Dr. Christena Cleveland
Social Psychologist, Public Theologian, Author & Activist

Christena Cleveland, PhD, is a social psychologist, public theologian, author, and activist. She is the founder and director of the Center for Justice + Renewal and its sister organization, Sacred Folk, which creates resources to stimulate people’s spiritual imaginations and support their journeys toward liberation. A weaver of Black liberation and the Sacred Feminine, Dr. Cleveland integrates psychology, theology, storytelling, and art to stimulate our spiritual imaginations.

She recently completed her third full-length book, God is a Black Woman, which details her 400-mile walking pilgrimage across central France in search of ancient Black Madonna statues, and examines the relationship among race, gender, and cultural perceptions of the Divine.

Christena holds a PhD in social psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara as well as an honorary doctorate from the Virginia Theological Seminary. An award-winning researcher and author, Christena is a Ford Foundation Fellow who has held faculty positions at several institutions of higher education — most recently at Duke University’s Divinity School, where she led a research team investigating self-compassion as a buffer to racial stress.

Though Christena loves scholarly inquiry, she is also a student of embodied wisdom. She recently completed the Art & Social Change intensive body wisdom training for millennial leaders, and is currently deepening her mind-body-spirit integration in a year-long embodied leadership cohort for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.


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