States, South Africa and Brazil, racial and ethnic identity, spirituality and social justice, and the needs of citizens in a democratic society. He is the author of several books, including his most recent work, Belonging without Othering: How We Save Ourselves and the World.

The founder and director of the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota, john has also served as Director of Legal Services in Miami, Florida and was the National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, where he was instrumental in developing educational adequacy theory.

john led the development of an “opportunity-based” model that connects affordable housing to education, health, health care, and employment and is well-known for his work developing the frameworks of “targeted universalism” and “othering and belonging” to effect equity-based interventions.

john has lived and worked in Africa, where he was a consultant to the governments of Mozambique and South Africa, and has also worked in India and Brazil. He is one of the co-founders of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council and serves on the board of several national and international organizations. He is also a member of the New Pluralists. john has taught at numerous law schools including Harvard and Columbia University.

powell and Menendian argue that we must build institutions, cultivate practices, and orient ourselves toward a shared future, not only to heal ourselves but perhaps to save our planet as well. Brimming with clear guidance, sparkling insights, and specific examples and practices, their book Belonging without Othering is a future-oriented exploration that ushers us in a more hopeful direction.

Follow john on Twitter @profjohnapowell and read his blogs on the Huffington Post.

Contact Mora Tulian for speaking engagement requests and contact Ivan Natividad for media requests.

How we do race will be consequential to the kind of society we have in the future. Our racing will be impacted by our history, our experience, as well as our imagined future. Our future will be impacted by the way the conscious and unconscious make meaning of our new social constructions. We must intertwine race with the other urgent issues we must confront including extreme inequality, mass incarceration, full participation in our political and cultural structures, and—perhaps most critically—with our most fundamental questions about who we are.

Media Mentions

May 21, 2024: The Riot Report (PBS Documentary)
May 17, 2024: KPFA Interview about the Othering & Belonging Conference (KPFA)
February 26, 2024: john a. powell interviewed on KALW about the racial wealth gap in the US (KALW)
June 18, 2023: How U.C. Berkeley tried to buoy enrollment of Black students without affirmative action (Reuters)
June 14, 2023: What to know about Juneteenth and its significance to American history (The Washington Post)
March 16, 2023: America Is in a Disgraced Class of Its Own (New York Times)
November 5, 2022: This Group Has $100 Million and a Big Goal: To Fix America (New York Times)
April 12, 2022: De la polarización se sale con puentes (Clarin)
March 19, 2022: ICYMI: 'Culture fit' can sometimes be used to mask bias in hiring (People Matters)
February 20, 2022: How free speech is under attack in the US (CBS News)
February 3, 2022: Targeted universalism: A solution for inequality? (CBS 8) 
January 19, 2022: Beyond Equity: Targeted Universalism and the Closing of the Racial Wealth Gap (Nonprofit Quarterly) 
September 24, 2021: Belonging in the Bay: john a. Powell (KALW) 
July 25, 2021: Housing Discrimination: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) (Last Week Tonight) 
June 26, 2021: Bay Area reflects on Derek Chauvin’s sentencing (The Mercury News) 
April 22, 2021: Police reform should be about public safety for all, john a. powell tells CBS (CBS News) 
April 5, 2021: Takeaways From The Derek Chauvin Trial & Justice For George Floyd (KALW Public Media)
April 1, 2021: The sympathy and authority of the witnesses in the Chauvin trial (Vox) 
March 12, 2021: Catholics who care about US Black history must read 'Four Hundred Souls' (National Catholic Reporter)  
March 12, 2021: A primarily white entertainment industry leaves $10 billion on the table every year (Fortune)  
January 14, 2021: Uprooting Authoritarianism (Columbia Journal of Race and Law) 
February 12, 2021: A discussion on reparations: California and beyond (Berkeley News) 
January 25, 2021: To end white supremacy, attack racist policy, not people (Berkeley News) 
January 25, 2021: john a. powell On Finding Common Ground Post Trump (KALW) 
January 19, 2021: For UC Berkeley, Inauguration Day means celebration at an otherwise dark time (Berkeley News) 
January 19, 2021 Kamala Harris’ inauguration offers counterpoint to insurrection (San Francisco Chronicle) 
January 18, 2021 Voting rights groups see gerrymandering as potent threat (The Hill) 
January 15, 2021 Racism Long a Plague Within Capitol Police Force (KQED) 
January 14, 2021: Uprooting Authoritarianism (Columbia Journal of Race and Law) 
October 16, 2020 Black people can’t keep dying for the sake of whiteness (DailyCal) 
September 4, 2020 We’re Closer Than We Realize (We are not divided) 
September 29, 2020 President Trump Has Attacked Critical Race Theory. Here's What to Know About the Intellectual Movement (Time.com) 
August 19, 2020 On Bridging (Othering & Belonging Institute) 
August 5, 2020 (Ill)Logic: Rethinking the Covid-19 Story (Video Series) (Othering & Belonging Institute) 
July 23, 2020 Voting to repeal Proposition 13 will shrink racial equity gaps on property tax rates (The Sacramento Bee) 
July 22, 2020 Eight Keys to Bridging Our Differences (Greater Good Magazine) 
July 16, 2020 Old, new Martinez clash amid debate over defacing of BLM mural (San Francisco Chronicle) 
May 19, 2020 Cultivating Change Amidst Collapse (Stanford Social Innovation Review) 
May 1, 2020 The clash over shelter-in-place rooted in slavery (San Francisco Chronicle) 
April 22, 2020 john powell on Liberty and Equality in a Pandemic (Institute for New Economic Thinking) 
April 16, 2020 Opinion: Coronavirus is not the ‘great equalizer’ many say it is (East Bay Times) 
March 18, 2020 As we spatially separate we must also stay connected (Othering & Belonging Institute) 
February 12, 2020 Coronavirus: Fear of Asians rooted in long American history of prejudicial policies (Berkeley News) 
January 17, 2020 How, as a Black man on the sidelines, I found grace at an Aryan Nations rally (Seattle Times) 
January 14, 2020 Bridging or Breaking? The Stories We Tell Will Create the Future We Inhabit (Nonprofit Quarterly) 
November 11, 2019 Only Bridging Can Heal a World of Breaking (Yes Magazine) 
November 5, 2019 Promoting Equity and Inclusion in Metro Milwaukee (Shepherd Express) 
September 30, 2019 A New Push for Campus Equity (Haas Jr.) 
July 22, 2019 The Discourse on Race in American Life Today (KPFA.org) 
May 15, 2019 JOHN A. POWELL on Institutions of Othering and Radical Belonging /119 (For the Wild) 
December 28, 2018 Oscar Grant’s legacy: A viral video and a movement that continues today (San Francisco Chronicle) 
November 16, 2018 Social justice and teamwork are the future of globalization (World Economic Forum)
November 7, 2018 Dialogue is crucial after an election season marked by hate (San Francisco Chronicle) 
September 25, 2018 Three ways to rethink the concept of citizenship (Open Canada) 
Oct. 6, 2017: Black America’s dreams of homeownership still deferred (The Michigan Chronicle)
Aug. 18, 2017: Can President Trump Unify the Country Despite a Reluctance to Denounce Hate Groups? (Washington Post)
Aug. 17, 2017: An Inclusive Society: White Men Don’t Make Decisions Alone (KPFA)
Aug. 25, 2017: White Supremacist Rally in San Francisco Canceled at Last Minute by Smorgasbord of Counter-Protests and Anti-Hate Rallies (Alternet)
Aug. 25, 2017: These are the historical myths about America that feed white supremacy (Raw Story)
July 25, 2017: Poverty is not just a lack of money (Mobility Partnership)
July 7, 2017: ‘Moral Authority’: How Justice Thurgood Marshall Transformed Society (NBC News)
June 14,2017: Challenging Inequalities: developing a global response (International Inequalities Institute at the London School of Economics)
May 1, 2017: Convening to build belonging in the age of Trump (KALW)
Dec. 29, 2016: Gentrification and Food Deserts Got You Down? There’s an App for That (The Root)
Dec. 2, 2016: Professor john powell Talks About The Language Of 'Othering' During The 2016 Election - Part 1 (CBS SF Bay Area)
Nov. 20, 2016: john a. powell featured in photo exhibit by Harvard Law School students (Harvard Law Today) 
Nov. 7, 2016: john powell on Othering and Belonging [From Wisdom 2.0] (N.A.H.)
Oct. 24, 2016: What’s not being said about implicit bias and how it shapes our reality (The Grio)
Oct. 24, 2016: Minnesota’s other racial disparity: voting (Minn Post)
Oct. 14, 2016: Lessons in dismantling white supremacy (Baptist News Global)
Oct. 11, 2016: Second Debate in St. Louis, But Not a Word From the Candidates on Ferguson or Mike Brown (The Real News)
Sept. 13, 2016: Positive economic report may not translate into ballot box impact (San Francisco Chronicle)
July 15, 2016: john a. powell in response to the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile (The Heat) 
July 13, 2016: john a. powell on Race in an Inclusive Society (MPR News)
May 19, 2016: New White Identity Deemed Vital in Changing Society (Mad River Union) 
May 10, 2016: County takes aim at racism (Mad River Union)
March 4, 2016: March Fourth/Forth! (LinkedIn Pulse)
Feb. 4, 2016: Steve Phillips: Liberals Rely Too Much on White Swing Voters (Colorlines)