McCourt School Policy Innovation Lab to Help Anacostia River Residents

McCourt School Policy Innovation Lab to Help Anacostia River Residents

Posted in News Story

MAY 6, 2015 – Nearly 30 students from the McCourt School of Public Policy are working with faculty and several research and community organizations this spring to examine how current and future land development along Washington’s Anacostia River affect Ward 7 and 8 residents.

The students’ efforts are part of the new McCourt School Policy Innovation Lab’s inaugural project.

The McCourt School founded the Policy Innovation Lab in 2014 with the goal of leveraging student ingenuity and convening the expertise of professors, researchers, community leaders and activists to tackle urgent and emerging issues in the region by developing innovative and forward-thinking solutions  


“The team is looking at how the city can assure that economic and community development along the Anacostia benefits current residents, particularly through jobs with living wages and affordable housing,” says co-director Margret O’Bryon, the Waldemar A. Neilsen Chair in Philanthropy at McCourt’s Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership. “The bigger question is how can the use of the land along the river become the driver for creating greater economic and social inclusion and equity.”

The new lab aims to address interdisciplinary policy questions affecting communities in the city that cut across multiple issues and neighborhoods.

The lab’s partnerships with community organizations and other stakeholders include the DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice,  a nonprofit group that identifies pressing local challenges, conducts research and analysis, makes specific recommendations for reform and implements effective solutions.

The lab is also part of a broader effort that includes the Urban Institute and the Federal City Council.


O’Byron co-directs the lab with Stephanie Keller Hudiburg, Nielsen Chair Research Fellow and Georgetown Public Policy Student Association president.

The new lab is part of the university’s commitment to work with organizations and communities to clean up the Anacostia River and build healthy communities along its banks.

Georgetown has engaged with communities in Ward 7 to provide educational support, mentoring and healthcare services to students, families and schools for the past 30 years through its Ward 7 Initiative.


Through site visits and frequent lab working sessions, McCourt students are learning firsthand from community leaders about policy challenges in communities along the Anacostia and in the D.C. metro area.  

McCourt Innovation Lab students held a listening session April 9 at the Community of Hope in Ward 8 with community leaders and residents, including several teens from Ballou High School.

While working to envision public policies benefitting their neighbors, students are gaining skills in facilitation, design thinking and working effectively with communities, applying knowledge gained in the classroom and the lab to real-world policy challenges


“We have had an incredible response to the lab so far as students crave real-world experience to apply all the skills they are gaining at the McCourt School,” says Keller Hudiburg. “This lab is about leveraging the resources Georgetown already has and convening so many great minds already thinking about entrenched local policy issues with the fresh ideas and enthusiasm of students to the mutual benefit of both the students and the local communities.”

McCourt School Dean Edward Montgomery says the new lab is “an exciting new opportunity for the McCourt School and a tangible example of Georgetown’s commitment to serving the common good.”

“Through this first project on the Anacostia, our faculty and students are engaging in a policy issue that has great meaning for our city,” he adds.