|Xavier de Souza Briggs|
|Residence||Cambridge, MA, USA|
|Institutions||Massachusetts Institute of Technology|
|Alma mater||Stanford University
|Doctoral advisor||Robert Crain|
|Other academic advisors||Herbert Gans|
Xavier de Souza Briggs (born 1968) is an American sociologist and planner, known for his work on social capital, civic capacity, 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. He is a member of the MIT faculty and is currently on leave, serving as vice president of the Ford Foundation. In January 2009, Briggs went on a public service leave from MIT, appointed by President Barack Obama to become Associate Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. At OMB, he oversaw policy and budget for six cabinet agencies (Housing and Urban Development, Treasury, Commerce, Transportation, Justice, and Homeland Security) as well as the Small Business Administration, General Services Administration, and other agencies, with a discretionary budget totaling approximately $225 billion per year. He returned to the MIT faculty in August 2011. In January 2014, he went on leave anew, to join the Ford Foundation.
He is Professor of Sociology and Urban Planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 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.
In New York City, Briggs helped develop the now widely emulated "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 President's Award of the American Planning Association. 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. He was also a faculty affiliate of The Urban Institute, a leading nonpartisan policy research organization in Washington, DC.
Briggs' research centers on economic opportunity, 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 (the Paul Davidoff Award), and 'Democracy as Problem Solving' (MIT Press, 2009) was a finalist for the C. Wright Mills book award.
He is the founder of two online tools 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. In March 2010, he and co-authors Susan Popkin and John Goering published "Moving to Opportunity: The Story of An American Experiment to Fight Ghetto Poverty" (Oxford University Press). The culmination of more than a decade of work on housing opportunity and the effects of high-risk neighborhoods on poor children and their families, it won the Louis Brownlow award, for best book of the year, from the National Academy of Public Administration.
He has been an adviser to the Rockefeller Foundation, the World Bank, and other leading organizations and was 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, Salon.com, National Public Radio, and other major media.
Born in Miami, Florida, Briggs spent the early part of his life in Nassau, Bahamas, where his family - with roots in the Black Seminole nation, Brazil, and Europe - has lived since the early 19th century. His mother, Angela (1933-2015), was the daughter of Bill Aranha, Nassau's crown lands officer during the 1940s, and his father was an out island doctor.
Raised by his mother, Briggs moved back to the U.S. in 1976, several years after The Bahamas secured independence from Britain. In Miami he attended Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, a Catholic high school with strong ties to Cuba and the Cuban-American community. He later received a BS in engineering from Stanford University, worked with the innovative planning firm of Moore Iacofano Goltsman in Berkeley, CA, 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, Charles Kadushin, and other scholars. While a student at Stanford, Briggs designed and taught the second version of the Unseen America course, a pioneering approach in democratic experiential education, and joined with David Lempert and others to publish a book on this alternative approach to education.
- Lempert, David; Briggs, Xavier de Souza (1995). Escape from the Ivory Tower: Student Adventures in Democratic Experiential Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers/Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7879-0136-9.
- Briggs, Xavier de Souza; Miller, Anita; Shapiro, John (Winter 2006). "Planning for Community Building: CCRP in the South Bronx". Planners' Casebook, American Institute of Certified Planners.
- Briggs, Xavier de Souza; Mueller, Elizabeth J.; Sullivan, M. (1997). From Neighborhood to Community: Evidence on the Social Effects of Community Development. New York: Community Development Research Center, New School for Social Research.
- Briggs, Xavier de Souza (April 1998). "Brown Kids in White Suburbs: Housing Mobility and the Multiple Faces of Social Capital". Fannie Mae Foundation Housing Policy Debate 9 (1).
- Briggs, Xavier de Souza; Darden, Joe T.; Aidala, Angela (March 1999). "In the Wake of Desegregation Early Impacts of Scattered-Site Public Housing on Neighborhoods in Yonkers, New York" (PDF). Journal of the American Planning Association 65 (1): 27–49. doi:10.1080/01944369908976032.
- Briggs, Xavier de Souza (2003). "Community Building". In Christensen, Karen; Levinson, David. Encyclopedia of Community: From the Village to the Virtual World. SAGE. ISBN 0-7619-2598-8.
- Briggs, Xavier de Souza (December 2004). "Civilization in Color: The Multicultural City in Three Millennia". City & Community 3 (4): 311–342.
- Briggs, Xavier de Souza (2005). The Geography of Opportunity Race and Housing Choice in Metropolitan America. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. ISBN 0-8157-0873-4.
- Briggs, Xavier de Souza (November 2007). "Some of My Best Friends Are: Interracial Friendship, Class, and Segregation in America". City & Community 6 (4): 263–290. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6040.2007.00228.x.
- Briggs, Xavier de Souza; Turner, Margery Austin (March 2005). "Fairness in new New Orleans". The Three-City Study of Moving to Opportunity, Policy Briefs. Archived from the original on May 1, 2008.
- Briggs, Xavier de Souza (2008). Democracy as Problem Solving. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-02641-3.