The history of racial inequity in industrial cities is undeniable – whether Toledo, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, or Erie – and the potential loss if we fail to address its effects in the present day is staggering. Inequities in education, the arts, and housing, environmental and economic realms are starkly real, but they are not insurmountable. Boston, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh are asking difficult questions, and finding hope with innovative solutions, like The Heinz Endowments’ Just Pittsburgh effort which views all grantee work through an equity lens. This presentation asks “As a region, what do we have to lose by doing nothing?”, “What could be gained by tackling racial equity head on?” and – perhaps most importantly - “Where do we start?”
Karen Abrams, M.S., joined The Heinz Endowments in 2017 as the program officer for equitable development, with a focus of infusing equity into the foundation’s redevelopment funding initiatives in the Pittsburgh region. Her work involves helping the Endowments develop and implement a range of grant making that supports sustainable investments in neighborhood-level projects as well as city and region-wide initiatives. Before coming to the Endowments, Ms. Abrams was the community and diversity affairs manager at the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh where she established initiatives to increase equity and inclusion in Pittsburgh’s land use and planning practices. A Harlem native, Ms. Abrams earned a bachelor’s degree in African and African American Studies from the University of Virginia and a Master of Science degree in sustainable systems from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. She was awarded a Loeb Fellowship at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2016.