Where do i begin? I was born in Colorado, where my dad owned an ice cream shop and my parents were both working on the business side of Shakey's pizza. We didn't stay there too long after I was born, which I really think was a mistake on their part. I mean--I love Chicago and all, but Colorado? Blue skies, mountains, and sunshine.
So we moved to the land of Lincoln. I ended up going to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I started as an architecture student, chosen naturally because I was artistic and enjoyed math (it's true--i still think math is cool!). But then I discovered Urban Planning, and immediately switched my major. I love Urban Planning and hope to eventually get back into it.
I like to paint, play soccer, workout, play hackey-sack, go camping, ride my bike, travel, do things for free (like museums, art shows, festivals, concerts, etc.), play ping pong, dance salsa...basically I like to be outdoorsy, cultural, and artsy.
I graduated from University of Illinois in May of 2001, with a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Planning (BAUP). I was the recipient of the Karl Lohman Award for Exceptional Professional Promise for BAUP. I am passionate about justice and equality in the United States and around the world. My areas of interest within the field of urban planning include using GIS for revitalizing low-income neighborhoods, transportation planning and environmental planning. I was a participant in the East St. Louis Action Research Project (ESLARP), helping the residents to develop the Lansdowne Steering Committee (a grassroots organization to improve the quality of life in the Lansdowne neighborhood). I headed off to Guatemala 12 days after graduating, as a Municipal Development Peace Corps Volunteer. Working primarily in Rio Hondo, Zacapa, I was the technical assessor to the planning office, promoting civic engagement in the prioritization of community projects. I also gave basic training sessions in ArcView GIS to municipalities throughout Guatemala and to the volunteers in the Municipal Development Program.
Check out the ArcNews article about the work that I did, after taking over for Janet O'Callahan.
I am currently working for the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration as a community planner/GIS Specialist. Mostly, I promote the use of new technology to state departments of transportation. For more on that, check out this article in Public Roads. I am also working on a project to make environmental planning, using GIS, an integral part of FHWA project planning process from start to finish. I finished my Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems at the University of Redlands, CA in December of 2004.
But perhaps I should have instead gotten a Master's Degree in Planning with an emphasis in GIS, because I'd much rather be a planner using GIS than a GIS-nerd telling people how to plan. So I'm working on fixing my career to reflect my true motivations--using planning to make communities more sustainable, equitable, and beautiful. I studied GIS because I believe that it is the best tool that we have to accomplish that.