September 29, 2023

Kareem Usher Wins Prestigious Norman Krumholz Equity Award

The associate professor of city and regional planning was awarded for his work on social justice and community-engaged research and practice.

Kareem Usher Wins Prestigious Norman Krumholz Equity Award

Associate Professor of City and Regional Planning Dr. Kareem Usher was awarded the 2023 APA Ohio Norman Krumholz Equity Award. The prestigious honor was announced at the APA Ohio Planning Conference held in Columbus on September 29, 2023.  

The award recognizes a person, policy, or community engagement process that exemplifies the professional ideas of Mr. Krumholz, who was a life-long champion of equity in planning and human betterment. As well as serving as professor in Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, Planning Director of the City of Cleveland, and APA President, Mr. Krumholz was the founder of the concept of equity planning, which advocated for planners to work strategically with communities of color and grassroots movements.

Dr. Usher’s commitment to the transformative powers of social justice and community-engaged research and practice in have positioned him as an exemplar of advocacy for the poor and powerless in communities championed by Norman Krumholz.

Dr. Usher’s community-based research—which has appeared in journals such as Food, Culture and Society and Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development—explores and analyzes the intersection of community food insecurity, urban food production, and the role of food-related nonprofit organizations in community development. A recent line of scholarly inquiry published in Frontiers in Environmental Science includes mixed methods to propose an alternative conceptualization of the urban food-energy-water nexus.

Kareem Usher receives Krumholtz Award during the APA Ohio awards ceremony
Dr. Kareem Usher (right) with Matt Schmidt (left), Chair of the APA Ohio Awards Committee.

An example of Dr. Usher’s scholarship and action research is in the Linden community, where 43 percent of the predominantly black households live in poverty. Through his team’s direct engagement with neighborhood and religious leaders and conversations via door-to-door canvasing, Dr. Usher was a principal in developing the “One Linden Cooperative” project, which promotes worker-owned, socially-driven businesses that can lead wealth creation in the neighborhood. His involvement provides opportunities to better understand the role of anchor institutions, such as Ohio State, in creating sustainable and equitable systems models specific to local food systems planning and community development.

Dr. Usher has promoted social justice in Central Ohio through his work on the Food Systems Zoning Project in Franklin County and the Mansfield food aggregation project.

Dr. Usher’s campus involvement includes membership in the Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT), which seeks to design and implement sustainable food systems while transforming communities. He also leads the collaboration between InFACT and Building Responsibility, Equality and Dignity, a nonprofit coalition of 40 diverse religious congregations in Franklin County. Additionally, Dr. Usher has made a significant impact of Ohio State’s efforts to increase the amount of local and sustainable food served on campus.

Dr. Usher received his PhD in urban and regional planning from Florida State University and a Master of Urban Planning from the University of Louisville. Before joining the Knowlton School, Dr. Usher was a postdoctoral fellow at Ohio State’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity from 2014–15.