Aaron Van Oosterhout, Ph.D., is a research manager at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University, where he designs, manages, and carries out a broad variety of community-based research projects in areas ranging from out-of-school-time programs to criminal justice.
Alongside his work at CRI, Dr. Van Oosterhout serves as a research consultant at Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates, a nonprofit immigration legal office in Holland, Mich. He also serves on the board of Humanity for Prisoners, a Grand Haven, Mich.-based organization that assists inmates with a variety of needs, from helping prisoners obtain medical care to advocating on their behalf before prison and state officials.
Prior to joining the Johnson Center, Dr. Van Oosterhout taught history at a number of colleges and universities in the United States and Mexico. Most recently, he taught courses on race and rebellion in Latin America at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Dr. Van Oosterhout has published a book chapter and numerous articles and reviews in leading publications in this field. Outside academia, Dr. Van Oosterhout has worked on issues of criminal justice for more than a decade. From 2017–18, he worked as an independent consultant for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, conducting research on long-term incarceration in Michigan state correctional facilities.
Dr. Van Oosterhout sees his work at the Johnson Center as an opportunity to pursue social justice in West Michigan. By listening to a broad spectrum of community voices — from nonprofit directors to the people whose lives they touch — he hopes to help area organizations strengthen their services and improve their reach.