Event Program

  • 9:00 AM – 9:15 AM

    Introduction and Welcome
    Welcoming remarks will be offered by Rockefeller Institute President Robert Megna.
  • 9:15 AM – 10:00 AM

    Panel 1 | Issues in Public Administration

    Moderator: Heather Trela, Director of Operations & Fellow, Rockefeller Institute of Government

    Innovation and Change among New York Local Governments: Governance and Administration

    • Michael Hattery, Coordinator of Public Management Program, Department of Public Administration, SUNY Brockport, State University of New York

    Employee Recognition: Generational Differences

    • Michael Simms, Instructor, American Politics, United States Military Academy West Point

    From Inclusion to Impact: How Do Nongovernmental Actors Influence Collaborative Governance Outcomes?

    • Amanda Bankston, PhD Candidate, Public Administration, Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University

    • Adam Cucchiara, PhD Candidate, Public Administration, Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University

  • 10:00 AM – 11:15 AM

    Panel 2 | Cornell University City and Regional Planning Program

    Moderator: Lisa Parshall, Fellow, Rockefeller Institute of Government

    An Age-Friendly Guidebook: Action for Communities in New York State

    • Luke James Kerr, Graduate Student, City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

    • Chen Wu, Graduate Student, City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

    Age-Friendly Public Services: Rethinking Libraries And Fire Companies In Rural Tompkins County

    • Chenming Zhang, Graduate Student, City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

    Delivery Accessibility Improvements in Tompkins County

    • Chengyu Wan, Graduate Student, City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

    • Hanyu Zeng, Graduate Student, City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

    Blueprints of Change: Modifying Homes for an Aging Community

    • Shunyi Hu, Graduate Student, City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

    • Chloe Long, Graduate Student, City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

  • 11:15 AM – 12:00 PM

    Panel 3 | Local Finances and Resource Needs

    Moderator: Robert Megna, President, Rockefeller Institute of Government

    Promoting Affordable Housing in Well-Resourced Neighborhoods: A Regional Approach to Assessing Neighborhood Resources in New York State

    • Benjamin Wetzler, Senior Public Policy Specialist, Office of Research, New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal

    The Impact of Property Tax Cap on Local Governments in New York State: The First Decade

    • Jiahe Liang, Graduate Student, City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

    Fiscal Response to the New Wave of Migrants: How Cities are Responding?

    • Rahul Pathak, Assistant Professor, Public Budgeting and Financial Management, Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, Baruch College, City University of New York

  • 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

    Lunch and Keynote Presentation | Aligning City Resources: Evolution of Identifying, Monitoring, and Resolving High-Needs Locations

    Moderator: Lisa Parshall, Fellow, Rockefeller Institute of Government

    Aligning City Resources: Evolution of Identifying, Monitoring, and Resolving High-Needs Locations

    • Gary McCarthy, Mayor, City of Schenectady, New York

    • Matthew Douglas, Director, City Innovation & Performance Standards, City of Schenectady, New York

  • 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

    Panel 4 | Innovating at the Local Level

    Moderator: Leigh Wedenoja, Chief Economist, Rockefeller Institute of Government

    Maxwell X Lab: Counting Historically Undercounted Communities Across New York State

    • Jack Baldwin, Senior Associate, Maxwell X Lab, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University

    Using Research to Improve Supporting Undocumented Students Across the State University of New York

    • Elizabeth Jach, Assistant Professor, University at Albany, State University of New York, & Nathan Fellow, Rockefeller Institute of Government

    Federal Grants and Job Quality: Policy Tools to Ensure Inclusive Economic Growth Jobs in the Albany and Syracuse Metro Areas

    • Elizabeth O’Connor, Adjunct Professor, Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University

    Limited Evidence That Public School Districts Compost Cafeteria Food Waste Across New York State

    • Katilin Stack Whitney, Assistant Professor, Department of Science, Technology, & Society, Rochester Institute of Technology

  • 2:00 PM – 2:15 PM

    Break
    Grab some refreshments and network.
  • 2:15 PM – 3:15 PM

    Panel 5 | Joining the CR0WD to Create a Circular Construction Economy Through Policy and Practice

    Moderator: Laura Rabinow, Deputy Director of Research, Rockefeller Institute of Government

    Expanding the CR0WD

    • Christine O’Malley, Preservation Services Director, Historic Ithaca Inc.

    Circular Policy: Not Reinventing the Wheel

    • Gretchen Worth, Project Director, Susan Christopherson Center for Community Planning

    Embodied Carbon/Embodying Justice

    • Jocelyn Poe, Provost New Faculty Fellow & Visiting Assistant Professor, City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

    • Jennifer Minner, Associate Professor, City and Regional Planning, & Director, Just Places Lab, Cornell University

    Hubs and Exchanges: A Statewide Comprehensive Materials Reuse System

    • Diane Cohen, Chief Executive Officer, Finger Lakes ReUse, Inc.

Keynote

Gary McCarthy

Gary McCarthy

Mayor, City of Schenectady, New York

Mayor Gary R. McCarthy has served as mayor of the city of Schenectady, New York since April 2011; bringing with him more than three decades of experience in government and a reputation as a hands-on, accessible public servant who believes that government can be a force for positive change in the lives of its residents. He was elected to a full four-year term as mayor in November 2011 and was re-elected in 2015, 2019, and 2023.

Mayor McCarthy chairs the Center for Economic Growth’s Capital Region Local Government Council, and previously served as president of the New York State Conference of Mayors. He recently was appointed as a member of the Advisory Committee of the Healthy Aging Initiative for the State University of New York’s University at Albany.

In 1981, he began his career as an investigator in the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office. He served on the Schenectady City Council from 1996 through 1999 and rejoined the City Council in 2005. Mayor McCarthy was elected as council president in January 2010, a position he held until he was elected mayor. He has also served on the board of the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority, Schenectady Municipal Housing Authority, and the Schenectady Industrial Development Agency.

Mayor McCarthy has worked to stabilize the city’s finances following difficult times caused by the housing bubble and meltdown in the mortgage market. Standard & Poor’s Global Rating upgraded the city of Schenectady’s Bond Rating to A with a Stable Outlook. The city’s economic development and revitalization initiatives resulted in property tax cuts, substantial job creation, and increased property values.

Mayor McCarthy and his wife, Caroline Boardman McCarthy, along with their two cats, Misty and Captain, reside in the city of Schenectady.

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Matthew Douglas

Matthew Douglas

Director, City Innovation & Performance Standards, City of Schenectady, New York

Matthew Douglas entered the analysis profession in 2006 at the Schenectady Police Department. Douglas has earned promotional position changes that initially began as a crime analyst intern, followed by crime analyst, lead crime analyst, law enforcement analyst director, real-time crime operations director, and most recently, as of January of 2024, his current role overseeing innovation and performance standards for the city of Schenectady. Douglas has over 17 years of law enforcement intelligence-led policing and data-driven analytics experience, with an additional two years of experience working with high-risk youth.

Douglas has analyzed and developed methods to address focused crimes designated by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. Douglas provided the analytical and product foundation to successfully implement data-driven approaches to Crime & Traffic Safety (DDACTS) within a Compstat-driven agency. The success of Schenectady’s DDACTS implementation has allowed Douglas to become a DDACTS subject matter expert (SME). As a DDACTS SME, Matthew has the opportunity to share and guide other agencies across the country, pursuing a data-driven policing philosophy, which he has continued to enjoy since 2012.
Douglas holds a BA in Criminal Justice from the State University of New York’s University at Albany and an NYS Crime Analysis certification. Throughout his profession, he has learned and implemented a wide range of best practices within the field.

Douglas launched the success of the International Association of Crime Analysis Mentoring Program as the committee chair in early 2016, and it has continued to succeed.

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Presenters

Jack Baldwin

Jack Baldwin

Senior Associate, Maxwell X Lab, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University

Jack Baldwin, MPA, is a senior associate at Maxwell X Lab at the Center for Policy Research at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs. He is involved in developing, implementing, and analyzing projects across the Maxwell X Lab’s portfolio. Before joining the Maxwell X Lab, Baldwin worked as a public sector consultant for multiple federal organizations and nonprofits. He also supervises the Maxwell X Lab’s team of research assistants.

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Amanda Bankston

Amanda Bankston

PhD Candidate, Public Administration, Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University

Amanda Bankston is a PhD student in public administration at Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, at Syracuse University. Stemming from professional experience spanning newsrooms, nonprofits, and communities across the country, her research interests center on how people work together to create stronger, healthier, and more equitable communities. More specifically, her work explores collective leadership, examining the process dynamics, competencies, and decision-making that drive effective collaboration for social change.
Originally from El Paso, Texas, Bankston earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota and an MPA from the University of Arizona.

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Diane Cohen

Diane Cohen

Chief Executive Officer, Finger Lakes ReUse, Inc.

Diane Cohen is the chief executive officer of Finger Lakes ReUse, Inc., a nonprofit enterprise incorporated in 2007 to help transform the costs of waste into community value. Cohen has worked professionally in waste diversion since 2001 and enjoys collaborating with multi-sector partners to help design and activate a more effective, comprehensive, sustainable, and just materials management system.

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Adam Cucchiara

Adam Cucchiara

PhD Candidate, Public Administration, Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University

Major Adam Cucchiara is an instructor of American politics in the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy West Point. His research focuses on public sector leadership, community safety, and policing, specifically studying the performance of military veterans who continue to serve in law enforcement agencies. Cucchiara was commissioned as an Infantry officer in 2007. His past assignments include command and staff roles in the XVIII Airborne Corps and US Army Europe. He has deployed supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Resolute Support. Cucchiara is also a PhD student in public administration at the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Syracuse University. He received an MPP from the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University and a BS in international/strategic history from United States Military Academy West Point.

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Michael Hattery

Michael Hattery

Coordinator of Public Management Program, Department of Public Administration, School of Business and Management, SUNY Brockport, State University of New York

Michael Hattery, PhD, has a range of experience as a student of state and local government. He has conducted applied research, graduate teaching, as well as community-based technical assistance, and adult education for state and local officials. Hattery’s work and interests are centered in local public finance, organization, and service delivery alternatives. He has done significant work in management capacity building, budgeting, and analysis of intergovernmental service delivery options, as well as service cost analysis, particularly among local governments in non-metropolitan regions.

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Shunyi Hu

Shunyi Hu

Graduate Student, City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

Shunyi Hu is a second-year master’s student in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. Previously, she earned her bachelor’s degrees in economics and real estate development at the University of California, San Diego. During her undergraduate studies, she actively contributed to and researched homelessness and affordable housing policy, which sparked an interest in pursuing a career as an urban planner and addressing critical urban challenges through research and practice.

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Elizabeth A. Jach

Elizabeth A. Jach

Elizabeth A. Jach (she/her), PhD, is an educational policy and leadership assistant professor at the University at Albany, State University of New York. Jach studies higher education experiences and outcomes; specifically, her research has examined the experiences of undocumented students, attitudes toward undocumented students’ pursuit of higher education, and allyship with undocumented students. Her research has appeared in journals such as New Directions for Higher Education, Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity, and Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences. Jach has ten years of professional experience in higher education administration, including institutional research and effectiveness, human research protections, assessment of student learning, and student affairs. She has worked at various institutional types, including extensive research universities, a community college, and a liberal arts college. As part of her fellowship, Jach will examine allyship and advocacy with undocumented students, with particular attention to undocumented students’ pursuit and completion of higher education and how policies at the federal, state, and higher education policies can support that pursuit.

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Luke James Kerr

Luke James Kerr

Graduate Student, City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

Luke James Kerr is a first-year graduate student in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. Before coming to Cornell University, Kerr began working as a planner in Colorado, and he still does this work while pursuing his graduate degree. Kerr is interested in current planning, age-friendly planning, and identifying key collaborations that result in more inclusive communities.

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Jiahe Liang

Jiahe Liang

Graduate Student, City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

Jiahe Liang is a graduate student in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. His research focuses broadly on the nexus among inter-governmental relations, local government responses, and spatial inequality in the US and China. He is also interested in the interplay of state-market relations and urban transformation within different governance contexts.

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Chloe Long

Chloe Long

Graduate Student, City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

Chloe Long is a graduate student in regional planning in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in environment and sustainability with a concentration in sustainable community development from Cornell University.

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Robert Megna

Robert Megna

President, Rockefeller Institute of Government

Robert Megna is president of the Rockefeller Institute of Government. He previously served as senior vice chancellor and chief operating officer of SUNY System Administration. In that role, he oversaw the operations of the chief information officer, the State University of New York (SUNY) Plaza business functions, capital facilities, campus energy management, and the Charter School Institute. He joined SUNY System Administration from Stony Brook University, where he served as senior vice president for finance and administration. Prior to joining Stony Brook, he served as executive director of the New York State Thruway Authority and New York State Canal Corporation.

Megna served as budget director for the New York State Division of the Budget (DOB), during which time the state achieved its highest financial rating in 40 years from three major credit rating agencies and passed four on-time budgets for the first time since the 1970s. He also chaired multiple governmental boards, including the Financial Restructuring Board, the New York Racing Association, and the Public Authorities Control Board. Megna has also served as commissioner for the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, director of the revenue and economics unit at DOB, assistant commissioner of the office of tax policy at the Virginia Department of Taxation, director of tax studies at the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, and deputy director of fiscal studies on the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

Megna earned an MS in economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science at the University of London and received both his BA in Economics and MPA from Fordham University.

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Jennifer Minner

Jennifer Minner

Associate Professor, City and Regional Planning, & Director, Just Places Lab, Cornell University

Jenni Minner, PhD, is the director of associate studies and associate professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. She also serves as director of the Just Places Lab, a platform for research and creative action centered on community memory, imagination, and the just care of places. Her research and teaching focus on equitable land use planning and climate action through the reuse and adaptation of buildings and landscapes. Minner serves on the Expert Advisory Committee to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. She co-founded the Circularity, Reuse, and Zero Waste Development (CR0WD) network and is the faculty mentor to the Cornell Undergrad Research to Action-Youth program.

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Elizabeth O'Connor

Elizabeth O'Connor

Adjunct Professor, Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University

Elizabeth O’Connor is a specialist in labor rights, precarious employment, and public policy. She has had a long career leading organizing campaigns with labor and social movements in the US, Mexico, and Central America. She has a master’s degree from Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) Mexico and a PhD in public policy from the Center for Economic Teaching and Research (CIDE) in Mexico. She currently teaches in the Political Science Department at Syracuse University. Her research focuses on ways public policy can improve conditions for low-wage workers and open space for innovative organizing strategies.

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Christine O'Malley

Christine O'Malley

Preservation Services Director, Historic Ithaca Inc.

Christine O’Malley is the preservation services director at Historic Ithaca Inc., leading their efforts in education, advocacy, and community engagement and consulting with property owners, businesses, city and county government officials, and educators. As part of Circularity, Reuse, and Zero Waste Development (CR0WD), she participates in efforts to promote reuse, salvage, and sustainability in her local community.

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Lisa Parshall

Lisa Parshall

Professor of Political Science, Daemen University; Fellow, Rockefeller Institute of Government

Dr. Parshall is a professor of political science at Daemen University in Amherst, New York, specializing in American politics, public law, and public policy. She currently serves as the chair of the State and Local Politics Section of the New York State Political Science Association and is a past president of the Northeastern Political Science Association. Dr. Parshall’s research interest is in municipal development and reorganization in New York State. Her work with the Rockefeller Institute focuses on municipal reorganization and local government reform.

[email protected]

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Rahul Pathak

Rahul Pathak

Assistant Professor, Public Budgeting and Financial Management, Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, Baruch College, City University of New York

Rahul Pathak is an assistant professor of public budgeting and financial management in the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at the Baruch College, City University of New York (CUNY). He previously worked at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University where he also received a PhD in public policy. His primary research interests lie at the intersection of public finance and social policy, with a particular focus on strengthening the functioning of subnational governments. He examines related issues in the domestic as well as international contexts. His research has appeared in journals such as Public Administration ReviewRegional Science and Urban Economics, and State Tax Notes. His recent research on the fiscal impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic has been published in the Journal of Public Budgeting Accounting and Financial Management and the Municipal Finance Journal.

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Jocelyn Poe

Jocelyn Poe

Provost New Faculty Fellow & Visiting Assistant Professor, City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

Jocelyn Poe’s research focuses on communal trauma, reparative praxis, and anti-racist futures. Inspired by her experiences as a practicing planner, Poe uses interdisciplinary and creative methods for theorizing planning practice and engaging communities. These innovative approaches shape her research, planning practice, and teaching. Her work resonates with critical issues of justice and equity, which shape our cities and are deeply relevant to our field and its future. Poe earned a PhD in urban planning and development at the Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. She also has a bachelor of architecture from the Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science at Tuskegee University and a master’s of community planning from Auburn University.

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Michael Simms

Michael Simms

Instructor, American Politics, United States Military Academy West Point

Michael Simms received his master’s of public administration from the University of North Carolina. Simms teaches a class on local government at the United States Military Academy West Point. He has served as an officer in the US Army for 11 years and as a commander for a Company of over 200 soldiers. He interned for the town manager in the town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in 2021. Simms has done consulting work for several cities across North Carolina. His focus area is on retention and turnover in local government.

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Leigh Wedenoja

Leigh Wedenoja

Chief Economist, Rockefeller Institute of Government

Leigh Wedenoja, chief economist at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, specializes in education, labor, and health policy research. Her work focuses on assessing the causal impact of public policy using both quantitative and qualitative methods. She has worked with New York State agencies and nonprofit organizations on topics including the care workforce, employment for people with disabilities, civil service exams, K-12 and postsecondary education policy, and the overdose epidemic. Dr. Wedenoja is also a lecturer at the University at Albany in the graduate Department of Education Policy & Leadership and her work has appeared in academic publications and the popular press. Prior to joining the Rockefeller Institute, Dr. Wedenoja served as a postdoctoral research associate at Brown University and as administrator of the US Census Bureau’s Federal Statistical Research Data Center at Cornell University. She holds an MA and PhD in economics from Cornell University and a BA from the University of Michigan.

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Kaitlin Stack Whitney

Kaitlin Stack Whitney

Assistant Professor of Science, Technology, & Society, Rochester Institute of Technology; Fellow, Rockefeller Institute of Government

Kaitlin Stack Whitney is an assistant professor of science, technology and society at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Part of her research portfolio focuses on how science informs state and local environmental policy, in topics such as pollinator protection and food waste. She previously worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency in the Office of Pesticide Programs and Office of International and Tribal Affairs.

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Heather Trela

Heather Trela

Heather Trela oversees the day-to-day operations of the Rockefeller Institute and serves as the president’s primary liaison with management, staff, and other stakeholders. Her research focuses on federalism issues with an emphasis on marijuana policy. She was a doctoral candidate at, and holds a master’s degree in political science from, the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy as well as a bachelor’s in economics and political science from Hartwick College.

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Chengyu Wang

Chengyu Wang

Graduate Student, City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

Chengyu Wang is a graduate student in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. He is developing his passion for rural planning and community development. Wang has extensive professional experience, including land-use planning, urban design, and environmental protection planning, which promoted his skills in GIS, data analysis, and interview surveys.

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Benjamin Wetzler

Benjamin Wetzler

Senior Public Policy Specialist, Office of Research, New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal

Benjamin Wetzler is the senior public policy specialist with New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal’s (HCR) Office of Research and Strategic Analysis (ORSA), a role he has served in since 2018. In this capacity, Wetzler oversees research, analysis, and reporting on agency programs and advising on the development of policies to land use, fair housing, and the budget, including New York State’s 2020 Assessment of Fair Housing and it’s Moving to Opportunity (MTO) program.

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Gretchen Worth

Gretchen Worth

Director, Susan Christopherson Center for Community Planning

Gretchen Worth leads the Susan Christopherson Center for Community Planning’s (The Christopherson Center) work with New York State communities on planning issues at the intersection of climate resiliency, equity, and the built environment. The Christopherson Center is a founding partner of Circularity, Reuse, and Zero Waste Development (CR0WD), a collaborative network advocating for more sustainable treatment of our built environment, including the development of a circular construction economy in which deconstruction and building material reuse are the norm, rather than demolition and the creation of vast amounts of landfill waste. Worth has a bachelor’s in journalism and master’s degrees in historic preservation planning and global development.

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Chen Wu

Chen Wu

Graduate Student, City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

Chen Wu is a first-year graduate student in the Department of City and Regional at Cornell University and is minoring in real estate. He is also enrolled as a student fellow in the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy under the infrastructure finance, policy, and management program. He is interested in agency collaboration, local government policy, and the financial drivers behind urban development and regeneration. Chen is a research assistant in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning at Cornell University.

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Hanyu Zeng

Hanyu Zeng

Graduate Student, City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

Hanyu Zeng is a first-year graduate student in Department of City and Regional at Cornell University. She graduated with a dual bachelor’s degree in urban planning and design from Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University and the University of Liverpool. Her research interests lie in spatial justice, community-based planning, and transportation, aiming to enhance city livability and justice. Zeng has participated in a collaborative project designing a community garden in old residential districts in Suzhou, China, which aimed to foster community engagement and promote urban agriculture. She is also a member of the Women’s Planning Forum at Cornell University. In her free time, she enjoys exploring histories in Southeast Asia and East Asia.

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Chenming Zhang

Chenming Zhang

Graduate Student, City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

Chenming Zhang is a master of regional planning student in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. Her research interests are wide-ranging, including environmental justice and land-use transitions.

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