Tilchin says his MPP toolkit serves him well as Associate Director of Economic Mobility at Results for America.
Headshot of Ross Tilchin
Ross Tilchin

Ross Tilchin, MPP'19, works as the Associate Director of Economic Mobility at Results for America, a national non-profit that empowers government leaders with evidence-based approaches to some of the toughest policy problems. “I lead a project called the Economic Mobility Catalog. It’s a one-stop-shop resource for local government leaders that introduces them to a range of economic mobility practices that are backed by evidence.”

One of Tilchin’s main responsibilities is curating the list of practices and policy resources that become part of the catalog. “So, the statistics and program evaluation I got at Harris has been critical. Harris gave me the confidence to be able to stand by my assessment of academic research methods and consider how these practices could potentially affect practitioners.”

Tilchin said he developed an appreciation for the importance of public policy early on: his mother was an environmental scientist, and his father was an environmental engineer. “Their work was in response to, or advocating for, change in policy in Washington DC. From an early age, I saw policy as the most powerful way to create a better world.”

The initial seeds planted at home continued to grow when Ross was an undergrad at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. As a recipient of a Posse Scholarship, Tilchin attended Lafayette as part of a diverse team of students from the Washington, DC and New York City metropolitan areas and took part in programming designed to promote diverse and inclusive leadership on Lafayette’s campus.

After college, Tilchin worked at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, where he conducted research and wrote about urban policy, including issues related to housing, transportation, economic development, education, and workforce development. “While it was incredible to learn about the issues that so many metropolitan areas face, I wanted to be more involved in driving the outcomes in a specific place. I wanted to have a hand in creating and implementing change myself.”

And it was that hands-on approach that drew him to the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.

Tilchin says one of the initial reasons he was drawn to Harris Public Policy was the campus location in Hyde Park: “This really vibrant, diverse, eclectic community just felt like it fit. I could see myself investing in this neighborhood. And Harris offered so many ways for students to tap into interesting local government topics across all policy areas.”

Tilchin said one of his favorite classes was State and Local Public Finance, taught by Dr. Paula Worthington. “Dr. Worthington cultivated an environment where students were curious and eager to engage in classroom discussion. There were several moments in that class where I thought, ‘This is why I am here.’”

While at Harris, Tilchin also earned a Certificate in Municipal Finance, cofounded and served as president of the Urban Policy Student Association, was selected to the inaugural class of Kreisman Fellows through the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, and served as leader of the Jewish Student Interest Group.

Harris, Tilchin said, possesses the best of both community and academics. “When I was deciding between grad schools, I wanted a place that would give me the opportunity to engage with the types of issues that cities face, but I also wanted to be at a school that fostered a strong sense of community. If anything, I underestimated how important the community aspect of Harris would be to me. The connections between students and the tight-knit nature of the school were the most important components of my Harris journey. Faculty and staff really went out of their way to make it a great experience.”