Rodney Harrell, PhD

Director, Livable Communities

Areas of Expertise

Livable Communities, Housing, Residential Patterns, Community Development

Rodney Harrell, AARP

Rodney Harrell, PhD


Rodney Harrell leads a group that works on innovative livable communities research, policy analysis, and solutions. He also works with the vice president of the Livable Communities and Long-Term Services and Supports Team to develop, implement, and manage the team’s research agenda. Once in place, those resources enhance personal independence;
allow residents to age in place; and foster residents’ engagement in their community’s civic, economic, and social life. Rodney’s research on housing preferences, neighborhood choice, and community livability are integral to the groundbreaking Livability Index, which measures the livability of every neighborhood and community in the United States. He is also a speaker, researcher, and blogger on livable communities issues and leads @AARPpolicy social media efforts.

Rodney joined the Public Policy Institute in March 2008 as a senior strategic policy advisor. Before joining AARP, he worked as a research and evaluation consultant, a researcher and instructor for the University of Maryland, and a Governor’s Fellow in the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development/Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.

Rodney graduated summa cum laude from the honors program at Howard University; earned dual master’s degrees in public affairs and urban and regional planning from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University; and received a PhD in urban planning and design from the University of Maryland, College Park, where he was a Wylie Fellow. He is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies.

In His Words

“'The numbers are telling us that no community is perfect—and most are far from perfect,’ says Rodney Harrell, director of livable communities at the AARP Public Policy Institute. ‘The goal [of the Livability Index] is to provide a tool that helps people make their communities
better.’” (R. Harrell, quoted in M. Miller, “See How Your Neighborhood Ranks as a Place to Age,” Fiscal Times, April 30, 2015)

Selected Publications

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