Baruch College MPA Students Named NYC Community Planning Fellows
August 18, 2021
Five Baruch College graduate students will be developing their skills as the next generation of urban planners by working inside of local community boards during the academic year.
Kerry Ann Lewis, Amanda McEnery, Maia Roseval, Kiara Santiago, and Deepakie Sodhi, all who are enrolled in the Master of Public Administration program at the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, are among 25 candidates selected to participate in the NYC Community Planning Fellowship Program.
The Baruch students, along with fellows from other schools, will each be assigned to a Community Board office in the city. There, they will work on real-world planning issues, such as zoning, transportation, retail development, land use projects, and quality-of-life matters specific to local neighborhoods.
“I know our students have a lot to offer. The fellows from Baruch all have a passion for urban planning and community development,” said Alexis Perrotta, PhD, lecturer at Baruch College’s Marxe School of Public and International Affairs. “They will bring to the field the skills they have developed in research and analysis, as well as their ethical sensibilities and knowledge of history, all key to community planning.”
According to Professor Perrotta, Baruch College was invited to join the program this year by the Fund for the City of New York, which was established by the Ford Foundation, and provides financial support for the fellowship. Columbia University, Hunter College, New York University, The New School and Pratt Institute also participate.
“This exciting and hands-on program is a great fit for the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs,” explained Perrotta, “especially for our students who are focusing on the Urban Development and Sustainability concentration.”
Meet Baruch’s NYC Planning Fellows
McEnery was inspired to apply for this fellowship after taking two Marxe School courses: Housing Policy with Professor Hilary Botein, and Community Development: History, Present, and Future with Professor Perrotta.
Both classes ignited her interest in housing, and she thought this fellowship would be a “great next step to enhance my learning in that area.”
“It is an exciting opportunity to learn first-hand how community boards navigate important issues and decisions on behalf of the broader community,” McEnery said. “I am looking forward to learning more about how community boards participate in the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure and how board members weigh divergent opinions when making important decisions about rezonings.”
Roseval was ecstatic when she learned of her acceptance to the fellowship.
“Being a part of a program that will focus on quality of life issues for NYC residents will be a great way to spend my last year as an MPA student at Baruch,” Roseval stated. “The skills that I’m learning in the classroom will perfectly complement the experiences that I’ll be gaining as a Community Planning Fellow.”
In the future, Roseval wants to be “part of meaningful work” for local government or a non-profit where she can “make significant and positive changes.”
“My passion has always been about sustainability, and I’m hoping that this experience can give me some insight on how I can incorporate this into my work,” she added. “I always put 110 percent of myself into whatever I do, and I look forward to doing the same as a Community Planning fellow for the Fund for the City of New York.”
Kiara Santiago was in disbelief hearing she was chosen as a fellow, but feels honored to be a recipient in this program.
Working with survivors of domestic violence inspired her to apply for this fellowship. Santiago noted that many of these survivors all had something in common—unstable housing, lack of economic mobility, opportunities, and lack of resources—and she wants to help address these matters.
“I look forward to developing my skills and gaining experience from this opportunity,” Santiago said. “As a NYC native, born and raised in the Bronx, I grew up in an environment that was vulnerable to poor decision-making and resource allocation. My goal is to utilize my experience and commit to exploring ways in improving infrastructure and quality of life, especially in marginalized communities.”
Santiago added, “Although it is a tall ladder to climb, I am confident that the skills and knowledge I obtain with this fellowship program will prepare me to tackle these issues, make a broader impact, and equip me with the tools I need to give back to the community I came from.”
As a NYC Community Planning Fellow, Sodhi aspires to learn and implement ways to support and enable programs to achieve optimal success, as well as ensure all funds received are used to create quality policies and run smooth programs.
“I am looking forward to strategically helping communities and citizens,” Sodhi explained. “My area of interest for policy analysis and evaluation is mainly towards community building programs to help develop and implement innovative policy and program to all.”
Sodhi believes this fellowship will help achieve her career goals.
“I want to work in international development,” she said. “This role is a great start to know how to handle community development on a local level.”
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