Derek Hyra to Receive the 2024 Marilyn J. Gittell Activist Scholar Award (Sponsored by UAA & SAGE)

Dr. Derek Hyra (American University) has been selected to receive the 2024 Marilyn J. Gittell Activist Scholar Award. The award is co-sponsored by SAGE and the Urban Affairs Association (UAA).

This award was established to highlight field-based urban scholarship and promote the dissemination of work by activist urban scholars. The inspiration for this award is the career of Dr. Marilyn J. Gittell, former Director of the Howard Samuels Center and Professor of Political Science at The Graduate School at City University of New York. Dr. Gittell was an outstanding scholar and a community activist who wrote seminal works on citizen participation, and was founding editor of Urban Affairs Quarterly, (now known as Urban Affairs Review). Thus, the award seeks to honor the contributions of a scholar whose research record shows a direct relationship between activism, scholarship, and engagement with community(ies).


“The Urban Affairs Association’s Activist Scholar Award Committee selects Dr. Derek S. Hyra to receive the 2024 Marilyn J. Gittell Activist Scholar Award. Focusing on the intersections of housing policy, neighborhood change, race, and urban politics, Dr. Hyra’s extensive work exemplifies the integration of activism, scholarship, and community engagement that distinguishes this award. Dr. Hyra’s frequent publications and presentations address academic, policy, and community audiences, and along with his collaboration with local activists, service on local planning commissions and national councils, combine to create more just cities. As founding Director of the Metropolitan Policy Center in the School of Public Affairs at American University, Dr. Hyra continues an active research agenda into Black protest and the health impacts of gentrification, race, and class on communities of color.”


Derek Hyra is a professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy and founding director of the Metropolitan Policy Center at American University. His research focuses on neighborhood change, urban politics, and race. Dr. Hyra is the co-editor of Capital Dilemma: Growth and Inequality in Washington, DC (Routledge 2016), and author of The New Urban Renewal: The Economic Transformation of Harlem and Bronzeville (University of Chicago Press 2008) and Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City (University of Chicago Press 2017). His fourth book, Slow and Sudden Violence: Why and When Uprisings Occur (University of California Press 2024) will be released in August. His research has been showcased in popular media outlets including The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. Dr. Hyra strongly believes in public service. He served as board chair of the Alexandria (Virginia) Redevelopment and Housing Authority and as an Obama appointee on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Council on Underserved Communities. He currently serves as the President-elect of the Eastern Sociological Society and member of the Falls Church (Virginia) Planning Commission. He received his B.A. from Colgate University and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.


The formal presentation of this award will be made at the upcoming International Conference on Urban Affairs in New York at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. The theme of this year’s conference is Cities on the Edge: Promoting Equity and Resiliency through Research, Activism, Planning and Policy. The conference will convene over 1200 participants from 55+ countries and representing 20+ fields of study. All award recipients will be formally recognized for their achievements during the Awards and Recognition Program on April 24, 2024; 4:30 – 5:30pm.


There will be a special conference session reflecting on the work of Dr. Hyra on Friday, April 26 at 9:50am. The detailed conference program will be updated with additional information as it becomes available.


J.R. “Jones” Estes, Portland State University (Chair); Edith Barrett, Chatham University; Andrew Foell, University of Illinois-Chicago; Angeline Johnson, University of Toledo; Tyeshia Redden, Independent Researcher


The Urban Affairs Association (UAA) is an international professional organization for 700+ urban scholars, researchers, policy analysts, & public service providers. UAA is dedicated to creating interdisciplinary spaces for engaging in intellectual and practical discussions about urban life. Through theoretical, empirical, and action-oriented research, UAA fosters diverse activities to understand and shape a more just and equitable urban world.

In addition to hosting an annual conference, UAA sponsors ongoing professional development opportunities; Upsilon Sigma: The Urban Studies Honor Society; and two peer-reviewed journals, the Journal of Urban Affairs and the Journal of Race, Ethnicity and the City. You can find UAA on the web, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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