About Me

Community Engaged Action Researcher

Dr. Brittany Lewis is a well-respected community engaged qualitative scholar, thought leader, author, and national speaker known for bringing those most often locked out of local decision-making processes to the action research table for close to 10 years. Dr. Lewis is the Founder and CEO of Research in Action, an urban research, strategy, and engagement firm, and is currently a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota. Formerly, Dr. Lewis was a Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank Scholar in Residence and Visiting Assistant Professor at Macalester College in Political Science and American Studies.

“Dr. Lewis is an invaluable member of so many communities in Minnesota. Her works sits directly in the tradition of foundational Black scholar/activists like Ida B. Wells and W.E.B. Du Bois. Dr. Lewis is a relentless advocate for those facing the most precarious circumstances. Her ability to move from boardrooms to courtrooms to classrooms to community forums with elegance and fire is unparalleled. Not only is she is one of Minnesota’s most brilliant thinkers, she is directly impacting the policies that shape our lives.”

–Dr. Brian Lozenski, Professor of Urban and Multicultural Education at Macalester College

Dr. Lewis is the Principal Investigator of the Illusion of Choice: Evictions and Profit in North Minneapolis report and the Co-Principal Investigator on the recently published report entitled: The Diversity of Gentrification: Multiple Forms of Gentrification in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Dr. Lewis’s research was used in a Minnesota Supreme Court case to expand rights for tenants facing evictions, as direct testimony at the Minnesota State Legislature, and to inform the human services and public safety impact agenda within Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis. Dr. Lewis has consulted with philanthropic partners such as the Pohlad and Graves Foundation who refer directly to Dr. Lewis’s research as they develop their own scope of work and strategic plans of action.

Dr. Lewis serves on the Metropolitan Council Livable Communities Advisory Committee, the City of Minneapolis Housing Advisory Council, and the State of Minnesota Working Group on Police-Involved Deadly Force Encounters. Dr. Lewis is the author of a number of state and city reports, featured in a series of academic journals, and has been honored with a number of research fellowships and a best paper award. Dr. Lewis’s expertise has also been featured in documentaries such as the Jim Crow of the North (2019) and A Fiery Unrest: Why Plymouth Avenue Burned (2019).

“Dr. Lewis has been an inspiration and guiding force to a number of our strategic initiatives. Her approach combines research with action-oriented solutions identified by those closest to the issue. She skillfully combines data with community engagement, grounding that data in experience and making meaning that leads to community-led priorities and impact. Hers is not the proverbial “research that sits on a shelf,” as it is owned by and lives in community.”

–Susan Bass-Roberts, Vice President, Executive Director of the Pohlad Foundation

Why Work With Me


Dr. Lewis’s customized action research approach grounded in her extensive qualitative research skills reflects meaningful collaboration between academics, advocates, policymakers, service providers, and impacted communities from the beginning to the end of the partnership. When an action research model is used, community members are not the subjects of research—they are the co-producers of knowledge. Dr. Lewis’s extensive academic training, deep community relationships, and intricate understanding of local and national public policy processes has taught her that the only way to ensure that research is relevant to and builds the power of low wealth communities they must inform the creation of the research tools alongside other relevant stakeholders.

The actionable research products that are ultimately created are then used to validate the plans of action that policymakers and nonprofits rely on when taking strategic steps toward addressing our city, county, and states most damaging systemic inequalities. Moving beyond equity-based rhetoric toward purposeful implementation of innovative policies should support community articulated needs and actions.

Dr. Lewis guarantees her partner’s success by using a grounded theoretical approach to creating systems change. Using her own research-in-action framework, Dr. Lewis using a human centered collaborative approach to create and analyze qualitative data, that centers the voices of those most impacted and relevant quantitative data, to produce actionable research products that provide community, policymakers, and practitioners the tangible tools that they need to make important interventions into existing policies and programs.

Case Studies

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Dr. Lewis uses her skills of inquiry-based research, reporting and synthesis to drive beyond visible symptoms toward  root causes of poor outcomes and disparities for Minnesota’s youth, women and communities of color. Through her research and reporting Dr. Lewis fosters individual and group education and civic participation. With relevant and compelling information Dr. Lewis motivates individual, community, and systems action for physical, mental/emotional and economic health and wellbeing. Dr. Lewis’ body of work create platforms upon which people can build capacities for working together to solve intransigent and stubborn problems of our society today, making way for an equitable society that works for all.”

Toni Carter, Ramsey County Commissioner

“Dr. Lewis has added an essential dynamic to research into the study of housing displacement on the northside of Minneapolis. Data doesn’t tell the full story. Numbers cannot replace real lived experiences. Dr. Lewis helps people tell their stories, and then helps those stories drive and guide real policy change.”

Luke Gunderman, Attorney at Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid
Let’s Work Together