Nicholas Finio Headshot

Nicholas Finio

Associate Director, NCSG; PhD Student
1112Q Preinkert


Nick Finio is the Associate Director of NCSG, and a PhD candidate in the Urban and Regional planning program. He primarily works on community development projects with Gerrit Knaap, Casey Dawkins, and Willow Lung Amam, but is also deeply engaged with the Center’s sustainability efforts through the PRESTO program. Nick also works on Purple Line Corridor Coalition, including implementation of the recently acquired FTA grant. Nick is responsible for numerous administrative tasks at NCSG. He was responsible for planning NCSG’s successful “Smart Growth at 20” workshop in April 2018.

Nick joined NCSG in the Fall of 2013 as a Graduate Assistant in the URSP Community Planning program, graduated in May 2015, and started the URPD PhD program in the fall of 2015. He advanced to candidacy in the PhD program in Summer 2017 and defended his dissertation proposal, “Towards a holistic understanding of gentrification,” in May 2018. In Summer 2018, Nick accepted a full-time position, and was promoted in January 2019 to Associate Director, under direction of Gerrit Knaap. He remains a PhD candidate.




Nick's dissertation work is focused on the measurement of gentrification, and investigation of gentrification in the greater DC region and elsewhere. His work focuses on the causes of neighborhood change. Nick is reviewing the growing body of academic literature on gentrification, culminating in a survey of quantitative methods used to define gentrifying neighborhoods. He is also investigating the progression of gentrification outside of its traditional boundaries in central cities, into suburban neighborhoods where demographic change is accelerating.  His neighborhood research is also focused locally, on neighborhood change in the Purple Line corridor, as massive public investment catalyzes neighborhood change in diverse communities near the University of Maryland in the suburbs of Washington DC.

At the Center for Smart Growth, Nick leads or is involved in a number of different research projects. One of his primary tasks is to support the Purple Line Corridor Coalition with data, research, and analysis. He is also focused on housing, community development, and regional planning. Recent projects include support for the PLCC's housing action plan, an analysis of underutilized lands in the region, housing research for Montgomery County, and research on national equity projects and indicators. He is coordinating work on NCSG's $2 million grant partnership with the Maryland Transit Administration, from the Federal Transit Administration. He is also leading a housing needs assessment project with Maryland's Department of Housing and Community Development. Past projects included the Center's scenario planning and forecasting project, PRESTO; development of economic analysis of the Purple Line Corridor; organizing NCSG's Smart Growth at 20 conference; and a review of Baltimore's Sustainable Communities Initiative. He has also taught a URSP course, Community Development. 



Gerrit Knaap


Research Interests/Specializations:

Gentrification, Smart Growth, Regionalism, Equity


Career ambitions

Academia, non-profit policy research and advocacy

PhD in Urban and Regional Planning and Design
University of Maryland
Master of Community Planning
University of Maryland
Bachelor of Economics
Gettysburg College