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Report from the President

Carrying on the Mission of the Lincoln Institute
George W. McCarthy, July 1, 2014

It is an honor to follow Gregory K. Ingram as the fifth president of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (see page 28), and to join you for my inaugural issue of Land Lines. It will be a challenge to live up to Greg’s accomplished leadership and remarkably productive years at the helm of the Institute since 2005. I hope that I can combine my skills and experience with Lincoln’s formidable tools and talented staff to continue its singular mission: connecting scholars, public officials, and business leaders to blend theory and practice in land policy in order to address a broad range of social, economic, and environmental challenges.

Tectonic forces—natural, man-made, or both—are reshaping our planet. As we contend with climate change, accelerating urbanization in Asia and Africa, the aging of populations in Europe and North America, the suburbanization of poverty in the United States, and the financial insolvency of American cities, the land use decisions we make today will dictate the quality of life for hundreds of millions of people for the next century. Comprehensive plans and policies that equitably govern land use, political and social systems that ensure sustainability, and sound economic analyses to address these challenges are in critical demand and will remain so for decades to come.

Lincoln Institute affiliates explore these matters in this issue of Land Lines. The 2013 Lincoln/Loeb Fellow Lynn Richards, incoming president of the Congress for the New Urbanism, lays out 10 nifty steps U.S. communities have taken to make their suburbs more pedestrian-friendly, with affordable housing to offset the suburbanization of poverty and with denser mixed-use development and public transit to reduce automobile use and help to slow climate change. Architect and 2014 Lincoln/Loeb Fellow Helen Lochhead discusses the winners of Rebuild by Design, the international competition that fostered design innovations that will integrate resilience, sustainability, and livability in the re-gions affected by Superstorm Sandy. Public Affairs Director Anthony Flint reports on Lincoln’s seventh annual Journalists Forum on Land and the Built Environment, which explored prospects for making smarter, more equitable infrastructure investments in 21st-century cities. Finally, in the Faculty Profile, Lincoln’s senior research analyst Adam Langley discusses the Institute’s Fiscally Standardized Cities (FiSCs) database—a newly developed tool that will provide the foundation for important new analyses that will guide local responses to fiscal challenges in the United States.

And just a little about me. Over the last 14 years, I worked at the Ford Foundation, where I occupied a unique perch within global philanthropy that allowed me to support, demonstrate, and test new approaches to solve vexing social problems. Some of my proudest accomplishments include founding the National Vacant and Abandoned Properties Campaign and helping to build and grow the nation’s field of shared-equity housing through collaborations with the National Community Land Trust Network and other partner organizations. I helped to design and then took leadership of Metropolitan Opportunity, the Foundation’s next generation of community and economic development programming, which seeks to reduce the spatial isolation of disadvantaged populations in metropolitan regions by integrating land use planning, affordable housing development, and infrastructure investment to better serve all residents.

I came to Ford with a research background in housing, economics, and public policy analysis. I enjoyed the opportunity to work with scholars across the globe on issues as diverse as the birth of the environmental movement in Russia, the role of trade imbalances and debt in driving macroeconomic cycles, and the impact of homeownership on the lives of low-income families. I played the role of teacher and mentor to thousands of students and have tracked their successes with great pride. I presented research, advocated for policy change, and enjoyed successful collaborations with researchers, advocates, and public officials on four continents. And now I am delighted and honored to join you in this venture with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.