Community Service Fellows gain firsthand planning experience

GSD students brought their design and research skills into local communities this summer through the Community Service Fellowship Program. The CSFP provides opportunities for students to extend their design education beyond the studio walls of the GSD through direct involvement with projects that address public needs and community concerns. This year’s fellows represent a cross-section of the GSD’s degree programs and did their summer internships at nonprofit and government agencies.
This year’s fellows are Kseniya Benderskaya (MUP ‘13), Cassandra Bosco (MLA II ’13), Laura Welles Gilmore (MUP ’13), Edward (Mike) Healy (MUP ’13), Jonathan (Nathan) King (DDes ’13), Elizabeth MacWillie (MDesS/MAUD ’14), Holly Masek (MUP ’13), Tessa Perry (MUP ’13), Mara Katherine Smaby (MLA I ’13) and Josh Westerhold (MUP ’13). Students from the Department of Urban Planning and Design worked on a range of projects focused on neighborhood and community development. Kseniya Benderskaya (MUP ’13) Kseniya worked for the City of Everett’s Community Development Office in the earliest stages of a public-private partnership process. She worked on a Request for Proposal framework for converting the old Everett High School site to housing and retail use, a flagship revitalization effort in Everett’s downtown.  Kseniya says through this experience she has a better understanding of “the needs and desires of local residents and how to be a more conscientious planner.”
Laura Welles Gilmore (MUP ’13) Laura worked with the Transportation Division for Cambridge Community Development on sustainability efforts. She worked to strengthen the bike infrastructure in Cambridge and implement the new Hubway bike-sharing program.  Laura says, “It has been exciting to be a part of implementing a new regional transit system.”
Edward (Mike) Healy (MUP ’13) Mike’s primary focus at The Center for Neighborhood Technology was analyzing abandoned industrial tracts on Chicago’s far south-and-west sides.
Elizabeth MacWillie (MDesS/MAUD ’13) Elizabeth worked at the Newark Department of Economic and Housing Development helping to implement the Newark River Public Access and Redevelopment Plan, a master plan for the redevelopment of the Passaic River waterfront.
Holly Masek (MUP ’13) Holly worked at the Boston Redevelopment Authority to assist with neighborhood workshops and planning, zoning and land use regulation initiatives. She worked on the Downtown Crossing Economic Improvement Initiative. Holly says, “Downtown Boston has seen a lot of development lately, and it’s been fascinating to witness it firsthand– both because I sit in on approval meetings, and because we work right next door so we are constantly taking walks to check out projects in various stages of development.”
Tessa Perry (MUP ’13) Tessa’s primary focus at Somerville Community Corporation was researching other states with active affordable housing industries to find models that could be used in Massachusetts, including transit-oriented development (TOD) loan funds. Tessa says, “My internship this summer was great because it allowed me to use what I’d learned from the affordable housing class I took last semester and further develop the skills I’ll need to work in this industry after graduating.”
Josh Westerhold (MUP ’13) Josh worked at Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the country’s foremost non-profit community development organization, on public private partnerships.  He assisted local and national LISC and community development corporation employees with topics related to green retrofits, green infrastructure and sustainable community development.