National League of Cities

Kellogg Postgraduate Fellowships
Grant Year

Postgraduate Fellowship final report:

The Kellogg Postgraduate Research Fellowship gave me the opportunity to work with the National League of Cities (NLC) and with a local urban design firm, Yard & CO, co-founded by an ND alumni for 6 months from June - November 2020. The combination of working with a premier national research organization and a locally rooted design firm was intellectually stimulating and professional fulfilling. I was able to both paint a sidewalk crossing to improve pedestrian safety across from a school while also helping write NLC’s annual City Fiscal Conditions report highlighting the fiscal impact of COVID-19 on cities across the United States who are estimated to lose $80 billion in revenue due to the pandemic. 

Working as a research fellow at NLC allowed me to utilize and continue to hone the skill sets I developed during my time as a Kellogg International Scholar and Master’s of Global Affairs student. As a membership based organization, NLC is committed to amplifying the voices of city leaders from around the country on a national scale, whether those are large cities like New York City or smaller towns like Lexington SC. This commitment mirrors Notre Dame’s mission statement where “learning becomes service to justice” in the sense that the research conducted is not merely to increase knowledge for knowledge’s sake, but rather to advocate on behalf of city leaders who are struggling to provide basic services to their residents during this pandemic. For example, I co-authored a blog post titled “Congress’ Delay Slashes Main Street Investments Amid COVID-19” which highlighted the need for greater federal investment in local government.

As cities are facing a variety of challenges associated with COVID-19, Yard & CO is championing innovative place-based strategies to help cities adapt to the new status quo. Building upon my passion for tactical urbanism, I developed an interactive spatial toolkit to prioritize the equitable deployment of such strategies (including temporary bike lanes, pop-up community centers and expanded sidewalks). Integral Human Development calls for us to care for the whole person and every person, which is especially crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic which has significantly exacerbated existing structural inequities. My research with Yard & CO focuses on ensuring that vulnerable communities (those without access to a park, without access to a vehicle or without access to a library) are prioritized as part of cities’ pandemic response efforts. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed my work with the National League of Cities and will continue to work with them after my fellowship in a full-time capacity as an independent contractor. I also helped establish a partnership between NLC and the i-Lab and there will be a student team working next year looking at the intersection between climate change and racial equity. I am also excited to stay involved with Yard & CO locally in Cincinnati and plan to work on future projects with them, including an adaptation of the existing toolkit to prioritize pop-up vaccine distribution centers in the spring.