Mari Gallagher

Mari Gallagher is principal of Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting Group, a nationally-known firm whose expertise includes quantitative and qualitative research projects; retail and housing market assessments; financial services, community development; the economy; public health; immigration; program evaluation and other content areas.


Mari was the author of Examining the Impact of Food Deserts on Public Health in Chicago, a breakthrough study which popularized the term "food desert" across the country. She was the first to develop a block-by-block metric for "food deserts" and "food balance" linked with health measures and has since done similar work in Detroit, rural Michigan, Louisville, Harlem, Richmond, and other areas.


Mari's research shows that residents of food deserts die prematurely more than they would otherwise from diet-related conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The term "food desert" has been entered into the Farm Bill and several members of Congress, the USDA and others have called for a national public hearing this October and continued research on food deserts.


Over the last 20 years, Mari has enjoyed a colorful career. As the former executive director of a community development corporation, she led the co-development of a $75 million shopping center which included a full-service grocery store. She was the president of a technology company. And before launching her own firm, Mari directed a major national research initiative aimed at identifying new ways to measure African American and Latino markets.


Mari has received dozens of awards over the years for her leadership in community improvement projects from the Boy Scouts of America to the American Heart Association. Mari lived and studied in Latin America, speaks Spanish fluently, plays chess, and is married to Northwestern University economic historian Joseph Ferrie.


Mari is also the founding president of the newly-formed National Center for Public Research, based in Chicago. NCPR is a nonprofit entity dedicated to providing meaningful and unbiased data and information to improve quality of life, quality of health, and financial wellbeing for all people and communities. Mari founded this new group to ensure that research on food deserts and other types of social phenomena continue for the public good.