Meet Barbara Brown Wilson, Board Member
Barbara Brown Wilson is among the newest board members at Piedmont Housing Alliance, having begun her board service in 2015. To date, Barbara has been working closely with Piedmont Housing leadership to identify opportunities for Charlottesville affordable housing residents to more actively engage in and shape their communities.
Barbara had barely settled in to her new faculty position at UVA, having recently moved from the University of Texas at Austin, when she was invited to get to know Piedmont Housing. Since then, she says, she has “primarily served in the role of ‘connector.’” She could immediately see that Frank Grosch, Piedmont Housing’s CEO, felt “a deep affinity for the 266 children living in Friendship Court, and wanted to make sure they benefitted from the redevelopment project.” For Barbara, a community-engaged design veteran, the obvious question was: “How about including them as designers?”
When you are helping make connections to the world-class design team now engaged in the redevelopment of Friendship Court, and brainstorming ideas for engaging resident youth through a grant-funded project, as Barbara has, that “connecting” can make all the difference. We are so appreciative of Barbara’s energy, passion, and expertise.
Barbara is currently an assistant professor of Urban and Environmental Planning at UVA’s School of Architecture, and a co-founder of Design Futures, an annual student leadership forum bringing together a diverse spectrum of university students and faculty with leading practitioners to promote leadership and skill-building for students hoping to use design as a tool for social equity and positive change in underserved communities. While in Austin, she also co-founded the Austin Community Design and Development Center, a nonprofit that provides high-quality green design and planning services to low-income households and service organizations. She also served on the board of the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, a statewide policy and advocacy organization, at the inception of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project Supreme Court case, which recently upheld the use of “disparate impact claims” under the Fair Housing Act.
A native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and mother to two young children, Barbara is happy to be back in a four-season climate after many years in Texas. She holds a Ph.D. in Community and Regional Planning, and a master’s degree in Architectural History, from the University of Texas at Austin, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.