Alumni Strategy Council

The Department of Urban and Regional Planning has established an Alumni Strategy Council in fall 2021.

Council Goals

The Council aims to help the Department boost the diversity, quality, and number of students who enroll in the BAUSP and MUP programs. Its members design and work with the Department to carry out actions that:

  • reinforce and deepen the Department’s commitment to making communities more equitable, inclusive, sustainable, and just;
  • increase students’ connection and engagement with the breadth of work they can do after they graduate;
  • expand professional development opportunities including internships, jobs, and practice-oriented course engagement;
  • ensure the relevance and excellence of the Department’s curriculum; and
  • strengthen the Department’s connections with program alumni, practitioners, and other leaders in urban planning and community development.

A full description of the Alumni Strategy Council can be found here.

Alumni Strategy Council Members, Fall 2021 through Summer 2024

  • Chair: Billy Lyman (MUP 2016), Associate, Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen, P.C.
  • Drew Awsumb (MUP 2014), Director, Community Preservation & Development, City of Park Ridge, IL
  • Monica Backmon (MUP 1997), Executive Director, Northern Virginia Transportation Authority
  • Sarah Bassett (MUP 2014), Professor of Practice, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, Arizona State University
  • Michael Blue (MUP 1987), Principal, Teska Associates
  • Vince Cautero (MUP 1982), Community Development Director, City of Cape Coral, FL
  • Kara Dudek (BAUP 2015), Park Planner, Urbana Park District
  • Paula Freeze (BAUP 1997), Executive Director, Illinois APA
  • Sonya Griffin (BAUP 1989), Project Manager at GSA, Chicago
  • Danielle (Wagner) Gurgone (BAUP 2007), Vice President, Investments at McCaffery
  • Doug Houston (BAUP 1970), Kirchner Moore & Company (ret.)
  • Callie McFarland (BAUP 2003), Director of Community Development, City of Monticello, IL
  • LaTonya Webb (MUP* 2014), Director, Office of Business-Community Economic Development, University of Illinois
  • Ryan Westrom (BAUP 2001), Head of Mobility Engagement–East Coast, City Solutions at Ford Mobility
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