The UNC Center for Community Capital’s research staff includes both academics and practitioners from a wide variety of disciplinary and professional backgrounds. In addition to our staff team, our research fellows, and our faculty fellows, we also work with undergraduate interns and graduate student fellows and researchers to develop our work. This multidisciplinary team brings broad perspectives and decades of experience examining the full spectrum of issues that determine how financial capital flows through U.S. communities and households.
If you are interested in joining us in our work, please check out our Get Involved page for current openings.
DR. MIKE STEGMAN | Founder & Research Fellow
Dr. Michael A. Stegman, now a Senior Fellow in the Housing Finance Program at the Center for Financial Markets at the Milken Institute, founded the center in 1997 while serving as chair of UNC’s Department of Public Policy and MacRae Professor of Public Policy and Business.
Dr. Stegman’s interest in asset-building strategies for low-income Americans and communities grew while serving in the Clinton Administration as assistant secretary for policy development and research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Since founding the Center, Dr. Stegman has served as a counselor for housing finance policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, as the director of policy and housing for the MacArthur Foundation, at the Bipartisan Policy Council in Washington D.C., and as a senior policy adviser for housing for the National Economic Council in the White House.
PROFESSOR ROBERTO QUERCIA | Director
Roberto G. Quercia is the Harris Distinguished Professor in the UNC Department of City and Regional Planning. Professor Quercia leads major research projects in the areas of low-income homeownership, mortgage lending, subprime and predatory lending, and financial services issues. He is a co-author of Regaining the Dream: How to Renew the Promise of Homeownership for America’s Working Families (with Allison Freeman and Janneke Ratcliffe), published by Brooking University Press in 2011, and of A Place Called Home: The Social Dimensions of Homeownership (with Kim Manturuk and Mark Lindblad), published by Oxford University Press in 2017.
Professor Quercia has conducted extensive research for government agencies, municipalities, community organizations and private entities, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal National Mortgage Association, and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. He has published on the topics of low-income homeownership, affordable lending and the assessment of lending risks, and homeownership education and counseling. He has held appointments at the University of Texas, the University of California at Berkeley, the Wharton Real Estate Center (University of Pennsylvania), and the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C. Professor Quercia holds a masters degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a Ph.D. in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
JESS DORRANCE | Managing Director
Jess Dorrance leads much of the center’s evaluation work in asset-building, consumer financial services, and financial capability. She conducts research and analysis to understand what products and programs promote economic security and mobility for low-wealth households and communities. She is particularly interested in opportunities for households to build savings, and in the intersection of financial, physical and emotional health.
Recent projects include an evaluation of the Financial Solutions Lab, a program aimed at identifying and scaling financial innovations that can improve American’s financial lives; Neighborhood Trust’s PayGoal product, a cash flow management and financial advising tool; MAGIC Mojo, an impulse savings tool linked to a prepaid card; and data analysis for CFSI’s small dollar credit working group. Jess holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Skidmore College and a master’s degree in public administration from UNC Chapel Hill.
JULIA BARNARD | Research Associate
In her role as a Research Associate, Julia’s research focuses on economic mobility, student debt, financial coaching and counseling, and the role of housing as a platform for social services. She also served as an editor for A Place Called Home: The Social Dimensions of Homeownership, which was published in 2017 by Oxford University Press. Additionally, Julia develops and manages the Center’s communications strategy. She is also the Coordinator for the Center’s student programming, including the Graduate Student Fellowship, the Graduate Research Program, and the Undergraduate Communications Internship.
Before coming to UNC, Julia worked as a community organizer for the Texas Hillel Foundation and with Fusebox Festival’s thinkEAST project, a mixed-income, mixed-use development in Austin, Texas. She earned her B.A. with highest distinction from the University of Kansas in history and her M.C.R.P. from the Department of City and Regional Planning at UNC Chapel Hill, where she was a Weiss Urban Livability Fellow and the recipient of the Weiss Best Colleague Award. She also served as an Editor for the Carolina Planning Journal from 2014-2016.
DR. ALLISON FREEMAN | Senior Research Associate
Allison Freeman’s research considers the wealth gap in the United States and how access to financial services, both credit and debt instruments, might exacerbate or redress economic inequality. Her work also explores how attributes of place affect lower-income people’s ability to move up the economic ladder.
Dr. Freeman spent her first nine years at CCC working on the center’s longitudinal study of affordable homeownership, examining in particular the wealth-building effects of homeownership for lower-income people. Before she joined the center’s staff, Dr. Freeman researched access to affordable housing finance in post-apartheid South Africa.
SONIA GARRISON | Financial Capability Consultant
Sonia Garrison is a financial capability consultant with over 20 years’ experience in community development and consumer finance. She has extensive research, policy analysis, and project management experience in the areas of financial capability, financial coaching, affordable housing, mortgage finance, and consumer banking. Sonia has recently worked with a number of nonprofit organizations and government agencies in addition to the Center for Community Capital, including the Urban Institute and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Abt. Associates and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), and Self-Help Credit Union.
Prior to becoming a consultant, Sonia worked as a project manager at Self-Help, a community development financial institution and as a senior researcher at the Center for Responsible Lending in Durham, North Carolina. At the Center, Sonia has contributed to projects such as All In: Building the Path to Global Prosperity through Financial Capability and Inclusion and other projects about financial technology and inclusion. She is currently contributing to a project surveying financial coaching platforms and another about the integration of financial capability work into housing organizations.
EILEEN HARVEY | Research & Programs Coordinator
Eileen Harvey is a Research & Program Coordinator and is the newest member of the CCC team. At the Center, Eileen is on the research team for our projects on student loan debt and on financial coaching. Additionally, Eileen is helping the Center to develop interdisciplinary programming and research around the topic of economic opportunity.
Eileen earned her bachelor’s degree in 2017 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Global Studies with a Minor in Chinese Studies and a Minor in Urban Studies & Planning. In the same year, she also earned her certificate in Design & Innovation for Sustainable Cities at the University of California at Berkeley. As an undergraduate, she served as a Co-Chair for Hope Gardens, a student-run nonprofit that seeks to improve food access in the Chapel Hill – Carrboro area. She also worked at the Carolina Population Center as a Library Services & Research Communications Assistant. Eileen is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Sigma Pi.
PROFESSOR NIKHIL KAZA | Faculty Fellow
Dr. Nikhil Kaza is an Associate Professor, Associate Chair, & Director of the Master’s Program in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Kaza studies the phenomena of plans and their uses in public and private decision-making. Of particular interest are urban development processes, energy planning and land use impacts.
DR. MARK LINDBLAD | Research Fellow
Mark Lindblad’s work connects the psychological, social and legal factors that influence consumer financial decision making. His research examines how financially constrained households manage debt. He is a co-author of A Place Called Home: The Social Dimensions of Homeownership (with Kim Manturuk and Mark Lindblad), which is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. Dr. Lindblad earned his M.S. and Ph.D from North Carolina State University in Psychology.
PROFESSOR NICHOLA LOWE | Faculty Fellow
Dr. Nichola Lowe is an Associate Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Lowe’s research focuses on the institutional arrangements that lead to more inclusive forms of economic development and specifically, the role that practitioners can play in aligning growth and equity goals.
MARK MCDANIEL | Research Fellow
Mark McDaniel consults with foundations, policymakers and others on strategies that help connect low-income populations to economic opportunities. These strategies include connecting neighborhoods to regional workforce opportunities, connecting the unbanked and underbanked to financial services and leveraging investment in low-income areas for housing, community facilities and other economic development opportunities.
KATE MEDLEY | Documentarian
Kate Medley is a documentarian telling stories about good causes, companies, and campaigns. Following a ten-year career in corporate marketing at Whole Foods Market, during which time she spearheaded a journalistic approach to the company’s marketing of farmers and producers, Medley now leads a media agency in Durham, North Carolina. She is a longtime filmmaker for the Southern Foodways Alliance and a regular contributor to The New York Times. At the Center, Kate is currently working with our team on the Housing and Opportunities Assessment.
DR. SARAH RILEY | Senior Research Economist
Sarah Riley manages the center’s data and has published in the areas of real estate economics, mortgage finance, behavioral economics, and survey methods. Her work at the center spans a variety of technical and administrative domains, including data user training and support, project and personnel management, analytic reporting, statistical programming, technical writing, econometric analysis, and methodological consulting.
Prior to joining the center in 2007, Sarah authored software documentation for risk management solutions at SAS Institute, taught undergraduate economics courses at UNC-Chapel Hill, and freelanced as an academic ESL editor. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from UNC-Chapel Hill.
DR. REBECCA TIPPETT | Demographer
Dr. Rebecca Tippett is the founding Director of Carolina Demography at the Carolina Population Center at UNC-Chapel Hill which started in 2013. With more than a decade of experience analyzing demographic and economic data, she has spent the last 7 years translating research into specific, usable information and knowledge to inform decision-making, evaluation, and policy. At Carolina Demography, she helps North Carolina government and business leaders understand and anticipate how population change affects them and their organizations. A transplant to North Carolina from the Midwest, she earned her BA in Sociology and Political Science from The Ohio State University and her MA and PhD in Sociology from Duke University. At the Center for Community Capital, Dr. Tippett has been involved with the Housing & Opportunity Assessment and the Latino Housing Study.