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, whose 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. As 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 a 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

Ralph Blessing is the Land Use Bureau Chief for the City of Stamford, Connecticut. Before 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 an 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 Brown is a




Calvin T. Brown, Ph.D., is a planning professional with more than a decade of experience 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, Washington Heights, and Inwood. He is 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, particularly emphasizing socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, and gender and their role in shaping urban and suburban society.

Nick Hamilton, Senior Planner at the Good City company, is an urban development and policy professional with 15+ years of experience in leading plan development and launching programs to advance equity, sustainability, and shared prosperity in communities across the U.S. and internationally. He received a B.A. in Architecture from UC Berkeley and an M.I.A. in Economic and Political Development, Urban and Social Policy from Columbia University.



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. Before 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 developing, negotiating, and implementing 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.

Amina Hassen is an urban planner, researcher, and facilitator with years of experience designing inclusive planning processes that shape more equitable places. She is currently



Anthony Howard is Deputy Director of Environmental Planning at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and he previously served as a Senior Planner at the Department of City Planning. He received his MUP from Hunter College.




Naomi Klein is Principal Planner at Creighton Manning Engineering. She served in multiple planning roles from 1997-2022 at the Westchester County Department of Planning, including as the Director of Transportation Planning. She previously worked as a planner at Metro-North Railroad, NYC DOT, and NYC HPD.  Ms. Klein graduated from Oberlin College and received a Masters in Regional Planning from the Cornell University College of Architecture, Art and Planning.




Fareen Islam is Technical Assistance Director at the Partnership for Park, City Parks Foundation. She also served as a Project Manager at the Van Alen Institute and was Deputy Director at ArtBridge Projects.




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 Master’s 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.  Dr. Keenan achieved certification as a planner from the American Institute of Certified Planners in 2014 and has maintained this certification.  Dr. Keenan has published widely on environmental risk and hazards and 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.

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. Before joining Herrick, Mitch served as Commissioner of the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals. Before 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 various 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, the 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.

Elena Madison is the Director of Projects at Project for Public Spaces and a veteran of placemaking. She is an urban planner with rich experience in planning and designing parks, plazas, campuses, and civic and cultural institutions. She is passionate about working with people in communities to build a shared vision for active and diverse public spaces that nurture a sense of pride and ownership.   She is currently working on placemaking initiatives in Detroit’s Belle Isle and Campus Martius, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond; at Houston’s Central Library; at Astor Place in New York City; and at the healing gardens of Stanford University’s Medical Center. She holds a Master’s of Urban Planning from Hunter College.


Shachi Pandey is a community-centric urban designer and founding principal of MUD Workshop, a New York-based firm committed to the regeneration of neighborhoods and public places. I am most interested in ideas that appreciate and embrace the complexity of our urban, social and economic environments, and advance novel design approaches that address these complexities.




Michael Perles is an urban planner and organizer interested in permanently affordable and non-speculative housing alternatives, land use equity, and environmental justice. He is a Project Manager at Hester Street, an urban planning, design, and community development nonprofit where he assists community stakeholders and public agencies with capacity building, civic engagement, research studies, collaborative meeting facilitation, analysis of various levels of political processes, and comprehensive urban planning technical assistance. He previously worked at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD), WXY Studio, Philip Habib and Associates, and at the Columbia University Earth Institute. He serves on his local Community Board’s Land Use, Zoning and Housing committee and organizes to build tenant power with local and statewide housing justice organizations. Michael holds an M.S. in Urban Planning from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Michigan.

Mary Rocco, Ph.D., is an urban planner whose research focuses on community and economic development and urban and neighborhood revitalization. She explores the role of civic institutions (civil society organizations, philanthropy, private enterprise, and government) in urban development. 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 Director of Engaged Scholarship in the Office of Community Engagement and Inclusion at Barnard University. Rocco was 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 to create functional spaces for community living. Her vigilance and forward-thinking mindset, matched with her ability to 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 to improve 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 at TransPro Consulting. He worked for many years at the MTA NYC Transit including roles as Senior Market Research Manager and  Acting Director of Market Research. 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, a Master of Science in Transportation Engineering, and a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.


Ryan Russo is Principal at Together Projects. Widely recognized as an urban innovator, Ryan most recently served as the first Director of the Oakland Department of Transportation (OakDOT), where he led the new agency through its inaugural five years of operation. Previously, Ryan spent nearly 14 ground-breaking years at the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT), ultimately rising to the position of Deputy Commissioner and serving as an instrumental leader in the transformation NYCDOT from a focus on moving cars and trucks to meeting the needs of residents, businesses and visitors. Ryan played a lead role in NYC’s transformation towards becoming a world-class cycling city, overseeing the design and implementation of more than 600 miles of bike network enhancements including 70 miles of protected bike lanes.

Alex Sommer (he/him) is the Deputy Director of the NYC Department of City Planning’s Brooklyn Office and has been a proud NYC civil servant since 2011. Alex manages a team of over 20 city planners and urban designers, undertaking neighborhood planning initiatives, developing citywide land-use policies and zoning regulations,  supporting Community Boards and local organizations through the planning process, advising expense and capital budget processes, and coordinating City agencies, and processing more than 100 land use applications annually. Before joining DCP, he worked with the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation helping set up their new Business Improvement District, and the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council leading a regional planning effort in Rhode Island.  Alex received an MS from Pratt Institute’s City and Regional Planning program and a BS from the University of Florida’s Tourism and Hospitality Management program. He has taught and guest lectured at Hunter, NYU, and Pratt. His focus areas include zoning, land use and physical planning, community engagement, NYC’s industrial and commercial sectors, climate change and resiliency, and planning for income-restricted housing.

Sangdong Sandy Tak, Ph.D., is an associate director in the Office of Institutional Research at Rutgers University and has spent more than a decade working on big data in higher education and nonprofits. His research interests include civic participation, and his work appeared in Sociological Forum and Sage Research Methods. While volunteering in a community-based organization, he has also helped analyze Korean Americans’ participation in elections using voter registration data.”

Ian Straughter is a Principal at Karp Strategies. He served as Assistant Vice President, Workforce Development Partnerships at the New York City Economic Development Corporation.




Laura Tamman, Ph.D., completed her Ph.D. in Political Science at the CUNY Graduate Center and her Masters degree at Oxford University, England. A scholar of American and Urban Politics, Laura uses quantitative methods to engage with issues of race, ethnicity, public policy, and democratic participation in diverse urban communities. Informed by her two decades of experience working on the frontlines of political campaigns, her research examines political persuasion in the diverse setting of New York City municipal elections. An expert on New York City politics, her writing has been featured in US News and World Report, WBUR’s Cognoscenti, and Campaigns & Elections Magazine, and she is a regular guest lecturer at universities throughout New York City.


Marcela Tovar-Restrepo, Ph.D., is a lecturer at Hunter College and Columbia University. She obtained her Ph.D. in Anthropology at the New School for Social Research (N.Y.) and her Master on Urban Development Planning at the University College of London. She researches diversity, gender, and development in Latin America, NY, and Europe. In the U.S.A., 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 a policymaker in Colombia and Chile for more than ten years.  Besides teaching,  Dr. Tovar-Restrepo has served as an 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 a technical advisor and researcher for international cooperation agencies (GTZ, AECID), governments, social movements, and NGOs in gender and ethnic diversity, environment, and human rights and conflict.


Raksha Vasudevan, Ph.D. is the Dr. Bruce S. Goldberg Postdoctoral Scholar in Youth Wellbeing at Teachers College and received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas and her B.Arch and MURP from Virginia Tech.