Amy E. Lerman

Executive Director & Principal Investigator

Amy E. Lerman, Director of the Possibility Lab, is the Michelle Schwartz Chair and Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research is focused on issues of equity, public opinion, and political behavior, especially as they relate to public safety and social inequality in America. Professor Lerman’s scholarship can be found in a wide variety of academic journals and has been featured in numerous media outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, CNN, and NPR. She consults widely on issues related to civic engagement and trust in government, prison reform, access to higher education, and law enforcement mental health.

In addition to her research, Lerman previously served as a speechwriter and communications consultant for national nonprofits and members of the United States Congress, a community organizer in Latin America and Southeast Asia, and an adjunct faculty member of the Prison University Project at San Quentin State Prison. In 2023, Lerman was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

When she isn’t working, Lerman can be found watching bad sports movies, reading books about time travel, or drinking expensive bourbon, and she’s been known to persist in marathon Monopoly games until everyone else gets bored, gives up, and goes to sleep. She also does a lot of work when she’s technically not “working,” because she is a big nerd and genuinely loves her job. But she likes to think of herself more as the Indiana Jones, anthropology-as-contact-sport kind of intellectual, rather than the Frasier Crane, you-secretly-want-to-beat-me-up variety. Like CJ Cregg meets JJ Abrams, but with better data.