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Xavier N. de Souza Briggs
Born 1968
Miami, Florida
Residence Dorchester, Massachusetts
Nationality U.S.
Institutions Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Alma mater Columbia University
Stanford University
Doctoral advisor Robert Crain
Other academic advisors Herbert Gans

Xavier N. de Souza Briggs (born 1968) is an American sociologist and planner, who works on social capital and community building, as well as the concept of the "geography of opportunity," which addresses the consequences of race and class segregation for the well-being and life prospects of the disadvantaged. Effective January 21, 2009, Briggs went on a two-year leave from MIT to become Associate Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.[1]

He is a Professor of Sociology and Urban Planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who receivd tenure in 2009.[2] He is also a former faculty member of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He was a presidential appointee in the Clinton Administration, serving as a senior policy official at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.


Professional life

In New York City Briggs helped develop the "quality-of-life" planning approach to neighborhood revitalization, and in 1996 his work with the Comprehensive Community Revitalization Program in the South Bronx won the top award of the American Planning Association[3]. He began his teaching career at Harvard, took a leave to work in the Clinton Administration from 1998 to 2000, returned to Harvard and, in 2005, moved to MIT[4]. He is also a faculty affiliate of The Urban Institute, a leading nonpartisan policy research organization in Washington, DC[5].

Briggs' research centers on economic opportunity and inequality, racial and ethnic diversity, and democratic problem-solving in cities worldwide. His dissertation, on housing desegregation and the social networks of poor young people, won the 1997 best dissertation prize of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. In 2002, he was appointed a Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Scholar at MIT. His edited book, The Geography of Opportunity (Brookings, 2005), won the top book award in planning in 2007. He is the founder of two popular online resources for self-directed learning in the field of civic leadership and local problem-solving: The Community Problem-Solving Project @ MIT, sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Working Smarter in Community Development, sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation.

He has been an adviser to the Rockefeller Foundation, the World Bank, and other leading organizations and is a member of the Aspen Institute's Roundtable on Community Change. Briggs has served as an expert witness for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in civil rights litigation. His views and research have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe,, National Public Radio, and other major media.[6]

Personal life

Born in Miami, Florida, Briggs spent the early part of his life in Nassau, Bahamas and moved back to the U.S. in 1976. In Miami he attended Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, a Catholic high school with strong ties to the Cuban-American community. He later received a BS in engineering from Stanford University, worked with the planning firm of Moore Iacofano Goltsman, and won a Rotary Scholarship to study education and community development in Brazil, living in Salvador, Bahia. In 1993 he earned a Master in Public Administration (MPA) from Harvard University. In 1996 he earned a PhD in sociology and education from Columbia University, where he studied under Robert Crain, Herbert Gans and Charles Kadushin. While a student, Briggs designed and taught the second version of the Unseen America course at Stanford, a pioneering approach in democratic experiential education, and joined with David Lempert and others to publish a book on this alternative approach to education.

In his spare time, he enjoys photography and Latin and Caribbean dancing. He has a passion for travel and is an enthusiastic, if amateur, cook.[7] Xav, his wife Cynthia[8] and their family live in Dorchester, Massachusetts.[9]

Key publications

External links




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