Dr. Christian A. Friend is the Chief Impact Officer at Heartland Alliance in Chicago. In this role, he oversees the organizations research, policy, and technical assistance work. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s degree in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. He also holds a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He also holds a Certificate in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion from Cornell University.

Dr. Friend began his career as a public-school teacher. He then went on to develop youth programs in low-income housing communities. Upon completion of his doctoral program, Dr. Friend served as a director at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and a senior relationship manager at the local United Way. He then held several positions within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) district.

While at CMS, Dr. Friend managed the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded Achievement Zone Project and the district’s Center for Research and Evaluation. He then led the development and implementation of the strategic plan for Project L.I.F.T. and went on to serve as the Executive Director of the district’s Office of Accountability. Dr. Friend also served as the Senior Program Officer for Renaissance West Community Initiative and Director of Research, Evaluation & Assessment for Indianapolis Public Schools. He then served as Managing Director of a consulting firm serving non-profit organizations before joining Heartland Alliance. Dr. Friend has published multiple articles in peer-reviewed academic journals and regularly presents at academic and professional conferences. He has expertise in organizational strategy, organizational development, research & evaluation, public education, leadership development, social justice, and diversity, equity, & inclusion. 

Dr. Friend spends much of his free time serving his family and community.  He is a published poet, an alumnus of the Community Building Initiative’s Leadership Development Initiative and the Wildacres Leadership Initiative’s William C. Friday Fellowship for Human Relations. He serves on the Boards of Directors for Agape Love Christian Ministries and the Retreat at Selah Farms. Dr. Friend has also served as adjunct faculty at a number of universities. 

Dr. Friend is a 2022 grantee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Research in Transforming Health and Health Care Systems program, managed by AcademyHealth.

Authored by Christian Friend