Faculty Research

Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in North American Cities
Climate change mitigation and adaptation action plans are developing at a rapid pace, being driven by both local initiatives and emerging alliances and support organizations that cut across multiple jurisdictions. These plans include a broad range of approaches, many of which are evolving into best or leading practices and which will be increasingly used as a model for the plans of other locales. This paper draws attention to several best practices in both mitigation and adaptation for North American cities, and also highlights many of the supporting alliances and groups that disseminate key practices and drive potential synergies. Additionally, it is noted that despite the increasing rate of plan development, a continuing need exists for increased attention to adaptation at the local level.

Capstone: In the Field

Best Practices and Economic Development Opportunities in Water Management (2011)

Faculty: Kate Collignon, Kei Hayashi

Team: Nicole Aimone, Michael Lenore, Paul Salama, Mathew Sanders

Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.) was charged by the State of Louisiana to coor­dinate the development of a new municipal water management system for the City of New Orleans and portions of its adjacent suburbs. In conjunction with this endeavor, the Capstone team prepared a reference document of case studies detailing best practices in worldwide water management systems, including physical components, financing mechanisms, and implementation strategies. In light of the area's postHurricane Katrina setting, the team emphasized storm water mitigation strategies in other lowlying and floodprone areas. Additionally, the team analyzed potential economic development opportunities and impacts that may present themselves with the implementation of the best management practices. GNO, Inc. will use these recommendations as it engages local political stakeholders, the general public, and consultants who will contribute to the creation of this new plan.

Alumni in Action

Leila Edmonds Director Department of Housing and Community Development, Washinton, DC

"In my role, every day is about partnerships," says Leila Finucane Edmonds, the Director of the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for the District of Columbia. Edmonds oversees the abundant activity of DHCD's divisions: Development Finance Division, Resident and Community Services, Property Acquisition and Disposition, and the Housing Regulation Administration (HRA), which includes the Rental Conversion and Sale Division as well as the Rental Accommodations Division (both transferred to the newly-created HRA after Edmonds tenure began). As the DHCD works with several different government agencies, non-profits and for-profit affordable housing developers, community-based organizations and different interest groups, Edmond's job is truly at the intersection of sectors. Because of this, "partnerships are critical to what we do," she explains.

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Edmonds came to DHCD in May of 2007 from HSBC Bank USA where she was a vice president in the community development department. While completing a joint degree from NYU in Law and Urban Planning, she worked as a corporate associate at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan and later as a commercial real estate associate at Willkie Farr & Gallager. In addition to negotiating real estate finance transactions and property sale, acquisition and leasing transactions at Willkie, she also offered pro bono assistance to non-profit groups, working with Habitat for Humanity, and developers on a Low-Income Housing Tax credit transaction – a project for which received a Cornerstone Award from the Lawyers Alliance for New York. Edmonds later joined Seedco, where she worked with several other Wagner graduates, first as a program manager and then as a senior loan fund advisor. After joining DHCD this past spring, Edmonds finds that her department in DC government works on a very different model than that of the private sector, which makes it continually interesting. Edmonds enjoys all of the different pieces that make up her job. She feels that in this role the Wagner side of her education has been very important. Among various community groups, other government agencies, neighborhood commissions and private institutions, there is a wonderful combination of people to work with and issues that come up, she says. Edmonds recognizes that the DHCD needs support of all sectors, and her strong understanding of how they come together, she says, “is from Wagner.” As Edmonds continues to guide the DHCD forward, the partnerships that the DHCD relies upon daily will surely be strengthened by her strong perception, vision and leadership.

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