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Joseph Schilling
Senior Research Associate
Research to Action Lab
I love to uncover the backstory of how communities collaborate in developing innovative policies, who were the catalysts, and how did they come together and overcome problems to craft new approaches. As a policy translator, I weave the lessons learned from these stories into a narrative for policy change that other communities can follow, adapt, and leverage.

Joseph Schilling is a senior research associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center and Research to Action Lab at the Urban Institute. He is also a fellow with the Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program, led by the University of Minnesota with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. As a strategic adviser and national expert on reclaiming vacant properties, urban sustainability, and municipal and civic capacity building, Schilling works with public officials and community leaders in designing and developing new models for urban regeneration and neighborhood revitalization. An accomplished public policy facilitator, he has led dozens of research, policy, and community forums. His field work is a living laboratory for applied research, policy storytelling, and technical assistance by extracting and disseminating innovative models through case studies, translation briefs, and roundtables.

In 2010, Schilling founded the Vacant Properties Research Network, a dynamic hub for policy and research translation involved with regenerating legacy cities. More recently, Schilling helped Memphis, Tennessee, develop the nation’s first neighborhood blight-elimination charter. In 2015, he led a comprehensive literature synthesis on blight for the national nonprofit Keep America Beautiful and finished an evaluation of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities urban fellowship program for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Before joining Urban, Schilling was associate director and senior fellow for Virginia Tech’s Metropolitan Institute. He holds an LLM in environmental law from the George Washington University and a JD from Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, California.

Research Areas
Economic mobility and inequality
Health and health care
Nonprofits and philanthropy
Neighborhoods, cities, and metros
Land use
Climate change, disasters, and community resilience
Community and economic development
Parks and green space