Shuai Ren

MUP

2012
Infrastructure Analyst
The World Bank
Shuai Ren

Why did you choose Wagner for graduate school?

I'm from a planning background and wanted to learn how the world's most famous city, New York, does its planning and manages its procedures. Coming from a developing country context where urbanization is booming, NYC's best practices and lessons can be learned and replicated if adopted properly to the developing world. New York has various NGOs with different missions, and it is the best place to start a career in not-for-profit industry as the variety of institutions gives you a very good overview of the international development universe.

How would you describe your experience as a Wagner student?

Wagner provides flexibility in developing your professional expertise. You can explore your own path by taking relevant courses, speaking with professors, and going to classes across NYU (for example at NYU Stern). Wagner encouraged students to utilize resources both in and out of school, and I benefited a lot from the combination of working and studying during my time in the program.

Describe your current job.

My work includes preparing infrastructure projects with governments in developing countries, communicating with stakeholders (governments, NGOs, consultants, etc.) during project preparation and implementation, producing knowledge products and holding knowledge exchange activities for relevant topics.  

Shammara Wright

MPA-Health

2014
Senior Advisor
NYC Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO), NYC Mayor's Office
Shammara Wright

Why did you choose Wagner for graduate school?

I did a bit of research before choosing a graduate program and found that I was most interested in the schools approach to learning. Specifically, I was interested in a school that handled health policy well. Wagner's approach to investigating and learning at the intersection of complex issues caught me. From personal experiences I knew this was true, especially in health policy where multitudes of contributing factors influence any given situation, and I knew I wanted to tackle the subject through that lens. 

How did your Wagner experience prepare you professionally for what you are doing today?

I use what I learned at Wagner on a daily basis. From statistics to economics, and current issues in health policy, Wagner framed how I think about, analyze, and even help develop programs and evaluations alike.

Describe your current job.

I oversee the implementation, performance monitoring, and evaluation of a 40 million dollar health and workforce development portfolio. This includes cultivating inter-­agency relationships and providing programmatic guidance rooted in performance analysis, evidence, and field research. I also oversee evaluations and act as a thought leader across workforce and health agencies. 

Jianhao (Felix) Zhou

MUP

2016
Data Analyst
New York City Economic Development Corporation
Felix Zhou

Why did you choose Wagner for graduate school?

I was super excited about studying urban planning in New York City. Wagner has a great urban planning program with flexibility to take a variety of courses at other schools that benefit knowledge buildup of urban studies. Curricular practical training offers international students like me an opportunity to gain professional experience to complement my classes.

How did being in New York impact your professional journey?

A combination of being able to work during the day and take classes at night largely improved my learning curve. For an internship project or an academic paper, I could easily ask for guidance from both practitioners and scholars. 

How did you find your first post-Wagner job?

I started as an intern in the Planning Department of New York City Economic Development Corporation and landed a position in the Geographic Information Systems Unit one year later. I produce maps, provide web-based mapping support, and develop geospatial data analysis for citywide programs. 

Leda Bloomfield

MUP

2014
Program Analyst
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Leda Bloomfield

Why did you choose Wagner for graduate school?

I wanted to find an urban planning school that connected planning to policy and to real people. I received traditional urban planning training, as well as non-traditional hands-on training in financial markets and analysis and program and policy evaluation. This is distinguished from other schools that have a heavier focus on design or theory. When I graduated, I felt prepared with the skills I needed to hit the ground running.

Wagner gave me different “tools” for the job. I have the technical skills to review a financing pro forma, the theoretical skills to talk housing and economic policy, and the professional skills to write briefing papers, manage projects, and influence change.

How did you find your first post-Wagner job?

After graduation, I started as a Presidential Management Fellow in the federal government. I first heard about the fellowship through Wagner’s Office of Career Services, who arranged a prep session for all the semi-finalists with a Wagner alumna who was already a fellow. After becoming a finalist, my advisor Prof. Ingrid Ellen, connected me to other Wagner alum working for the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Describe your current job.

I am a program analyst for the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development in the Public and Indian Housing program office. Public housing oversees both traditional public housing serving approximately 1.2 million households and housing choice voucher assistance serving approximately 2.4 million households across the country. Right now, my focus is on establishing policies and internal procedures related to the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, which allows public housing agencies to recapitalize and improve their properties with private financing; and on ensuring environmental review compliance with the National Environmental Protection Act.

Carmen Montes de Oca

MPA-PNP

2011
Academic Department Manager, Department of Finance and Risk Engineering
NYU Tandon School of Engineering
Carmen Montes de Oca

Why did you choose Wagner for graduate school? 

I chose NYU Wagner for the robustness of its academic program and the diversity of courses offered, which are taught by faculty with extensive experience in their field who bring perspective and real-life examples to the classroom – thus bridging theory and practice. 

How did you find your first post-Wagner job? 

I obtained my first post-Wagner job by directly applying to positions in NYC government. NYU Wagner’s highly-respected MPA program greatly enhanced my credentials and I was able to take the next big leap in my career by becoming Budget Director for the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. 

How did your Wagner experience prepare you professionally for what you are doing today? 

NYU Wagner greatly enhanced my analytical and managerial skills, and provided me with the foundational knowledge and the practical know-how – both of which have served me well throughout my professional journey. 

Fernando Henao

MPA-PNP

2010
Country Director
Grameen Foundation
Fernando Henao

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WAGNER FOR GRADUATE SCHOOL?

I was looking for a graduate school that provided me with skills, tools and connections in order to continue my career working in the government, especially in areas related to rural development. Wagner offered a variety of public policy and international angles that impressed me.  

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WAGNER STUDENT?

It was a unique experience. I had the privilege of sharing it with incredibly talented students from different countries and very experienced faculty who were so generous and passionate in analyzing and looking for solutions to some of the world´s most pressing problems.

DESCRIBE YOUR CURRENT JOB.

I am Colombia's Country Director at Grameen Foundation. I am responsible for programs that deal with access to knowledge, connection to markets and financial inclusion for the poorest populations in Colombia.

Jinny Jeong

MPA-PNP

2014
Evaluation and Data Insights, Senior Associate
CECP
Jinny Jeong

HOW DID YOUR WAGNER EXPERIENCE PREPARE YOU PROFESSIONALLY FOR WHAT YOU ARE DOING TODAY?

One of the reasons I decided to go to graduate school was to pivot my career into the quantitative field. Wagner affirmatively provided me the opportunities and experience for this career change. Leveraging my pre-grad school professional experience, with my newly learned quantitative skills from Wagner, I was fortunate to have received a coveted internship focusing on cities, sustainability, and measurement, with The Clinton Foundation. This then helped set the stage of relevant experience and skills for my next internship at CECP, which led to my current full-time position and role. 

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WAGNER FOR GRADUATE SCHOOL?

I chose Wagner for the location, and because the required courses offered a good balance between quantitative work and qualitative work. Wagner understands that balancing these skills needs to happen when you enter the field of public service. My final decision came down to the atmosphere and messaging at Wagner – at Admitted Students Day, the message was all about inclusivity and community from the entire Wagner community-- the dean, faculty, alumni and current students. 

DESCRIBE YOUR CURRENT JOB.

I work for CECP (formerly, Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy), a coalition of corporations and their CEOs who opt in to our network to leverage the role of corporations as a force for good in society. As Senior Associate (Data Insights), I translate quantitative data into actionable insights that corporate social responsibility professionals can use in their respective jobs and corporate strategies. I also lead the outreach and data collection effort for CECP's largest, and 15-year industry leading research called "Giving in Numbers. "

Neil Reilly

MPA-PNP

2013
Senior Policy Analyst
Citizens Housing & Planning Council
Neil Reilly

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WAGNER FOR GRADUATE SCHOOL?

I chose Wagner for several reasons. The primary reason was that I was interested in getting a post-graduation job in which I could work on some urban social issues, and staying home in NYC was the perfect opportunity for that. Other things I considered were the fact that the local government is swarming with Wagner alumni; and the fact that I felt I could get the type of job I was looking for with either an MPA or a law degree, so the appeal of being done in one fewer year was strong.

HOW DID YOUR WAGNER EXPERIENCE PREPARE YOU PROFESSIONALLY FOR WHAT YOU ARE DOING TODAY?

The primary preparation was the quantitative training I got in the MPA policy analysis curriculum. I wanted to gain data skills to pair with my writing ability, and that's exactly what those quantitative courses gave me. On a more general note, the exposure that Wagner offers its students to the work that is actually happening in and around New York City government is an accurate glimpse into the policymaking process.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF THE WAGNER ALUMNI NETWORK?

As I mentioned, Wagner alums are everywhere in NYC. I know I can reach out to my past professors as sounding boards. It's important that the reputation of the training Wagner gives its policy analysts is solid.

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