Lavea Brachman, a Visiting Fellow at Brookings Metro, spent five years as Vice President of Programs at the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation a spend-down foundation located in Detroit and operating in the metropolitan regions of Detroit, Mich. and Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y. At the foundation she directed two portfolios—Young Adults and Working Families, and Entrepreneurship and Economic Development—developing investment strategies advancing upward mobility to middle skill, middle wage jobs and promoting inclusive economic growth. Recently, Brachman has focused on developing systems-based workforce training strategies, building inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystems for minority and women small businesses, and developing and overseeing place-based inclusive economic growth initiatives.
Prior to coming to the foundation, Brachman co-founded and spent a decade as Executive Director of the Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC), leading the organization’s growth as an influential, nonpartisan “think and do” tank championing urban revitalization and sustainable and equitable growth. Prior to founding GOPC, Brachman worked at a Chicago-based non-profit organization directing sustainable growth projects across the Great Lakes region, practiced environmental law at a Washington, D.C. law firm and was a partner at a consulting firm in Cambridge, Mass., advising Fortune 500 companies on brownfield and industrial property reuse. At the federal level, she served in the Department of Energy leading community development and land reuse projects. As a national expert on legacy industrial cities, over the last decade, Brachman has held fellowships with Brookings Metro (non-resident), the German Marshall Fund, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. Brachman has published numerous articles, reports and opinion pieces on legacy city neighborhood, community, and economic redevelopment issues. Most recently, she published “The perils and promise of America’s legacy cities in the pandemic era.”
Brachman 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.