Hope, fatigue, and perseverance, just a few words to describe what everyone feels, especially our students. In the year since the initial lockdown in March 2020, the pivot to hybrid and online learning has been full of ups and downs. The downs are palpable, even with the heroic efforts by students and teachers alike. We miss the camaraderie and buzz in the UP suite and the large community terribly.
Challenges challenge; they also inspire. When a colleague shared with me a student’s class reflection recently, I thought it would resonate with many. Allow me to paraphrase: 2020 had been terrible in almost every sense – moving home, personal loss, the time difference. missing deadlines, isolation…but adapting skills learned in the class helped with finishing thesis on time and turning in the majority of assignments on time…now have a path forward on job search.
Despite the uncertainty and struggle that the global pandemic brings, the tremendous accomplishments of our students do us all proud. You only need to open the GSAPP website to see UP student work pop up regularly. Using the search function on this page yields a fantastic array of course work submissions uploaded at the end of Fall 2020. I cannot wait to see the digital End of Year show of 2021 when it goes live on April 29.
Congratulations in particular to the Class of 2021!
My best wishes and stay well,
With much excitement, we will be welcoming Assistant Professor Hugo Sarmiento to join the program at the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year. His work critically examines the relationship between planning for climate change and spatial inequalities such as poor infrastructure, informality, and racialized segregation. A big welcome also goes to several new adjunct colleagues in the Fall: Amy Boyle, Senior Advisor for Housing, Office of the Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, City of New York; André Corrêa d’Almeida, President and Founder, ARCx – Applied Research for Change, and Assistant Director, Master of Public Administration in Development Practice at Columbia University SIPA; Fatima Koli, Associate Director for the Empirical Reasoning Center at Barnard College; Emily Kurtz, Vice President at RiseBoro Community Partnership; and Kevin McQueen, Director of Lending, The Leviticus Fund and Partner, BWB Solutions LLC.
For the Fall, we will have a number of new courses:
Community Development Finance Practicum – Kevin McQueen
Planning for Natural Disasters and Climate Change – Hugo Sarmiento
Practicum: Reimagining Public Space in Pandemic and Post-Pandemic NYC – Ryan Devlin
Professional Skills and Communication – Douglas Woodward
Urban Analytics and Human-Centered Decision Making – André Corrêa d’Almeida
Urbanization in the Global South – Teresa Caldeira (visiting from UC Berkeley)
Guilherme Formicki (MSUP ‘19) has recently been admitted to the University of Sao Paulo’s PhD Program in Urban Planning. He has also presented two research papers at Brazil’s National Meeting of Architecture and Urbanism Post-Graduate Studies (ENANPARQ) held virtually in March. The two papers are “We have housing, but cannot afford it: the paradox of the upgrading of Favela Real Parque and its relationship to the Urban Operations in Sao Paulo,” and “Is the global city a city for all? The upgrading cases of Favelas Real Parque and Jardim Edite.”
Donald Jacobs (MSUP ‘76), Principal, D.I. Jacobs Consulting, have owned his own municipal consulting company for 20 years with a focus on human resource services, compensation, and performance management. Of note, Jacobs Consulting have recently completed a gender Pay Equity Study for Worcester, MA. The first pay equity study of its kind in Massachusetts that is based on determining gender pay equity by measuring the “comparable value” of positions and not the traditional salary market data.
In 2020, David Perlmutter (MSUP ’15) began a new role as Transit Planning Principal at Via, the public mobility company. This position involves working as an in-house consultant for transit authorities, operators, and public agencies in order to deliver innovative transit technology solutions to a wide range of global communities. These solutions range from Via’s on-demand transit services to fixed-route bus operations, paratransit, congestion management, Mobility-as-a-Service, and other shared mobility options. David’s work fundamentally aims to improve mobility for people in underserved communities to better reach jobs, healthcare, and essential services.
Heather Roiter (MSUP ‘07) received the Frederick O’Reilly Prize for her outstanding work in helping NYC agencies respond to the pandemic. As Assistant Commissioner for NYC Emergency Management, she has developed the City’s Covid-19 hotel program serving essential workers and at-risk individuals.
Sonal Shah (MSUP ‘08), Executive Director of Centre for Sustainable and Equitable Cities (C-SEC), recently founded a non-for-profit company, C-SEC, aimed specifically at embedding gender and social equity within the discussions and practices geared towards sustainable cities.
Timothy (Terry) Stanley (MSUP ’80) has moved to Cornerstone, an MBE commercial brokerage and real estate advisory firm.
The students have enjoyed meeting a number of alumni over Zoom for the various alumni and career services events we hosted in February and March. A big thank you to the following alumni who participated. If you would like to participate in future programming, please contact Emily Junker at email@example.com.
Eddy Almonte (MSUP ‘19), Neighborhood Planner at HPD
Gillian Connell (MSUP ‘10), Managing Director of Business Operations, NYCHA
Jacob Feit (MSUP ‘06), Workforce Development Analyst, US Army Corp of Engineers
Eri Furusawa (MSUP ‘18), Valuation/Consulting Analyst, HR&A Advisors
James Garland (MSUP ‘02), Deputy Regional Administrator, Federal Transit Administration
Steven Getz (MSUP ‘17), Director of Production, Community Preservation Corporation (CPC)
Jen Jacobs-Guzman (MSUP ‘ 07), Chief of Staff, New Construction at HPD
Nick Kunz (MSUP ‘19), Data Scientist, Microsoft
Cheryl Lim (MSUP ‘19), Analyst, Karp Strategies
Michael A. N. Montilla (MSUP ‘19), Chancellor’s Fellow and Doctoral Student, Department of City and Regional Planning, University of California, Berkeley
James Piacentini (MSUP & M.Arch ‘20), Cartographer, Apple
Charlie Romanow (MSUP ‘18), Transportation Planner, WSP
Kaz Sakamoto (MSUP ‘13), Senior Data Scientist, Lander Analytics; Adjunct Assistant Professor, Columbia University
Kovid Saxena (MSUP ‘04), Director of Environmental Planning, Sam Schwartz
Shruti Shubham (MSUP ‘16), Data Analyst, Gridics
Charlie Stewart (MSUP ‘17), Real Estate Project Manager, St. Nicks Alliance
Anna Stokes, AICP, (MSUP ‘19), Project Manager at Northeast Corridor Commission
Alex Wallach, AICP, (MSUP ‘12), Community Planning Specialist at Suffolk County Department of Economic Development & Planning / APA NY Metro Chapter PDO
Francis Yu (MSUP ‘19), Housing Fellow, HPD/HDC
We would also like to thank the following alumni for their participation in the UP Mentorship Program this year. We would also like to thank those of you who volunteered despite not being matched this time around. This program is a great way for alumni to remain involved with Columbia’s UP community, and for students to explore the profession before they graduate. For more information about the program, please contact Emily Junker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Renata Dermengi Dragland
Cuthbert A Onikute
Other Mentor Volunteers