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One-Line Bio

Associate Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning at the University of Virginia and President of Civic Change, Inc. and author of Smart Communities: How Citizens and Local Leaders Can Use Strategic Thinking to Build a Brighter Future


Over the past three decades I have worked to devise solutions to community problems with organizations like the Kettering Foundation, Paul Aicher Foundation, Kansas Health Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and The Pew Charitable Trusts. As president of the Pew Partnership for Civic Change I have spent the past 14 years implementing these solutions in communities across America. My experience in community development led me to author a book, Smart Communities: How Citizens and Local Leaders can use Strategic Thinking to Build a Brighter Future, describing seven strategies that "smart" communities have used to become thriving communities.

These seven strategies are apparent in my work as a consultant and speaker. In those capacities I promote these seven strategies:

Investing Right the First Time – identifying the high leverage issues and decisions that yield the greatest return.

Working Together – building the partnerships necessary to create new opportunities for success.

Building on Community Strengths – emphasizing what is right and unique rather than what is wrong.

Practicing Democracy – developing ways for citizens to actually decide the future rather than always just reacting to it.

Preserving the Past – using buildings, history, and culture to inform and catalyze the future.

Growing Leaders – creating opportunities for citizens to learn and develop their capacities to take action together.

Investing in a Brighter Future – encouraging risk-taking and entrepreneurship in tackling tough community issues.

This is a comprehensive view of change that leads to successful results. There are solutions out there, lots of them, and we need to discuss them, test them, and implement them.

Which brings us to the Smart Communities blog. This blog began in March 2005 as a way to share all sorts of useful information related to these seven strategies for building thriving communities. We report on effective strategies, new initiatives, funding opportunities, and nationwide events that are affecting our communities. We often hear from readers about their work and ideas and blog on that as well.

Comments about particular posts, or the blog in general, can be directed to [email protected]. If you would like to learn more about me, please visit my biography on the Pew Partnership for Civic Change website. Those interested in purchasing Smart Communities the book can do so via or Barnes & Noble.

Thanks for visiting, I hope you enjoy our newest initiative in communicating what we've learned.