Lynn Ross: Reimagining Policy for Equity and Justice

Woman standing with hands pointed outwards with a concrete wall in the background.

William Staffeld / Cornell AAP


Lynn M. Ross is the founder and principal of Spirit for Change Consulting, LLC where she works nationally and across sectors with organizations on a mission to create and sustain equitable policies, practices and places. The work of Spirit for Change takes many forms including serving as the lead consultant to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation on Reimagining the Civic Commons—a national demonstration working to advance equitable public spaces—and as the Senior Fellow at Community Change for the New Deal for Housing Justice—an effort to reimagine the federal role in housing policy for future administrations. Dedicated to serving mission-driven organizations, Lynn has over 18 years of multi-sector experience including past senior leadership roles as Vice President, Community and National Initiatives at the Knight Foundation; Deputy Assistant Secretary for policy development in the Office of Policy Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Executive Director of the Urban Land Institute's Terwilliger Center for Housing; Chief Operating Officer for the National Housing Conference and Center for Housing Policy; and Manager of the Planning Advisory Service at the American Planning Association. Lynn holds a masters of regional planning from Cornell University and a B.S. in community and regional planning from Iowa State University. She served on the boards of KABOOM! and Next City from 2017-2019, she served as co-chair and co-author of the American Planning Association's historic Planning for Equity Policy Guide. In 2019, Lynn was named one of 50 "Women of Influence" by the Royal Town Planning Institute's The Planner magazine.


Inequity in planning and policy-making is not new, but the past year—marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic fall-out as well as a renewed racial reckoning—further illuminated just how deep those inequities are rooted. Can the process and the outcomes of policymaking be reimagined for equity and justice? And what is the role and the responsibility of planners in that reimagining? Join Lynn Ross for an exploration of how she applies an equity-in-all-policies approach to her work whether she's Reimagining the Civic Commons or leading the creation of New Deal for Housing Justice.

Van Nest Black Lecture

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