It is always hard to lose great colleagues, but I could not help but smile as eight Urban Institute leaders were named to government positions, bringing to public service insights honed at Urban and a commitment to evidence-based decisionmaking. I am already seeing their imprint on the administration’s policy agenda.
Most recently, President Biden named Urban’s chief methodologist Robert Santos to serve as director of the US Census Bureau and senior fellow Solomon Greene to be assistant secretary of policy development and research at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. They await Senate confirmation.
In addition, Urban’s senior vice president Kim Leary was named to a four-month temporary role as the Office of Management and Budget’s first senior equity fellow, helping the agency implement the president’s executive order on advancing equity.
My smile has brightened further, as we have begun to recruit new talent to Urban—talent fit meet the complex challenges of the current moment.
This week, we launched Urban’s Equity Scholars program, an initiative to expand the field of researchers building evidence on what it takes to advance racial justice and strengthen equity across society. Over two years, a cohort of emerging and established researchers will have an opportunity to work with Urban data scientists and researchers to analyze how structural racism affects families and communities and to craft solutions, grounded in facts, for how we, as a nation, can truly achieve equity. We will be considering applications until June 1, 2021, for scholars to join us in January 2022. Please spread the word.
We recently announced that three well-regarded researchers will join Urban’s Justice Policy Center in leadership roles:
- Preeti Chauhan will be our new vice president for justice policy; she is currently an associate professor of psychology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and cofounder and director of the Data Collaborative for Justice.
- David Pitts, currently a senior research associate at the Vera Institute of Justice, will join us as senior fellow and principal investigator for Urban’s Prison Research and Innovation Initiative. Pitts’s work focuses on understanding and mitigating the harms of incarceration on those who live and work in America’s prisons.
- Finally, John M. Easton, associate professor in the department of sociology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, author of Big House on the Prairie: Rise of the Rural Ghetto and Prison Proliferation, and founder and director of the University of Wisconsin–Madison Justice Lab, will join Urban as a senior fellow and senior equity scholar in September.
In addition to these justice policy experts, Urban has recruited a raft of new nonresident fellows with a range of expertise, from housing finance to philanthropy to statistical methods. And this is just the beginning. Whether we are recruiting scholars or communicators, policy experts or project managers, we seek those who believe in the power of evidence to advance equity and strengthen decisions that affect people’s well-being and that of their communities, too.
Please encourage great leaders who are committed to the facts to check out our job postings from time to time.
With our tremendous team and new additions, I anticipate my Urban colleagues will be producing more timely and compelling research related to justice, equity, systemic barriers to opportunity, and the postpandemic recovery than ever before. I hope you will continue to turn to us for evidence and data that can help elevate the national discourse on these and other issues—and inform your own work.