Building bridges between planning academia and practice
Evan Alvarez, AICP | Lindsay Braun | Andrew Greenlee | Ben LeRoy
Too often, academia seems abstracted, idealistic, or otherwise out of touch to practitioners, while academics often think everyday planning practices reinforce the status quo of inequity and sprawl. But planning practitioners are also often educators—and planning educators are also often practitioners. The inaugural session of the Spring 2024 Professional Planning Colloquium will feature a conversation among four members of the Planning @ Illinois community—two of them MUP graduates and three of them educators—about whether the stereotypes ring true, what it takes to close the gaps, and how town and gown can learn more together.
Ben LeRoy, Instructor, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Ben LeRoy teaches in both the College of Law and the Department of Urban and Regional Planning on topics of planning law, local government, and municipal finance. Previously, Ben worked for nearly a decade in the City of Champaign Planning and Development Department, where he drafted four new zoning districts for the City’s central neighborhoods, led the intergovernmental agreement process governing dockless bike share, and published the City’s first pedestrian plan. He currently serves as co-chair of the APA-IL Legislative Committee and maintains an independent land use consulting practice. His favorite local land use decision over the past few years is Urbana’s lease of a city parking lot to the Rose Bowl Tavern that requires the bar to hold a concert or event every day from May through October.
Evan Alvarez, AICP, Transportation Planner II, Champaign County Regional Planning Commission. Evan Alvarez conducts data and policy analysis for projects related to active transportation and accessibility; he also manages the Access Score model in RPC’s Sustainable Neighborhoods Toolkit. worked at the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District between 2016 and 2023, initially as a route planner and outreach coordinator before becoming Special Services Manager, where he managed MTD’s rural transit and paratransit operations. He was also responsible for MTD’s outreach and passenger education for older adults, community members with disabilities, and English learners. Evan is from Mobile, Alabama and graduated from the University of Alabama in 2014 with an undergraduate degree in Anthropology and Geography, before getting his Master of Urban Planning degree in 2016 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Lindsay Braun, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Braun teaches and does research about the relationship between the built environment and travel behavior. Her current research examines pedestrian access to transit; sociodemographic disparities in infrastructure– and safety-related barriers to walking; equity considerations in the planning, implementation, and use of dockless bike share systems; the potential impacts of green infrastructure investment on gentrification and health disparities; the incorporation of equity goals and objectives into active transportation plans; and the equity implications of a growing reliance on crowd-sourced data to drive transportation planning decisions. Dr. Braun holds PhD and MCP degrees in City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Development Studies from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. Prior to earning her PhD, Dr. Braun was a transportation planning consultant in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Andrew Greenlee, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Greenlee’s teaching and research concerns the intersection of housing policy, community development, and social equity in planning. As an expert in low-income housing policy and federal low-income housing support programs, Dr. Greenlee has explored how the governance of such programs at the local and regional level affects outcomes for low-income households. His work also explores household-level and collective dynamics of residential mobility and neighborhood change, with a particular focus on forced displacement due to urban renewal, eviction, and climate change. Andrew is director of the Illinois Housing Lab, and a faculty affiliate of the Center for Social and Behavioral Sciences, The Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and the Institute of Government and Public Affairs. Dr. Greenlee holds a PhD in Urban Planning and Policy from University of Illinois at Chicago, a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from University of Iowa, and a BA in English and Sociology from Grinnell College.