john a. powell

john a. powell is the Director of the Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley (formerly known as the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society), which brings together researchers and scholars, community partners, strategic 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 is an internationally recognized expert in the areas of civil rights and civil liberties and a wide range of issues including race, structural racialization, ethnicity, housing, poverty, and democracy. john writes and speaks extensively on a number of issues related to racial justice, poverty, opportunity-based housing, voting rights, racial and ethnic identity, spirituality and social justice, and the needs of citizens in a democratic society.


john was formerly the Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University where he held the Gregory H. Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties at the Moritz College of Law. Prior to that, he founded and directed the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota. He was formerly the Director of Legal Services in Miami, Florida and was National Legal Director of theAmerican Civil Liberties Union where he was instrumental in developing educational adequacy theory.


john has lived and worked in Africa as a consultant to the governments of Mozambique and South Africa. He has also lived and worked in India and has done work in South America and Europe. john has taught at numerous law schools including Harvard and Columbia University. He is one of the co-founders of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council and serves on the board of the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE), the Tides Foundation, and several other national organizations. john is the author of several books, including his most recent work, Racing to Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society. Follow john on Twitter @profjohnapowell.