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Meet Christena

Christena Cleveland is a social psychologist, public theologian, author, and professor based in Durham, North Carolina. She is Associate Professor of the Practice of Organizational Studies at Duke University's Divinity School.

As a child growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Christena was exposed to the richness of cultural difference. The kids on her neighborhood block represented 9 different nationalities, where she quickly discovered that, “Be there in 5 minutes,” means different things depending on who’s saying it. When she wasn’t heading off to an Oakland A’s game to catch the Bash Brothers in action, she was studying – ultimately attending Dartmouth College where she double-majored in psychological and brain sciences and sociology, and UC Santa Barbara, where she earned a Ph.D. in social psychology.

Named one of “5 online shepherds to follow” by JET magazine, Christena has devoted much of her vocation to teaching in higher educational institutions as well as broader society by regularly writing, speaking, and consulting with organizations. Christena teaches classes around the globe on race, reconciliation, and conflict, and leads a research team that is investigating self-compassion as a buffer for racial stress.

Christena is author of Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart. Her recently completed second book is on its way to the publisher, with the working title Power Trip: How Facing Inequality Sets You Free. She’s also working on her third book which examines the relationship between gender, race, and cultural perceptions of God.

A recent transplant to the South, Christena has fallen in love with the Carolina woods, and is thinking about becoming a Durham Bulls fan.


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