Cynthia Gonzalez is director of Pardee RAND Graduate School's Community-Partnered Policy and Action academic stream. Previously, she served as the Senior Project Manager for the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles leading the Watts Rising Collaborative, a multi-million dollar place-based infrastructure improvement effort with a community engagement focus. She also served as the assistant director, Division of Community Engagement, at Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU), and is an alumna of Pardee RAND's Faculty Leaders Program. She also continues to teach in the CDU MPH program and is a RWJF Culture of Health Leader. Gonzalez has a strong background in community-based participatory research, cultural anthropology and social ethnography to the understanding of community wellness.
Gonzalez focuses her scholarship in the study of urban communities and its impact on community health. Her approach of finding "local solutions to local problems" in urban neighborhoods is rooted in social justice, critical engagement, and multidisciplinary scholarship. Influenced by her Mexican-American roots and upbringing in Watts, Gonzalez is interested in developing place-based initiatives through community engagement and neighborhood assessments to improve the quality of life for low-income and racial/ethnic minority residents living in under-resourced neighborhoods. She has developed partnerships between community, government, and academia through efforts like the Watts Community Studio and Los Angeles Promise Zone Young Ethnographers Program.