Designer. Researcher. Strategist. Greater New York City Area
Year graduated from Carolina Planning: 2014
Specialization at Carolina Planning: Real Estate Development Track
Designer. Researcher. Strategist. A 2017 graduate of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, her interests span design strategy, user experience, innovation, cities + mobility. I’m interested in synthesizing complex problems + creating actionable solutions.
Why did I pursue a career in city planning?
It’s simple— I really wanted to impact the world and built environment in a positive way. I majored in Poli Sci at Emory (and took design classes for fun at SCAD in Atlanta). After graduating, I worked on a project with people from the ULI, architects, educators and planners. After that project, I decided to apply to graduate school for planning.
Where am I now?
Life is not linear but mercurial. A story:
I studied real estate + placemaking at DCRP and had summer transit research + design positions. Tom Campanella was my advisor and really encouraged me to apply to design school. (I had a creative knack and past that he noticed.) On a whim, I applied and went to Harvard’s Graduate School of Design immediately after wrapping up at UNC. While at design school, I realized that I did not want to be traditional. After a summer or two working at an environmental design and architecture firms, I realized that I was forcing on a traditional shoe that didn’t quite fit.
I think there’s more than one way to apply a design and planning skillset. AND I went back to the GSD, re-thought my purpose, and decided to take classes that truly appealed to me (product design, entrepreneurship, economic justice, etc.). More importantly, I decided to get a ton of exposure after learning about design-thinking firms and Sidewalk Labs. I was wowed about how many of these design-consulting firms and tech companies think about cities and/or big ideas.
So, I spent A LOT of time flying out to talk to executives and designers doing innovative work that could affect how we live, see and interact with the world— from Oculus to AirBnB to Pinterest to IDEO to ZipCar and many more. (I would just schedule a ton meetings over spring break or holidays, fly or take a bus, and meet with anyone who said yes. You’d be surprised who said yes.)
I’m a hybrid between visual design, urban design, numbers and systems thinking (from planning). I wanted to work at a place that had a variety projects where I could keep getting more exposure. I’m inquisitive and wanted to be at a place that celebrated big ideas and being inquisitive. I’m now based in NYC and work at SY Partners. It’s hard to know exactly what we do by searching on the interwebs. But it’s cool stuff and a lot of work with CEOs.
What does the future hold?
The future is super exciting. Through all those conversations, I’ve built a network of people doing awesome things to influence the world and mentors. I still immensely desire to impact society and effect change in a positive way. I believe I will. I also very much want to be an exec and like thinking big picture.
I’d like to stay in innovation and design strategy for a sec. I still really love thinking about policy, mobility, autonomous cars and economics. Planning definitely helped see things as a system. I’m sure my work will manifest in different ways because I want to touch a lot of things. In my post-grad school career thus far, I’ve already gotten to work with a major airline, cities, major outdoor brands and meet really bright minds. I just want to have fun with my career, keep pursuing projects that I find exciting, and work with companies that truly want to effect change.