Congratulations to Prof. john a. powell and the University of Berkeley!

posted on: December 15, 2011

The November/December issue of the Poverty & Race newsletter produced by the Poverty & Race Research and Action Council (PPRAC) includes an adaptation of a great piece by NCRP research advisory committee member Prof. john a. powell and Stephen Mendendian on corporate power and the Occupy Wall Street movement. Also included in the newsletter is an announcement that Prof. powell will relocate in January to the Bay Area where he will be Director of the University of California Berkeley’s new Haas Center for Diversity and Inclusion. Prof. powell will also take over the endowed Robert D. Haas Chair in Equity and Inclusion. As noted on the Evelyn and Walter Haas, jr. Fund’s page announcing the establishment of this chaired position and the U.C. Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity:

In February 2010, the Haas, Jr. Fund announced a major $16 million grant to launch the U.C. Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity. The initiative is a sweeping effort to expand research and teaching on diversity issues, fund new scholarships for students from low-income families, and make equity and inclusion a priority in every corner of the Cal campus. Cal’s total investment in the initiative will grow to $31 million because of challenge grants included in the Fund’s gift, plus matching support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Also, through the generosity of the Levi Strauss Foundation, the university has established the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion. It honors Robert D. Haas, a trustee of the Haas, Jr. Fund and a U.C. Berkeley alumnus, who recently stepped down as chief executive officer and chairman of San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co., where he built on the company’s tradition of progressive workplace practices.

Prof powell’s accomplishments and contributions to advancing authentic diversity and civil and human rights are far too numerous for me to do justice to in a blog post. One need only look at his curriculum vitae to see how extensive his work has been, how diverse the groups he works with are (including foundations), and his impressive work to advance equity and inclusion in our democracy is. For example, in 2003, he presented “Structural Racism and Civil Rights” at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation; in 2004 he worked with Ford Foundation staff during their staff retreat on issues of regional equity; in 2009, he addressed the San Francisco Foundation and presented “The Continuing Significance of Race: Insights for the Philanthropic Community.” His career is marked by numerous articles for law and scholarly journals, keynote speeches at high profile events, service on numerous boards and more. His commitment to equity, opportunity, inclusion and social justice are an inspiration for all who seek to advance democracy.

I wish Prof. powell the very best in his new endeavors and also extend my best wishes to the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University where Prof. powell has served as executive director while occupying the Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties at the Moritz College of Law.

Congratulations Prof. powell! The University of California at Berkeley is fortunate to have you joining their important work and I am grateful to call you my mentor.

Niki Jagpal is research and policy director at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP).