Community Living Policy Center


Joe Caldwell, CLPC Director and Principal Investigator

Joe Caldwell

Director of the Community Living Policy Center, Principal Investigator

Dr. Caldwell has over 25 years of experience in the field of disability as a researcher, policy expert, and family member of a young adult with developmental disabilities. He is Director of the Community Living Policy Center within the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy, Heller School for Social Policy and Management. His work focuses on advancing policies and practices that enhance access to home and community-based services for individuals with disabilities, older adults, and family caregivers. 

In addition to the Community Living Policy Center, Dr. Caldwell partners with two other federally funded, multi-university research centers. He is co-PI of the Family Support Research and Training Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a researcher with the Research and Training Center on Home and Community-Based Services Outcome Measurement at the University of Minnesota.

Prior to joining Brandeis, Dr. Caldwell was Director of Long-Term Services and Supports for the National Council on Aging, where he led a coalition of over 40 national aging and disability organizations and advanced federal policy. Prior to that, he was a policy analyst at the Association of University Centers for Disabilities. As a Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Public Policy Fellow in 2009-10, he worked for the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee during passage of the Affordable Care Act. He has served on the boards of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities and the National Alliance for Caregiving. 



Monika Mitra, Lure Institute Director

Monika Mitra

Director of the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy, Principal Investigator

Dr. Monika Mitra is the Nancy Lurie Marks Professor of Disability Policy, and Director of the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University. Her research examines the health care experiences and health outcomes of people with disabilities, with a particular focus on the sexual and reproductive health of women with disabilities. Her current research revolves around the health needs and barriers to perinatal care among women with disabilities, including women with intellectual and developmental disabilities and Deaf and hard of hearing women. She is currently co-leading the National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities focused on addressing knowledge gaps regarding the needs of parents with diverse disabilities, and the Community Living Policy Center aimed at improving policies and practices that advance community living outcomes for people with disabilities. Dr. Mitra is a member of the Disability and Health Journal editorial board and the Advisory Committee of the Academy Health Disability Research Interest Group. She is the 2017 recipient of the Allan Meyers Award from the American Public Health Association Disability Section. Prior to joining Brandeis, Dr. Mitra was Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Senior Program Director for the Disability, Health and Employment Policy Unit, Center for Health Policy and Research at University of Massachusetts Medical School. Before that she was Senior Epidemiologist for the Office on Health and Disability at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. She received her PhD and MA from Boston University, and her MS from Calcutta University, Kolkata, India. 



Syd Pickern

Project Manager of the Community Living Policy Center

Sydney “Syd” Pickern (she, they) joined the Lurie Institute in February 2023 as a Senior Research Associate and is the Project Manager for the Community Living Policy Center. She seeks to advance access to health, housing, and climate justice.

Syd is a disability rights attorney and advocate at heart, firmly believing in the power of community organizing, mutual aid, and fulfilling the promise of Olmstead. Their legal career fortuitously began with the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF) in the fall of 2016 as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, where they designed and implemented a two-year project committed to improving access to healthcare and health outcomes for disabled people of color in Alameda County. Syd continued her advocacy journey as a staff attorney with DREDF for three additional years, where she managed multiple large, state-funded housing grants and developed a passion and knowledge for expanding access to housing for unhoused disabled people and accessible disaster response. In this capacity, they worked on disability access in homeless shelters, emergency shelters, affordable, accessible housing, planned power outages, and wildfire events.