The Center for Racial Justice is a cross-disciplinary space that aims to foster deep relationships between research and advocacy to uncover the voices of the unjustly silenced, challenge us to live up to our democratic ideals, and offer sound policy prescriptions for a more equitable and just society. Housed at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, the center directly invests in initiatives designed to advance racial equity and cultivate a diverse community of changemakers. Together, we develop new tools and strategies in the pursuit of racial justice, resulting in better, evidence-based policy solutions and the cultivation of the next generation of high-impact leaders and thinkers.
support bold, courageous, and ambitious projects targeting racial inequity and intersectional injustice, led by some of the most important changemakers of our time.
inform research agendas, policy debate, and potential policy solutions.
cultivate the next generation of racial justice changemakers and public policy leaders.
create an innovation space at the intersections of activism, artistry, research, and public policy, with a focus on advancing racial equity.
At the Center for Racial Justice, we understand race and racism as historical, social, and political processes that impact our everyday lives. Our vision is to create a vibrant and diverse community of leaders, scholars, and students engaged in learning, research, and policy engagement, with a focus on racial equity. The center will provide a service to the state and nation by bringing together disparate communities to identify and implement innovative evidence-based policy solutions.
Celeste Watkins-Hayes, PhD, is the Jean E. Fairfax Collegiate Professor of Public Policy, University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor, and professor of sociology at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and Department of Sociology. She is an author and educator widely credited for her research at the intersection of inequality, public policy, and institutions, with a special focus on urban poverty and race, class, and gender studies.
Dominique Adams-Santos is the associate director of the Center for Racial Justice at the Ford School and an Anti-Racism Collaborative Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Center for Institutional Diversity. Additionally, she serves as Special Assistant to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. Dr. Adams-Santos is a qualitative researcher who centers questions of sexuality, intimacy, and belonging in the digital era. Specifically, she seeks to understand how individuals navigate the racial, gender, and sexual politics of digital and urban landscapes in their search for intimacy and community. She has published articles on digital sexuality and intimacy in Sexualities and Sociology Compass. As a queer woman of color scholar, Dr. Adams-Santos is especially invested in mapping the contours of urban and digital placemaking among racialized and gendered sexual minorities, the subject of her dissertation project. She earned her PhD in sociology with a certificate in gender and sexuality studies from Northwestern University.
Sharanya Pai's work is at the intersection of design, policy, and activism. Her experiences range from working with community activists, leaders, and students at the Brightmoor Makerspace in Detroit, to designing and managing local campaigns for candidates running for the Michigan State Legislature, to working on the Detroit Land Bank Authority’s Rehabbed and Ready program. She specializes in framing and prioritizing marginalized identities through visual design, project management, and facilitation. Her areas of expertise and interest are economic development, complex systems and social structures, community engagement, and designing physical and digital experiences. Her ability to synthesize, process, and visualize data while providing concise contextual analysis is the result of her academic and professional achievements.
The Center for Racial Justice builds on our long standing strength in social policy. By helping to connect faculty and students with racial justice changemakers, the center will advance learning, research, and policy engagement on racial justice issues.”
Associate Director, Center for Racial Justice; Special Assistant to the Associate Dean, Ford School; Associate Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, Ford School; Anti-Racism Collaborative Postdoctoral Fellow, National Center for Institutional Diversity