Stephen Billings

Associate Professor of Economics
UNC Charlotte
704-687-7625

Biography

Stephen Billings is an associate professor of public policy at UNC Charlotte. He joined the faculty in 2008 after completing his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He holds a master's degree in urban and regional planning from UNC Chapel Hill.  Some of his recent research projects include the role of special district governments in financing residential development; the role of enterprise zone tax credits in firm location decisions; the property value impacts of light rail transit in Charlotte; and nonparametric tests for industrial specialization.

Education

Ph.D. in economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Master's degree in urban and regional planning from UNC Chapel Hill.

Expertise

Billings’ research focuses on the nexus between local government and real estate development.

Laura Simmons

Director of Community Indicators
UNC Charlotte Urban Institute
(704) 687-1207

Biography

Laura serves as the Director of Community Indicators at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, where she works to help people find, interpret, and present data. She leads the Institute’s indicator projects including the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Quality of Life Explorer, which provides a wealth of data on neighborhoods across Mecklenburg County, and the Charlotte Regional Indicators, a resource for a variety of data on the region’s 14 counties. She also coordinates the Institute’s mapping and spatial analysis efforts.

Education

Laura holds a masters in geography from UNC Charlotte and a bachelor’s in geography from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN.

Expertise

Laura has expertise in spatial analysis and mapping, data visualization, and applied research focusing on demographic and economic issues.

Brett Loftis

Chief Executive Officer
The Crossnore School

Biography

Brett currently is the Chief Executive Officer for The Crossnore School. Before Crossnore he worked as a child advocate at the Council for Children’s Rights. Brett began his career in advocacy work as a Guardian ad Litem, handling dozens of physical and sexual abuse cases.  He later went to work with Guardian ad Litem in Greenville, SC as the assistant director, where he trained and supervised 165 guardians and eight volunteer attorneys. When he began working with the Council for Children (now the Council for Children’s Rights) in 2000, he advocated for children on a wide range of issues, including special education, abuse/neglect, mental health, healthcare, and other areas of civil legal representation.  He became the Executive Director of the Council for Children’s Rights in 2005 and has worked to build the organization to where it is today - a comprehensive continuum of legal representation and advocacy services for children in Mecklenburg County.  The Council for Children’s Rights staff now includes 15 staff attorneys, 16 professional staff, and over 300 volunteers, all working for children.  In 2009, Brett helped launch the Larry King Center for Building Children’s Futures, an initiative of the Council for Children’s Rights, focused on making lasting, system-wide change for children in Mecklenburg County and North Carolina.  With this new, broader focus, Brett sits on several boards and committees across the state all working to improve the livelihood of North Carolina’s children.  And, he leads the Council for Children’s Rights in their committed mission to stand up for every child’s right to be safe, healthy, and educated.

Education

B.A. in sociology and political science from Furman University and J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law.  

Expertise

Children's rights

Jonathan Kozar

Term Assistant Professor
George Mason University
703-993-2309

Biography

Jonathan currently teaches Geography at George Mason University.  He is a former research specialist at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute. He was responsible for a variety of economic and survey research projects. Responsibilities include graduate student supervision, data collection and review, report writing and review, and project management.  He also assisted in various other research capacities as needed. His research interests include urban/regional economic development, business and producer service industry growth, and urban economic transformations.

Education

Ph.D. in Geography & Urban Regional Analysis from the Univeristy of North Carolina at Charlotte.  

Owen Furuseth

Associate Provost for Metropolitan Studies and Extended Academic Programs Professor of Geography Department of Geography and Earth Sciences
UNC Charlotte
704 687-1302

Biography

Owen J. Furuseth is Associate Provost for Metropolitan Studies and Extended Academic Programs, and Professor of Geography at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Prior to joining the UNC Charlotte faculty, Furuseth was employed as an urban and regional planner in Florida and a planning educator in Oregon. Since 1997, he has served as the Principal Investigator for the City of Charlotte Neighborhood Quality of Life Studies.

Education

Ph.D. Geography, Oregon State University, 1978

M.A. Geography, East Carolina University, 1973

B.A. Geography and Urban and Regional Planning, East Carolina University, 1971

Fulbright Senior Research Scholar, University of Auckland, NZ, 1993

NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship, Simon Fraser University, 1981

Expertise

Furuseth’s current research interests are centered around community planning, especially social and community change associated with Latino immigration.  With fellow UNC Charlotte geographer, Heather Smith, Owen co-edited Latinos in the New South: Transformations of Place (Ashgate, 2006). He has also co-edited Rural Housing, Exurbanization, and Amenity-Driven Development (Ashgate, 2010).

Suzanne Leland

Associate Professor of Political Science
UNC Charlotte
704-687-2571

Biography

Suzanne Leland is an Associate Professor of Political Science at University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration.  She worked for the Governor's Consolidation Study Commission while earning her Ph.D. at the University of Kansas. She teaches and researches urban politics, state and local government, and intergovernmental relations. She is the co-editor of Case Studies in City-County Consolidation and City-County Consolidation: Promises Made, Promises Kept? with Kurt Thurmaier. Her publications also have appeared in Public Administration Review, Public Budgeting and Finance, American Review of Public Administration, Municipal Finance Journal and other journals

Education

Ph.D. University of Kansas.

Expertise

Urban politics, state and local government, and intergovernmental relations

Jody Pressley

UNC Charlotte Urban Institute
(704) 687-1204

Biography

Jody has spent over 15 years with the UNC-Charlotte Urban Institute working with the School Services Division.  During this time, she has been an IT Tech Support Analyst working on a variety of special projects for the NC Public Schools computerized bus routing program.  Each NC school district is provided this software (known as TIMS), as a tool to efficiently route public school buses.  Jody teaches classes and assists school districts with database maintenance; data collection; routing and scheduling; personnel requirements; automation of procedures; hardware availability and application; communication environments; optimization modules; and implementation of special projects.


Jody also coordinates the annual spring TIMS conference to coordinate conference logistics, handout preparations, teach sessions, and coordinate panel discussions for this annual conference and other large meetings associated with the school bus personnel in NC.  Jody brings years of experience and expertise to any project we take on and deals with a wide range of organizational structures outside the University. 

Education

Educational background:  ECPI, specialized computer course work at Central Piedmont Community College, GIS specialized training with ESRI

 

Ferrel Guillory

Director UNC Program on Public Life
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Biography

Ferrel Guillory teaches in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he is also director of the Program on Public Life. He is a senior fellow at MDC, a nonprofit research firm in Chapel Hill, and was a principal co-author of MDC’s seven State of the South reports published since 1996.

Education

Guillory earned a bachelor's degree from  Loyola University in 1969 and a master's degree from the Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University, in 1970.

Expertise

Guillory works at the intersection of policy, politics and journalism.  His interests include Southern and North Carolina politics; he writes on social, economic and demographic trends and spent 20-plus years in journalism in New Orleans and Raleigh, writing for newspapers and magazines.

Josh McCann

President  
Play for Change

Biography

Josh is a Chapel Hill native and has worked as a newspaper reporter for the Independent Tribune in Cabarrus County and The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette in Beaufort County, S.C.

Education

M.A. Urban Planning, University of Illinios B.A. Journalism (Ithaca College)

Mary Newsom

Director of Urban Policy Initiatives
UNC Charlotte Urban Institute
704 687-1203

Biography

Mary is a lifelong newspaper journalist who spent several decades at The Charlotte Observer as an editorial board member and columnist, concentrating on Charlotte regional urban and suburban growth, planning, urban design, transportation and land preservation. She left the Observer and joined the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute in June 2011, where she works on strategic community and university partnerships and oversees the institute’s online communications. She had a year-long Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University and was a Knight Fellow in Community Building at the University of Miami.

Education

A.B. Journalism UNC Chapel Hill

Expertise

Urban and suburban issues, Charlotte region and North Carolina politics and government, writing, editing and journalism.