Dr. Lori Thomas, Director of Research and Faculty Engagement at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, will assume the role of Interim Director of the institute effective May 1. Thomas will replace Jeff Michael, the Institute’s long-time director, who is leaving the position April 30 after serving 18 years to become North Carolina’s Deputy Secretary for Natural Resources.
Thomas’ appointment was announced by Byron White, Associate Provost for Urban Research and Community Engagement, who leads the institute’s parent unit.
Thomas, who is also an Associate Professor of Social Work, serves as executive director of the Institute for Social Capital, an integrated data system operated by the Urban Institute. In her current role, she leads the work of community-engaged researchers and graduate students and facilitates use of linked administrative data by faculty researchers and community organizations.
“While Jeff’s departure leaves a huge hole in our organization, I am very pleased that Dr. Thomas has agreed to step into this important role,” White said. “She is well-positioned and more than qualified to assume these duties through the next transition of the Institute.”
Thomas said she’s looking forward to continuing the Urban Institute’s research and engagement with the community on social, economic and environmental challenges.
“I’m honored to step into this interim role. The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute has been part of the fabric of our city and region for over 50 years and Jeff has effectively led the Institute for more than a third of that time. It’s fitting to be intentional in this interim phase to consider how to best build from that history. I look forward to working with Dr. White, the Provost, our staff, and community stakeholders as we think strategically about next steps in the leadership of the Urban Institute, and as we continue our service to Charlotte and the region,” said Thomas.