Special Advisor, Office of Public and Indian Housing
Can you describe your work and how your planning degree contributes to it?
At HUD, I serve under the Obama Administration as the Special Advisor for education and workforce development in the Office of Public and Indian Housing. In this capacity, I work to advance programs and policies that connect families living in HUD-assisted housing (such as Public Housing or Housing Choice Voucher recipients) to educational access, jobs and training.
I find my planning degree, specifically my concentration in Community Development, to be extremely helpful in my work. My MUPP classes definitely prepared me for some of the work I do here at HUD. Assignments such as policy memos, briefs, maps, and other written assignments are part of my every day work, and I am grateful that the MUPP program prepared me for some of the tasks I now have regularly. Furthermore, studying housing policy gives me great background on many of the issues I encounter in relation to public housing, funding, programs, and more.
What do you like most about your current job or related work in planning?
I feel very honored and proud to serve the President. However, what I like most is that my work at the federal level has an immense impact on low-income families at the local level. For example, I review and administer grants to Public Housing Authorities who then provide much needed services to their residents, in the form of job training, skills development, financial planning, and a variety of others.
What advice do you wish you had gotten as a MUPP or, conversely, what advice would you give to young planners today?
I landed in DC thanks to an amazing fellowship opportunity with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. I encourage young planners to take advantage of any and all fellowship or internship opportunities that came your way.
I will also add that GIS skills are greatly sought out, and can make you a very competitive candidate when searching for planning jobs. I encourage you to become as proficient in GIS as possible.
Finally, do what you enjoy! Aside from my full time position, I work part time with the Esperanza Education Fund, where we provide scholarships to immigrant scholars. I also serve on the CHCI Alumni Board. My advice is to volunteer as much as you can. The connections you make will be a great asset to your network.