MUP - 2014
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 the Special Assistant to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Field Operations for Public and Indian Housing at the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. 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. I think of the Office of Field Operations as the "glue" of the public housing program at HUD. We ensure that the policy decisions made by the other offices get enacted by public housing agencies and help inform decisions since we're closer to the ground. HUD has 46 field offices, and I help to liaise with all of them. As Special Assistant, I help make sure my boss' day runs smoothly -- ensuring she has been appropriately briefed, providing programmatic research assistance, and helping to coordinate all the activities in all the field offices.