While we remain vigilant about the spread of COVID-19, Spring 2022 feels like an incredible time for me, seeing our students bringing the energy, interactions, and a sense of community back to the classroom and UP Lounge. Studio groups are meeting their clients and community groups, and field trips are taking place. Just two years ago, amid the studio pivots from travel to local projects, a few students began reimagining the streets and open space in the Meatpacking Business Improvement District. The area in these spring days is bustling with visitors to the Whitney Biennial, the Little Island, the High Line, and other activity spaces. The city is so much alive now, and it remains a vital ground for us to learn continuously and contextually. Read impressions of the city shared by GSAPP faculty and students in a Spotlight featured by Columbia News recently – you will get a kick out of it.
This is another stellar admissions season for GSAPP and the Urban Planning Program. We have received the highest number of applications in the School’s history outside of 2021 – applications at GSAPP and across higher education were exceptionally high in 2021 as a result of delayed studies during the pandemic in 2020. Students entering in Fall 2021 are a truly diverse cohort in UP, from underrepresented groups and from a growing number of countries of origin such as Canada, China, Ecuador, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Myanmar, and Singapore. Together with their peers, the students have been extraordinarily active both in and beyond the classroom, as you will read about in the Student Organizations section. Some twenty or so students also have attended the National Conference of the American Planning Association in San Diego, and connected with UP alumni at our program reception. Another annual tradition that I am delighted to reassume.
We are all looking forward to the Class of 2022 GSAPP Commencement on Saturday May 14, to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduating students. In spite of the immense challenge of the last two years, they have reimagined how to connect and learn in hybrid instruction; how to collaborate and support each other across time zones; and how to adapt skills learned in the classroom to the changing currents of the planning profession. Equally exciting will be to welcome back the Classes of 2020 and 2021 in a special celebration on May 19. Hats off to all of them!
Two faculty searches initiated in the summer of 2021 are concluding. New faculty colleagues will be joining Columbia in Fall 2022, adding energy to the curriculum and program. Look out for a GSAPP announcement about this soon. In addition, we hope to welcome an Associate Director – Professional Development & Practice, a newly created position to provide expanded support to students. We remain in mourning of the passing of Peter Marcuse, a long-time UP faculty member and emeritus professor. A group of faculty and students are planning an event to commemorate his work as an unwavering champion of social justice in planning. If you are interested, please get in touch with Jonathan Marty and Derek Brennan.
We are grateful to Visiting Assistant Professors Ryan Devlin and Bo Hong for their contribution over the past year. Both advised students on their thesis and capstone projects. Ryan Devlin taught History and Theory of Planning and Practicum: Reimagining Public Space in Post-Pandemic New York in the Fall and taught Urban Informality and an Urban Planning Studio this Spring. Boyeong Hong taught Planning Methods and Introduction to Urban Informatics in the Fall and Exploring Urban Data with Machine Learning this Spring.
We welcome a new adjunct faculty member this Fall: Jessica Mathew, Senior Advisor for Special Projects and Initiatives, Office of the Chair at Metropolitan Transportation Authority. She will co-teach with Jaimie Torres Springer the redesigned full-term course Delivering Urban Public Infrastructure: Practicum on Industrialized Cities.
For the Fall, we will have a few course updates:
Nora Libertun has been invited to lecture at the Cornell University Department of City and Regional Planning Lecture Series, where she presented “3x3x3–Myths, Challenges, and Opportunities for Inclusive Cities in the Global South.” Nora was also invited as a juror at the Harvard University Mexican Cities Initiative presentation of the 2021 cohort. She was invited to the podcast ‘Accessibility Outside The Box’ by Disability Rights Florida, to discuss the topic of accessibility in city planning.
In October, Nilda Mesa’s co-authored book Collaborating for Climate Resilience was published by Routledge. She was quoted in USA Today’s Earth Day article about recycling. She will be speaking on Tuesday, May 17, at 1:15 pm EDT on the Security and Sustainability Forum’s panel on collaborating for climate resilience - register here.
Participating in the Asian Urbanism Collaborative workshop at the University of Virginia in mid-February, Weiping Wu discussed how cities develop and respond to surprising shifts in geopolitical balance in the world. Immersing in idea exchanges in physical proximity, visiting with former colleague Malo Hutson (now Dean at UVA), and experiencing the splendor of Jefferson-designed Rotunda were all highlights. In March, she was appointed to the Steering Committee of the Strategic Topics Grant of the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong.
UP Program Council leaders Derek Brennan (MSUP ‘22), Victoria Lin (MSUP ‘23), and Matthew Shore (MSUP ‘23) have organized several speaker panels and social events this semester. They hosted two virtual BIPOC Professionals Discussion Panels on April 9 and April 26. Thank you to MSUP alumni Justin Romeo (MSUP ‘18) and Jennifer Sun (MSUP ‘02) for speaking. You can watch the recording of the UP Program Council organized Housing Justice Panel here. They have also proudly hosted a newly-elected member of City Council and a Legislative & Budget Director to speak. These events were intended to uplift BIPOC leaders and underrepresented voices that students have not traditionally connected with at GSAPP.
The UP Program Council coordinated the MSUP Spring Picnic in Central Park featuring food, drinks, and frisbees. Additionally, throughout the year, UP Program Council conducted several student surveys to ensure that MSUP students had outlets to openly express their ideas, thoughts, concerns and experiences with the MSUP program. UP Program Council remains committed to ensuring that GSAPP provides the highest quality of service and education to MSUP students. Students gave the UP Lounge a makeover bringing in a comfortable full-length couch and desk lamps to foster a better working environment for students. Thank you to Mark A. Taylor for your help!
This semester UP Program Council collaborated with BSA+GSAPP to unite and celebrate Blackness for “ALLBLACK,” which showcased the work of Black GSAPP students and faculty online and throughout Avery Hall. UP Program Council was also proud to participate in BSA+GSAPP’s second annual Notes from Within event that brought Black students together to openly discuss what it means to be Black at GSAPP and in urban planning. UP Program Council is also proud to have worked with Latin GSAPP to promote their events. UP Program Council will continue to advocate tirelessly for greater inclusivity and diversity in the Urban Planning Program.
This April, The American Planning Association New York Metro Chapter’s Student Representative Committee (APA-NYM SRC), which includes student representatives from five graduate planning programs in the area, hosted a mixer in Central Park. Planning and policy students from Columbia, NYU, Hunter, Pratt, and Rutgers, their friends, and pets enjoyed the beautiful weather while connecting with peers and other emerging leaders in the field of urban planning.
URBAN Magazine will release its Spring issue soon. Will Cao (MSUP and MArch '24), Sherry Aine Te (MSUP and MArch ‘24), and Eve Passman (MSUP ‘22) served as Senior Editors for the 2021-2022 academic year. They were assisted by Junior Editors Eliza Dekker (MSUP '23), Calvin Harrison (MSUP '23), Margaret Hanson (MSUP '23), and Varisa Tanti (MSUP '23). You can read URBAN’s Fall 2021 issue, Metamorphosis online.
On March 22, LatinGSAPP hosted a climate justice conversation with internationally-recognized Puerto Rican project corporation, ENLACE. Estrella Santiago Perez and Mario Nuñez Mercado shared with students their knowledge on environmental restoration, community engagement and organization amidst a channelization project to build affordable housing located in Caño Martin Peña in the San Juan National Estuary. UP students in the studio Retreat or Resurgence: Reimaging Planning for Climate Change learned from ENLACE’s award-winning land trust project to prevent the displacement of families living within the Caño for generations to apply to their studio project in NYC. The second publication of Patio Magazine will be available soon (TBD: May 2022)!!! The theme for this issue is “Real Talk,” where Latinx students, scholars, and practitioners address how paradigmatic shifts shape the understanding of Latin America and the Latinx world at large. More importantly, Patio engages in the construction and deconstruction of the Latin American reality in both the built and social environment. Proceeds for the publication will be used to finance the next issue–please follow @columbiapatio for more information and updates.
Kirthi Balakrishnan (MSUP ‘23) is going to join SOM as a Summer Intern for the Urban Design Community of Practice based out of Washington, DC.
Sebastian Bielski (MSUP '23) will continue to intern for the Public Space Unit at the New York City Department of Transportation, focusing on the NYC Open Streets program.
Derek Brennan (MSUP ‘22) completed the 9-month NYC Community Fellows Program working with Manhattan Community Board 4 on Gap Analysis of District Services and Demand. His supervisors said, “Derek was a great asset to his cohort. Not only was his work consistently above and beyond, which he demonstrated through his sharp presentations, he also served as a resource to his peers by providing great feedback and ideation. Because of his passion and dedication to his project, he had the opportunity to present to FCNY’s board of directors, who were very impressed with the timeliness of his approach to problem-solving.”
Sean Chew (MSUP '23) will intern at the Federal Transportation Administration as a Data Scientist Student Trainee. Sean will report to the Energy Analysis and Sustainability Division to help develop a tool for cities to conduct scenario analysis of different transportation policies and measure effects of transportation system performance and emissions.
Eliza Dekker (MSUP '23) will intern at Bloomberg Associates and WXY.
Sori Han (MSUP ‘22) accepted an offer to work at HR&A as an Analyst starting in July. Sori completed the 9-month NYC Community Fellows Program working with Manhattan Community Board 2 on Pedestrian and Bike Network Assessment. Her supervisors said, “from the outset, Sori had a strong sense of what her project would entail and demonstrated a knowledge base on the subject matter of her project with flexible authority. She incorporated reflections from her peers into her research process and in the end, used her excellent design abilities to deliver a professional deliverable. She demonstrated a solid integration of her values in her practice.”
Hilary Ho (MSUP '23) will intern at RPA working on research, analysis, data visualizations, and mapping related to climate change resilience in the New York City Metropolitan Area.
Jackson Fordham (MSUP ‘22) accepted a position at AECOM in New York City. Starting in June, he will work as a Junior Transportation Planner.
Candice Ji (MSUP '23) will intern at WXY conducting planning studies, mapping, data analysis, and developing community engagement and outreach plans.
Andrea Wong Magnalardo (MSUP '23) will be a Summer Planning Intern at WSP.
Stefan Norgaard (PhD student) published an article in the Journal of Planning History on the need for planning historiographies of Jane Jacobs to foreground thick institutional partnerships and Jacobs’ role in linking people, organizations, and networks. He also traveled to South Africa for a pre-dissertation research trip in March, which took him to Johannesburg and the former homeland capital city of Mahikeng.
Kat Sibel (MSUP ‘22) was selected as a finalist for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Environmental Innovation Fellowship through Microsoft. The organizational mission is to develop the next generation of Latinx leaders focused on the intersections of technology and sustainability in public policymaking. If selected, she would research how technology can be utilized as a community engagement tool in creating more comprehensive, and culturally-informed, climate change resiliency plans.
Matthew Shore’s (MSUP '23) seven-month fellowship with the North Brooklyn Open Space Equity Coalition has been extended through summer. The Coalition is comprised of four longstanding community-based organizations (El Puente, North Brooklyn Parks Alliance, Newtown Creek Alliance, and North Brooklyn Neighbors) dedicated to community planning, environmental justice, public health equity and open space advocacy, and more. Matthew will continue to support the Coalition’s efforts to form a community-driven open space policy and policy platform in Brooklyn Community Board 1, where disadvantaged communities of color remain determined to turn the tide.
Erik Strand (MSUP ‘22) accepted a full time position at Karp Strategies in New York City as an Analyst. Erik will work on comprehensive planning, stakeholder engagement, and economic development strategy.
Mia Winther-Tamaki (MSUP '23) will intern at HR&A Analysts completing the Broadband Equity Partnership Summer Fellowship.
Wei Xiao (MSUP and MArch '24), in collaboration with Fang Wan (MSAAD '22), presented their GIS research project titled “Can We Have More Green Roofs?” at 2022 NYC Open Data Week to a wide audience, including city agencies and researchers from other institutions.
Theresa Yang (MSUP '23) will intern at AECOM as an Economics and Advisory Intern.
On February 11, GSAPP Career Services hosted the first all-GSAPP Virtual Career Fair! The Virtual Employer Networking and Recruiting Event faced some technical challenges, but we were pleased that 73 employer booths with 130 representatives met with 400 GSAPP students in over 1,200 one-on-one meetings and a dozen webinars. This engagement resulted in follow-up interviews and jobs offered to GSAPP students. Thank you to the MSUP alumni, faculty and employers who participated including: Lisa Blake (MSUP ‘12), Hazaard Mitigation Planning Manager, Michael Baker International; Gillian Connell (MSUP ‘10), Managing Director of Business Operations, New York City Housing Authority; Kevin McQueen, Adjunct Assistant Professor, GSAPP and Director of Lending, The Leviticus Fund; Zeineb Selami (MSUP ‘21), Consultant, Karp Strategies; Sonal Shah (MSUP ‘08), Founder, The Urban Catalysts; Erik Strand (MSUP ‘22), Graduate Analyst, Karp Strategies; George Todorovic (MSUP ‘16), Senior Borough Planner, NYC Department of City Planning; and Kaiqi Zhang (MSUP ‘18), Transportation Planner, AECOM. Next year, GSAPP plans to resume in-person career fairs and will continue to have cross-program cooperation in career services events. Career Services will also facilitate the process for employers who want to schedule virtual one-on-one meetings or webinars with GSAPP students.
Leading up to the Virtual Employer Networking and Recruiting Event, GSAPP Career Services offered professional headshots and several workshops including: Networking and Building Your Brand, Portfolio Design, and Salary Negotiation. The UP program offered resume review and workshops and panels on How to Get a Job and How to Get an Internship.
On February 8, a panel of recent graduates of the MSUP Program spoke about their experience applying to jobs, going to interviews, and choosing between offers and shared their advice with current students who are seeking full-time employment after graduation. Thank you to the panelists: Justin Barton (MSUP ‘21), Project Manager Affordable Housing Development at HELP USA; Tihana Bulut (MSUP '21), Policy Analyst at NY Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery; Riley Burchell (MSUP '21), Property Development Project Manager at Center for Urban Community Services; Geon Woo Lee (MSUP '21), Analyst at HR&A advisors; and Jin Hong Kim (MSUP '21), Data Analyst at Nelson\Nygaard.
On February 9, a panel of current students talked about their experiences applying for internships and shared their advice with students planning ahead. Thank you to the panelists: Leila Collins (MSUP and MBA ‘22), former Summer Associate, Bridge Investment Group, former Intern, Jonathan Rose Companies, and former Strategy and Innovation Officer Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC); Sarah Mawdsley (MSUP ‘22), Graduate Research Intern at Institute for Transportation and Development Policy; Brady Meixel (MSUP ‘22), Economic Development Specialist and formerly Industrial Development Fellow at Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation; Eve Passman (MSUP ‘22), Morgan Stanley Community Development Graduate Fellow Morgan Stanley Community Development Graduate Fellow at West Side Federation For Senior and Supportive Housing; Mauricio Rada (MSUP ‘22), former Global Graduate Intern at International Finance Corporation (IFC); Erik Strand (MSUP ‘22), Graduate Analyst at Karp Strategies.
MSUP students were invited by the Columbia Earth Institute to participate in the All Ivy Environmental and Sustainable Development Career Fair on February 25.
GSAPP Career Services programming, including resume, cover letter, portfolio, interviewing and salary negotiation workshops will continue through June for our graduating class.
On May 1, GSAPP held a networking reception at the Water Grill in San Diego to bring together alumni and students attending the American Planning Association’s 2022 National Planning Conference. Thank you to the many GSAPP and MSUP Alumni who were in attendance. We look forward to seeing you at next year’s APA National Planning Conference in Philadelphia. Be on the lookout for an alumni reception invitation next spring!
Bernadette Baird-Zars (PhD ‘21) accepted an offer as a tenure track Assistant professor at the Bloustein School at Rutgers University and will start in January of 2023. For the past year, she has been working as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Baruch’s Marxe School and GSAPP’s Urban Planning Program, as the lead at GSAPP’s Housing Lab, and, since January of 2022, as a Post-Doctoral Research Scholar at Columbia World Projects.
Camille Esquivel (MSUP and MARCH ‘21) will be starting a new role as the new Director of Development and Outreach at MIXdesign, an inclusive design office partnered with Joel Sanders Architect (GSAPP MArch ‘81). In this role, she will be overseeing MIXdesign’s daily operations and projects. MIXdesign is a think tank and design consultancy dedicated to creating design recommendations and prototypes that respond to the specific needs of traditionally marginalized individuals whom architects, interior designers and clients have long overlooked.
Yuning Feng (MSUP ‘21) completed the 9-month NYC Community Fellows Program working with Brooklyn Community Board 9 on Gap Analysis of District Services and Demand. Her supervisors said, “Yuning and her partner were great fellows. I truly appreciate her taking time at the beginning of the fellowship to come visit the district to gain a qualitative understanding of the district. She has been diligent in requesting information from relevant entities to support their work. Also, though much of the work is independently done, she kept me updated accordingly. Her work will be used as a resource to advocate for programming and services in the district. The FCNY fellowship was a great opportunity for CB9.”
Andrew Lee Lassiter (MSUP '16) is now Senior Project Manager at the New York City Council’s Land Use Division.
Magda Maaoui (PhD ‘21) is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Cergy-Paris and has also been a Fulbright Fellow since 2016. Her dissertation looks at how politics and power relations have shaped inclusionary zoning outcomes in French and American historically disinvested neighborhoods. In the past year, she has written or co-written peer-reviewed articles for Housing Studies, Urban Studies and the Journal of Planning Education and Research. She has been a guest speaker for the UCLA Housing Voice podcast, and a lecturer during practitioner workshops at Sciences Po, IDHEAL, and the Institut des Amériques. Her research has been featured in popular news sources including Planetizen, Le Monde, Bondy Blog, La Gazette des Communes, Ouest France and the France Culture public radio.
Sonal Shah (MSUP ‘08) will be speaking at the International Transport Forum in Leipzig on May 18-20. She will focus on providing perspectives to the next edition’s theme: A just transition to sustainable mobility, with special considerations in the context of Infrastructure and Liveable Cities. Sonal moderated a panel discussion on opportunities for women in climate resilient jobs for an inclusive and sustainable future in India, at the 66th session of the Committee on Status of Women on 17 March 2022. It aimed to understand the opportunities and barriers for women’s participation in the electric vehicle value chain and learnings from other sectors. The panelists were from UNDP, Convergence Energy Services Limited, Institute for Sustainable Communities, CSR Confederation of Indian Industries and Azad Foundation.
Anna Stokes (MSUP ’19) is now Wake Transit Program Manager for the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization in Raleigh.
Alex Wallach (MSUP '12) began a new position as Planning Director, Village of Southampton in January after working with the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning for over 4 years.
On March 22, Hester Street Project Managers Stephanie Chan (MSUP '18) and Michael Perles (MSUP '16), talked to students about their work at Hester Street, experiences prior to joining the organization, and the activist work that they do outside of their jobs.
Current Urban China Network Leaders Danqing Ma (MSUP '22), Jiabao Sun ( MSUP '22), and Shen Xin (MSUP ‘22) worked closely with alumni Savannah Wu (MSUP ‘20) and Claire Yang (MSUP ‘20) to organize a networking event for International MSUP alumni living and working in the US to meet one another and current international students. On March 25, they were joined by Qianyu Xiang (MSUP & MSRED '20), Kirthana Sudhakar (MSUP '20) and Shruti Shubham (MSUP '18) as panelists and Yining Lei (MSUP '20), Jin Hong Kim (MSUP '21), Priska Marianne (MSUP '21) and Angel Yin (MSUP '21).
On March 8, a Panel of MSUP Alumni who work at the World Bank talked to students about the work they are doing at offices around the world and their career paths. Thank you to Panelists: Chyi-Yun Huang (MSUP ‘04), Senior Specialist Urban Development & Disaster Risk Management, Almaty, Kazakhstan; and John Hosung Lee (MSUP ‘16), Operations Officer, Korea Green Growth Trust Fund, Sustainable Development Practice Group, Washington DC; Ramon Munoz-Raskin (MSUP ‘06), Senior Transportation Planner, Vienna, Austria.
Thank you 2021-2022 Mentorship Volunteers! We would like to thank the following alumni for their participation in the UP Mentorship Program this year. This year we have an enrollment of 22 mentor/mentee matches. We would also like to thank those of you who volunteered despite not being matched this time around. Each year, we try to tailor the program to the unique needs and interests of the students. This year, we have begun a list of activities that matches can partake in. 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.