Arielle Cohen is a senior in the Honors College pursuing a double major in Public Health and Statistics. She is a member of the Eta Sigma Gamma, the national Health Education honor society. She is involved with Rutgers Hillel, the Rutgers Journal of Bioethics, and the RU Figure Skating Club. She was previously an Interdisciplinary Research Fellow, researching whether one-way or two-way walkways are more effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19. Last summer, she was a product intern at Epion Health, a company that provides a patient check-in software. This summer, she is interning at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in IT. She plans on attending graduate school for biostatistics and using data to ensure the health of our communities.

Anamika Desai is a Public Health major and Statistics minor. She is a proud Douglass woman and will be participating in the MBS Summer 2022 Externship Exchange program, which will focus on addressing and creating effective solutions for current public health problems. As a volunteer with Special Olympics New Jersey (SONJ) she works with children, adolescents, and adults with special needs. She has participated in a study with SONJ investigating the effects of strider bike use on motor skills and balance in children with special needs and won the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance Scholarship. During the Summer of 2022, she will be conducting data analysis of members of Congress’ social media posts concerning politics and health and climate policy. After graduation, she hopes to combine her interests in health disparities, data analysis, and professional writing to improve public health policymaking and implementati

Nina Gohel is a senior studying Political Science and Planning and Public Policy, with minors in Economics and Philosophy, and a certification in PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics). Nina is a member of the Rutgers’ School of Arts & Sciences Honors Program, Douglass Residential College, and the Eagleton Institute’s Undergraduate Associates Program. At Rutgers, Nina has served as the Student Body Vice-President, where she actively worked to advocate for and address problems concerning the Rutgers’ student body and surrounding local communities. Nina has also served as an elected representative to the Executive Board of the Association of Big 10 Students (ABTS), Rutgers Board of Trustees, and the President’s Student Advisory Committee. In these positions, Nina has been a strong champion for marginalized voices; it is her hope to make all spaces as inclusive and welcoming as possible for everyone. Outside of Rutgers, Nina has spent time with the International Leadership Foundation, US Environmental Protection Agency, and US Department of the Interior, working to increase the representation of AAPI youth in government. Fascinated by the world of policy and government relations, and law, Nina hopes to continue working in these fields after graduation.

Shreya Gupta is a senior majoring in Psychology with a minor in the Biological Sciences. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Epsilon Delta honor societies. She serves in leadership positions in various organizations, such as the Douglass Research Advisory Board, STEM Ambassadors, Women in the Health Professions, Red Pine Ambassadors, and Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP). Shreya is a research assistant at the Wilma K. Olson Biopolymer Structures Lab, for which she has received the LSAMP Research Program Award, been selected for the LSAMP Summer Research Program, and been accepted into the Project SUPER Summer Research Scholars Program twice. She shares her interest in neuroscience with other women as a fellow at the Rutgers Brain Institute. She leverages her writing prowess as a Communications Intern at the School of Social Work, expands her clinical skills as a pediatric medical assistant, and spends her nights serving as a crisis counselor at the Crisis Text Line. Her passion for art has led her towards pursuing a certificate through the Gender and Arts Program, taking art classes at Rutgers, and creating artwork for patients at a local hospice center. Shreya is a recipient of the School of Arts and Sciences Excellence Award, and the Veronique Henriksen Junior Prize in Academic Achievement. She intends to pursue a career in clinical medicine after graduation.

Taha Umar is a senior majoring in Biological Sciences with minors in Psychology and Medical Ethics & Health Policy. He is a Teaching Intern for the Chemistry Department and is a Supplemental Instructor for the Rutgers Office for Diversity and Academic Success in the Sciences (ODASIS), teaching marginalized students at Rutgers. He works as a Peer Mental Health Educator for Rutgers Health Outreach, Promotion, and Education (HOPE) with the goal of alleviating stress exacerbated by the pandemic. In Fall 2021, he interned with the Waller Institute to conduct a literature review on how Covid-19 disproportionately affected people experiencing homelessness. His experiences in healthcare settings as a Medical Assistant for an Orthopedic Surgeon over Summer 2021 and a current Scribe at a local hospital have provided him with a greater understanding of issues patients face, most significant being insurance related. He loves to discuss issues across the healthcare landscape as a member of the Bioethics Society. This summer, he will be a member of the 2022 Inaugural Cohort of the Rutgers Summer Service Internship (RSSI) Initiative where he will continue his work with Interfaith-RISE, a non-profit dedicated to the integration of refugees across NJ. After graduation, Taha aspires to be a physician and hopes to combine his interests in public service, education, and medicine to increase ease of patient access to quality medical care.


Jonathan Bonilla headshot Rutgers Voorhees Center BlousteinJonathan Francisco Bonilla is a graduate student in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School where he is pursuing a concentration in Community Development, Housing and Redevelopment. He is interested in sustainable socio-economic development, equitable planning practices and policies addressing racial justice, urban governance, community engagement, and alternative forms of development. Prior to joining the Bloustein School at Rutgers, he completed an internship at the Metropolitan Council as a Local Planning Assistant working on projects related to climate change, affordable housing, and environmental justice for the twin cities region in Minnesota. He has also completed research and related work on urban issues in Guatemala, South Africa, and Denmark. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from DePauw University.

Ralph W. Voorhees Civic Engagement RutgersEsther Colon is an undergraduate RISE (Research Intensive Summer Experience) Fellow at Rutgers. She is pursuing a major in Socio Cultural Anthropology with a minor in Human Rights at the University of Puerto Rico where she is working on her dissertation in urban anthropology with Dr. Carmen A. Pérez-Herranz. She is interested in the different social problems within urban areas, specifically those related to her neighborhood in Puerto Rico, Santurce. As a RiSE scholar of 2022, she hopes to expand her knowledge about urban research processes and fieldwork.

Erica Copeland Rutgers Bloustein Voorhees Civic Engagement Erica Copeland is a graduate student in the Master of City & Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School with a concentration in Community Development and Housing. She joins Bloustein after having worked for several years promoting social equity in urban environments. Most recently, she served as a Housing Fellow with the Gateway Cities Council of Governments – a regional planning agency serving around 2 million residents in Los Angeles County – to encourage affordable housing development. Prior to that position, Erica worked as a community organizer in South L.A. helping local residents advocate for better neighborhoods and as a non-profit program manager focused on educational equity for communities of color. She hopes to continue working with public and private institutions to build more just and livable cities for underrepresented populations. In her leisure time, Erica can be found engaged in a good read, exploring new cityscapes, trying out new cuisines, or spending time with family and friends.

William Downie is a graduate student in the Master of City of Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School. He is interested in affordable housing development, equitable economic development, neighborhood revitalization, and brownfield redevelopment in post-industrial communities, and ultimately hopes to help stressed and disadvantaged communities develop in an equitable and sustainable way. Prior to joining the Bloustein School, Will worked in city planning in Rhode Island, before moving first to the National League of Cities to advance municipal issues at the national level, and then into the legal realm, where we worked on a number of issues related to international trade and industrial policy. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs and Political Science from The George Washington University in Washington, DC.

William Downie headshot voorhees Center RutgersWilliam Downie headshot voorhees Center Rutgers

Mila Hamilton Rutgers Mila Hamilton is graduate student in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, focusing on community development and housing as pathways for reparative and transformative justice. Before coming to Bloustein, they served as a youth worker and educator in Minneapolis, MN in public schools and community‐based youth programs for the past 10 years. Their focus with this work has been towards co‐building racially equitable educational and community spaces. During this time, they earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Services from Metropolitan State University. Later, they completed a Master of Education in Youth Development Leadership from the University of Minnesota with an emphasis on youth policy and youth civic engagement. A lifelong Quaker, Mila has a keen awareness and skill towards supporting organizational and community development projects through consensus-based processes. For the past 4 years they have worked with American Friends Service Committee, serving on the Board of Directors and as Clerk of the Friends Relations Committee. Mila is very excited about their work at the Bloustein School and at the Voorhees Center for Civic Engagement and the possibilities these experiences will bring to their future work with community.


Andrea Zixuan He Voorhees Civic Engagement Seminar Series

Andrea (Zixuan) He is a graduate student in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School. Before joining the Bloustein school, she studied Architectural Design and Art History at MassArt in Boston. Exploring art and architecture in different cities led her to pursue urban planning. She is interested in urban informatics, international development, and spatial design. During her free time, she likes to illustrate what she sees in cities and bridge the urban environment with her artistic mind.

Lauren Nolan Doctoral student Rutgers University Voorhees CenterLauren Nolan, AICP is a doctoral student at the Bloustein School for Planning & Public Policy at Rutgers University. Her research focuses on urban change and inequality. She is the previous Director of Research for the Woodstock Institute, a Chicago-based nonprofit research and policy organization working in the areas of fair lending, wealth creation, and financial systems reform. Lauren holds a Master of City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame. 

Elana Simon Voorhees Center Elana Simon is a graduate student in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School where she is pursuing a concentration in community development. She is interested in equitable economic development frameworks, community development finance, and housing development. Prior to joining the Bloustein School, she lived in Kaohsiung, Taiwan for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and later worked for nonprofit organizations in Washington, DC while finding her way to urban planning through volunteer community organizing. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Politics from Whitman College in Washington State.

smriti Singh headshot Rutgers bloustein voorheen center Smriti Singh is a graduate student in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School where she is pursuing a concentration in community development and housing. Her research interests are focused on urban governance, land and housing rights, informality, feminist political economy and social justice. Prior to joining Bloustein she worked with a non profit in Delhi, India, where she led pilot projects aimed to improve informal women worker’s land tenure security, access to basic infrastructure services and housing finance in order to improve their economic empowerment. She is also part of two city-wide campaigns in Delhi aiming to make city planning processes more representative and inclusive by engaging citizens in the 2041 Master Plan process.

Rutgers Voorhees CenterJohn Fidel Klarke Smith is a graduate student of the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School where he is pursuing a concentration in Community Development, Housing and Finance. He is interested in development interventions that promote collective ownership, community control, affordable housing, sustainable infrastructure, green builds, retrofits, and increases in union density. Prior to joining the Bloustein School at Rutgers, these interests were formed during 4 years working in construction as a carpenter apprentice with Union Local 27 & 183, as well as in arts and culture as a community organizer. He is co-founder of two community arts and activist spaces in Toronto, 187 Augusta and Tea Base Co-op. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Equity Studies and Psychology from University of Toronto.



Cara Cuite is an Assistant Extension Specialist in the Department of Human Ecology at Rutgers University. She is a health psychologist who studies community food security, risk communication and public perceptions of food-related issues, including food safety and genetically engineered foods. Her current research is focused on food insecurity among Rutgers students, including collaborations to implement a “screen and intervene” program in Student Health Services and to create a student community café for food insecure students. She works with the New Brunswick Community Food Alliance, the Feeding New Brunswick Network, and Meals on Wheels in Greater New Brunswick. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture, the National Center for Food Protection and Defense, New Jersey Sea Grant, and Johnson & Johnson. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from Rutgers University and a B.S. in Psychology and Modern Languages from Union College.

James DeFilippis’ research focuses on the political economy of cities and communities.  He is particularly interested in the processes of social change, and questions of power and justice in cities.  While his interests are broad, it is questions of community control and building forms of power in poor neighborhoods that have been at the center of his work.  He began working on and with efforts for community control over economic development more than 20 years ago and continues to work with and in support of community land trusts, community development credit unions, worker co-ops and other forms of community control.  He is a founding member of the New York City Community Land Initiative (NYCCLI) and the Western Queens Community Land Trust (WQCLT). He is the author or editor of six books, around 50 articles and book chapters, and many applied monographs and reports for practitioners and advocates.


Will Payne Rutgers Voorhees Center for Civic Engagement HeadshotWill Payne joined the Bloustein School in September 2020. He received his PhD in Geography from the University of California, Berkeley, where he also was affiliated with the Berkeley Center for New Media, the Berkeley Food Institute, and the UC Berkeley Global Urban Humanities Initiative. Will uses quantitative and qualitative methods to study the relationship between geospatial technologies and urban inequality, examining how changing technical capabilities, labor relations, and competitive pressures in the location-based services (LBS) industry interact with processes of racialized and class-based segregation in American cities. He has published articles in the Annals of the American Association of GeographersUrban GeographyComputational Culture, and Environment and Planning A, among other publications. Will’s current book project examines how different groups of urban residents use “urban information systems” like the Zagat Survey, Yelp, Foursquare, and Google Local to organize and understand their consumption experiences in cities, while technologists and real estate developers employ the resulting data to help transform marginal neighborhoods into upscale consumption spaces. Will also develops open-source tools for spatial data visualization and computational research.

Ronald Quincy Ronald Quincy is a Professor of Professional Practice, a Visiting Senior Fellow for Diversity Studies at the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, Co-Academic Director of the Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service, Academic Director of the Rutgers Civic Leadership Institute, and the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, as well as Faculty Director of the South Africa Study Abroad, Honors College & School of Arts & Sciences Honors Program. Dr. Quincy earned his Ph.D. from the College of Social Sciences at Michigan State University.  He served as a member of the Governor of Michigan’s Cabinet, Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, and Director of the Michigan State Office of Human Resources Policy and Special Projects.  His other previous positions include the following: Associate Vice President, Assistant to the President, of Harvard University; Executive Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change; Executive Director/President of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc.; President of the White House Fellows Association and Chairman, White House Fellows Foundation; Senior Management Consultant, Towers Perrin (the world’s 11th largest management consulting firm); and Foreign Policy Advisor, U.S. State Department, Africa Bureau. His research interests include: nonprofit sector leadership and governance, fundraising, institutional branding and grantsmanship, organizational strategy, human capital, performance and executive coaching, international civil society organizations and international affairs.

Voorhees Center Civic Engagement Rutgers UniversityAndrea Restrepo-Mieth is joining the Bloustein School in September 2022 as an Assistant Professor. Her research examines the emergence and stabilization of urban planning and city management institutions that improve the equitable and sustainable provision of local public goods and basic services in cities in the Global South. She also conducts research on how community-based organizations, urban social movements and civil society organizations get their ideas and knowledge incorporated into planning processes and outcomes. Her current research is based in Colombia, Ecuador, and Laos and covers a range of topics including water and sanitation lifelines, water corporatization, metropolitan environmental planning, and climate change adaptation planning. She holds a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University, a MPP from the Lee KuanYew School, National University of Singapore, and a BA in Economics and International Relations from the State University of New York at New Paltz.

Eric Seymour is an Assistant Professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. He holds a PhD in urban and regional planning from the University of Michigan and was most recently a postdoctoral research associate at the Population Studies and Training Center at Brown University. Eric’s research is broadly concerned with neighborhood dynamics in the aftermath of the financial crisis and their implications for the health and housing insecurity of disadvantaged populations. He continues to be engaged in research on transformations in urban housing markets in places hit hard by the foreclosure crisis, where investors purchased large numbers of repossessed properties and sold them on insecure terms or rented them in uninhabitable condition to low-income and credit-constrained households. Eric’s prior work has specifically examined the reemergence of exploitative contract-for-deed transactions in majority-Black cities and neighborhoods. He is currently engaged in research on evictions in Detroit and Las Vegas, focusing on the intersection of opportunistic property investment and the constrained housing options of low-income renters. His methodological expertise lies in spatial analysis and statistical methods. He draws on large administrative datasets, particularly real estate transaction records, to study urban dynamics.

Mi Shih is an associate professor in the Urban Planning and Policy Development Program at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University. Her research includes two major areas. Using mixed methods, the first area explores informal housing, the politics of land value creation and capture, and the relationship between the role of the developmental state and democratic planning in Taiwan. The second area uses ethnographic methods to understand displacement, peri-urban transformation, social and political governance of land conflicts in Shanghai and Guangzhou, China. Mi has published articles in Urban Studies, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Planning Theory & Practice, Urban Geography, Journal of Planning Education and Research, Planning Practice & Research, Environment and Planning A. She is currently working on several case studies that explore the intersection between technocratic planning, land politics, and democratic participation in state-led urban development.



Naomi Uchida Rutgers Voorhees Center Civic Engagement Naomi Uchida is a Fulbright Scholar and Professor from the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Saitama University in Japan where she teaches classes in urban planning. She received her Ph.D. in Architecture from Waseda University in 2006 and an M.A. in Urban Design and Planning from University of Washington (Seattle) in 2004. She is a member of several committees of local government including city planning commissions. Uchida engages in field surveys in Ishikawa, Saitama and Tokyo prefectures while working with communities, non-profit organizations, and local governments on urban projects. Her current research focuses on Japanese gentrification, urban revitalization, and community development.



Senior Program Director

Nadia Mian RutgersNadia A. Mian is Senior Program Director of the Ralph W. Voorhees Center for Civic Engagement and a Lecturer at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. She holds a PhD from The New School, and Masters in Environmental Studies, where she specialized in urban planning from York University in Toronto, Canada. She previously taught at New York University, The New School, and Columbia University, where she was Managing Editor of the journal, City & Community. Her research focuses on urban policy, redevelopment, housing, sustainability, and neighborhood change. Her latest research examines how faith-based institutions are using their property to build affordable housing, and at the same time advocate for and change land use, zoning and housing policy. Passionate about urban planning and community development, Nadia is a member of the Planning Board and Environmental Commission in Hanover Township, New Jersey.

Faculty Director

Rutgers professor Kathe Newman Voorhees Center Civic EngagementKathe Newman is a Professor in the Urban Planning and Policy Development Program at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and Director of the Ralph W. Voorhees Center for Civic Engagement. She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Graduate School and University Center at the City University of New York. Her research explores urban change, what it is, why it happens, and what it means. Her work has explored gentrification, foreclosure, urban redevelopment, food security, community economic development and community participation. Kathe has published articles in Urban Studies, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Urban Affairs Review, Shelterforce, Progress in Human Geography, Housing Studies, GeoJournal, and Environment and Planning A. She is currently an editor of Environment and Planning A.