Derek S. Hyra, associate professor, Urban Affairs and Planning Program, Virginia Tech National Capital Region, is one of 15 individuals across the country appointed to the newly formed U.S. Small Business Administration’s Advisory Council on the Underserved. 

The aim of the advisory council is to help the Small Business Administration modify its programs to better address the capital and credit needs of underserved populations and communities. The 15-member council, chaired by Catherine Hughes, founder of Radio One, reflects a variety of key sectors, including business owners, banking and finance, community development, nonprofit, and academia. This group of national leaders will provide recommendations to the Small Business Administration on ways to increase sustainable capital and credit flows to underserved communities.

The council’s first meeting will be held in Washington, D.C., next month. Before the first meeting, Hyra and other council members will hold listening sessions in their regions to hear from small business owners and members of the community about their needs.

Hyra, who lives and works in Alexandria, Va., also serves as vice chairman of the board of commissioners for the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority, a public agency that provides affordable housing in the City of Alexandria. Hyra has served as a commissioner of the housing authority since 2009 and became vice chairman in 2011. 

“The SBA's Council on Underserved Communities and the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority focus on assisting populations that face multiple barriers and challenges to achieving economic self-sufficiency,” said Hyra. “By serving on these boards, my objective is to use empirical evidence to help construct more effective lending and housing policies that can broaden the opportunity structure in the United States, and create an environment where people of all backgrounds can better achieve the goals they set for themselves.”

Hyra joined Virginia Tech in 2009. His research focuses on inner city economic development, with an emphasis on housing policy, small business finance, and race. Hyra previously worked at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, assessing affordable housing and small business lending programs, and at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, examining community level impact of national housing and economic development policies.

He received his bachelor's degree from Colgate University, a master's degree from the University of Kansas, and a master's degree and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

Hyra is author of  "The New Urban Renewal: The Economic Transformation of Harlem and Bronzeville" (University of Chicago Press 2008) and is currently working on his second book, which investigates the topics of race, class, and revitalization in Washington, D.C.’s Shaw/U Street neighborhood.