Kyaien Conner named director of Pitt’s Center on Race and Social Problems

Kyaien Conner was a student in the School of Social Work when the Center for Race and Social Problems (CRSP) launched at Pitt in 2002. On July 1, 2023, she’ll return to CRSP as its new director. 

In this role, she will oversee the center as it continues to conduct social science research on race, ethnicity and the various ways they impact Americans.

As Conner finishes up her time as an associate professor of mental health law and policy at the University of South Florida (USF), she looks forward to advancing social justice and health and racial equity with like-minded groups of researchers and teams across the University.

“I see many opportunities and possibilities available at CRSP at a time right now when research on these issues is desperately needed,” Conner said.  “I’m excited to return to my alma mater and collaborate with scholars and researchers across campus to make the center a robust platform for doing important work that moves our field forward and each of those areas.”

Conner, whose work specializes in racial trauma and minority health disparities, has earned $2 million in funding for her research.

She is also a licensed social worker with more than a decade of experience as a community-based mental health practitioner in predominantly low-income African American communities. Conner was also vice president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness for the state of Florida from 2018 through 2021.

Conner earned her bachelor’s degrees in psychology and Africana studies, her master’s degrees in social work and public health and her doctorate in social work from Pitt. She completed her postdoctoral training at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.

Among other awards, Conner was a USF Outstanding Black Faculty Member of the Year in 2020 and won the school’s Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2016.