Ben Winter

MUP - 2009

Housing Policy Specialist
Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti
Ben Winter

Why did you choose Wagner for graduate school?

I’ve always been drawn to cities and fascinated by the intricate nature of urban systems. But what mattered to me most was the people side of planning—access to quality neighborhoods and affordable housing, vibrant immigrant communities struggling with outdated immigration laws, community organizing, and international development issues.  Wagner stood out because it’s within a school of public service and can offer a unique perspective on the intersection of place, government, and people that many design-oriented planning schools can’t.

How did being in New York impact your professional journey?

The City’s history is urban history. In its long life, NYC has dealt with and developed policies on just about every housing and urban challenge I’ve encountered on my professional journey (and then some)—shrinking cities, fiscal crisis, corruption, neighborhood abandonment, gentrification, segregation, high crime, low crime, affordability crisis, elderly housing, natural disasters, challenged public housing—the list is endless. So in a way, the City itself prepared me to address a wide range of urban challenges across the Nation.   

What are the advantages of the Wagner alumni network?

Our network is like traveling in a caravan on a long public service road trip.  No matter where I go or what project I work on, there always seem to be Wagner alumni sitting across the table. And even if it’s someone I'm meeting for the first time, we usually have an immediate connection because we share a passion for public service and strive to make the world a better place. As cheesy as all this sounds, it’s pretty accurate.