john a. powell

-john a. powell

john a. powell is the Director of 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 a Professor of Law and Professor of African American Studies and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley and holds the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion. 

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 the American 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 and read his blogs on the Huffington Post.


Contact Alyson Reimer for speaking engagement requests and contact Rachelle Galloway-Popotas for media requests. 



john a. powell on the heat July 15, 2016: john a. powell spoke on a panel in response to the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile on the Heat with fellow panelists Mary C. Curtis and Richard Fowler. Watch the first and second videos here.



April 30, 2015: Panel: "Making Equity Work: Designing and Implementing Policies to Close the Racial Wealth Gap." For policy to be effective in achieving desired goals, close attention must be paid to decisions made during the design and implementation stages. But how do we ensure that public policies are designed and implemented in a way to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to achieve economic security? This panel will explorepolicy design and implementation strategies that can help to meet the economic needs of communities of color. Watch the video

john powell at Wisdom 2.0 conference in 2015March 2015: Expanding the Conversation: john a. powell, Nancy Lee, Laura Powers, Soren Gordhamer at the 2015 Wisdom 2.0 Conference. Watch the video

March 10: 2015: john a. powell spoke with Krista Tippett, and shared his wisdom on how we might open up our anguished race conversation into the spiritual work of self and belonging. Watch the video.

November 6, 2014: “Race is a little bit like gravity,” he told more than 100 audience members at Berkeley’s St. John’s Presbyterian Church, who were gathered that evening to hear powell talk as part of a lecture series hosted by Bay Area radio station KPFA. “We’re all affected by it, but we don’t really understand it,” he said. “Race is incredibly complicated and even the experts struggle with it.” powell then lead the audience through a complicated history of the construction of race in America, synthesizing history, psychology, racial theory, and US politics to offer a difficult portrait of American society. Read the article.

john powell at Bioneers, Oct 2014October 12, 2014: Haas Institute Director john powell spoke to a crowd of over 1,500 people at the annual Bioneers conference in San Rafael, CA on October 19, 2014, where he was an invited plenary speaker. john's talk, entitled "Beloved Community: Interbeing, Race, Class, and Person 'Hood" explored our fear of the “Other” which can be magnified by unstable contracting economies, radically shifting demographics, and new social norms—and asked the question: Can humanity overcome these divisions and come together to protect our common home?  Watch the video