Erica Czaja, Ph.D. is the director of the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy’s Community Research Institute (CRI). Trained as a social scientist, Dr. Czaja joined the Johnson Center in 2017 after spending more than a decade engaged in social policy research.
Dr. Czaja earned her Ph.D. in Politics and Social Policy from Princeton University. Her research has been supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice, and the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at Princeton University. She has authored book chapters, journal articles, and presentations on race, emotion, and public opinion in American politics. Her doctoral dissertation, Revolutionary Emotion: Empathy and Equality in the United States, examines the effects of empathy across difference on Americans’ public policy preferences, and she is currently revising the manuscript for publication as a book. Dr. Czaja is the recipient of the American Political Science Association’s Distinguished Junior Scholars Award in political psychology, and she has taught courses at Hope College and Princeton University on race politics, political psychology, gender politics, and campaigns and elections.
Dr. Czaja currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance and on the Institutional Review Board at Calvin College. Prior to joining the Johnson Center, Dr. Czaja served as the Executive Director of Camp Blodgett. She has also worked in policy research at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, CA, as well as Applied Safety and Ergonomics in Ann Arbor, MI. She earned her M.A. in Politics from Princeton University, her M.A. in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago, and her B.A. with high distinction in Psychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is a graduate of the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Grand Rapids program, as well as of the Leadership Connect program of the Chamber of Grand Haven, Spring Lake, and Ferrysburg.