Phyllis Betts is a sociologist and founding director of the Center for Community Building and Neighborhood Action (CBANA) in the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Memphis. Her
PhD is from The University of Chicago, where she concentrated in social inequality
and social policy and urban sociology.
As an affiliate of the Center for Research on Women, she has served as Associate Director
for Community-Based Research and Partnerships. Her work with CROW focuses on poverty,
welfare policy, and workforce development for women, where linkages with the Women’s
Foundation for a Greater Memphis, the Memphis Area Women’s Council, and the Memphis
Housing Authority’s HOPE VI economic self-sufficiency strategy for former public housing
residents use research to drive action. Phyllis is also a Research Fellow with The
Urban Child Institute and chairs the Shelby County Infant Mortality Initiative Data
Committee, where several CROW affiliates will be bringing research on social factors
in health disparities to bear on a county-wide effort to reduce infant mortality and
strengthen early childhood outcomes.
CBANA specializes in research and community-based problem-solving on housing, neighborhoods,
and community development, where low-income women and their families experience the
brunt of housing hardship and diminished support services in urban neighborhoods.
Research on the relationship between predatory and other mortgage lending products
and high rates of mortgage foreclosure in African-American neighborhoods and among
female borrowers is supported by The Brookings Institution’s Urban Markets Initiative.
CBANA is also affiliated with The Urban Institute’s National Neighborhood Indicators
Partnership, and is working to develop a set of neighborhood-level indicators to track
social inequality and social change in Memphis and Shelby County.
In addition to her work with Brookings and the Urban Institute, Dr. Betts has collaborated
with community partners on other projects supported by the Fannie Mae Foundation,
HUD-HOPE VI, the Ford Foundation, Seedco Inc, and the Pew Charitable Trusts; and has
received local funding from the City of Memphis, The Urban Child Institute, the Community
Foundation of Greater Memphis, the Assisi Foundation, the RISE Foundation, and the
Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis. Other national grants include the National
Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates and research grants from
the National Institute of Justice.