Who's Who of Top Executives

George W. McCarthy, PhD

Title: President and Chief Executive Officer
Company: Lincoln Institute of Land and Policy
Location: Cambridge, Massachusettes, United States

George W. McCarthy, PhD, president and chief executive officer at Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Executives for dedication, achievements, and leadership in land and public policy.

With nearly four decades of experience to his credit, Mr. McCarthy has excelled in the fields of land policy, housing, economics, public policy, and statistics. He is currently serving as the president and chief executive officer of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, MA, a role he has held since 2014. In this role, he oversees the institute’s various initiatives and collaborations, focusing on improving land policy and management.

Prior to his current position, Mr. McCarthy served as the director of metropolitan opportunity at the Ford Foundation from 2000 to 2014, where he worked on initiatives to enhance urban development and economic opportunities in metropolitan areas. His career also includes roles such as senior research associate at the Center for Urban and Regional Studies at the University of North Carolina and professor of economics at Bard College. Additionally, he has been a resident scholar at the Jerome Levy Economics Institute and a visiting scholar at King’s College of Cambridge University, the University of Naples in Italy, and the Centre for Social Research in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Before embarking on his professional path, Mr. McCarthy pursued an education at the University of Montana, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics and mathematics. He continued his academic efforts at Duke University, obtaining a Master of Arts in economics in 1987, and concluded his studies with a PhD in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1998.

In addition to his primary vocation, Mr. McCarthy remains affiliated with various organizations. He serves as a board member for Next Step Network Inc. and the International Center for Land Policy Studies and Training, and is on the board of directors for Living Cities. He has maintained his involvement in professional communities as a member of the American Economics Association, the Eastern Economics Association, the American Planning Association, the Government Finance Officers Association, the National League of Cities, and the Mayors’ Institute on City Design.

In light of his impressive undertakings, Mr. McCarthy has accrued several accolades throughout his career. He was recognized as a 1985 Spengler Fellow in Economics at Duke University and was presented with the 1987 National Institute of Health Pre-doctoral Fellowship at the Carolina Population Center. He was also named a 1989 Lurcy Fellow in Economics at the University of North Carolina and received the 2011 Visionary Leader in Community Development award from NeighborWorks America. Additionally, he was honored with the 1983 Distinguished Economist Award from the University of Montana and became a Member of the High Table at Kings College, Cambridge University, in 1997.

Throughout the duration of his career, the most notable achievement for Dr. McCarthy is leading the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy through a decade of growth from 2014 to 2024. Under his leadership, the institute grew from 38 to over 160 employees, tripled its budget, and expanded its global footprint through partnerships with the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. He guided the institute through a multi-year strategic plan that added new centers and capacities, including the Babbitt Center for Land and Water, the Center for Community Investment, and the Center for Geospatial Solutions. He also helped the institute attain the ability to confer undergraduate and graduate degrees through a merger with Claremont Lincoln University in 2022.

Another defining moment in Dr. McCarthy’s career was his leadership of the housing program at the Ford Foundation from 2000 to 2012. He transitioned the program from supporting affordable rental housing to focusing on homeownership as an asset-building strategy to help families escape poverty. In 2001, he warned of the looming crisis in the housing finance sector, years before the 2008 global financial crisis. Despite the collapse of national housing markets, he managed one of the most successful national programs supporting low-income homeownership, helping more than 50,000 low-income families become successful homeowners through partnerships with the Self-Help Credit Union and Fannie Mae.

Looking ahead, Dr. McCarthy hopes to transition from his role as president and chief executive officer at the Lincoln Institute so that he can select important projects and activities to focus on. In particular, he hopes that upon retirement, he will be able to share his knowledge and experiences with others.

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Lincoln Institute of Land and Policy – George W. McCarthy, PhD

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