Thomas Bassett

Thomas Bassett is a UCLA Urban Planning doctoral student.  His research is rootein history and colonialism while exploring urban theory that can represent and understand all citieselevating the experience of the Global South.  He is also interested in how historical planning decisions have created socio-spatial segregation in contemporary cities. Prior to starting at UCLA, he worked for a decade as a practicing planner at small and large non-profits, in the private sector, and with the federal government.  The majority of his work has been in Latin America, specifically Brazil and continues to study the country today.  His past projects have included housing and community development in Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru, economic development in Iowa, and slum upgrading in South Africa, among othersHe has given presentations at various conferences as well as participating in numerous domestic and international workshops. Since the Spring of 2020, he has been a lecturer at California State University, Northridge in the Urban Studies and Planning Department.  He holds an AB from Brown University in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, and an MS in Urban Planning from Columbia University.  

Claire Nelischer

I am a doctoral student in Urban Planning at UCLA, broadly interested in public space governance, civic participation, and urban design. My current research centers on questions of spatial justice in the production and management of urban parks, and the role of planners, designers, and communities in shaping shared public environments and outcomes. This work is supported by a Doctoral Fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).
I am interested in interdisciplinary approaches to public space research, and am a graduate of UCLA’s Urban Humanities certificate program and currently serve as a Graduate Student Researcher with cityLAB, an architecture and urban research think tank in UCLA’s Department of Architecture and Urban Design. Before pursuing doctoral studies, I worked in policy research, advocacy, and community engagement in Toronto and New York City, with a focus on the public realm. I hold a Master of Science in City and Regional Planning from Pratt Institute and a Bachelor of Arts in Human Geography from Queen’s University.

Tamika Butler

Tamika L. Butler (she/her or they/them) is a doctoral student in Urban Planning at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. Her research employs a critical race, historical, legal, and policy-based approach to examine how transportation policy and infrastructure have been used to segregate, isolate, and prevent the mobility of Black and other historically oppressed groups of people.

Prior to pursuing her PhD, Tamika consulted, wrote, and spoke as a national expert on issues related to public policy, the built environment, equity, anti-racism, diversity and inclusion, organizational behavior, and change management. She transitioned to policy work after litigating for three years as an employment lawyer at Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center. Tamika has a diverse background in law, community organizing and nonprofit leadership.

Tamika received her J.D. from Stanford Law School, and received her B.A. in Psychology and B.S. in Sociology in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. She lives in Los Angeles with her wife and kids.

Tamika has also authored and co-authored several publications, including:

Hao Ding

Hao Ding is a doctoral student in Urban Planning, focusing on urban design and transportation planning. His research interests include the equity and justice impacts of urban design regulations, the interaction between urban form and transportation, and transportation equity. His most recent works examine the effects of urban design and land use regulations on place identities in the Asian American ethnoburbs in Los Angeles, and the effects of conventional local transportation planning practices on housing production and affordability. He is also a Graduate Student Researcher at the Institute of Transportation studies, and has been involved in several research projects that study the past, present, and future of California’s land use and transportation systems, sexual harassment on public transit, homelessness in transit environments, and public transit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Deshonay Dozier

Deshonay Dozier completed her Ph.D. in Environmental Psychology from the City University of New York. Dr. Dozier’s scholar-activism provides critical research that shapes public policy and implementation on the issues of housing, homelessness, and alternatives to incarceration. As a UC Chancellor’s Fellow, she will complete a book manuscript on how poor people reshape the penal organization of their lives through alternative visions of Los Angeles. Dr. Dozier teaches a diverse working-class student population at the California State University-Long Beach on how social movements transform geography.

Jessica Bremner

Jessica Bremner is a PhD candidate in Urban Planning at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research interests lie at the intersections of spatial justice, gender, housing, participatory practices, and democracy. Her dissertation research examines the processes that shape the spatial inequality of water access in the Coachella Valley. Jessica was awarded the Babbitt Dissertation Fellowship from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy to support this research.

Prior to entering the PhD program at UCLA, Jessica was the Planning Director of Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI), a non-profit community development and design firm based in Los Angeles, USA and Nairobi, Kenya. Jessica has coordinated, supervised, and implemented community development programs aimed at empowering communities around the world. Her projects have ranged in scope and scale from a on online portal to identify water and sanitation connections in Kibera, Kenya to a Play Street pilot project for the City of Los Angeles to the development of a 5-acre park in the Eastern Coachella Valley. She has led dozens of participatory workshops to design, build, and implement public space projects that address social, economic, and physical needs of low-income communities. Her projects and processes have been featured in the New York Times and exhibited at the Louisiana Art Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark, and the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt in New York, USA. Her dissertation builds from six years of working in the Coachella Valley with KDI.

Before joining KDI, she assisted management and evaluation of the Inter-American Foundation’s Brazil and Ecuador grant portfolios and worked for the Planning Department of the City of West Hollywood. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Arts in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and dual Master of Arts in Urban Planning and Latin American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. Past research projects include examining informality and slum upgrading programs in Brazil and community-engaged research on unpermitted housing and displacement in Los Angeles.

Andres F. Ramirez

Andrés F. Ramirez is a writer, curator and cultural producer, working in the realm of architecture  urban planning and design. He is the co-founder of PLANE–SITE, an agency devoted to the production and dissemination of original content for architecture and the built environment. Andrés also works as an independent consultant in architecture and urban planning projects, with an emphasis on social processes and public space. 

Andrés is Director of the non-profit research platform Aerial Futures, an organization devoted to cultural exchange surrounding the architecture of flight. He was the curator of Garden City Mega City, Urban Ecosystems of WOHA, at the Museum of the City of Mexico (2017); curator of the first contribution of the Seychelles to the XV Venice Architecture Biennale (2016) Between Two Waters, Searching for Expression in the Seychelles, and co- curator for Medellín, Topography of Knowledge at the Aedes Architecture Forum (2015).

Marques Vestal

Marques Vestal is a postdoctoral scholar and incoming Assistant Professor of Critical Black Urbanism. He serves as a Faculty Advisor for Million Dollar Hoods, a community-driven and multidisciplinary initiative documenting the human and fiscal costs of mass incarceration in Los Angeles. He also serves as a historical consultant for the Luskin Center for History and Policy. Marques is a tenant of Los Angeles and a member of the South Central local of the Los Angeles Tenants Union.

Marques is an urban historian studying the social history of residential property in Black Los Angeles during the rebellious twentieth century. His work links property conflict—the everyday contracts, solicitations, complaints, lawsuits, and murders over property—to broader transformations of real estate, urban development, and Black liberation. He argues that this space of incessant conflict is the unwritten housing policy of the United States.

Marques’ research interests are broad, but center on the twentieth-century experience of a few key political relations to land: property, housing insecurity, municipal incapacity, and racial capitalism. Having witnessed, archivally and firsthand, the violence of Los Angeles’ rental housing markets, he is dedicated to projects that advance social housing and horizontal tenant governance.

 

Publications

Marques Vestal and Andrew Klein, “What we should have learned from L.A.’s long history of homelessness,” Los Angeles Times, February 22, 2021. https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2021-02-22/homelessness-encampments-shelter-los-angeles-history

Kirsten Moore-Sheeley et. al. “The Making of a Crisis: A History of Homelessness in Los Angeles,” UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy. https://luskincenter.history.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/66/2021/01/LCHP-The-Making-of-A-Crisis-Report.pdf. (February 2021)

Lytle Hernandez, Kelly and Marques Vestal. “Million Dollar Hoods: A Fully-Loaded Cost Accounting of Mass Incarceration in Los Angeles,” Radical History Review. http://www.radicalhistoryreview.org/

Katz, Alisa with Peter Chesney, Lindsay King, and Marques Vestal. “People Are Simply Unable to Pay Rent: What History Tells Us About Rent Control in Los Angeles,” White Paper. Luskin Center for History and Policy, University of California, Los Angeles. (October 2018)

Sarah Soakai

Malo e lelei (Hello, in Tongan). Aloha (Hello, in Hawaiian). I originally hail from the Ko’olauloa Mountains and North Shores of Oahu, Hawai’i with ancestral ties to the South Pacific Islands of Tonga. I look at Community Development and Social Policy as it relates to communities on and in the margins. Current research efforts examine third sector community-based faith-based organizations and institutions and their role in social service delivery during and post COVID times. In particular, churches are central anchor institutions among Pacific Islander communities in diaspora. Research and planning with these indigenous communities means looking at their association and relationship with their faith-based organization and institution. Previous research efforts had looked at the effects of city ordinance policies concerning people experiencing homelessness that prohibit lying (sleeping) and sitting on public sidewalks, parks, beaches, and other public spaces. Third sector nonprofit community-based organizations are at the forefront of homelessness issues. And the work continues with improving trauma-informed care and alignment with state services to minimize bureaucracy and duplicity.

In addition to research, I currently TA for the Urban Planning department and the Public Affairs Undergraduate program. Before my tenure as a doctoral student, I oversaw the Speech and Debate program, taught tenth grade English, eleventh and twelfth grade AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) college prep, and also did some college and career counseling at a Title 1 public high school for several years.

Given the current moment, I look forward to meeting you via email and/or Zoom, and hope to meet up soon in person.