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The Innovative Cities Lecture Series

Is Community Wealth Building the Future of Economic Development? presentation by Sarah McKinley, Democracy Collective’s Director of Community Wealth Building Practice

Lecture Summary

In order to address wealth inequality, we need understand and talk about wealth extraction from our communities. How do we root wealth locally so that it recirculates for the benefit of people, planet, and place? Community wealth building is the way that we do that and offers systemic and transformative solutions that can build a more sustainable and just economy from the local up.


Sarah McKinley is the director of community wealth building programs for The Democracy Collaborative, working out of her home office in Brussels, Belgium.

Sarah is building transatlantic partnerships to develop new community wealth building models and learning exchanges to advance the democratic economy in the United Kingdom, continental Europe, and the United States. Previously, she was director of European programs and was the European representative for The Democracy Collaborative’s Next System Project. She has managed the Learning/Action Lab for Community Wealth Building, a multiyear initiative supported by the Northwest Area Foundation, assisting five organizations in Indian Country to create social enterprises and employee-owned companies. She supported the publication of An Indigenous Approach to Community Wealth Building: A Lakota Translation and co- authored Cities Building Community Wealth, The Anchor Dashboard: Aligning Institutional Practice to Meet Low-Income Community Needs, and Raising Student Voices: Student Action for University Community Investment.

Her background is in community development and has worked with community development organizations at different levels, including with the Greater Southwest Development Corporation, a Chicago-based community development corporation, and the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations in Washington DC. While earning her master’s degree in urban and regional planning at Cornell University, Sarah was a co-author and coordinator of “A People’s Plan for New Orleans,” a bottom-up community development plan for the 9th Ward after Hurricane Katrina. She holds a bachelor’s degree in urban history from the University of Chicago.

AICP-CM credits will be awarded.

Questions, comments?

All lectures are free and open to planners, students, staff, faculty, and friends of the University. Please contact Jennifer Tasse , Department of Urban Planning Project Assistant at