Lori Thomas

Director, Institute for Social Capital
Director, Urban Institute
Sycamore 202-A
704-687-7037

Dr. Lori Thomas was named executive director of the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute in 2021. Thomas is continuing the Urban Institute’s research and engagement with the community on social, economic and environmental challenges.

Thomas, who is also an Associate Professor of Social Work at UNC Charlotte, also serves as executive director of the Institute for Social Capital, an integrated data system operated by the Urban Institute. She oversees and leads the work of community-engaged researchers and graduate students and facilitates use of linked administrative data by faculty researchers and community organizations.

A Tennessee native, Thomas holds a Ph.D. in social work from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her work has included multiyear projects to address systemic problems such as homelessness, using quantitative and qualitative research to find solutions.  

Stories by Lori Thomas

Home ownership and the legacy of redlining: Charlotte’s racial wealth gap

This is the third in an ongoing series, based on a report by the Urban Institute.



COVID-19 exposes the impact of the racial wealth gap

In the United States, White households have 10 times the wealth of Black households and 7 times the wealth of Latinx households.This has not occurred by mere happenstance. Wealth is built through a...

Our homeless neighbors are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus

If there has ever been an object lesson on why housing matters and why we must prioritize providing it for people who don’t have a place to live, this latest crisis should teach us. Charlotte’s...

The Urban Institute Research Faculty Fellows seek to better our region

A new program designed to identify solutions for some of the pressing needs and issues of the greater Charlotte region is getting underway this fall at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute. For the...