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Welcome from the Alumni Board

The GSAPP Alumni Board welcomes all alumni, current students, and prospective students to be a part of its mission. We are dedicated to providing support with outreach, mentoring, and dedicated relevant programming to the GSAPP community. With all the challenges that we currently face, we are excited to be a part of a large and extensive network that can foster connections on so many levels. Please reach out to us with comments, suggestions, or opportunities to get involved!

Sincerely,

Ruth Benjamin ‘10 MArch, President
Jennifer Romeo '12 MArch, Vice President

Mission

The Columbia GSAPP Alumni Board fosters engagement between alumni, students, potential applicants and the school by:

  • Encouraging lifelong opportunities for connections between alumni and students across programs, generations, geography, and demographics
  • Unifying the GSAPP community through welcoming, inclusive and innovative programming
  • Promoting excellence and dialogue focused on the global and evolving design and the built environment and GSAPP’s role as a leader in the field
  • Offering guidance and an alumni perspective to GSAPP leadership
Background

The GSAPP Alumni Board was formed in July 2010 to represent alumni from all GSAPP degree programs: Architecture, Real Estate Development, Urban Planning, Urban Design, Historic Preservation, and Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices.

The GSAPP Alumni Board is supported by the GSAPP Office of Development & Alumni Relations, which was established in 2005. The Office of Development & Alumni Relations is dedicated to building a strong framework for alumni communication, collaboration and networking, and to establishing a strong base of support for the School, its students, and its programs.

Announcements
Alumni are invited to submit messages to Class of 2021 graduates via a form located on the Commencement page. If you would like to submit messages to currently admitted students, please contact gsappalumni@columbia.edu.

Alumni Board

President
Ruth Benjamin ‘10 M.Arch
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President
Ruth Benjamin '10 M.Arch
Architect, Industry City

Ruth Benjamin, RA, LEED AP, is the In-House Architect at Industry City – a massive manufacturing and distribution hub from the 1800s that is undergoing a large-scale adaptive reuse development in South Brooklyn. Since graduating from GSAPP, MArch 2010, she has worked on a variety of projects in New York City ranging from landscape design of an elevated park at the World Trade Center complex, affordable housing in the Bronx, institutional master planning studies for NYC DDC, commercial offices in midtown and is currently focused on working with an interdisciplinary team encompassing design, real estate development, and reformation. Ruth has been on the GSAPP alumni board since 2017.

Vice President
Jennifer Romeo ‘12 M.Arch
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Vice President
Jennifer Romeo '12 M.Arch
Senior Associate, Perkins Eastman

Jennifer Romeo’s work focuses on the planning, programming and design of complex institutional projects across a range of educational and healthcare clients. In particular, she draws upon her prior career as a User Experience Strategist to link space with user needs and create more meaningful spaces where outstanding, innovative and sensitive design can flourish. Jennifer is a committed mentor to students and emerging professionals and is an advocate dedicated to establishing a more diverse, equitable profession. A registered architect licensed in the State of New York, Jennifer led Perkins Eastman’s Women’s Leadership Initiative and has served on the GSAPP Alumni Board since 2017.

Hala Abukhodair ‘20 MSAUD
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Hala Abukhodair ‘20 MSAUD

Hala Abukhodair is from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. She earned a Masters in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia GSAPP , following her Bachelor of Engineering focused in Architecture.

As an architectural engineer and now an Urban Designer with more than four years of experience working in the construction industry, Metro projects, and Municipal Urban Regulations across Saudi Arabia, Spain, and the United Kingdom. At Columbia, her efforts included being part of the Program Council, the School’s shift towards greater emphasis on sustainability in the curriculum, and was a wonderful ambassador for GSAPP and the University community and a recipient of the Campbell leadership award by Columbia Alumni Association.

Diane Branch ‘03 MSRED
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Diane Branch '86 MSHP

Diane Branch has more than twenty years of experience in real estate advising senior leadership from for-profit, not-for-profit, and government sectors on legal and business transaction matters.

She is currently practicing real estate law in New York State. Diane has served as a Senior Vice President at Jones Lang LaSalle, responsible for leasing transactions for Fortune 500 clients. As an Associate Vice President at Howard University, Diane led the development and implementation of the Campus Master Plan, which determined real estate development of all land owned by the University.

Before joining Howard University, Diane was the District of Columbia’s Project Manager for Tax Increment Financing, where she managed the District’s issuance of over $150 Million in Bond Financing. The Gallery Place and Mandarin Hotel TIF Bonds were responsible for the early revitalization of downtown DC.

Diane has earned an MA in educational psychology from New York University, a JD from Brooklyn Law School, and an MS in real estate development from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Diane has also taught as an adjunct professor at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and Howard University.

Diane has worked as in-house counsel at Hertz Corporation and the NYC Off-Track Racing Authority.

Diane is an alumni co-author of the Columbia University 2020 Seed Grant Award: Building an Anti-racist and Equitable Context for Black Students in Columbia’s M.Sc. Real Estate Development Program. 

Barbara Campagna '86 MSHP
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Barbara Campagna '86 MSHP
Founder and principal, BAC (A+P)

Barbara has worked for the past 30 years as an architect, planner and historian – reinventing and restoring historic and existing buildings. She was elevated to Fellowship in the AIA in 2009 as “the leading national architect and policymaker for the integration of preservation values into green building practices.” Barbara chaired a sustainability graduate program at SUNY FIT and since 2011, her firm, BAC/A+P, has occupied a unique niche in both the historic preservation and green building fields. She is a graduate of the Columbia GSAPP Historic Preservation Program.

Angela Cavaluzzi '86 MSAUD
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Angela Cavaluzzi '86 MSAUD
President, Hudson Yards Development Corp.

Angela Roberts Cavaluzzi is President of Hudson Yards Development Corporation. In this position, Ms. Cavaluzzi leads design teams as well as public and private stakeholders to design, fund, and construct the public amenities and infrastructure at Hudson Yards including Bella Abzug Park and the #7 Subway extension. She is currently overseeing the design of Phase II of the public park. Angela received a MS in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia University. She has been an adjunct assistant professor at GSAPP and taught a course titled “All Development is Local”. Throughout her career, she has used her training and experience as a registered architect to implement public design and land use policy. In her roles as NYC Planning Commissioner, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Capital Project Development, and Director of Land Use for the Manhattan Borough President, she builds consensus on issues of innovation and equity in the design of public space, housing and economic development.

Cecily King ‘15 MSRED
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Cecily King '15 MSRED
Founder, Kipling Development

Cecily King is the founder of Kipling Development, a real estate development and consulting firm. Since graduating from GSAPP’s MS in Real Estate Development program in 2015, the majority of her work has been centered in Detroit, MI.

Throughout her real estate career, Cecily has held roles in the public, private and non-profit sectors that have given her a varied perspective of the deal table, including serving as a Development Director for the City of Detroit’s Housing & Revitalization Department. As a consultant, her clients have included non-profits, private developers, institutions, and universities around the country. She began her career as a structural engineer with a set of clients that ranged from high-net-worth individuals to universities.

Cecily earned her BSE in Civil & Environmental Engineering from Princeton University and her MEng in Structural Engineering from Lehigh University. She also holds her MS in Real Estate Development from Columbia University where she is now an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the program.

James Kolker '86 M.Arch ‘84 CC
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James Kolker '86 M.Arch ‘84 CC
President Emeritus and CAA Representative
Associate Vice Chancellor, University Architect, Washington University in St. Louis

James Kolker, FAIA, LEED AP, is Associate Vice Chancellor and University Architect at Washington University in St. Louis, responsible for stewardship of the university’s campuses, leadership of campus planning, and for the design and development of all capital projects. Prior to his position at WashU, he was a Principal at Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, where he worked on a wide range of academic and civic projects, including Dartmouth College, the University of California Santa Barbara, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Beth Sholom and Storm King Art Center. He is a board member of Columbia Alumni Association and a member of the Missouri Botanical Garden Visitor Center Steering Committee. In 2018, Kolker was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

Dominic Leong '03 MSAAD

Dominic Leong '03 MSAAD
Owner, Leong Leong
Adjunct Faculty, GSAPP

Dominic Leong received his Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia GSAPP, graduating with Honors, and his Bachelor of Architecture from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He has lived and worked in Shanghai, Paris and New York. He is a founding partner of Leong Leong.

The firm has completed a wide variety of projects, including the design of the U.S. Pavilion for the XIV Venice Biennale. Leong has received recognition for his work that includes a Graham Foundation Grant for his interest in the role of research in contemporary architectural education and practice and a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts. In 2007, he was awarded the Architecture League Prize by The Architectural League of New York. He has organized and participated in many conferences and public speaking events, including the conference “Para-theses” at Columbia GSAPP. He has been invited to speak about Leong Leong’s work at a wide range of institutions, including Columbia University, Princeton University, UCLA, Yale University, American Institute for Architects and the U.S. Pavilion at the XIV Venice Biennale.

Donald Matheson '03 MSRED
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Donald Matheson '03 MSRED
Founder, Almat Group

Donald Matheson the principal and founder of Almat Urban an infill and affordable developer in the Tri-state region, has more than twenty years of real estate development and construction management experience. Donald oversees Almat Group’s development and acquisition opportunities. Prior to founding Almat Urban, Donald was a partner at Almat Group and held held positions at Boston Properties, Bovis Lend Lease and Rockefeller Group as a construction manager and project manager for several high profile projects including Times Square Tower, 5 Times Square, 90 Church Street, Gowanus Housing Project and several schools through the New York Metro Area. He has managed the development and construction of over $1.5Billion in real estate development and construction projects. Donald graduated with a Bachelor of Professional Studies in Construction Management from Pratt Institute School of Architecture and a Master of Science in Real Estate Development from Columbia University. He currently serves on the alumni board for Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture & Planning Preservation and previously on the GSAPP Real Estate Development Program Task Force. Donald is also a member of NYSAFAH and serves as board chair of African Health Now, a charity dedicated to providing health services to underserved communities in West Africa.

Parul Sharma ‘15 MSAUD
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Parul Sharma '15 MSAUD

Parul is an architect and urban designer with a decade of experience in urban development, mobility, architecture and placemaking in India and the US. She is passionate about creating inclusive and equitable cities through community participative design and simplified communication.

This year she founded City Scanner, a startup developing a mobile app and tech platform based on AI and crowdsourced data, to improve the navigation and mobility experience of cyclists and other vulnerable road users. City Scanner was selected as a finalist for Columbia Venture Competition’s Urban Works India Challenge 2021; was part of the StartMeUP Bootcamp by Columbia SEAS; and was selected for Columbia Venture Community’s female founders incubator, Project Two.Eight.

Parul holds a Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design from GSAPP, Columbia University, where she received the Kinne Traveling Fellows Prize. She has a Bachelor of Architecture from Indraprastha University, New Delhi, India.

Andrea Sreshta '11 M.Arch
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Andrea Sreshta '11 M.Arch
Co-Founder, LuminAID Lab

Andrea Sreshta is a co-founder of LuminAID, a company dedicated to innovative renewable energy solutions for humanitarian aid and outdoor recreation. Outreach projects with charitable partners have put donated lights on-the-ground for use in projects in more than 100 countries. Andrea and her partner, Anna Stork, are the inventors of LuminAID’s patented solar inflatable light technology. LuminAID was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank in 2015, received offers from all 5 Sharks, and made a deal with Mark Cuban, the company’s first investor. Andrea holds a B.A. from Yale University, a Master’s in Architecture from Columbia University, and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Andrea is originally from Houston and now lives in Chicago.

Peter (Ned) Stoll '77 M.Arch ‘74 CC
Peter (Ned) Stoll '77 M.Arch ‘74 CC
Partner, Stoll & Stoll
Rachel Villalta '12 M.Arch
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Rachel Villalta '12 M.Arch
Senior Associate Principal, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

Rachel Lima Villalta is a Senior Associate Principal at Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF). Over the last 13 years she has worked on some of KPF’s signature projects both globally and locally - from Sao Paulo’s Infinity Tower to the more recently inaugurated and highly acclaimed One Vanderbilt in New York City. Currently she is the Senior Designer for the Detroit Center for Innovation - bringing world class research and education facilities into the heart of Detroit. As a co-founder of the Young Designers Forum as well as KPF+ - an initiative dedicated to advancing gender equity in leadership positions - Rachel is deeply invested in developing the next generation of architectural voices at KPF. She received her Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Michigan, and her Master of Architecture from Columbia University

Michelle Young '12 MSUP
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Michelle Young '12 MSUP
Founder and Publisher, Untapped Cities, LLC,

Michelle Young is the founder of Untapped New York, a web magazine about New York City’s secrets and hidden places. She is a graduate of Harvard College in the History of Art and Architecture and holds a master’s degree in urban planning from Columbia University GSAPP where she is an Adjunct Professor of Architecture leading the Urban Studies studio.

WITH THANKS TO OUR PAST ALUMNI BOARD MEMBERS
Gustavo Berenblum ’91 MSAAD
Deborah Bhatt ’05 MSRED
Heidi Blau ’83 M.Arch
Amy Boyle ’08 MSUP
Stanford Britt ’72 M.Arch
Lori Cardeli ’07 M.Arch
Dean DiSimone ’99 M.Arch
Jonie Fu ’06 MSAUD President Emerita
Phillip Gesue ’96 MSRED
Kate Gillespie ’88 MSUP
Hannia Gomez ’84 MSUD
Matthew Gross ’05 MSRED
Richard Handler ’08 MSHP
Sara Hart ’84 M.Arch
Naomi Hersson-Ringskog ’09 MSUP
William Kenworthey ’00 MSAUD
Michael Latham ’00 M.Arch
Tiffany Lau ’09 MSRED
Elizabeth Leber ’95 M.Arch
Ryan LeVasseur ’11 MSRED
Sharon Liebowitz ’91 M.Arch CAA Representative, Ex Officio
Carol Loewenson ’79 M.Arch
Allison Lyons ’10 MSHP
Julie Maddox ’06 MSHP
Pierpaolo Martiradonna ’05 MSAAD
Belen Moneo ’91 M.Arch
Angela O'Byrne ’87 MSRED
Deike Peters ’95 MSUP
Joseph Peters ’03 MSRED
Dan Shannon ’86 MSAAD President Emerita
Sharon Sutton ’73 M.Arch
Daniel Sze ’76 MSAUD
Troy Therrien ’09 M.Arch
Stephen Yablon ’82 M.Arch
Hisham Youssef ’89 M.Arch