john a. powell is an internationally recognized expert in the areas of civil rights and civil liberties and a wide range of issues including race, structural racism, ethnicity, housing, poverty, and democracy.
john is the Director of the Othering & Belonging Institute, a UC Berkeley research institute that brings together scholars, organizers, 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 nation.
john holds the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion and is a Professor of Law, African American Studies, and Ethnic Studies. He was recently the Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University and held the Gregory H. Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties at the Moritz College of Law.
john has written extensively on a number of issues including structural racism, racial justice, concentrated poverty and urban sprawl, 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, Racing to Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society.
john also founded and directed the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota. He 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 has worked and lived in Africa, where he was a consultant to the governments of Mozambique and South Africa. He has also lived and worked in India and done work in South America and Europe. He is one of the co-founders of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council and serves on the board of several national organizations. john has taught at numerous law schools including Harvard and Columbia University.