Ali (Thompson) Mabel

MUP 2012, MBA 2003 and BA IN GERMAN 2000 (University of Missouri, Columbia)

What is your current job and how did your planning degree prepare you for it?

I am an economic development consultant with Fourth Economy Consulting, located in Pittsburgh, PA. In this role I help communities and organizations develop and implement strategic plans to enhance their communities and local economies. During my planning studies I learned about data sources, analytical methods and the relationship between demographics, economic activity, and physical resources, all of which helped prepare me for my work as an economic development consultant.

I also worked at the University of Illinois Research Park during my MUP studies and immediately after graduation. This was a fantastic opportunity because I got first-hand exposure to and experience in a variety of community development and economic development activities, including physical infrastructure and planning, grant-writing, and entrepreneurship technical assistance programs. My planning degree prepared me for this role by introducing me to physical planning concepts and helping me to think comprehensively about the ways physical planning, community development and economic development efforts impact and complement each other.

Why did you choose to study urban planning?

I chose to study urban planning because it incorporates a number of my interests and it has real, tangible applications in a variety of environments.

What advice would you share with someone who is considering a career in urban planning?

Take advantage of all the opportunities out there to explore, learn and engage with the world. Urban planning intersects with many of today’s challenges and exciting developments. No matter your interest, skills or background, there is a place for everyone in planning.

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