Philip Alcabes, Ph.D.,  is Professor of Community Health and Director of the Community Health undergraduate program.  He is also a member of Hunter’s Council on Honors. Alcabes graduated from Union College and holds masters degrees in biochemistry (U. of California, Berkeley) and public health (Columbia University).  He earned a Ph.D. in infectious-disease epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. Alcabes published extensively in the peer-reviewed medical literature on AIDS and other diseases associated with social disruption. His current research focuses on psychoactive drug use, psychic malaise and the social construction of mental illness, community mental health, and public health policy.   Alcabes’s essays on the history, policy, and ethics of public health have appeared in The American Scholar, Virginia Quarterly Review, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, as well as peer-reviewed journals. His 2009 book Dread: How Fear and Fantasy Have Fueled Epidemics, is a history of the epidemic as a social phenomenon.


David U. Himmelstein M.D. is a Distinguished Professor of Public Health at CUNY’s Hunter College and a Lecturer in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, where he was previously a Professor of Medicine.  He also serves as a staff physician at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.  He graduated from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, completed a medical residency at Highland Hospital in Oakland, California, a fellowship in General Internal Medicine at Harvard and practiced primary care internal medicine and served as the Chief of Social and Community Medicine at the public hospital in Cambridge, MA prior to his move to CUNY.  He has authored or co-authored three books and more than 125 journal articles, including widely-cited proposals for single payer health care reform, and studies of patient dumping (which led to the enactment of EMTALA law that banned that practice), the high administrative costs of the U.S. health care system, medical bankruptcy (co-authored with Elizabeth Warren), and the mortal consequences of uninsurance.  He co-founded, with Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, Physicians for a National Health Program, who’s 20,000 members advocate for non-profit, single payer national health insurance.


Dphoto of Basil Smikeyr. Basil Smikle Jr. is a Distinguished Lecturer and Director of the Public Policy Program at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College. He also lectures at Columbia University in the School of International and Public Affairs and Teachers College. With over 15 years in higher education and 25 years of a career dedicated to public service, Basil regularly shares insights on electoral politics, governance, and public policy on national media outlets such as MSNBC, CNN, and Bloomberg TV. He holds a PhD in Politics and Education and an MPA from Columbia University and received a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University.

In the midst of racial unrest and a health care crisis brought on by the pandemic, Basil became a leading voice on criminal justice reform, improved ballot access and against voter suppression. He moderated or joined discussions with national civil rights leaders, Members of Congress and local advocates to educate the public about opportunities to mobilize around the most pressing issues of the day. A direct result of his leadership on these issues, Basil co-taught a class at Columbia University with New York State Attorney General Tish James entitled Rethinking Policing for the 21st Century. Read more….


Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., MPH is a Distinguished Professor at The City University of New York’s Hunter College, a primary-care doctor in the South Bronx, and a Lecturer in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, where she was formerly Professor of Medicine.  A native of Louisiana, she graduated from LSU Medical School in New Orleans, and completed an internal medicine residency at Cambridge Hospital and a research fellowship in General Internal Medicine at Harvard.  During her stint as a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow at the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) she worked with Senator Paul Wellstone and then-Congressman Bernie Sanders. She has published more than 150 journal articles, reviews, chapters and books on health policy and is a leading advocate of non-profit national health insurance for the United States  She, along with Dr. David Himmelstein co-founded Physicians for a National Health Program.  Among her influential scholarly articles are studies on patient dumping (which led to a federal ban on that practice, medical bankruptcy (co-authored with Elizabeth Warren),  waste in hospitals and in medicine more generally, the lethality of being uninsured and proposals for single payer health reform.

Adjunct Instructors

Stefan Al, PhD, is an architect, urban designer, urban planner, researcher, and TED Resident. In addition to his professional work as a designer on high-profile projects across the world, he has published seven books that have been widely reviewed and acclaimed including by the Wall Street Journal, The Times, and NPR. Early in his career, Stefan worked as an architect at Information Based Architecture in Amsterdam, winning the competition and commission for the 2000-feet tall Canton Tower, briefly the world’s tallest tower, and widely appreciated as an innovative landmark. As a Senior Associate Partner at KPF in New York, he contributed to the design of high-rise towers and mixed-use projects across the world. In addition, he has served in various capacities to major institutions, such as the World Heritage Center of UNESCO, working on the preservation of world heritage in Latin America, the Hong Kong government, consulting on the development of the city’s harbor and external lighting guidelines, and to the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, serving as an expert on compact city design.

Ralph Blessing is the Land Use Bureau Chief for the City of Stamford, Connecticut. Prior to that he was the Deputy Director of Planning Coordination at the  New York City Department of City Planning and is an alumnus of the Hunter College Master’s Program in Urban Planning. Dr. Blessing earned a Ph.D. in Western European History from Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany, and a Master’s in History, Economics and Social and Economic History from RWTH University in Aachen, Germany, and has studied in France and the UK. He has taught classes in History, Western Civilization and Green Thinking at CUNY’s York College and City College, and several classes in Hunter’s MUP program, including two study trips to Germany.

Jason Brody, Ph.D., AICP is an urban planner and an Adjunct Associate Professor at Hunter College, Queens College, and Columbia University whose work focuses on urban design, placemaking, and the politics of urban development. His primary research project analyzes the construction, diffusion, and impact of leading urban design ideas. He was previously Associate Professor of Regional and Community Planning at Kansas State University and Faculty in Residence at the Kansas City Design Center. He holds a Master of City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in Regional Planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Calvin T. Brown, Ph.D., is a planning professional with more than a decade of experience working in urban planning. He previously worked in the Manhattan Office at the Department of City Planning (DCP) as a senior planner, working on projects in Upper Manhattan neighborhoods – Harlem and Washington Heights and Inwood. He is currently the Assistant Commissioner for Neighborhood Development at the Department of Small Business Services. Calvin T. Brown has a Master’s in Urban Planning (MUP) and a doctorate in Urban and Public Policy.

Robert Cacciatore has been an adjunct lecturer at Hunter College since 1998 and he is also a tenured assistant professor at SUNY Orange in Middletown, New York.  A former police captain, Professor Cacciatore was a resource and policy analyst with the New York City Police Commissioner’s Office of Management Analysis and Planning, where he specialized in the formulation of operational policies, crime control strategies, police/community relations, the assessment of civilian complaint data and intra-governmental communications.  Professor Cacciatore has a keen interest in urban sociology, criminology and public policy analysis, with particular emphasis on socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race and gender and their role in shaping urban and suburban society.

Diana Gruberg is a landscape designer whose work focuses on urban ecosystems and the people who sustain them. She is the Horticulture Manager at Gowanus Canal Conservancy (GCC) where she engages the community in creating a dynamic public realm through design, planning, and stewardship. At GCC, Diana oversees site maintenance, planting design, and nursery operations at multiple sites in Gowanus, including the Lowlands Nursery, curbside rain gardens, tree pits, and larger green spaces. She also co-leads the community-based Gowanus Lowlands Master Plan process and plans for long-term public realm maintenance operations in the context of a City-led rezoning and a federally mandated Superfund clean-up, in concert with neighborhood partners, government agencies, and elected officials. Her 10 years of experience includes work at planning and design firms Interface Studio and Future Green Studio, as well as work as a public park gardener and environmental educator. Diana holds a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Political Science from Barnard College.

Robert Harding is a Shareholder at Greenberg Traurig Law Firm. Mr. Harding focuses his practice on economic development and financing initiatives, legislative counsel and regulatory matters before government agencies. Additionally, Bob represents candidates in New York election law matters. Prior to joining the firm, Bob served as the New York City Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Finance under Mayor Giuliani. As deputy mayor, Bob coordinated the city’s economic development policies, oversaw all city labor negotiations, and was responsible for housing and finance operations. Bob also served as Director for the Office of Management and Budget for the mayor’s office. In that capacity, he was responsible for the development, negotiation and implementation of the city’s $37 billion annual operating budget and the 10-year, $45 billion capital plan. Mr. Harding has a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.

Kevin Keenan, Ph.D., AICP is an associate professor and the chairperson of the Department of Geography, Planning, and Sustainability in the School of Earth and Environment at Rowan University in New Jersey.  He is an alumnus of Hunter College, receiving his Masters in Geography in 2005.  He has taught for the Department of Urban Policy and Planning each summer since 2007, with a brief hiatus in 2008 to conduct fieldwork for his dissertation.  Dr. Keenan earned his doctorate in urban geography from Clark University in 2009.  He also has a master’s degree in public policy from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, which he received in 2000.  His undergraduate degree, awarded in 1999, is also from Stony Brook.  Dr. Keenan studied Political Science, Philosophy, and History, graduated summa cum laude, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.  Dr. Keenan achieved certification as a planner from the American Institute of Certified Planners in 2014, and he has maintained this certification.  Dr. Keenan is also trained in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and completed certification in college teaching in 2007.  Dr. Keenan has published widely on the topics of environmental risk and hazards, and he has applied those theories to the study of novel threats including terrorism and cyber vulnerability.  Keenan’s work appears in several journals of note, including Environment and Planning A, Urban Affairs Review, and Urban Geography.  Formerly, Dr. Keenan was an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC and a core faculty member in the Public Administration Program.  At that institution, Dr. Keenan directed the interdisciplinary Urban Studies Program for 5 years and the graduate certificate program in Urban and Regional Planning for 9 years.

Mitch Korbey is a partner and chair of Herrick, Feinstein’s Land Use & Zoning Group. Mitch is an accomplished urban planner and land use attorney with more than 30 years of experience in private practice and government service. Prior to joining Herrick, Mitch served as Commissioner of the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals. Prior to that, he directed the Department of City Planning’s Brooklyn office, and served as the deputy director of its Staten Island office. Mitch advises clients on a wide range of zoning and land use issues, including site acquisitions and assemblages, site development options, zoning lot mergers and development rights transfers. He also represents clients in applications for zoning variances, special permits and other discretionary approvals from key New York City agencies, including the Board of Standards and Appeals, Department of City Planning, the Department of Buildings and the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Mitch regularly counsels prominent real estate developers, owners and lenders regarding their day-to-day management of millions of square feet of real estate in the five boroughs. Mitch is an adjunct professor of law at Brooklyn Law School, and an adjunct with Hunter College’s graduate program in urban planning.

Anthony Maniscalco “Tony” earned his Ph.D. in Political Science at the CUNY Graduate Center. He has taught courses in political theory, public law, American/urban politics and planning. He currently serves as Director of the Edward T. Rogowsky Internship in Government and Public Affairs, an experiential learning program housed across multiple colleges and academic departments at CUNY. Tony also produces the “CUNY Forum,” a monthly televised discussion of politics and public policy in the City. In addition, he serves as a Professor-in-Residence in the New York State Assembly and develops civic engagement projects for underrepresented students. He is the author of Public Spaces, Marketplaces, and the Constitution (SUNY Press, 2016), and is currently co-authoring a textbook about politics and public policy in New York State.

Mary Rocco, Ph.D., is an urban planner whose research focuses on community and economic development, urban and neighborhood revitalization. She explores the role of civic institutions (civil society organizations, philanthropy, private enterprise and government) in urban development. Currently, she is working on a manuscript, Can Philanthropy Save the Legacy City? Foundations and Urban Revitalization in 21st Century. This research explores the influence of philanthropy on the revitalization of older industrial cities where foundations commit millions of dollars to urban improvements, economic development and capacity building. As a member of the General Assembly of Partners, a global urban stakeholder platform, Professor Rocco participated in the World Urban Forum 2018 in Kuala Lumpur and in the historic Habitat III conference in Quito (2016). She is a Term Assistant Professor in Urban Studies at Barnard College-Columbia University and an Emerging Scholar at the Penn Institute of Urban Research (IUR). She teaches courses on the spatial structures of cities, neighborhoods and community development, neighborhood change/gentrification and shrinking cities.

Deborah Rojas is the Founder and Principal of Rojas AP. With over fifteen years of work experience, Deborah has amassed an enviable catalog of clients and projects in her mission to improve the quality of life in New York City. Her passion for urban planning presented itself early in her career; she completed her Masters in Urban Planning at Hunter College in 2014 and established her firm in 2015. Her work explores the intersection between architecture and transportation planning in order to create functional spaces for community living. Her vigilance and forward-thinking mindset matched with her ability to consistently meet her client’s needs is unmatched in the industry. Her desire to serve her community led to her involvement in research projects sponsored by the Federal Transit Authority for improvement to public participation in transportation planning. In 2010 her valiant work was recognized by the Transportation Excellence Awards when a project she was part of received an honorable mention. She is a member of the Young Transportation Professionals New York Chapter and part of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

James Rubin, Ph.D., is a principal transportation planner and Acting Director of Market Research at MTA NYC Transit. He is a lifelong transit geek and an expert in transportation planning, travel behavior, transportation and land-use, and both qualitative and quantitative research methods. He holds a Master of Urban Planning from Hunter College, and a Master of Science in Transportation Engineering and a PhD in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

Louis L. Thomas, PhD. Lou’s research focuses on equity, incrementalism, and high-density family-oriented urbanism. His work is situated at the nexus of urban design theory, planning practice, and the everyday use of public space. He earned his PhD from MIT’s Department of Urban Studies & Planning in 2019, his MCP from the University of Maryland College Park in 2012, and a BA in Film & Electronic Media from Bard College in 2000. Aside from Hunter, he has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland College Park and the University of the District of Columbia. Starting September 1, 2020, he will be a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Urbanism Lab at the University of Chicago. He previously worked for Montgomery County, MD’s planning department creating media for community outreach and in the trenches of a zoning code rewrite. He also worked as a video editor, museum educator, barista, and touring musician. All these experiences deeply shaped his understanding of the urban, though none so much as being reared in the great city of Baltimore.

Marcela Tovar-Restrepo obtained her PhD in Anthropology at the New School for Social Research (N.Y.) and her Master on Urban Development Planning at University College of London. She conducts research on diversity, gender and development in Latin America. In the U.S.A. she has taught at SIPA and GSAPP (Columbia University). She has served as Director (a) of the Latin American and Latino Studies Program at Queens College–CUNY (2008-2011) and taught at Lang College–New School (Urban Studies Program). In Latin America, she has taught and worked as policy-maker in Colombia and Chile for more than ten years. Besides teaching, Dr. Tovar-Restrepo has served as international consultant mainstreaming cultural and gender rights into policy-making processes at different UN instances like the Commission of Sustainable Development (CSD) – DESA, UNDEF, IPU and the Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues. She has also served as technical advisor and researcher for the European Union, International cooperation agencies (GTZ, AECID), governments, social movements and NGOs in areas such as gender and ethnic diversity, environment and human rights.