What is your current job and how did your planning degree prepare you for it?
Today, U.S. cities and transportation systems are being rapidly transformed by technological advancements that have the potential to create innovative solutions to many 21st century mobility challenges. I currently direct the State of Colorado’s Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) office where I serve as the principal strategist for advancing both traditional and cutting-edge technologies such as self-driving cars, unmanned aircraft and emerging tech. This work builds upon my former role at the Colorado governor’s office where I played a key part in developing some of the most progressive policies and programs for next generation vehicles in the United States, positioning Colorado as a national leader.
In the past, my work has focused more broadly on driving environmental, social and economic change through urban and regional infrastructure development with organizations such as the National Science Foundation, Department of Housing and Urban Development and Champaign County Regional Planning Commission.
Relative to these experiences, a degree in planning has equipped me with an array of versatile skills necessary for success at an executive level of management and governance including public policy, financing, and expertise in a variety of technical disciplines.
Why did you choose to study urban planning?
Prior to studying planning, I served in the Peace Corps as an advisor to the mayor’s office of Quito, Ecuador. Upon returning to the U.S., my criteria for a graduate education included a non-siloed learning experience that offered tangible skills in a number of technical areas and that stood out from some of the more garden variety professional degrees. Urban planning was the perfect fit.
What advice would you share with someone who is considering a career in urban planning?
A career in planning requires graduates to both change and be changed by the world around them – either as conventional city planners or more generally as professionals holding certain expertise in urban development. Throughout my career, being open to such change and new opportunities has been equally, if not more, important than knowing exactly what I wanted to do at the time or in the future. When opportunity knocks, a degree in planning positions graduates to confidently answer the call, knowing that they have the broad skill set required to succeed wherever life may take them.