Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Lavea Brachman

Lavea Brachman is a Visiting Research Fellow in 2023-24 and 2024-25.

Lavea Brachman, JD, MCP is a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metro Program in Washington, D.C.  As a scholar and practitioner, Lavea focuses on the plight and transformation of struggling post-industrial cities and regions (also known as legacy cities or “left-behind places”). She has developed, analyzed, and overseen policies and practices formulated to boost place-based prosperity, combat economic and racial inequities, and overcome barriers to economic mobility.

Before joining Brookings, Lavea served as Vice President of Programs at the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, a philanthropic organization in Detroit, Michigan, where she developed investment strategies aimed at fostering upward mobility to middle skill, middle wage jobs and generating inclusive neighborhood growth. Previously, Lavea co-founded and spent a decade as Executive Director of the Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC), an influential, nonpartisan “think and do” non-profit organization championing economic revitalization and equitable growth in disinvested communities.

Lavea has also served as resident fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, Massachusetts and as urban and regional policy fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Washington, D.C.  She has taught courses on neighborhood development practices and community-driven efforts to derive value from industrial site redevelopment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The Ohio State University. She has published widely on legacy cities and related redevelopment policies and practices.

Lavea graduated with honors from Harvard College, holds a law degree from the University of Chicago Law School, and earned a master in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Project description:

While at UCL, Lavea will investigate the impact of national investments on “left-behind” UK cities and regions, such as Manchester, Nottingham, West Yorkshire and North Tyne, and the role of local institutions in leveraging these investments to spur economic growth.

Recent national investments in the US represent an unparalleled opportunity for local leaders to deploy funds strategically, addressing economic and racial inequities. This opportunity also demands new thinking on the local level to seize the moment. With this project, Lavea will analyze efforts in select UK communities to maximize sizeable national investments and drive prosperity and greater equality. She will investigate whether and how local leaders have organized to regenerate their economies -- with new partnerships and civic infrastructure, strategic investments, or systems-based transformations -- to provide a springboard for turn-around of disinvested areas.

Through data collection and on-the-ground interviews with local and national policymakers, Lavea will evaluate UK policies and investments, and their impacts, and analyze where local implementation practices appear to advance equitable regrowth -- and, conversely, where challenges and missed opportunities emerge. Policymakers in both the UK and the U.S. are grappling with ways to catalyze renewal in these “left-behind places” and for the people living there. From this study, Lavea will identify and disseminate “lessons learned” for U.S. and UK local leaders and policymakers. 

This work informs a larger project documenting and analyzing the power of local “changemakers” in designing and implementing innovative programs and generating civic infrastructure in economically challenged regions.