Ryan Holeywell Joins the Kinder Institute for Urban Research

RESEARCH :  Apr. 27, 2015

Head shot of Ryan Holeywell

As a kid growing up in the Houston suburbs, I couldn’t wait to move to the East Coast – anywhere on the East Coast – and live in a fast-paced city where street life thrives. As a child, I was fortunate enough to visit places like New York, Philadelphia and Boston, where residents crammed sidewalks and subways, and impressive architecture created inspiring urban vistas. I knew that’s where I wanted to be.

I wound up attending college and spending most of my professional career as a reporter in Washington D.C, a city that couldn’t have felt more dissimilar to the quiet subdivision 25 miles from downtown Houston where I grew up. Eventually, Washington, D.C. became a place I was happy to call home.

I found myself back in Houston a few years ago on assignment for a magazine to write about the changes happening here. I was astounded by what I saw. In a place where residents value open spaces, whole communities of townhomes were rising. In a place synonymous with pickup trucks, commuters were increasingly using light rail. In a place where people always seemed to prefer climate-controlled environments, residents were using beautiful new parks and trails. And all of the changes were accompanied by growing arts, music and culinary scenes.

In the 10 years between when I left Houston to become a reporter and when I came back to report on Houston, my hometown was rapidly starting to embrace many of the things that I considered hallmarks of a great city. Houston, of course, isn’t alone in that regard – many American communities are trying to develop an urban identity – but I believe the extent of Houston’s transformation could wind up being more dramatic than that of any other U.S. city.

My article called Houston the “surprising contender in America’s urban revival.” Three months after I published it, I moved back here.
I returned to Houston in part because I want to contribute to Houston’s changing landscape. I believe the Kinder Institute is the organization best positioned to let me do that.

Before joining the Kinder Institute this month, I worked as a reporter at several publications in Washington, D.C. and Texas. My work has been published by the Houston Chronicle, Governing magazine and USA Today, among other places, and I’ve appeared on outlets like NPR and CNN to discuss my articles.

As the Kinder Institute’s new senior editor, my job is to tell stories about the changes taking place in Houston, explain the challenges the city continues to face and highlight the work the Kinder Institute is doing to help the community navigate through such a critical period in its history.
In some cases, I’ll do that through blog posts, articles and podcasts I’ll produce for our website. Other times, I’ll lean on members of the Kinder Institute team and help them find ways to tell their own stories. We want to help people in Houston – and elsewhere – understand the work we’re doing.

What does that mean for you? You’ll get more insight more frequently about your community and the people working to understand and improve it. Get ready to check our website, our newsletter and our social media channels more often. And in the meantime, feel free to send me a note at

Ryan Holeywell


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