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Lisa Servon Appointed Chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning

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Philadelphia—Professor Lisa Servon, a widely published expert on economic insecurity, consumer financial services, and financial justice, has been appointed chair of Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design for a five-year term effective July 1. Servon succeeds Professor John Landis, a distinguished educator who helped maintain the Department’s standing as one of the leading programs in the country.

“A passionate and dedicated scholar, John has been instrumental in securing research funding, developing innovative programs and concentrations, and assembling an outstanding faculty,” said Frederick Steiner, Dean and Paley Professor at PennDesign. He continued, “I’m confident that Lisa will extend the Department’s relevance and its reach.”

“Our cities account for more and more of the world’s population, but are we doing enough to make them places where you want to live, and everyone can succeed?” said Servon. “That’s where our graduates come in.”

Prior to joining the PennDesign faculty in 2016, Servon was Professor of Management and Urban Policy at The New School, where she also served as Dean of the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy. She conducts research in the areas of urban poverty, community development, economic development, and issues of gender and race. She is also a member of the Consumer Advisory Board at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Along with Landis, Servon serves on the Diversity Work Group at PennDesign to advise Dean Steiner on strategies and initiatives to increase the diversity of the School’s faculty, staff, and students, promote a more inclusive community, and foster a learning environment that encourages and celebrates difference. With Dan Reyes, a student in the City and Regional Planning Department, she launched PennDesign Social Justice, a voluntary network for political awareness and engagement at the School. She teaches Introduction to Community & Economic Development and the Community Development Practicum.

Lisa Servon is the author of The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017), Bridging the Digital Divide: Technology, Community, and Public Policy (Blackwell 2002), Bootstrap Capital: Microenterprises and the American Poor (Brookings 1999), Gender and Planning: A Reader (with Susan Fainstein, Rutgers University Press 2005), and Otra Vida es Posible: Practicas Economicas Alternativas Durante la Crisis (With Manuel Castells, Joana Conill, Amalia Cardenas and Sviatlana Hlebik. UOC Press 2012). She has contributed to the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and The Wall Street Journal and has appeared on PBS News Hour, Marketplace Money, Fresh Air and Radio Times, and her research is featured in the documentary Spent: Looking for Change. Servon holds a BA in Political Science from Bryn Mawr College, an MA in History of Art from the University of Pennsylvania, and a PhD in Urban Planning from UC Berkeley. Read more about Servon at

About PennDesign

The Department of City and Regional Planning offers a Master of City Planning, Master of Urban Spatial Analytics, and PhD in City and Regional Planning. The Department emphasizes the quantitative and digital skills students need to analyze urban communities and to visualize alternative futures. They learn how historical and institutional contexts shape planning practice, as well as how to work with community members to break bureaucratic logjams and how to create synergies between subfields—whether it is connecting real estate to affordable housing, transit-oriented development to urban design, or land-use planning to community agriculture and public health.

The University of Pennsylvania School of Design prepares students to address complex sociocultural and environmental issues through thoughtful inquiry, creative expression, and innovation. As a diverse community of scholars and practitioners, we are committed to advancing the public good–both locally and globally–through art, design, planning, and preservation.

Media Contact: Michael Grant,, 215.898.2539.