OU Institute for Quality Communities Welcomes New Associate Director

Vanessa Morrison has been named the Associate Director of the Institute for Quality Communities (IQC) at the University of Oklahoma Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture (GCA).

Vanessa is an award-winning planner and community development professional who is dedicated to empowering her community. After receiving a master’s degree in Regional & City Planning with an emphasis in Community and Economic Development, Morrison’s career led her to design and lead approaches to address inequity challenges and solutions for marginalized groups, domestically and internationally consult community projects, collaborate on initiatives, and activate both spatial and social environments.

Vanessa is also highly experienced in leading teams while developing engagement strategies that reach into a diverse range of communities; including but not limited to underserved groups, business spaces, the non-profit arena, and state and local governments.

Vanessa is a co-founder of BlackSpace Oklahoma and an affiliate faculty member at the Gibbs College of Architecture, where she has collaborated in efforts like a new community-led think tank for anti-racist frameworks in education. Vanessa has also served as the Director of Client Services at Palomar, Oklahoma City’s Family Justice Center, where she played a key role in development and operations.

“Vanessa’s academic and professional background in community planning efforts that serves marginalized groups at different scales—from one-on-one client services to large-scale strategic planning—aligns with OU’s renewed commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Hans E. Butzer, dean of the Gibbs College of Architecture.

The Institute for Quality Communities is the signature community engagement and service learning of the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture. IQC advances place-based approaches to community well-being, and supports community-engaged teaching, research, and creative activity at the GCA. IQC has worked in more than 50 communities of all sizes in 28 Oklahoma counties, in partnership with governments and local non-profits. As Associate Director of the IQC, Vanessa will collaborate in shaping the strategy of the IQC team to advance its vision for impactful community engagement.

“Through her career and advocacy work, Vanessa has a distinct perspective on community outreach and a network of collaborators that will complement IQC’s work,” said Shane Hampton, director of the Institute for Quality Communities. “I am excited to work with her to continue developing programs that serve a diverse range of Oklahoma communities and provide hands-on experiences for GCA students.”