content from Luskin Forum magazine

Dean’s Message

I am writing this note at a time when UCLA and many other universities around the country are in a state of upheaval, conflict, anger and sorrow. War and violence are still raging in Gaza. In the United States, pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel protests have become common occurrences on university campuses. Academic officials are caught between often conflicting responsibilities — to uphold freedom of speech and the right to protest, while also ensuring safety, well-being and a welcoming environment for everyone regardless of their political views. As we witnessed during the violent confrontations that took place at a pro-Palestinian encampment on our campus this spring, efforts to satisfy this dual mandate are not always successful.

In the past, social causes often have served to unite university communities around an overwhelmingly shared view during controversy. This time, it is different. The core issues are complex, divisive and deeply tied to individual identities and beliefs. As a microcosm of society, UCLA faculty, staff, students and alumni encompass a wide range of characteristics and perspectives, many of which inform passionate opinions about the tragic ongoing developments in Gaza. Significant, deeply held divisions exist about the Middle East and what type of responses are appropriate to the related protests at UCLA and other universities.

The path forward is uncertain, but I feel strongly that the most important role that universities can play is to foster tolerance, openness and appreciation of our disparate identities, ideologies and religions. Universities have been and should remain society’s premier public forums — places where competing ideas are nurtured and conflicting ideologies are given opportunities for explanation, discussion and thoughtful debate. Universities foster scholarship, which helps us understand the historical roots, context and impacts of current events and policies. Through a deeper understanding, we seek to promote sound policy solutions and compassionate responses to conflicts. We treasure diversity — not just in gender or ethnicity or upbringing, but in ideas as well. The Luskin School must seek to lift up all voices and provide a place where competing ideas are not just tolerated but welcomed.

This issue of Luskin Forum was in production before conflicts on campus came to a head. Even so, in some ways it exemplifies the power of our School as a public forum. One example is the Luskin Briefing in Sacramento, which in mid-February brought together in the state’s capital an assemblage of scholars and Advisory Board members with senators, assemblymembers and other state officials to discuss two issues of vital importance in California: water management and housing affordability.

Later, the sixth annual Luskin Summit provided a wonderful forum for discussion of a variety of topics and policy responses to extremely pertinent issues in Southern California. Panels on mobility, transportation infrastructure, elections, governance, climate resilience and equity were bookended by presentations from two prominent public servants. Former Los Angeles Councilman and County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky opened the Summit with findings from the ninth Quality of Life Index, a survey that presents the pulse of Angelenos on important matters affecting the region. And Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass closed the event in conversation with Jacqueline Waggoner, president of our Board of Advisors and an urban planning alumna. In a frank, open-ended Q&A with Waggoner and the audience, the mayor related her vision regarding the city’s efforts on homelessness.

These two events highlighted the terrific research carried out by UCLA Luskin scholars and the School’s many research centers. Additionally, our continuing series of Luskin Lectures furthered our mission to serve as a public forum. This year, attendees heard from former L.A. Laker and current housing developer Devean George and others working to advance real estate development in Black neighborhoods. Professor Barbara Ransby of the University of Illinois, Chicago, delivered a Luskin Lecture on the “new McCarthyism” on college campuses. And the series featured a joint presentation by three UCLA Luskin alumni who now serve as elected or appointed government officials — Lourdes Castro Ramírez, Caroline Menjivar and Isaac Bryan — on their efforts
to address homelessness and the affordable housing crisis.

These events represent just a few examples of the academic environment’s potential at its best — a positively transformative agent for society, one that espouses diversity and tolerance of ideas and people. I remain proud of our university and the Luskin School, and I know that our academic community will survive the traumatic experiences of recent months and continue to thrive.

Anastasia

Alumni Accolades Career changes and other updates from alumni of the various departments at UCLA Luskin

Katie Pool MSW ’15 has dedicated her professional endeavors to clinical oncology and palliative care. With LCSW, APHSW-C and OSW-C certifications, she is a recognized expert in providing compassionate support to adults navigating the challenges of cancer, neurodegenerative conditions and other serious illnesses.

Erika Cervantes MPP ’20 is part of this year’s HOPE Leadership Institute, which trains professional Latinas in California in leadership and advocacy skills to create fundamental change in their neighborhoods and across the state.

Chuck Gatchell MPP ’05 started a new position as vice president of brand concepts and Olympics at Nike.

Karleigh Shepard MPP ’22 is now a communications specialist at UC Davis.

Ali Panjwani MPP ’16 is the founder and CEO of Merit Medicine, which secured a $2 million seed round to research new ways to manage health-care costs, particularly for self-funded employers.

Estefany Garcia MURP ’23 is now senior policy analyst with the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services.

Jessica Ramakis MPP ’03 is now a Town Council member in Vienna, Virginia.

Martin Reyes MURP ’18 is now principal transportation planner in government affairs at the San Francisco County Transportation Authority.

Donte Boyd Social Welfare PhD ’19 received the Deborah K. Padgett Early Career Achievement Award from the Society for Social Work and Research. The award recognizes innovative work that influences the social work profession.

Elizabeth Solis-Molina BA in Public Affairs ’23 joined the Luskin School Development team as the new fundraising coordinator.

Maxwell Albrecht MURP ’18 is now a housing finance consultant at California Housing Partnership.

Greer Cowan MURP ’23 started a new position as air pollution specialist at the California Air Resources Board.

Alejandra Garcia MPP ’23 is now government affairs manager at Comcast.

Jenny Yu MURP ’16 is now vice director for professional development for the American Planning Association in California, Orange County section.

Sean Kennedy Urban Planning PhD ’18 is now deputy director of energy investments at California Strategic Growth Council.

Alumni Notes Engagement events promote 'a vibrant and interconnected community of alumni'

The Office of Student Affairs and Alumni Relations orchestrated a symphony of connections during Alumni Engagement Weeks held every quarter of the academic year.

“Our vision for alumni engagement at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs is to foster a vibrant and interconnected community of alumni who are actively involved, inspired and connected to our institution,” said Karina Mascorro, director of alumni engagement.

Winter quarter events included:

  • A Cafecito con Luskin at Blue Bottle Coffee at the Historic Bradbury Building in Downtown Los Angeles. Despite the day’s relentless rain, a small group of UCLA Luskin alumni braved the weather to meet up with Mascorro and Vishal Hira, associate director of development.
  • The Bohnett Fellowship Alumni Panel, featuring Alejandro Gonzalez MURP ’21 and Imelda Islas MPP ’23. Graduate students interested in applying to the fellowship heard panelists share their experiences, challenges and triumphs during their time working with the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office as Bohnett Fellows.
  • Paving the Way: Luskin LGBTQ+ Alumni in Government. During this virtual discussion, Jenny Delwood BA ’06 in international development and sociology with a minor in public affairs, Aaron Ordower MURP ’15 and Micah Peterson MPP ’09 shared their journey as members of the LGBTQ+ community working in government. The panelists’ words resonated deeply, reminding us of the importance of visibility, representation and advocacy in shaping inclusive spaces within government institutions.
  • A virtual meet-and-greet featuring international alumnus Ramiro Alberto Ríos MURP ’10. An urban mobility and transport consultant with 15 years in the field, Ríos has contributed to sustainable transport initiatives at the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank, as well as an expansion of e-bikes at Uber. His extensive experience in Europe, Latin America and the United States opened students’ eyes to the urban planning field’s vast potential reach.

Events scheduled for spring quarter’s Alumni Engagement Week included panels featuring alumni shaping the field of transportation, BIPOC alumni in the consulting field, MBA/MPP alumni sharing reflections on the dual-degree program, artificial intelligence in public affairs, understanding social work licensure and navigating disabilities in graduate school and the workplace.

“We aim to create meaningful and lifelong relationships with our alumni, providing them opportunities for personal and professional growth while leveraging their talents and expertise to benefit our institution and current students,” Mascorro said. “Alumni Engagement Week allows us to live up to that mission.” 

Luskin Up-Close Office of Student Affairs and Alumni Relations emphasizes connectedness to UCLA Luskin at every stage.

By Mary Braswell

Supporting students’ career goals, caring for their well-being and keeping them engaged after graduation are responsibilities of the Office of Student Affairs and Alumni Relations. In its second year after a staff reorganization, OSAAR emphasizes connectedness to UCLA Luskin at every stage.

Signature initiatives that offer the opportunity for mentorship and networking include the Senior Fellows program, which pairs graduate students with leaders in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. And the Bohnett Fellowship, which places students in roles at Los Angeles City Hall, this year included a trip to the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C.

In its 18th year, the annual UCLA Luskin Day at Los Angeles City Hall brings Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning graduate students together with government and civic leaders. This year’s focus: How will the city prioritize first- and last-mile transportation investments ahead of mega-events including the 2026 World Cup, 2027 Super Bowl and 2028 Summer Olympics?

young woman with curly dark hair listens to speaker

Top: City Hall Day
Bottom: Paint & Sip

OSAAR also hosts career fairs, panels with employers and alumni, and special offerings like a LinkedIn photo shoot — 204 professional headshots taken this year!

And wellness programs relating to housing support, navigating conflict, dealing with stress and managing finances are offered all year long, as are referrals to UCLA’s array of student services.

This year’s events included a “Paint and Sip” organized in partnership with the UCLA RISE Center (Resilience In Your Student Experience). Students came together to re-create their “happy place,” turning the Public Affairs Building’s 3rd Floor Commons into a safe space for relaxation, creative expression and community-building.

After graduation, alumni bonds are strengthened at gatherings around the country and during informal Cafecito and Aperitivo meetups around Los Angeles.

Thriving at 25 Founded amid budget turmoil as an experiment in policy education, UCLA Public Policy is now among the country’s top programs

By Stan Paul

UCLA Luskin Public Policy has grown from upstart to leader among programs of its kind in just 25 years by stressing world-class scholarship and an interdisciplinary teaching approach.

Archie Kleingartner, the founding dean of what is now the Luskin School of Public Affairs, said it was the first new professional school at UCLA in over three decades. It merged existing Social Welfare and Urban Planning departments with a fledgling program in public policy at a time when teaching programs in public policy and
related fields were flourishing elsewhere.

The School emerged from what Kleingartner describes as a complex, four-year process of deliberations and restructuring to serve a mandate to make deep cuts from UCLA’s professional schools amid a budget shortfall. As UC’s systemwide vice president for academic staff and personnel relations, Kleingartner chaired the committee that determined the need to restructure the professional schools.

“The centerpiece of this effort needed to include a robust expansion of the commitment to public policy,” Kleingartner recalled. The result has proven successful. “What the Chancellor and Board of Regents hoped to achieve when they approved the new school has in fact exceeded all expectations.”

Kleingartner served as dean from 1994-96, followed by the first permanent dean, Barbara J. Nelson. He praises today’s high research output and the quality of the faculty in policy fields, plus the School’s public service contributions — all visions that have transformed into actions.

“A growing cadre of alumni and recognition among experts and decision-makers add to the School’s prestige,” Kleingartner said. “UCLA is making a clear and visible contribution toward the public good through the Luskin School of Public Affairs.”

Emily Williams MPP ’98, the 2005 Alumna of the Year, would agree. As part of the School’s first class, she often had to explain at first what a Master of Public Policy was and had even developed an elevator pitch.

“Nobody knew what it was, let alone the acronym MPP. I mean, even among policymakers. It just wasn’t a term of art at the time,” Williams said. “I remember every single job interview, I had to explain it.”

Williams, who is now chief executive officer at UCLA-UCSF ACEs Aware Family Resilience Network (UCAAN), said, “Looking back 26 years after I graduated, what’s so great is I don’t have to explain what public policy is, and what that carries in this region is enormous.”

Marking 25 years since the first cohort of Master of Public Policy students graduated, a series of speaker events and alumni panels highlighted the program’s accomplishment during a monthslong commemoration. The speaker series featured four Alumni of the Year honorees who shared insights on the state of policymaking and the value of their Luskin educations.

The speakers and honorees included Assemblyman Isaac Bryan MPP ’18, who also participated in two other Luskin School events highlighted elsewhere in this issue of Luskin Forum.

Additional alumni speakers included Regina Wallace-Jones MPP ’99, CEO and president of ActBlue, a technology nonprofit that facilitates online donations to progressive organizations and candidates; and Sandeep Prasanna MPP/JD ’15, a senior legal advisor who served as investigative counsel on the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“The thing they say about law school is that they teach you how to think like a lawyer,” Prasanna told the audience in February. “What I feel I learned at Luskin was how to do.”

Prasanna received his alumni award from UCLA Luskin’s newest chair of Public Policy, Robert Fairlie.

Commenting on his role, Fairlie said, “Teaching in the MPP program and being involved in alumni events has been extremely rewarding and inspiring. It is exciting to see what amazing things our graduates are doing.”

Also playing a key role has been Maciek Kolodziejczak, the department’s graduate advisor in 1996 when the first cohort arrived in Westwood. Although officially retired from the university since 2017, he has continued to participate in and influence the department, playing a major role in organizing the anniversary events.

“I started with the first class, so I didn’t recruit them — I received them,” Kolodziejczak said. “They were a class of 18, and I got to know each of them … [that’s] the fun part and the exciting part,” he said.

He described the first class as entrepreneurial trailblazers for taking the leap into “an unknown program with no reputation, no alumni and no track record.”

Kolodziejczak continued, saying, “They were just very willing to take the risk, and so there was just a kind of an esprit de corps among the class.”

UCLA Public Policy graduates now serve throughout the local, national and international levels. Among them is 1999 MPP alumna Nathalie Rayes, whose appointment as ambassador to Croatia is covered on page 4 of this edition.

In a UCLA Daily Bruin story, Rayes commented, “The importance of service is something that is part of my DNA. And so when the president calls you and says, ‘You know, I have a job for you: Would you like to be ambassador to Croatia?’ you say, ‘Yes.’”

Longtime UCLA Luskin Professor Mark Peterson also has seen Public Policy develop from over the years, calling it “the little engine that could.” Its high national standing “is remarkable given the fact that all of the top-ranked programs are older, most by decades, and almost all of them have vastly larger faculties than we do.”

Master of Public Policy — and MPP — now garner an immediate reaction, said Williams, who now also teaches a class
at the Luskin School.

“I don’t even have to say UCLA, people know what the Luskin School of Public Affairs is, and that carries so much weight and merit. The Luskin name has really made the brand.”

In Support Dean's Associates meet and a new major in real estate development is approved, plus donor updates

The Luskin School of Public Affairs gathered again in winter quarter to thank its Dean’s Associates, a group of donors giving $1,000 or more in the last year. These benefactors help fuel the School’s mission of social justice through pedagogy, research and community engagement.

The luncheon commenced with a welcome from Interim Dean Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, who expressed her appreciation for contributions that have enriched the Luskin School by funding academic programs, fostering innovation and providing transformative opportunities for students.

Loukaitou-Sideris praised the tremendous impact of donors guiding the new Master of Real Estate Development and those promoting an ongoing campaign to raise funds for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion programs.

One of the most touching moments was a heartfelt testimonial from urban planning doctoral candidate Andres Ramirez, who shared how his life has been positively impacted by the generosity of donors — a sentiment echoed throughout the event. Ramirez highlighted the impact of the Vanessa Dingley Fellowship on his educational experience and professional goals.


portrait images of three men

Gadi Kaufmann, top left, Alex Rose, right, and Jeffrey Seymour

‘A Holistic Education Covering the Entire Life Cycle of Real Estate’

In response to a growing demand for skilled professionals in real estate development, the Luskin School will launch an innovative master’s degree designed to equip students with the knowledge, skills and practical experience needed to excel.

UCLA Luskin is grateful to Board of Advisors members Gadi Kaufmann, Alex Rose and Jeff Seymour, among others, for helping to prepare the Master of Real Estate Development, or MRED, to launch in fall 2025.

Amid a housing crisis, real estate development plays a vital role in shaping our communities, from the construction of homes and commercial properties to the revitalization of urban neighborhoods. An increasing need exists for professionals who can navigate the field’s complexities while considering such factors as sustainability, affordability and
social equity.

“There is no more fitting institution to house MRED than the Luskin School at UCLA,” said Seymour, who noted that the new degree will complement the School’s established programs in urban planning, social welfare and public policy.

“MRED students will benefit from an outstanding Luskin and adjunct faculty. They’ll have opportunities to work with scholars as well as industry professionals,” he said. “In addition, MRED will affiliate with the Anderson and UCLA Law schools, as well as the Ziman Center.”

Kaufmann said that UCLA, as a global education powerhouse, is well-positioned to offer such a program, which will be set apart from other programs by its “comprehensive approach to preparing real estate professionals for the dynamic challenges of
the industry.”

“In today’s complex landscape, a holistic education covering the entire life cycle of real estate is crucial for success — from development, planning and design, and construction to financing, marketing, property management and asset management,” he said.

“Real estate accounts for almost one-half of global wealth, and almost everything humans do on our planet is housed in some sort of real estate,” Kaufmann said. “It is a segment of the economy far too important to ignore.”


Where They Are Now: Meagan Smith-Bocanegra MSW ’23

Meagan Smith-Bocanegra MSW ’23 shared her experiences at UCLA Luskin and beyond, including the impact that her Shapiro Fellowship, funded by the Shapiro family, made on her educational and career trajectory. Smith-Bocanegra is now a social worker at MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center.

What made you choose to attend the Luskin School?

The main factor was the opportunity for specialization, particularly the Health and Mental Health Across the Lifespan concentration.

How did your fellowship shape your educational and professional experience at the Luskin School?

Because of the Shapiro Fellowship, I had a unique learning opportunity at the Special Patient Care Clinic at UCLA School of Dentistry. This field placement gave me invaluable hands-on experience in program building and advocating for individuals and families with disabilities, and prepared me well for my current role
as a hospital social worker.

What experiences did your fellowship provide that you may not have otherwise had?

Too many to count! I was able to begin practicing social work at a higher level, and even participated in writing an article for the California Dental Association about the impact of social work in dental settings. Above all, this fellowship allowed me to work with families and individuals with unique strengths and challenges, which deeply impacted my professional and personal spheres.

How did your fellowship influence you in your current role?

My ultimate goal has always been to be a medical social worker. However, my fellowship prepared me for the real-world situations and hard work of the inpatient medical world.

If you could say something to the donors of your fellowship, what would you say?

Thank you! Due to your generosity, I had the privilege of working with these individuals and families, supporting them and learning from them. This fellowship provided me with the skills to obtain my dream position, where I am now able to work with so many more individuals and families every day.

If you could say something to prospective or current students, what would you say?

If you have the opportunity to be a part of the Shapiro Fellowship, do it! Due to the unique experiences I had from the fellowship, I had multiple job offers post-graduation and am now working my dream job. You will encounter so many incredible people, diverse individuals and situations, and have the experience of a lifetime.


Why They Give: Kayne Doumani MA UP ’95

UCLA Luskin urban planning alumna and longtime supporter Kayne Doumani shares her experiences as a student, followed by a professional life with unexpected twists and turns. Doumani MA UP ’95 has held many roles in affordable housing, building skills that led her to her current position as an asset management consultant to nonprofit housing organizations. “I didn’t know I was training to be an asset manager,” she said, “but every bit of that experience has contributed to my success.” Read the full interview at luskin.ucla.edu/doumani.

Did a transformative experience lead to
your passion?

There wasn’t one. I wrote in my application to what was then GSAUP [Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning] that I didn’t know why I cared. There’s no history of public service in my family. We didn’t discuss lofty topics like justice. But that’s been my lens for as long as I can remember. I got interested in urban planning when I saw it being used as a tool for making sure that development didn’t only benefit the developer.

How did the Luskin School help you get closer to your goal?

For me, Luskin was the complete package. Los Angeles was a rich laboratory for professors and students — and those students contributed nearly as much to my education as the professors. We were a diverse and accomplished group coming into the School.

How have you seen the impact of your philanthropy play out?

I try not to. I’m helping a couple of young students I know with their college expenses and the only stipulation I made was, “No gratitude.” You have to trust the people you hand your money to. Then don’t bug them.

What values do you hold closest in your life
and work?

Sometimes you need to sublimate your values to those of the people affected by your work. Listen as long and hard as is necessary to understand. Be fierce,
not popular.

Doctorates in the House Four UCLA Luskin PhD candidates use equity as a guide in their research on incarceration, transit, foster care and urban spaces

By Mary Braswell

In 1970, UCLA began sending PhDs in social welfare and urban planning into the world to serve as catalysts for change for a society in turmoil. Today, scholars are still drawn to UCLA Luskin as a place where research is turned into action.

“We’re known for our focus on social justice and equity,” said Professor Evelyn Blumenberg, who received her urban planning PhD from UCLA in 1995 and now chairs the doctoral program.

“Being in L.A. is a draw as well. There are so many opportunities for fieldwork and data collection here in
Los Angeles.”

Not only is UCLA a top research university, it prizes collaboration across disciplines — a rich learning environment for PhD students, said Professor Todd
Franke, chair of the doctoral program at UCLA Luskin Social Welfare.

Both Blumenberg and Franke stressed the importance of “mentor matching” — pairing doctoral students with diverse and highly collaborative faculty members who will stretch their capacity to think critically and systematically to solve real problems in their community.

“The quality of the scholars here, and the support for interdisciplinary work among faculty and students, is exceptionally strong at UCLA,” Franke said.

Here’s a look at four current doctoral students, what led them to UCLA Luskin, the research they have spearheaded and how their work may foster transformative change.

Taylor Reed
PhD candidate, Social Welfare

Taylor Reed remembers when her childhood career goals came into sharper focus.

At age 11, she decided she’d become a medical doctor after seeing a commercial for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. “It shocked me because I didn’t know that kids got cancer. And I thought, ‘That is so sad. I need to dedicate my life to helping them,’” she recalled.

“It wasn’t until I got older when I started to realize that, yes, kids die from cancer, but Black kids in particular are more subjected to things like community gun violence and incarceration,” she said. “That is our pandemic. That is our disease. That is what we are dying from.”

Reed’s desire to change that fate led her to UCLA Luskin Social Welfare, where she is one of a select few to be accepted into a fast-tracked MSW/PhD program. “I have been intentional,” she said, “because this work is urgent.”

Reed’s area of study lies at the intersection of race, housing and incarceration — in particular the policies that keep young Black adults from successfully reentering society after serving time.

“The first thing that you think of when you leave prison or jail is, ‘Where am I going to sleep?’

“You’re not necessarily thinking of a job. You’re not thinking of mental health. You’re thinking about where you’re going to sleep,” she said.

Policies in place around the country make it difficult for people with past convictions to find a stable place to live, but fair chance housing ordinances are now on the rise, with the aim of dismantling those barriers.

Reed researches how these ordinances are being structured and enforced, who stands to benefit the most, and how to educate and empower housing applicants who face discrimination.

Reed has made the most of UCLA’s opportunities, conducting research for the Initiative to Study Hate and the BRITE Center for Science, Research and Policy. She also joined the Hip Hop Scholars Working Group, which bridges her interests in research and music.

Her first opportunity to work closely with top UCLA faculty came in 2016 as a New York University undergraduate with plans to spend the summer in Los Angeles. Reed sent a cold email to UCLA’s Vickie Mays, a noted professor of psychology and public health, asking if she could use some research help. Mays said yes and Reed joined a project centering on incarceration and the Black community, the seeds of her current scholarship.

“That has been something I’ve kept close to my heart,” she said. “I do this scholarship for people who are impacted by incarceration and particularly the Black community, which has struggled since we were brought to this country to make things easier for the next generation to come.”

outdoor photo of person wearing purple t-shirt

Fariba Siddiq

Fariba Siddiq
PhD candidate, Urban Planning

From Bangladesh to Utah to Southern California, Fariba Siddiq has studied the vastly different ways that people move from place to place.

She grew up in Dhaka, one of the densest cities on the planet, where only a fraction of the population owns private cars, and witnessed the perils, particularly for women, of crowded buses and trains.

As a master’s student at the University of Utah, she experienced Salt Lake City’s enviable public transit network before moving west to car-centric Los Angeles to join the urban planning PhD program at UCLA Luskin.

Along the way, Siddiq has made it her mission to identify planning choices and policy decisions that could ease the hardships endured by travelers with limited resources.

“One of the reasons I came to UCLA is its focus on transportation equity, on how to make things more equitable and just, and what that means in the international context,” she said. “I’ve seen systems that are falling apart, and I want to help make things right.”

Much of Siddiq’s work in the doctoral program and as a graduate student researcher with the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies has focused on gender and mobility.

Siddiq won a scholarship to study how women in Dhaka and Los Angeles navigate ride-hailing amid concerns about safety and security. She worked with the World Bank to help develop a tool that could inform gender-conscious transportation policies across the globe.

Her dissertation assesses COVID-19’s long-term impact on travel patterns. How should the changing nature of work — more opportunities for flextime, hybrid schedules and the like — be factored into future transportation decisions and investments?

Transit officials and regional planning agencies rely on this type of evidence-based forecasting.

“None of it would have been possible without the support of my professors,” both personally and professionally, Siddiq said. “They have inspired me and encouraged me.”

woman poses in art gallery as others in background view photos on the walls

Kate Watson

Kate Watson
PhD candidate, Social Welfare

The images lining the art gallery at UCLA’s Kerckhoff Hall told a deeply personal story.

Taken by young people who had spent time in foster care, the photographs captured moments in time intended to offer a glimpse into the artists’ experiences in the system.

On a rainy Monday evening in January, a large crowd lingered over images of street art, family portraits, pill bottles, a gray cat — all part of the “Fostering Photovoice” exhibit spearheaded by Social Welfare PhD candidate Kate Watson.

“Photography is a very powerful medium,” Watson said. “I knew of photovoice as a research method, and over time the idea evolved of working with foster youth to capture their experiences and give them a voice in a creative way.”

The project tapped into many of Watson’s strengths and interests. From a young age, she has volunteered as a Big Sister and with other organizations helping youth. While working as a manager of nonprofit and for-profit organizations, she became certified as a Court-Appointed Special Advocate, providing one-on-one guidance for children in foster care.

“It’s a volunteer position, but it gave me a clear understanding of how that system worked and what the pain points were,” she said. “A lot of information is kept from different people, from birth parents, foster parents, the schools.

“Foster care and foster youth are really where my heart is, so I was looking at that and asking, ‘How can I really make an impact on this system?’”

That question led Watson to UCLA Luskin Social Welfare.

“I wanted to go to the best program I could, one that didn’t just focus on clinical work but also included macro perspectives and research methods,” said Watson, who also earned her MSW at UCLA.

Her overarching goal is to help any organization — schools, courts and government agencies, among others — become more supportive and caring, and to reduce the chance they will retraumatize people who need their help.

To that end, Watson created a trauma-informed climate survey that organizations can use to make healthy changes. It’s centered on a trusting and transparent ethos in the workplace, at every level, she said.

“In order to create a safe environment, both physically and psychologically, you need to be able to see people in their entirety and for the strengths they bring to the environment and not just the deficits.”

young man wearing glasses speaks into a microphone he holds in his right hand

Gus Wendel

Gus Wendel
PhD candidate, Urban Planning

Understanding the complexities of urban space requires a spirit of openness and an eye for aesthetics.

That’s the creative ethos that drives the research goals of Gus Wendel, candidate for the PhD in urban planning.

For Wendel, this means leaving the library, lab or studio and venturing out into public spaces, viewing the city with a fresh eye and connecting with its people.

UCLA offers ample opportunities to do just that. As he earned his MURP in 2017, Wendel became involved with the Urban Humanities Initiative at UCLA’s cityLAB and now runs the program. Since then, he’s helped establish an emerging global network of urban humanists, all eager to share experimental ideas for making public spaces more livable.

And Wendel is one of the UCLA doctoral students behind the (Un)Common Public Space Group, which brings researchers, practitioners and community members together to advance spatial justice goals and simply share and appreciate the L.A. environment. At one event, a celebration of the new Golden Age Park in the Westlake neighborhood, Wendel welcomed the crowd, then took his spot playing cello with the Heart of Los Angeles Intergenerational Orchestra.

“Taking a creative, place-based approach through activities like festivals and performances is one way to connect research goals with community goals, and have greater impact,” he said. 

For his dissertation, Wendel is conducting interviews and scouring historical archives chronicling West Hollywood’s incorporation in 1984 to tell a larger story about urban planning’s role in the formation of sexual space in Los Angeles.

Widely seen as the “first gay city,” West Hollywood was quick to pass nondiscrimination ordinances, beautify urban spaces and prioritize economic growth, Wendel said. But he is also unearthing planning policies that reveal entrenched gender, race and class hierarchies.

“West Hollywood consolidated a dominant gay identity, one that branded itself as inclusive of all LGBTQ people,” he said. “I’m interested in planning’s role in shaping this identity, and the degree to which the process was inclusive of diverse gender and sexual minority communities.”

As he looks toward the future, Wendel plans to continue research that makes the planning profession more inclusive of diverse LGBTQ+ populations. And he hopes to spread the message that artistic approaches more commonly practiced in the humanities can transform the field of planning.

“My goal is to support the next generation of planning scholars and practitioners interested in advancing justice, and share creative methods to study and shape the city.”

The Long Road to Success After decades of persistence, parking reforms championed by Professor Donald Shoup are taking hold around the country

By Les Dunseith

When the “parking cash-out program” became law in California, Donald Shoup had done it! Surely, this would launch a wave of legislation to reform all those nonsensical parking regulations he’d been writing about since the 1970s.

Or so it seemed in 1992.

Shoup’s idea was that any employer that offers subsidized parking for its workers should also offer employees the option of taking the cash value if they opt out of parking. Within a year of getting the attention of a state assemblyman, it was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor.

“And I thought, well, this is easy! I just have to be clear and explain what I’m doing,” Shoup recalled. “But [parking reform] has taken a very long time to really sink in.”

To understand Shoup’s research on parking, it helps to have read his landmark book with the wry title: “The High Cost of Free Parking,” first published in 2005. But it’s not required. Don Shoup is adept at boiling his crusade down to four key reforms:

1. Parking cash-out.

2. Eliminate requirements that force real estate developers to accommodate a minimum number of parking spaces per construction project, a practice that Shoup viewed almost as “an established religion” in the planning profession.

3. Charge drivers for parking on city streets and in city
lots, setting the price to ensure one or two open spaces
on every block.

4. Make the practice of paying for parking politically popular by dedicating the revenue to additional public services. “So, if anybody puts a dollar in a parking meter, it comes right out the other side to clean the sidewalk or repair the street or plant trees,” Shoup explained.

Shoup sees previous parking practices as a flimsy house of cards. “They were assembled over decades by officials who were arbitrarily adding a parking requirement,” he said. “And it was all a pseudoscience.”

Decades later, the wave of policy change Shoup always envisioned may finally be arriving. A spry octogenarian who still comes to campus regularly almost a decade after retiring, the distinguished research professor of urban planning is seeing his ideas being implemented in city halls, statehouses and government offices far and wide:

  • Buffalo, San Francisco and San Diego are among numerous cities that have rethought parking policies.
  • Two years ago, California abolished parking minimums
    within a half-mile of transit. Other states are looking to do
    the same. And a bill introduced in Congress could take the idea nationwide.
  • Dynamically priced curb parking continues to spread at the municipal level, and the federal government has spent millions looking into the practice.
  • Several international locales have acted on Shoup’s ideas or studied their feasibility.

A central focus for Shoup is the practice of devoting immense amounts of valuable land primarily to free parking for cars. It’s all those places where cars sit, unmoving, 95% of the time. Surely, everyone can understand that having too many cars contributes to exhaust-filled, unwalkable cities plagued by traffic jams? We know about carbon emissions and how automobiles contribute to climate change, right?

Professor Michael Manville is one of Shoup’s former students and now chair of Urban Planning at UCLA Luskin. He wrote an essay for the Journal of Planning Education and Research in 2022 that extols Shoup’s vision:

“Transformation requires reform, reform requires action, and actions can’t be ambiguous. Actions are clear and specific — what exactly should we do?

“Don Shoup is clear and specific: Price the curb. Abolish the parking requirements. Invest in the neighborhoods.”

Among Shoup’s followers are government officials and planning consultants, plus environmentally conscious cyclists and fans of public transit. Shoup’s observations can be an epiphany for many people. Some become devotees. They call themselves “Shoupistas.”

Patrick Siegman was the first.

He never took a class from Shoup. He never even took a class at UCLA. Siegman discovered Shoup’s research while an undergraduate at Stanford. And that discovery has had more influence on his life and career than anything in a class he did attend.

“Professor Shoup managed to make the apparently dry topic of parking economics and regulation not only worth studying, but compelling, fascinating and, at times, hilarious,” Siegman wrote in an essay for Streetsblog.

How did Siegman become the original Shoupista?

“I was at a beer garden here in San Francisco,” Siegman said in an interview. He had just finished an outing with friends. It was sometime in the 1990s.

“We’re hanging out and talking — a whole bunch of bicycle advocates — and I started yammering away about my thoughts, and Shoup’s research and the importance of parking reform. I’m with Dave Snyder, who was the executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which has a lot of your classic San Francisco radicals. He just looked at me and said, ‘Man, you’re just a Shoupista!’” Siegman remembers it getting a big laugh. He and his friends got the reference immediately because they’d grown up during the 1980s when revolutionaries were taking on right-wing dictatorships across Latin America. In Nicaragua, the rebels were known as Sandinistas.

What’s it like being the first Shoupista?

“Well, it’s an honor,” Siegman said. “It also surprised and delighted
me how that term took off. It has taken on a life of its own.”

Siegman was the first of many. Kevin Holliday was enlightened by Shoup’s ideas while pursuing the MA UP degree he earned at UCLA
in 2014. Four years later, he formed a Facebook group, The Shoupistas, for “the followers of Professor Donald Shoup.” It now has more than 8,000 members.

“Today, there is still a lot of traffic on that group,” Holliday said. “People are obviously interested in it.”

Holliday spent about 18 years working as a planning professional, then more recently started his own company, Bright Triangle, which provides process improvement consulting services.

He was involved in implementing pricing for parking based on demand in San Francisco, which saw roughly half of its meter prices decline.

People who wind up focused on parking reform arrive unexpectedly, he said. “No one grows up thinking they’re going to work in parking.”

Shoup himself came to parking reform by surprise, and that’s part of his legacy, Holliday said. Shoup’s dogged determination is also a marvel to Holliday: “How many other people in this world can get folks to read an 800-page book?”

So far, the parking reforms have taken hold mostly in left-leaning places. But Shoup and others don’t see the issue as being conservative or progressive. Both the Obama and Trump administrations came out in opposition to minimum parking requirements.

“Getting rid of parking requirements appeals to the right because it gets the government out of business,” Shoup said. Not having to provide a fixed amount of parking makes life easier for housing developers, reducing their costs.

“So, you can imagine why Trump … he’s a developer. He knows what parking requirements demand. He thinks he should be in charge of how many parking spaces he provides!” Shoup said with a chuckle.

“Getting rid of parking requirements appeals to the left because it reduces traffic congestion, air pollution and carbon emissions. It can be part of the war on cars,” he said.

Shoup himself is purposefully nonpolitical. “I recommend parking reforms that will benefit almost everyone regardless of their politics.”

One reason that Shoup’s ideas have taken hold and spread is that his writing is very clear. Manville and Holliday are among the many students and colleagues who’ve assisted him over the years and continue to do so as co-writers and editors. They see Shoup’s approach as different from most professors.

“There’s a model of academia that says you must publish lots of articles, and every few years the dean counts up those articles and you get a raise,” Manville said. “And so you sort of do the minimum to get it published, and then you move on to something else.

“He always wrote, and still does write, articles with a mindset of not just getting them published in academic journals, but also to be available to anyone who cares to read them,” said Manville, noting that Shoup strives to write in a manner that will appeal to students.

“He always had a very good understanding that one of the most powerful things you could do from a policy perspective is have a publication end up on someone’s syllabus,” Manville explained. “Because then the future planners of the world have no choice but to read it.”

Shoup embraces every means that will spread the word. He’s active on social media. Interviews with him can be found on YouTube and TikTok. And as an in-person marketer of parking reform, he is relentless.

“Anywhere he goes, he’s going to grab somebody and start talking about parking,” Manville said. He recounts a story of Shoup discovering on a flight to Sacramento that
a member of the Assembly was a few rows ahead.

“And he connived to switch seats with the person next to that guy, and then just harangued the poor man about parking on the whole flight,” Manville said. “That’s Shoup in a nutshell.”

Shoup tends to downplay his accomplishments, citing luck and longevity. He notes that he first used the word “parking” in an academic article in 1970 and began focusing on the reforms in earnest in 1978.

“THAT is perseverance,” he said.

Shoup also credits the support he received at UCLA and the freedom he felt within Urban Planning to keep saying what he believed even when others dismissed it.

Most people would have tired of the crusade long before 40-plus years. Not Donald Shoup.

“He just keeps going and going and going,” Holliday said. “And I think that’s a testament to not only how deeply he believes these things, but how much he wants to convince someone else to believe them.”

Alumni Accolades The latest news and career highlights from alumni representing all four departments at the Luskin School

Tiffany Caldas MSW ’15 is now chief of staff at Partnership for Growth LA, a Black/Jewish community development corporation working toward community wellness and cooperative development in South and West Los Angeles.

Oceana R. Gilliam MPP 19 is now the chief of staff and justice deputy for Rep. Justin J. Pearson, Tennessee House of Representatives, District 86.

Todd Snyder MPP ’00 is now director of the Stormwater Department for the city of San Diego.

Kelsey Mulcahy MPP ’16 is now director of public affairs and agency partnerships at BlueLabs, an analytics and technology solutioning firm based in San Francisco.

Abraham Cheung MPP ’23 is a Presidential Management Fellow at the United States Census Bureau.

John Castillo MSW ’81 has been executive director of Walking Shield Inc. for 24+ years coordinating programs that provide shelter, health care, educational assistance and other aid to American Indian families. Castillo earned a PhD from Fielding Graduate University.

James D. Simon MSW ’06, LCSW was promoted to associate professor in the School of Social Work at Cal State Los Angeles. Simon earned a PhD from USC.

Gabriela Solis Torres MPP/ MSW ’19 was promoted to assistant director on the Criminal Justice Team at Harvard Kennedy School’s Government Performance Lab (GPL).

Alba M. Velasquez MURP ’13 started a new position as executive director at the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, a collective impact initiative working to make food healthy, affordable, fair and sustainable.

Daniela Simunovic MURP ’13 is now senior director of climate and sustainability in the Office of Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass.

Brian Wolfe BA in Public Affairs ’23 started a new position as transportation engineer/planner at the Orange County office of Fehr & Peers.

Paulina Torres BA in Public Affairs ’23 started a new position as constituent advocate at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Ashley Ceballos-Hernandez BA in Public Affairs and Labor Studies ’23 is now a CORO Fellow in Public Affairs for 2024.

Adriana Bernal BA in Public Affairs ’23 joined the Federation of Independent School Alumnae (FISA) Foundation as Communications Associate.

Alejandra Guerrero MURP ’18 is now deputy director at cityLAB UCLA.

 

In Support New members join Board of Advisors; EDI and Yaroslavsky funds benefit students

Nine new members have joined the Luskin School Board of Advisors. Each of them brings a wealth of experience, a commitment to our mission and a passion for making
a difference in our community.

Alec Nedelman is a leading real estate lawyer and marketing and business development advisor.

Alex Johnson is the vice president of public affairs at Bryson Gillette.

Cecilia Estolano is the CEO and founder of Estolano Advisors.

Juan Aquino is the senior manager of community development banking at Capital One Bank.

Maria Mehranian is a managing partner and chief financial officer at Cordoba Corp.

Nicole Mutchnik is the founder of California Democracy Fund. She currently sits on the executive committee of the Women’s
Political Committee, the board of Civicas LA, the DNC National Finance Committee.

Ronald W. Wong is the founder and CEO of Imprenta Communications Group.

Todd Sargent is the global organization development executive at The Walt Disney Company.

Jill Black Zalben is involved in operations and management at Black Equities Group.

Farewell to departing board members Tracy Colunga, Ann Sinclair and Richard Katz, we extend our deep appreciation for their contributions.


LUSKIN EDI FUND OPENS DOORS TO ENRICHING SUMMER EXPERIENCES

The concepts of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) have reshaped the landscape of higher education across the globe. For UCLA Luskin graduate students, these principles influence their experiences, opportunities and overall academic journey, thanks to several initiatives that demonstrate the School’s commitment to EDI.

Close-up photo of person with black hair and hoop earrings

Cecilia Nunez

One such initiative is the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Fund for Public Affairs summer award, which supports students so that they can take on unpaid summer internships.

Last summer, the award enabled MPP/MSW student Cecilia Nunez to intern at La Defensa, which advocates against mass incarceration and economic injustice in Los Angeles County. Nunez is also the recipient of the 2022-23 Graduate Opportunity Fellowship. She graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s in history and literature with a focus on Afro-Latin American studies, and previously worked as a pre-employment and transition facilitator at the Boston Center for Independent Living. Nunez’s goal is to build innovative policy and programming to empower and support Black and Brown communities and other marginalized groups.

Another UCLA Luskin Equity, Diversity and Inclusion summer award enabled MURP student Cass Wood to intern at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, a leading provider of services and support to queer and trans people.

Portrait image of person in patterned white shirt

Cass Wood

The UC Santa Cruz graduate in environmental studies joined the Luskin Urban Planning program to pursue research in hostile architecture and how socio-spatial injustice in the built environment perpetuates homogenous enclaves via spatial accessibility. Aside from urban planning, their research interests are gastro-imperialism and colonization.

The Luskin School’s EDI initiatives provide opportunities for students to share their perspectives in a diverse and inclusive environment and enrich their academic pursuits by challenging conventional wisdom and encouraging creative thinking. By empowering students and representing a wide array of voices, these initiatives have the potential to not only transform individual experiences but also contribute to the evolution of academia itself. As institutions continue to champion these values, they take a significant step toward a more just, diverse and vibrant educational landscape.


group photo of several people taken during tour of Venice Family Clinic.

MSW student Savanna Hogan, third from left, leads a tour of her internship site.

YAROSLAVSKY FUND SUPPORTS STUDENT INTERNSHIP WITH VENICE FAMILY CLINIC

MSW student Savanna Hogan hosted a tour and lunch at the Venice Family Clinic, site of her summer internship made possible by UCLA Luskin’s Barbara Edelston Yaroslavsky Memorial Fund.

The clinic provides health services, ranging from dentistry to domestic violence intervention, to 45,000 low-income people annually. Hogan created materials to expand the advocacy infrastructure of the clinic, participated in various advocacy and policy committees, and engaged in visits with elected officials at National Health Center Week events.

“It has truly been such an incredible experience to be able to spend the summer working for a community health organization that has such deep roots and a rich history in caring for some of the most vulnerable populations living on west side of Los Angeles,” Hogan said.

Luskin School donors and guests from the nonprofit attended the site visit at the clinic’s Simms/Mann Health Center in Santa Monica. They included UCLA Luskin faculty member Zev Yaroslavsky BA ’71, MA ’72, who founded the Barbara Edelston Yaroslavsky Memorial Fund in honor of his late wife. Yaroslavsky told of his work on health care access during his tenure as an elected official in the city and county of Los Angeles, then led an engaging discussion about the history of funding local health care centers — including the Venice Family Clinic.

Hogan graduated from Cal State San Marcos with a bachelor’s in sociology and an emphasis in health, welfare and education. While she is pursuing her MSW at UCLA, she is also serving on the board of the Luskin Black Caucus and as a member of the Social Welfare Anti-Racist Committee.

Hogan aspires to help bridge the gaps of health inequities that marginalized people face through advocacy and practice. The site visit highlighted the importance of donations that fund student engagement with nonprofits, a critical component of the Luskin School, and build a bridge between academia and the real world.

“Community health centers will always have such a special place in my heart because they strive to be able to provide health equity and access for all, regardless of their socioeconomic status, immigration status or even their current housing status,” she said.