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Get To Know Your Allies | Board Edition | Jerry Dickinson

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Gerald (Jerry) Dickinson has served on the Neighborhood Allies Board of Directors since 2016 and was recently elected to serve as our Vice Chairperson. He is a professor, lawyer, and legal scholar, focusing his scholarship on constitutional property and the intersection between land use laws, housing and urban development.

 Jerry also teaches courses in property, estates and trusts and land, race and property rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. His advocacy also intersects with his scholarship and teaching, as he is a former Fulbright Scholar to Johannesburg, South Africa, where he advocated on behalf of inner-city squatters in unlawful removals in South Africa and, while practicing at the law firm Reed Smith LLP in Pittsburgh, Professor Dickinson founded and coordinated the firm’s Housing Rights Project representing indigent tenants in eviction proceedings. Professor Dickinson also served as a law clerk for the Honorable Theodore A. McKee, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Get to know our Vice Chairperson and the expertise and perspective he brings to our organization a little better!

  • Job Title: Law Professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Law
  • Years on Neighborhood Allies Board: 2016-Present
  • What you think is special about our work/role at Neighborhood Allies? Neighborhood Allies serves as an important community connector. Its mission is to foster and facilitate extreme localism — that is, to support neighborhood-level participation and engagement on issues ranging from socio-economic development, to racial and multicultural inclusion to equitable development. That type of local focus in an organization is enviable, and that is what makes Neighborhood Allies a special organization indeed.
  • The neighborhood you live in/why you love it: Regent Square, because it’s close to Frick Park, quiet, walkable and has easy transit access to Oakland and the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Before you were at Pitt, you were: Federal Law Clerk for the Honorable Chief Judge Theodore McKee of US Court of Appeals of the Third Circuit (Philadelphia) and before that an attorney at Reed Smith LLP (Pittsburgh).
  • If you ruled the world, what would you change on day 1: Convene world leaders, particularly international “allies,” to negotiate, deliberate and agree upon an international memorandum of understanding on a strategic and coordinated effort — similar to carbon emissions reduction efforts — to provide benchmark increases in access to safe and adequate housing for the world’s poorest populations. International collaboration on local neighborhood issues, like housing, can go a long way to helping to ameliorate the problem of unaffordable and uninhabitable housing.
  • Favorite thing to do when not at work: Long walks through Frick Park with my daughter Aria and wife Emily. Walks are great for thinking about new ways to change the world!
  • People would be surprised to learn that you: I was placed in the Allegheny County Children and Youth Services foster system soon after birth and ultimately grew up in a “multi-racial Brady Bunch” foster home with eleven (11) other foster children from all walks of life, eight (8) of whom would ultimately be legally adopted.
  • Family/Pets: I have a nine-month old daughter named Aria. Emily (Dickinson) is my beautiful and super smart wife (no, not the poet!). We also have a small dog named Denzel. He’s a cockapoo and just as charming and charismatic as Denzel Washington!
  • Favorite Quote: “The unexamined life is not worth living” — Socrates

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