Erica Kohl-Arenas - Assistant Professor of Nonprofit Management

Public Engagement

  • Faculty

    Erica Kohl-Arenas

    Assistant Professor of Nonprofit Management

    Office Location:

    Fanton Hall/Welcome Center


    Erica Kohl-Arenas is an Assistant Professor at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy and is the first recipient of The New School award in Outstanding Achievements in Diversity and Social Justice Teaching. She earned her PhD from the Social and Cultural Studies in Education program at the University of California, Berkeley (2010), an MS in Community Development from the University of California, Davis (1999), and a BA in Sociology from Reed College (1991).

    Kohl-Arenas' book, The Self-Help Myth: How Philanthropy Fails to Alleviate Poverty (University of California Press, 2015), analyzes the history of philanthropic investments in addressing farmworker and immigrant poverty across California’s Central Valley. Her primary research areas include studies of philanthropy and the nonprofit sector, participatory community development, and the intersection of American and global poverty studies. Public scholarship and community collaborations include a social history memoir on the progressive school reform movement with her father Herb Kohl and student engagement projects with New York City nonprofit organizations including the Center for Court Innovation and Groundswell Murals.

    Prior to her graduate studies, Kohl-Arenas worked as a popular educator and community development practitioner in a variety of settings including urban public schools, immigrant nonprofit organizations, and coal mining and ‘crofting’ towns in Appalachia, Scotland, and Wales. Kohl-Arenas’ work in communities and classrooms is inspired by an early experience working with the Highlander Research and Education Center. She has also been a fellow with the Coro Foundation, The Thomas J. Watson Foundation, and the Sustainable Communities Leadership Program.

    Recent Publications:

    The Self-Help Myth: How Philanthropy Fails to Alleviate Poverty by Erica Kohl-Arenas, University of California Press, November 2015. Pre-order:

    Kohl-Arenas, Erica, “Funding the Other California: An Anatomy of Consensus and Consent,” in Territories of Poverty, editors Ananya Roy and Emma Shaw Crane. (University of Georgia Press, Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation Series, 2015)

    Kohl-Arenas, Erica and Harry Boyte and Carleton Turner (2015). Working the Frontlines of Imagination and Civic Education: A Conversation with Carlton Turner and Harry Boyte, Facilitated by Erica Kohl-Arenas. Public: A Journal of Imagining America, Volume 3, Issue 1, Spring 2015.

    Kohl-Arenas, Erica, Myrna Martinez Nateras & Johanna Taylor (2014). Cultural Organizing as Critical Praxis: Tamejavi Builds Immigrant Voice, Belonging, and Power. Journal of Poverty, 18:1, 5-24.

    Kohl-Arenas, Erica (2013). Will the Revolution Be Funded? Resource Mobilization and the California Farm Worker Movement. Social Movement Studies: Journal of Social, Cultural, and Political Protest. Volume 13, Issue 4, 482-498.

    Kohl-Arenas, Erica (2011). Governing Poverty Amidst Plenty: Participatory Development and Private Philanthropy, Geography Compass, 5 (11): 811–824.

    Research Interests:

    philanthropy, social movements, poverty, critical pedagogy

    Current Courses:

    Critical Issues Philanthropy

    Independent Study (Open Campus)