Key Initiatives

Center for Behavioral Design and Social Justice

Designing human-centered systems from the ground up.

A man and a woman on a building site

The Center for Behavioral Design and Social Justice builds systems that prioritize human needs, especially in communities that have historically been marginalized. Social Justice demands equitable systems, but systemic inequities have only grown in recent decades, especially along racial lines. As the COVID pandemic has exposed so clearly, no segment of society—private, nonprofit, or public sector—has adequately provided for the basic needs of so many people. This did not happen by accident, and will not be reversed without concerted effort. New systems will need to be designed and then fought for. By collaborating with historically marginalized communities to design and advocate for behaviorally-informed programs and policies, we can create human-centered systems to achieve the outcomes that matter most to the people affected. 

To address this need, we are launching the Center for Behavioral Design and Social Justice—a cross-disciplinary organization that will work toward equitable outcomes through program and policy design by centering community voices and leveraging cutting edge research in behavioral science.

Our approach:

The Center is beginning its systems change work by organizing a Network of Intersectional Professionals to define and shape the Center’s work. 

What is the Network?

The Network of Intersectional Professionals is a community of people with personal and professional experience of human-serving systems. By attending to our collective well-being and influence, we are giving ourselves the permission and power to envision systems that actually work for the people they’re meant to serve.

Who are Intersectional Professionals?

Intersectional Professionals are people with a dual expertise—the first-hand expertise of navigating systems as clients, and the professional acumen to understand how these systems work. When you combine that expertise with our intrinsic motivation to improve the systems we work in, we believe that we are uniquely positioned to drive change. Examples of Intersectional Professionals include former foster youth working in child welfare, formerly incarcerated people working in re-entry, and former public housing residents working for a local housing authority.

Why a Network?

Typical approaches to leverage lived experience in systems change include temporary focus groups, ongoing advisory boards, or outside advocacy and pressure campaigns. While these are undoubtedly important efforts, they don’t recognize the unique contributions of Intersectional Professionals as practice and policy experts already embedded in systems. Despite our unique value, we’ve gone un-named and un-organized, and the Network hopes to change that. By lifting up a shared identity, we can increase a sense of belonging, reduce tokenization, and collectively build a values-based community. By nurturing that community, we can organize for the changes we know the social sector needs.

What does the Network do?

Through regular virtual and in-person meetings, the Network focuses on three outcomes: Increasing the Well-Being of our members, Expanding the Influence of our members, and creating Actionable Visions for the future.

Who should join? We are recruiting people with both personal and professional experience in the social sector, including experience with systems addressing poverty, housing, food security, incarceration, mental and physical health, marginalization, discrimination, and inequality. As the “Intersectional” title in our name suggests, we seek a membership base that represents diverse experiences, identities, ages, and professions. To join the Network, please complete this New Member Form and someone from our team will be in touch.

Join Us

To learn more and get involved, contact Anthony Barrows, Managing Partner and Founder of the Center for Behavioral Design and Social Justice.

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