Kenton Card to Receive the 2024 Janet Smith Emerging Activist Scholar Research Award (Sponsored by the Voorhees Family and Individual Donors)

Dr. Kenton Card (Boston University) has been selected to receive the 2024 Janet Smith Emerging Activist Scholar Research Award. This award is sponsored by the Voorhees Family and Individual Donors.

This annual award recognizes an emerging activist scholar whose research record shows a direct relationship between activism, scholarship, and engagement with community(ies). This award honors the memory of Dr. Janet Smith, Professor in the Department of Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois Chicago’s College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, and co-director of the Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement. As an expert in local and national housing policy, Janet dedicated her career to fighting alongside community groups for a right to place and representation within the city. Janet brought to this work a deep respect for the self-determination of communities. Working alongside communities and activists, she brought her own astute analysis – and fierce critique – of the political economy of housing production in the United States. 

Janet’s energy, enthusiasm, and determination was inspirational to all that worked with her. This award honors Janet’s contributions as an activist-scholar as well as her commitment to supporting emerging scholars in developing their own models for community engagement and activism.


“The Janet Smith Emerging Activist Scholar Research Award Committee is pleased to announce Kenton Card, postdoctoral research associate at Boston University’s Initiative on Cities, as the recipient of the 2024 award. Dr. Card embodies the ethos of an activist-scholar in his focus on developing “projects with frontline communities directly experiencing housing precarity” and working “toward materializing their self-determination in projects and policy.” He has already demonstrated an impressive commitment to housing justice for low-income communities through efforts such as coordinating a statewide tenant union in California and organizing a housing activist film workshop in Berlin. His scholarship makes complicated, nuanced ideas accessible to the public through multimedia formats like his award-winning film Geographies of Racial Capitalism with Ruth Wilson Gilmore. For his dissertation, Dr. Card examined the post-2008 rise of tenant movements, landlord lobbying, and the struggle to transform housing policy across the United States and Germany. His dissertation’s cross-national analysis to understand tenant movements and what prevents consequential housing reforms from being enacted makes his work in housing meaningful. His contribution to the field is evident by his published peer reviewed articles in the critical planning journal Housing Studies, among others. The committee congratulates Dr. Card on this accomplishment.”


Kenton Card is an urban planner, filmmaker, and Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Initiative on Cities at Boston University. He recently completed his PhD in urban planning at UCLA where he worked for the UCLA Center for Community Engagement. In Berlin, Kenton has taught at the Freie Universität Berlin and served as a guest researcher at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center and Berlin House of Representatives. His research compares the new politics of housing – with particular emphasis on housing movements, lobbying, and policy change -– across the United States and Germany. Kenton’s films have been featured by academic outlets like The Antipode Foundation, which funded his award winning “Geographies of Racial Capitalism with Ruth Wilson Gilmore.”

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.


Amanda Kass, DePaul University (Chair); Michael R. Fisher Jr., The Ohio State University; Josh Newton, The University of Texas at Arlington; Chandra Ward, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; Anaid Yerena, University of Washington Tacoma


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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