Rev. Dr. Nikia Smith Robert earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Systems and Finance from Fairfield University (Connecticut). She also earned a Master of Divinity degree in Systematic Theology and Social Ethics from Union Theological Seminary (New York). Dr. Robert completed a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Religion at Claremont School of Theology (California). Her transdisciplinary research engages the fields of religion, ethics and public policy to examine the intersection of race, gender and class. Her primary scholarly contribution is to construct liberative interventions that emphasize mass criminalization, Black women and prison abolition through a theological and ethical lens.
Dr. Robert is a recipient of the prestigious Forum for Theological Education Dissertation Fellowship (FTE) award. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Society of Christian Ethics for four Annual Meetings and currently serves as a steering committee member for the Liberation Theologies group at the American Academy of Religion. Dr. Robert has published a peer-review article in the Harvard Graduate Journal titled, “Penitence, Plantation and the Penitentiary – A Liberation Theology for Lockdown America,” which has gained national and international readership and citation. In addition, Dr. Robert’s dissertation is titled, “Breaking the Law When the Law Breaks Us: A Womanist Theo-Ethical Approach to Public Policy and Criminal Justice Advocacy for the Black Church.”
Dr. Robert has presented papers at Harvard University, University of California Los Angeles, Political Theology Network Conference at Emory University, Herbert Marcuse Society Conference at University of Salisbury, Interdenominational Theological Center, Union Presbyterian Seminary, American Academy of Religion, and Society of Christian Ethics. In addition to her published and presented works, Dr. Robert has been featured by NPR, Sojourners Magazine, Post Colonial Networks, Decolonial Horizons, Marginalia, Syndicate Symposia, Pasadena Now, Pasadena Weekly, LA Magazine, ABC, NBC and CBS television networks. She has also participated in a national dialogue with the White House Department of Justice under the presidential administration of Barack Obama to advocate for criminal justice reform. Dr. Robert has also participated in the historical campaign of President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris as a speaker for national events. In addition, she has organized, mobilized, rallied and spoken at highly visible protests for Black Live Matter, the Movement for Black Lives, Clergy for Black Lives and the NAACP.
Dr. Robert is an ordained Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She is the Lead Principal and Founder of the Cultural Competency Consulting Group, which provides value-added solutions through strategy planning, trainings and speaking engagements to strengthen organizational commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion. Dr. Robert is also the Executive Director for Abolitionist Sanctuary, a non-profit organization committed to helping churches to amass political power to create a society beyond prisons. Prior to ordained ministry, Dr. Robert worked for more than ten years with the Big Four Public Accounting firms and the largest investment bank on Wall Street. She has also served on the Board of Directors for Casa de Esperanza, which supports women and children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS; and on the Board of Directors for Friends of CPE, which raises funds for educational endeavors to support a public elementary school in Harlem (New York City).
Dr. Robert is an active member and Chaplain of the illustrious Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. She is also a native New Yorker and currently resides in California with her loving husband and three children. Dr. Robert can be found on Twitter @reverendaughter.