Skip to content

Rodney Harrell, PhD

Vice President, Family, Home and Community


Areas of Expertise

Livable Communities, Housing, Residential Patterns, Community Development


Rodney Harrell leads a group that provides thought leadership on livable communities and long-term services and supports by developing research, policy analysis, and innovative solutions. Creating age-friendly, livable communities enhances personal independence; allows residents to age in place; and fosters residents’ engagement in their community’s civic, economic, and social life – the team works to ensure that all people of all ages have access to the options that enhance livability across the lifespan. 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 AARP’s Future of Housing efforts.

Rodney joined the Public Policy Institute in March 2008 as a 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

See all blog posts






Long-Term Services & Supports State Scorecard

A State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, and Family Caregivers


Aging Demographics

One in Three Americans is Now 50 or Older

By 2030, one out of every five people in the United State will be 65-plus. Will your community be ready?

Visit us at