Rev. Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Ed.D. arrived in 2014 to begin his tenure as the Executive Director of Community Renewal Society (CRS), a historic faith-based civil rights organization in Chicago working for systemic racial and economic justice through the unique programmatic combination of church-based community organizing, policy advocacy, and investigative journalism. CRS partners with over 85 congregations that are deeply rooted in the United Church of Christ and broader Christian community, and fully embraces interfaith and other community partners that share its goals. Since he arrived, DeYoung has transformed the organization’s board and staff (which was majority white) to one now more consistent with the organization’s racial justice mission (currently at nearly 70% persons of color in these positions of leadership).
In partnership with his staff, DeYoung’s public work includes convening community and religious leaders to meet with the mayor, county commissioners, state legislators, judges, the state’s attorney, and other elected officials to create systemic change. He also represents CRS as a moral voice for social justice on the key issues addressed by the organization and its coalition partners: police accountability, mass incarceration, violence reduction through restorative justice, equitable and adequate public education funding, the removal of barriers to employment for people with criminal records, and affordable housing and full-time jobs for low income city residents. At public events in 2015 and 2016 on the Martin Luther King holiday, CRS convened 1,500 people to hold elected officials accountable on these issues (including forums for mayoral candidates in 2015 and state’s attorney candidates in 2016).
Prior to coming to CRS, Curtiss DeYoung served in academic and community work for over thirty years, with a central concern for social justice, peace, and reconciliation. DeYoung was professor of Reconciliation Studies and co-chair of the Department of Anthropology, Sociology, and Reconciliation Studies at Bethel University in St. Paul, MN. DeYoung also worked for many years in urban multicultural nonprofit and church settings in Minneapolis, MN. An ordained minister in the Church of God (headquartered in Anderson, IN), he has served on staff at congregations in Minneapolis, New York City, and Washington, DC. He earned degrees from the University of St. Thomas (MN), Howard University (Washington, DC), and Anderson University (IN). He is an author and editor of ten books on reconciliation, interfaith social justice activism, multiracial congregations, racism, and cultural diversity.
DeYoung’s book on social justice activists and their spirituality, Living Faith: How Faith Inspires Social Justice, has been translated into Portuguese and French. The book features Aung San Suu Kyi, Malcolm X, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and also includes Oscar Romero, Dorothy Day, Fannie Lou Hamer, Nelson Mandela, Thich Nhat Hanh, Winona LaDuke, Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Roberta Menchu, Elie Wiesel, and others. His most recent book, Radical Reconciliation: Beyond Political Pietism and Christian Quietism, was co-authored with South African antiapartheid activist and theologian Allan Boesak. Archbishop Desmond Tutu writes the foreword. DeYoung is a national expert on issues of racial justice and reconciliation. He consults and speaks internationally, with extensive relationships among activists and peacemakers in South Africa and the Holy Land.
Curtiss DeYoung has been married to Karen since 1984 and has three adult children living in Minneapolis, New York City, and Los Angeles.