Sarah Mills Named Director of Center for EmPowering Communities

The University of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute is launching the Center for EmPowering Communities to foster decarbonization solutions that advance community goals and priorities. Sarah Mills, Ph.D. U.R.P. ’15 and associate professor of practice in urban and regional planning, has been named the center’s director.

The center will help Michigan communities tackle the planning and zoning challenges related to renewable energy projects such as wind and solar installations. In addition, the center will spur collaborative research that integrates social science with technology design, community engagement, and policymaking.

Mills is a noted expert on farmland preservation, rural prosperity, and planning and zoning for renewable energy. The establishment of the center is a natural progression of her prior energy-focused work at the Graham Sustainability Institute, which has garnered increasing interest from researchers, practitioners, and stakeholders.

“The Center for EmPowering Communities is designed to respond to stakeholder needs and catalyze research and education around renewable energy in a way that is community-centered,” said Mills.

“At the heart of this endeavor is a network of partnerships forged with stakeholders from the public, private, and non-governmental sectors. By collaborating deeply with these diverse entities, we can identify and elevate issues and opportunities at the intersection of land use, decarbonization, and economic development. Our goal is to bridge the gap between theory and real-world implementation, shaping policies and strategies that align with local objectives.”