Working at the intersection of housing, the built environment, and health, Renée's career is focused around working with planners, public health practitioners, real estate developers, and other urban stakeholders to create what she refers to as “sociologically sustainable communities”. Sociological sustainability is concerned with ensuring healthy, equitable, social life within our buildings, streetscapes, and neighborhoods.
Renée holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Georgia State University, and has been an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education research fellow assigned to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) since 2015. A native of Toronto, and alumna of Michigan State University, she moved to Atlanta after college to begin graduate studies. Moving every few years of her life, to various neighborhoods in metro Toronto, Southeastern Michigan, and in Atlanta, has made her an astute evaluator of housing and neighborhood conditions. She has developed intimate knowledge of Atlanta doing data collection on several federally-funded research projects.
Renée’s graduate work centered around the demolitions of Atlanta’s remaining family public housing and involuntary relocations of public housing residents, although she also has peer-reviewed publications on race and work. Her dissertation built on her master’s thesis to challenge the policy narrative around “housing choice”, and provide a viable tool for affordable housing providers to facilitate residents accessing the best possible housing options available, taking both neighborhood and resident characteristics into consideration. Built environment characteristics, including housing unit conditions, are an important part of neighborhood quality since they determine a great deal of individuals’ health and quality of life. Renée is passionate about built environment interventions to promote equity and prevent chronic disease, including better walkability, access to healthy food, and access to public transit.
Renée currently serves on the executive board of the CDC/ATSDR Built Environment Work Group, and is engaged in several advocacy efforts and professional organizations, including the Urban Affairs Association, the American Planning Association, and the American Public Health Association.