Dr. Jodi Petersen is the director of the Community Research Institute at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Mich. She is responsible for leading efforts around program evaluation, applied research, community data collection, and data tool development.

Having joined the Community Research Institute in 2012, she comes to this role after serving as senior researcher and interim director. Prior to those roles, Dr. Petersen provided research consulting for juvenile courts on implementing risk assessment measures and taught at Alma College.

Dr. Petersen has taught courses in psychology, social work, nonprofit administration, and social action, and has written about systems change, research methodology, and practical applications of data and technology. Her work has focused on systems-level evaluations of school-based initiatives, juvenile justice risk assessment for systems change, and policy initiatives regarding service delivery in the human services field. She has presented internationally at conferences on psychology, social justice, and criminology.

Dr. Petersen earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in crime and justice from the University of Michigan, and both a master’s degree and doctorate in ecological community psychology from Michigan State University. She is an active member of several professional organizations, including the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership and the Society for Community Research and Action.

Selected publications include Validation of the Juvenile Sex Offender Assessment Protocol (JSOAP-II) for predicting sexual and non-sexual crimes (Petersen, Davidson, Onifade, & Campbell, 2013), Engaged research in a university setting: Results and reflections on three decades of a partnership to improve juvenile justice (Davidson, Petersen, Hankins, & Winslow, 2010), Multilevel recidivism prediction: Incorporating neighborhood socioeconomic ecology in juvenile justice risk assessment (Onifade, Petersen, Bynum, & Davidson, 2011), and A comparative analysis of recidivism with propensity score matching of informal and formal juvenile probationers (Onifade, Wilkins, Davidson, Campbell, & Petersen, 2011).

Dr. Petersen strives to continue to advance the work in Grand Rapids, surrounding communities, and the larger field to collect useful information and use data to inform decision-making. Her work is founded on the premise that all people desire to do good in the world and need the appropriate tools, resources, and guidance to enable them to do so. Dr. Petersen sees the Community Research Institute as a fountain of opportunity to develop, test, and disseminate best practices to improve service delivery and community conditions.


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