Dr. Karilyn Crockett, Professor, MIT and Author, “People Before Highways

Dr. Karilyn Crockett’s research focuses on large-scale land use changes in twentieth century American cities and examines the social and geographic implications of structural poverty and race. Karilyn’s book “People before Highways: Boston Activists, Urban Planners, and a New Movement for City Making” (UMASS Press 2018) investigates a 1960s era grassroots movement to halt urban extension of the U.S. interstate highway system and the geographic and political changes in Boston that resulted. In 2019 this book was named one of the “ten best books of the decade” by the Boston Public Library Association of Librarians. Previously Karilyn co-founded Multicultural Youth Tour of What’s Now (MYTOWN), an award winning, Boston-based, educational non-profit organization. MYTOWN hired public high school students to research their local and family histories to produce youth-led walking tours for sale to public audiences. In a White House ceremony, the National Endowment for the Humanities cited MYTOWN as “One of ten best Youth Humanities Programs in America.”

Karilyn holds a PhD from the American Studies program at Yale University, a Master of Science in Geography from the London School of Economics, and a Master of Arts and Religion from Yale Divinity School. Karilyn served for four years with the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development as the Director of Economic Policy & Research and the Director of Small Business Development for the City of Boston. She recently completed her service as the City of Boston’s first Chief of Equity, a Cabinet-level position Mayor Walsh established to embed equity and racial justice into all City planning, operations, and work moving forward. She holds a faculty appointment as professor of urban history, public policy and planning in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies & Planning. Karilyn’s career mission is to continue to work at the nexus of education, economic development policy and urban revitalization.

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