Xavier de Souza Briggs joined the board of directors for The Community Builders, Inc. in 2012. He is an author, commentator, educator, and researcher, as well as an experienced manager and policy adviser. Biggs is associate professor of sociology and urban planning and head of the housing, community, and economic development group in the department of urban studies and planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Briggs spent January 2009 to August 2011 on public service leave from the MIT faculty, appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as associate director of the Office of Management and Budget in the White House. There, he oversaw a wide array of policy, budget and management issues for roughly half the Cabinet departments — Commerce, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Transportation, Justice and Homeland Security—as well as the Small Business Administration, General Services Administration, financial regulators and other agencies. His portfolio ran the gamut from economic competitiveness to criminal justice and border security, from neighborhood revitalization and poverty reduction to the financial markets, environmental sustainability and more.
A former community planner, Briggs’ award-winning research and teaching are about economic opportunity, effective democracy and governance and racial and ethnic diversity in cities and metropolitan regions. He is the editor of The Geography of Opportunity (Brookings, 2005), which won the best book award in planning, and Democracy as Problem-Solving: Civic Capacity in Communities across the Globe (MIT Press, 2008), which examines efforts in the United States and other democracies—Brazil, India and South Africa—to lead change on unsustainable urban growth, regional economic restructuring, and the healthy development of the next generation. His latest book, Moving to Opportunity: The Story of an American Experiment to Fight Ghetto Poverty (Oxford University Press, 2010), won best book of the year from the National Academy of Public Administration. Briggs is founder of The Community Problem-Solving Project @ MIT and Working Smarter in Community Development, two innovative online resources for self-directed learning.A former faculty member in public policy at Harvard University, he has designed and led major leadership development, strategy, and other training programs for change agents in the public, private, and nonprofit/nongovernmental sectors. A frequent speaker on innovation and urban and metropolitan policy, he has also consulted on urban strategy to leading national and international organizations, such as the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, and he has been an expert witness in civil rights litigation. In the public sector, he ran the urban policy research and development unit at the HUD in the late 1990s. He is a member of the Aspen Institute’s Roundtable on Community Change and other advisory groups, and his views have appeared in The New York Times, Salon.com, National Public Radio, and other major media. Briggs holds an engineering degree from Stanford University, an Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard University, and a doctorate in sociology and education from Columbia University.