Master's Alumni Profiles

There are over 1400 Georgia Tech MCP/MCRP alumni working in 49 states and 31 countries. These sample profiles have been selected to illustrate the kinds of work our alumni do. Alumni can send us a photo and answers to these questions and we'll include you in the future.

Name: Ryan Hagerty, MCRP '12

Job title: Community Development Finance Associate
Organization: SB Friedman
Location: Chicago, IL
Specialization: Land and Community Development, Economic Development
Advisor: Dan Immergluck

Profile

What are your work responsibilities?

My work involves consulting on community development finance and public private partnerships to promote local economic development. I primarily work in SB Friedman’s New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) practice assisting public agencies across the country in the application process, working with developers, business owners, and financial organizations to secure and structure deals, and performing ongoing asset management.

How did your Georgia Tech education influence your career?

Georgia Tech has provided me with the “big picture” thinking to understand urban policy matters, while advancing my technical skills to collect, analyze, and report on different types of socio-economic data. Beyond the more tangible knowledge, Tech’s emphasis on teamwork with different planning students, as well as business, policy, architecture, and engineering students, has enhanced my ability to work with people of all different backgrounds.

Why is city and regional planning important?

City and regional planning is an interdisciplinary profession that mirrors the complexity of the natural and built environments. With trends of urbanization, environmental concerns, and dwindling resources dominating my career, the profession’s interdisciplinary nature positions it to tackle the complicated problems associated with these trends.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

During my second year at Tech, I worked with a team of architecture, urban design, and policy students on the ULI/Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition. Because of the diverse backgrounds of my teammates, it was one of the highest functioning teams I’ve ever participated on and a highlight of my two years at Georgia Tech. Our submission was awarded one of ten honorable mentions out of 139 total submissions.

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Name: Laura Schultz, MCRP '12

Laura Schultz

Job title: Economic Development Associate
Organization: Hudson Square Connection
Location: New York, NY
Specialization: Land and Community Development, Economic Development
Advisor: Dan Immergluck

Profile

What are your work responsibilities?

The Hudson Square Connection is a Business Improvement District focusing on developing creative industries on the lower west side of Manhattan through economic development, transportation, and planning initiatives. My responsibilities include developing and implementing economic development projects, creating business retention and recruitment strategies, and acting as the liaison between property owners and various city agencies.

How did your Georgia Tech education influence your career?

My education at Georgia Tech has taught me to look at urban planning problems through a variety of lenses in order to develop thoughtful and comprehensive solutions. Professionally, the program opened my eyes to the broad range of things I could do with the degree and equipped me with the professional skills needed to develop a strong network and find opportunity in creative places.

Why is city and regional planning important?

City and Regional Planning addresses a broad range of complex issues that can dramatically affect the environment, the economy, and quality of life for many people. The planning practice allows city and regions to imagine a better future and create the tools necessary to implement that future.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the great internships I was able to obtain through graduate school such as working at Central Atlanta Progress and the Port Authority of NY & NJ. I am also proud of my academic achievements including a 4.0 GPA and receiving the Georgia Planning Association Student of the Year Award.

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Name: Dave Barg, MCRP '11

Dave Barg, MCRP '11

Job title: Assistant Project Manager
Organization: RQ Construction, LLC
Location: Carlsbad, CA
Specialization: Environmental Planning and Management
Advisor: Brian Stone

Profile

What are your work responsibilities?

I oversee military construction projects, which includes coordinating with the owner's representatives and subcontractors, awarding subcontracts, addressing field changes, and handling job cost and projections. In addition, I manage the LEED certification process and all associated submittals. I also work in the field where my tasks are constantly changing.

How did your Georgia Tech education influence your career?

My education at Georgia Tech helped build my analytical skills, problem-solving abilities, and environmental knowledge. These are important skills when working on varying projects with tight schedules. The federal government has also shown an increasing commitment to sustainable building practices, which puts my understanding of environmental issues and strategies to good use.

Why is city and regional planning important?

City and Regional Planning is an important field because it focuses on relevant problems that affect large groups of people. By addressing societal issues, planning aims to improve quality of life for a vast and diverse population. The field practices a holistic approach to problem-solving by considering all factors related to a specific problem, which prevents isolated decision-making.

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Name: Moki Macias, MCRP '11

Moki Macias

Job title: Senior Community Builder
Organization: Annie E. Casey Foundation
Location: Atlanta, GA
Specialization: Land and Community Development
Advisor: Harley Etienne

Profile

What are your work responsibilities?

I am responsible for effectively involving residents in the Annie E. Casey Foundation's place-based initiative in the Southwest Atlanta neighborhoods that make up Neighborhood Planning Unit V. I provide technical assistance and leverage resources to support resident community change efforts, and participate in neighborhood activities that improve the lives of vulnerable children and families. Recent activities that I have been involved in includes the development of a neighborhood Master Plan for the Pittsburgh neighborhood, community organizing around the recent school closures, and the development of a youth-led community engagement process for city recreation centers.

How did your Georgia Tech education influence your career?

The City & Regional Planning program at Tech provided me with a solid foundation in technical planning skills such as GIS mapping, research methods, and real estate finance; it helped me understand the planning process and the political and social implications of all planning activities; and it is firmly rooted in the Atlanta context which has been invaluable to me.

Why is City and Regional Panning important?

City and Regional planning is inevitable. What is important is how it happens, and most importantly, the extent to which it is a democratic exercise that addresses historical and present social and economic disparities. Planning is a set of tools used to identify priorities and allocate public and private resources. It is an inherently political process that, without explicit intention, will reproduce dominant paradigms of racial oppression and exclusion, marginalization of poor people, and neoliberalism. But take heart! Every planning process is also an opportunity to create a space that encourages multiple constituencies to creatively define and imagine solutions for the challenges they face. Planning can be a thrilling exercise in democracy by increasing transparency of the process in which decisions are made, centering the priorities and ideas of those who are often on the margins, and proposing development that creates a more just and equitable city and region.

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Name: Vincent Palrose, MCRP '10

Vincent Palrose

Job title: Resident Officer in Charge of Construction
Organization: Naval Facilities Engineering Command - Southwest
Location: Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma, AZ (MCAS Yuma)
Specialization: Economic Development
Advisor: William Drummond

Profile

What are your work responsibilities?

The plan for basing the new F-35B Joint Strike Fighter at the air station means major changes are in store for Yuma over the next several years. According to the plan and its anticipated effects, Yuma should expect a 39 percent increase in personnel, a 15 percent increase in airfield operations and a 17 percent increase in airspace and range use.

I am responsible for managing the planning, design, acquisition, and construction of the approximately $500 million worth of new infrastructure required to support the Marine Corps' future combat jets. More generally, I am responsible for administering construction contracts and obtaining timely quality construction that meets the needs of MCAS Yuma at the lowest reasonable cost.

How did your Georgia Tech education influence your career and why is city and regional planning important?

My Georgia Tech education has provided me with an understanding of the demographic and socio-economic systems that make up a location including population and employment characteristics, revenue resources, and cultural factors. Additionally, my Masters in City and Regional Planning has helped improve my ability to incorporate economic dynamics into planning and design. However, it is the working knowledge of land use planning including zoning regulations and law, environmental concerns, development density, open space, protection and preservation of scarce resources and cultural artifacts, and factors impacting housing, transportation, utilities and waste treatment/disposal systems that highlight the value of city and regional planning. Consideration of these issues provide the foundation for "good" places.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my accomplishments in Uganda, Seychelles and Comoros when serving on a one-year deployment as a Project Engineer with the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. In that capacity I collaborated with a multinational team to lead the execution of ten Humanitarian Assistance projects across three key partner nations delivering over $3.5 million in high quality construction that undoubtedly improved the lives of tens of thousands of people.

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Name: Andrea Lytle, AICP, MCRP '09

Andrea Lytle

Job title: Urban Planner
Organization: National Capital Planning Commission
Location: Washington, DC
Specialization: Land Use
Advisor: Michael Elliott

Profile

What are your work responsibilities?

The National Capital Planning Commission is the federal government’s central planning agency for Washington, D.C. and the National Capital Region. My work in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs involves a number of joint planning initiatives with federal, state, and local government agencies to plan for long-term sustainable growth in the region. Such collaboration is critical because the federal presence has a uniquely significant impact on the region’s economy, transportation systems, and quality of the built environment.

How did your Georgia Tech education influence your career?

The education I received at Georgia Tech has helped me to think critically about the intersections between the various disciplines that comprise urban planning: transportation, land use, housing, environment, urban design and economic development. While planners may specialize in one of these areas, they must understand and incorporate a broader perspective to create sustainable, vibrant communities. Georgia Tech brings this philosophy into the classroom with real-world examples and challenges.

Why is city and regional planning important?

City planning is important because it shapes how our neighborhoods and communities grow and evolve over time. Many of our most intractable challenges, however, such as climate change, living wage job creation, and environmental justice, unfold at a metropolitan scale and demand regional planning solutions that cross political boundaries.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Working under the Obama Administration has been an incredibly rewarding experience because the leadership truly recognizes the need for sustainable solutions to our current economic situation. Watching federal agencies come together to develop creative strategies to assist and jump start local economic growth has been particularly exciting and I am honored to contribute to that effort.

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Name: Brian C. Smart, MCRP '09

Brian Smart

Job title: Transportation Planner/Environmental Planner
Organization: Moreland Altobelli Associates, Inc.
Location: Norcross, Georgia
Specialization: Environmental Planning
Advisor: Brian Stone

Profile

What are your work responsibilities?

I am currently involved with the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Atlanta to Chattanooga High Speed Rail rail project. I am also involved with some smaller-scale projects, such as the proposed Ashford Dunwoody Road at I-285 diverging diamond interchange, an intermodal facility for the Georgia Ports Authority at the Garden City Port in Chatham County, Georgia and several streetscape and pedestrian-scale projects throughout the state.

How did your Georgia Tech education influence your career?

The SCaRP faculty members are a major resource. City and Regional Planning is definitely a broad and interdisciplinary profession. The broad and interdisciplinary backgrounds of each faculty member and the ability to talk one-on-one with each and in turn gain invaluable feedback and constructive criticism for my work and ideas, allows me to think about my current work in a more comprehensive fashion.

Why is city and regional planning important?

From the perspective of my current projects, planning is proactive and allows for decision-makers and elected officials to gain knowledge and background information concerning major capital projects. This aspect, as I have seen, serves as a major cost-saving measure to government entities and taxpayers in the long-run.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am most proud of both working fulltime and attending classes on a fulltime basis the first semester of my first year in the CRP program. I learned invaluable time management skills and how to prioritize competing deadlines.

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Name: Scott Stephens, MCRP '08

Scott Stephens

Job title: Planning Analyst
Organization: Fulton County Schools
Location: Atlanta
Specialization: Land Use Planning and GIS
Advisor: Steven French

Profile

What are your work responsibilities?

We perform student population projections by school and by grade for the entire 90,000+ student school system. The forecast is the initial driver of teacher, staff, and resource allocation, therefore accuracy is very important. Our office also makes school attendance boundaries and manages the public participation process with the community to help determine those zones.

How did your Georgia Tech education influence your career?

My time at Georgia Tech allowed me to gain a theoretical and historical understanding of planning, as well as an increased ability to apply it in practical applications. Georgia Tech increases one's depth and breadth of knowledge to be an effective and valuable planner. An additional bonus is the widespread network of fellow Georgia Tech planners that understand the value of the degree - I've only worked in two positions as a planner and both times I was hired by a Tech planning graduate.

Why is city and regional planning important?

Planning is a broad field, but one of the things that binds us all together is our comprehensive mindset. City and regional planning is important for protecting valuable resources, whether they be the natural or built environment, tax dollars, or our grandchildren. Being able to make responsible decisions based on accurate information is the best way to do that.

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Name: Andrea Foard, MCRP '07

Andrea Foard

Job title: Environmental Planner

Organization: Parsons Brinckerhoff
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Specialization: Land Development & Urban Design

Advisor: Larry Keating

Profile

What are your work responsibilities?

My work responsibilities entail working with the environmental staff in our Atlanta and Nashville offices on various environmental and planning tasks related to NEPA, transportation, and community planning. I am currently responsible for completing and submitting environmental studies for transportation projects primarily in Georgia and Tennessee.

How did your Georgia Tech education influence your career?

I pursued a graduate degree in City Planning because I wanted to broaden and diversify my career and become exposed to more opportunities in civil engineering. My Georgia Tech education has influenced my career by opening doors that may not have been possible otherwise and introducing other avenues in which I can utilize my education and professional skills.

Why is city and regional planning important?

City and Regional planning is important because it takes a holistic approach to solving current needs while attempting to balance future needs. It is important because it looks at different aspects of an issue, e.g. transportation, demographics, housing, and how all of these pieces fit and work together in a symbiotic relationship.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

The academic accomplishments am I most proud of during my tenure as a graduate student in the planning program at Georgia Tech are receiving the American Planning Association (2006 APA Fellowship Award Winner) and earning a 2007 Tower Award from the Office of Minority Educational Development at Georgia Tech for graduating minority Master’s students who have achieved a grade point average of 3.5 or higher.

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Name: Joseph Cooley, MCRP '05

Joseph Cooley

Job title: Planner/Attorney-at-Law
Organization: Private Practice
Location: Marietta, GA
Specialization: Environmental Management and Law dual degree program with Georgia State University College of Law
Advisor: Cheryl Contant

Profile

What are your work responsibilities?

After graduation I worked as a land use attorney for a large Atlanta law firm representing clients in administrative procedures such as rezoning, variance applications, review of proposed ordinance for constitutional muster, and land use litigation. I left the firm to take the position of Director of Planning & Development for a small resort town in NC. Work included combining out-dated zoning, subdivision regulations and erosion control ordinances into a unified development ordinance, initiating and coordinating a pedestrian/vehicle circulation and parking needs study, providing plan review and code interpretation, and management of the planning and development department. I recently returned to private planning/legal practice providing contract services to law firms, planning firms, and municipal and private clients; including code development, code review, growth management strategies, administrative processing for small communities, and legal representation.

How did your joint degree education from Georgia Tech and Georgia State University College of law influence your career?

It enhanced it dramatically in that it provided me the credentials and knowledge to effectively practice land use planning and land use law. Degrees from the Ga Tech/GSU Law dual degree program provide the skills needed to be successful in the fields with a high level of professional recognition across the country.

Why is city and regional planning important?

Society has long recognized the need to plan for the protection of the public's health, safety and welfare. The study of city and regional planning looks at the "big picture" of the relationships between people and the natural and built environments. Planning benefits society by helping us better understand immediate and long-range consequences societal actions have for those systems and potential impacts on public health and welfare.

What accomplishment in your career are you most proud of?

It was prior to obtaining my degree, but it was a Congressional study on designation of the Wekiva River in Florida for inclusion into the national wild & scenic river system while I was at the National Park Service. I prepared the study and drafted innovative legislation for the Wekiva for inclusion in the national system as a hybrid unit, designated but managed by Florida state and local agencies. Congress passed the legislation and President Clinton signed it into law.

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Name: Amanda Rhein, MCRP '04

Amanda Rhein

Job title: Senior Director of Transit Oriented Development
Organization: Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA)
Location: Atlanta, GA
Specialization: Land Use
Advisor: Nancey Green Leigh

Profile

What are your work responsibilities?

I lead the Office of Transit Oriented Development and Real Estate which is responsible for administering and managing MARTA’s real estate, retail and concessions and transit oriented development functions. Our objectives are to generate revenue to support transit operations, increase ridership and support thriving communities. We work to transform MARTA’s underutilized parking lots into vibrant mixed-use projects.

How did your education from Georgia Tech influence your career?

Georgia Tech was a wonderful place to learn because Atlanta is a laboratory for the issues that planners seek to address. My Georgia Tech education was rooted in reality. Many of the educators were practitioners who were able to teach through the lens of their real-time experiences. My education taught me to love Atlanta and see the potential in the City.

What advice do you have for other SCaRP alumni?

Keeping up on current events and project announcements by reading the newspaper is the best way to stay in the know. I also joined the Urban Land Institute as a student at Georgia Tech and found the knowledge and relationships that I gained to be invaluable.

What accomplishment in your career are you most proud of?

I am really proud of the work I did at Invest Atlanta to catalyze Atlanta’s urban revitalization. Over a 10-year period we funded over 30 projects which resulted in the investment of $3.5 billion in Atlanta’s most underserved communities. MARTA's transit oriented development initiative has the potential to have an even greater impact on the Atlanta region.

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Name: Jennifer Ball, MCP '01

Jennifer Ball

Job title: Vice President, Planning
Organization: Central Atlanta Progress, Inc.
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Specialization: Land Development
Advisor: Arthur (Chris) Nelson

Profile

What are your work responsibilities?

I manage and direct land use and transportation planning policy initiatives and implementation projects within Downtown Atlanta. Recently, this includes the development of the Green Line and Imagine Downtown vision plans, the Downtown Livability Code zoning regulation update and the on-going implementation of $40 million worth of public space capital improvements including streetscape improvements, wayfinding signage and roadway upgrades.

How did your Georgia Tech education influence your career?

Learning about planning in the “living laboratory” of Atlanta was critical preparation for a career that, to date, has been dedicated exclusively to improving the quality of life in the City of Atlanta. Learning about planning and about Atlanta along with the associated institutional knowledge could not have been replicated anywhere else. Also, the connections and relationships that I formed at Georgia Tech with faculty, staff and my classmates continue to benefit my work day-to-day.

Why is city and regional planning important?

I believe that the vast majority of the population takes for granted what planners do. Very few people think about why their cities and neighborhoods are the way they are or how they will grow and evolve in the future, yet they are significantly impacted by planning issues every day. Being able to influence something as fundamental as your community’s quality of life is very rewarding.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I have been fortunate to develop a vision plan for an area that I care very deeply about and have had success in implementing many of the recommendations in that plan. I am proud that my planning career has included both planning and doing!

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Name: Brian Leary, MCP '98

Brian Leary

Job title: President & CEO
Organization: Atlanta Beltline, Inc.
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Specialization: Transportation
Advisor: Catherine Ross

Profile

What are your work responsibilities?

I lead the team responsible for Atlanta's largest urban redevelopment and transportation initiative in its history. In simple terms, we are tasked with planning, designing, engineering and building the Atlanta Beltline by leveraging the partnerships, financial resources and talent available as quickly as possible. As the chief executive, my responsibilites also include the continued evolution of the organization from project-specific start up to a team of leaders recognized as the best at what they do with a focus on inclusiveness and personal growth.

How did your Georgia Tech education influence your career?

Georgia Tech demands and cultivates a rigorous problem-solving and creative approach to learning, which has served me a great deal since graduation. Specifically, the value of an entrepreneurial and supportive advisor like Dr. Catherine Ross cannot be understated. This connection to "real world" practice grounded my initial work on Atlantic Station and inspired me to teach at the College for some time.

Why is city and regional planning important?

Cities will continue to be the highest form of community connectivity and it is in cities that individual ideas and needs are ideally supplanted by those of a higher purpose. When this occurs, great things happen. The value and health of cities and regions grows daily. Without a thoughtful approach to ongoing sustainability and quality-of-life issues, continued prosperity is threatened.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

The proudest moment I've had came in late 2006 when one of the security guards in Atlantic Station went out of his way to say, "thank you" one day when crossing the street. I responded, "For what? You're the one helping me out by getting through this traffic safely." He replied, "by dreaming this dream. I was out of work and my family was hungry. Now I have a great job, in a great place, working with great people."

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Name: Tracy Rye , AICP, MCP ‘95

Tracy Rye, AICP

Job title: Community Planner
Organization: Douglas County
Location: Douglasville , GA
Specialization: Land Development and Economic Development
Advisor: Larry Keating

Profile

What are your work responsibilities?

My primary areas of specialization at the local jurisdictional level include zoning, land use, and annexation analysis, commercial plan and site review, and writing of portions of the Unified Development Code and the Comprehensive Land Use Plan. In addition, I also write grant proposals and administer grants, which the County has received.

How did your Georgia Tech education influence your career?

My Georgia Tech education influenced my career in a number of ways. Primarily, my education instilled in me the desire to look at problems and issues from a variety of angles while looking toward solutions with potential future outcomes for people and the environment.

Why is city and regional planning important?

City and regional planning is important in that it transcends cultures and places. As a field, it allows people to greet the future while at the same time valuing and preserving historic, natural and cultural resources along with the continued creation of a sustainable built environment with quality of life.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

From a purely personal perspective, it was obtaining my AICP. The test is hard! However, from a professional perspective, I work and live in the same place so it is rewarding to be able to see the fruits of implementing long-term solutions to issues we face at the local level. Hopefully a by-product of that is having a positive influence on the quality of life of my family, neighbors, and friends.

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Name: Tim Chapin, MCP '94

Tim Chapin

Job title: Associate Professor and Department Chair
Organization: Florida State University, Department of Urban & Regional Planning
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Specialization: Economic Development
Advisor: Erik Ferguson

Profile

What are your work responsibilities?

I am the chief administrator for one of the best public university planning units in the nation. I oversee the unit's curriculum, budget, and personnel, as well as work with public, private, and non-profit partners to offer an excellent, comprehensive planning education to our ~140 graduate students.

How did your Georgia Tech education influence your career?

Georgia Tech's MCP program instilled in me the skills and knowledge base necessary to successfully plan for urban environments and work to mitigate the negative effects of sprawl. The program's curriculum and faculty taught me many of the skills and concepts that I am now passing on to students in my role as a planning educator. I would not have had the career successes I have had without the excellent foundation that Georgia Tech provided to me.

Why is city and regional planning important?

Urban planning is one of the foundational disciplines of the coming "sustainability century". As we come to terms with the impacts of development patterns on environmental systems, water supplies, human health, climate change, and overall quality of life, urban planners are well placed to enable communities to envision and create more livable and more sustainable neighborhoods, districts, cities, and regions.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my success as a manager and (re)builder of a strong academic unit that is training the next generation of planners in Florida. I see the impact of my work not just in my own scholarship, but also in the work of the graduates of our program as they work in communities in Florida and elsewhere.

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Name: Stanford Harvey, AICP, MCP '94/M Arch '94

Stanford Harvey

Job title: Principal
Organization: Urban Collage, Inc.
Location: Atlanta/Lexington, Georgia
Specialization: Urban Design
Advisor: Michael Elliott

Profile

What are your work responsibilities?
I oversee a staff of urban designers working on a wide range of projects, from small-scale site plans to large-scale comprehensive plans for cities.

 

How did your Georgia Tech education influence your career?

Georgia Tech gave me a wonderful educational background through the joint degree in Architecture and City and Regional Planning. The wide-ranging experience, combined with phenomenal internship opportunities offered through the program, gave me a jump start on a rewarding career.

Why is city and regional planning important?

City and regional planning will be an increasingly important profession as the country as its cities struggle with increasingly complex issues of environment, physical conditions, social equity, economic feasibility and transportation access.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am proud have made a difference in many communities across the Southeast and to have had a chance to contribute to major efforts in our hometown involving Atlanta Public Schools, Atlanta Housing Authority, the BeltLine, Blueprint Midtown, the Perimeter Livable Centers Initiative and Imagine Downtown. I am also gratified with the recognition of the Jack Glatting Mentoring Award from Georgia Tech.

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Name: Stan Fitterman (MCP '88)

Dave Barg, MCRP '11

Job title: Technical Assistance Director/C.O.O.
Organization: Florida Housing Coalition
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Specialization: Housing
Advisor: Larry Keating

Profile

What are your work responsibilities?

I supervise professional staff in the implementation of the Florida Housing Coalition’s technical assistance contracts and oversee the day-to-day management of the organization. I develop and deliver training to local governments and nonprofit organizations on virtually every aspect of affordable housing and community development, including the development of home ownership and rental housing, business planning for nonprofit organizations, marketing, financial management topics and federal and state compliance issues.

How did your Georgia Tech education influence your career?

My Georgia Tech education provided me with an understanding of housing markets, housing policy and housing finance. I learned how to analyze data and present it in a meaningful way. These have been very useful skills throughout my career as I have worked to help decision makers in both the public and private sector understand the relationship between housing policy and the real estate market.

Why is city and regional planning important?

City and regional planning is one of the very few disciplines that focuses on the relationship between the various components that make up a community – housing, employment, transportation, parks, etc.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

For a number of years, Florida had the country’s largest affordable housing trust fund, which assisted tens of thousands of people with obtaining decent, safe and affordable housing. I am proud of my role in helping to ensure those funds were spent efficiently, effectively and for the benefit of low income families.

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Name: Ellen Vogler Heath, AICP, MCP '82

Ellen Heath

Job title: Principal/Vice President
Organization: AECOM
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Specialization: Environmental planning
Advisor: Thomas Debo

Profile

What are your work responsibilities?

I am responsible for marketing and managing a range of planning services, including comprehensive planning, neighborhood planning, land use planning, and military facility planning.

How did your Georgia Tech education influence your career?

In addition to the basics of local government planning, I came away with a great sense of the planning process and principles. It’s been great to be able to apply those same principles and process on a wide variety of projects throughout my career including planning for small neighborhoods, large multi-jurisdictional regions, national parks and military bases.

Why is city and regional planning important?

I learned in school and still believe that planners are the ones with the big picture—we tend to be better at seeing all sides of a situation, and how various issues and disciplines relate to one another. As I often say in public meetings, your community isn’t going to stay the same—it’s going to change one way or another, and planning is the way you can help control how it changes.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

My favorite projects are the ones where I feel like we’ve really made a difference—we prepared the first ever island-wide plan for the government of the Bahamas in Eleuthera, and citizens there told us “no one’s ever asked us our opinions about what would make our community better.” Similarly, planning in post-Katrina New Orleans was special, and my current favorite project is the first-ever comprehensive plan for a very rural parish in Louisiana.

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Name: Fernando Costa, FAICP, MCP '76

Fernando Costa

Job title: Assistant City Manager
Organization: City of Fort Worth
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Specialization: Transportation
Advisor: Malcolm Little

Profile

What are your work responsibilities?

As an assistant city manager, I advise the city manager about a variety of issues while overseeing the work of four city departments: Planning and Development, Water, Transportation and Public Works, and Aviation. I also chair a regional planning initiative called Vision North Texas and I serve as a part-time faculty member at the University of Oklahoma.

How did your Georgia Tech education influence your career?

Georgia Tech gave me both a theoretical understanding of the planning function and a set of practical skills with which to pursue a career in city and regional planning. Equally important, my Georgia Tech education enabled me to think in a systematic and ethical way about the complex public policy issues that face our cities and metropolitan areas.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I’ve had the good fortune to serve as planning director for two different cities – Atlanta (1987-1998) and Fort Worth (1998-2008) – during critical periods in their histories. In Atlanta, we were able to use the 1996 Olympic Games as an effective catalyst for economic development and neighborhood revitalization. In Fort Worth, the country’s fastest growing big city during the past decade, we’ve been able to direct much of that growth toward the redevelopment of our downtown and the transformation of distressed commercial districts into mixed-use urban villages.

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