The USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture starts its 20th year with a new leader. Brie Loskota was appointed CRCC’s executive director by Dani Byrd, interim dean of the USC Dornsife College of Arts & Sciences, on January 1, 2016.
Donald Miller, who promised his wife, Lorna, that he would retire from the executive director position before his 70th birthday, will remain involved in CRCC’s research agenda as a scholar of religion.
CRCC grew out of a research project that Miller undertook with fellow religion professor John Orr on the role of religious organizations responding to Los Angeles’ civil unrest in 1992. After that project, Miller and Orr would go on to co-found the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture in 1996 as a place that brought scholars together with policy-makers, religious community leaders and foundations interested in creating change in their communities. From the beginning, they set out to create a cross-disciplinary and entrepreneurial environment that allowed for a unique mix of research, evaluation and capacity-building work.
Miller first hired Loskota to run a conference in 2002 and saw her leadership potential. She joined the staff of CRCC in 2004 and eventually became the center’s managing director.
“Brie is truly exceptional in terms of her abilities,” Miller said. “When you combine her creativity, high level of intelligence, ability to interact with people and ability to make smart decisions, that’s the sort of leader CRCC needs.”
“I will continue to build on two decades of Don’s and the center’s forward-looking research and its impact in the community,” Loskota said. “As more and more people find a renewed interest in the way religion is shaping our world, the work of CRCC has never been more timely.”
Today, CRCC’s work falls into four activities, with research grounding the other three areas:
- Research: Explores religious developments locally and globally from an interdisciplinary perspective
- Training: Leads capacity-building programs for religious organizations, civic leaders and government agencies
- Evaluation: Analyzes and assesses initiatives and programs focused on faith communities
- Strategic Consulting: Illuminates trends in religion for foundations, government agencies and organizations to help them shape their strategy and maximize their impact
“Many know us because of our research, and others connect with us through training programs or evaluation and consulting work. Our task ahead is to bring these four areas together and create a unified vision of how the center operates,” Loskota said.
For the past 20 years, the University of Southern California has given Miller the freedom to build CRCC into a resource respected at the local, national and global levels. He’s confident that under Loskota’s leadership, the center will continue to flourish.
“If I have any gift—and I take it to be a gift—it is a measure of creativity, a love of adventure, and a desire to go places where I don’t know what will happen,” Miller said. “Maybe in a small part, CRCC is a reflection of that. I hope in the future, the new leadership will take it in new and different creative directions.”