Cristian Cardenas (he/him) is an assistant policy researcher at RAND and a Ph.D. student in the Community-Partnered Policy and Action stream at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He has an M.B.S. in clinical and regulatory affairs from Keck Graduate Institute and a B.S. in biotechnology with a minor in philosophy from the University of California, Davis.
Prior to joining Pardee RAND, he was a business development manager at the Larta Institute, where he expanded access to non-dilutive funding for federal small business innovation research grant recipients. His primary role involved launching a health and bioscience incubator targeting BIPOC and women entrepreneurs. He chairs the board of the Luminarias Institute, a nonprofit community mental health program providing no-cost clinical therapy to underserved populations in Los Angeles County. His research interests include economic development, sustainable innovation, community mental health, and workforce advocacy.