Kristen Brock-Petroshius grew up in a working-class Midwestern city. After receiving her BA in Sociology with a minor in Gender Studies from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, she began a career in social services and community organizing. She supported low-income families and incarcerated individuals through housing, transportation, and employment training at the YWCA. She helped found Operation Welcome Home, a grassroots organization dedicated to decriminalizing and addressing the root causes of homelessness. She served as a lead organizer and educator on racial justice issues with Groundwork, a community organization of white people working to achieve racial justice in Dane County, Wisconsin. From 2011-2016 she served as the Executive Director of GSAFE, a statewide Wisconsin non-profit working to create just schools for LGBTQ youth. She also served as staff for Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), a national network of groups and individuals working to undermine white supremacy and to work toward racial justice.
After over a decade working in social services and community organizing, Kristen realized a need to focus on building longer-term strategies for how to move the hearts and minds of white people to scale – or, as translated into academic language, how to change the dominant racial and political attitudes of predominantly white communities to advance racial equity. She received her Masters in Social Work (MSW) from the University of California, Los Angeles and is building on her extensive practice experience through engaged research. In addition to focusing her research on the Reform LA Jails organizing initiative, she is a Regional Field Director with White People 4 Black Lives – a local SURJ affiliate responsible for organizing predominantly white parts of LA County to support the initiative.