Angela Glover Blackwell is founder and chief executive officer of PolicyLink, a national research and action institute that works collaboratively to develop and implement local, state, and federal policies to achieve economic and social equity. By Lifting Up What Works—using research to understand and demonstrate the possibilities for positive change—PolicyLink presents new and innovative solutions to old problems.
Since its inception, in January of 1999, PolicyLink has partnered with a cross-section of stakeholders to ensure that questions of equity receive the highest priority in addressing major policy issues, including: urban sprawl and smart growth, reinvestment in low-income communities, bridging the digital divide, eliminating racial health disparities, and developing leaders for policy change. PolicyLink is a leading advocate of equitable development, a comprehensive approach which includes the fair distribution of affordable housing throughout regions and equitable public investment. PolicyLink is also working to promote equitable rebuilding in Louisiana, and bring the voices of local and displaced residents into the post-Hurricane Katrina reconstruction planning process.
Blackwell is a co-author of Searching for the Uncommon Common Ground: New Dimensions on Race in America (W.W. Norton, 2002). Written with Manuel Pastor and Stewart Kwoh, the book demonstrates the existence of continuing racial inequity and explores new policy framings to address the challenges that lie ahead. She also collaborated with Tavis Smiley to develop The Covenant with Black America—a New York Times best-selling book of community and policy strategies for economic and social empowerment—and contributed an essay to the volume. She is a frequent guest in the media and her appearances include ABC’s Nightline, NOW with Bill Moyers, and National Public Radio. She has been published in the opinion pages of The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle; and has lectured widely on concentrated poverty and equitable development, appearing before audiences at the Chautauqua Institution and the Aspen Ideas Festival.
Blackwell founded PolicyLink after serving as senior vice president for The Rockefeller Foundation for three-and-a-half years. She directed the Foundation’s domestic and cultural divisions and developed the Next Generation Leadership and Building Democracy programs, centered on issues of inclusion, race, and policy. In 1987 she founded the Urban Strategies Council in Oakland, California, and received national recognition for pioneering a community building approach to social change through in-depth understanding of local conditions, community-driven systems reform, and an insistence on accountability. For a decade, beginning in 1977, Blackwell served as a partner with Public Advocates, a nationally known public interest law firm representing the underrepresented. She successfully litigated class action suits and developed innovative non-litigation strategies in the areas of employment, education, health, and consumer affairs.
Blackwell earned a bachelor’s degree from Howard University, and a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley. She co-chairs a task force on poverty for Hope, Opportunity, and Mobility for Everyone (HOME): The National Initiative to End Poverty, a project of the Center for American Progress. She has served on the boards of the Urban Institute, The James Irvine Foundation, Foundation for Child Development, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Advancement Project, Public/Private Ventures, Mills College, and Common Cause. Currently, she sits on the boards of the Children’s Defense Fund and the Corporation for Enterprise Development. In addition, Blackwell was one of the founders of the National Community Building Network.