David Bemporad named Harvard’s Graduate Student Employee of the Year

Runners and bicyclists on a trail corridor

A trail visualization for the 100-mile-long network of hike-and-bike trails Great Springs Project, Inc is proposing to connect San Antonio and Austin. Courtesy of David Bemporad (MUP ’21).

David Bemporad (MUP ’21) has been named Harvard’s Graduate Student Employee of the Year for his work with Great Springs Project, Inc (GSP). The award is administered by the Harvard Student Employment Office as a way to “recognize and reward the vital work that our student employees perform both on and off campus, in a variety of different roles.”

Headshot of David Bemporad in front of a colorfull background.
David Bemporad (MUP ’21).

After moving back to San Antonio at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bemporad was inspired by the suffering he saw around him to help his hometown. “I decided that I needed to serve my neighbors and harness the skills I had learned in my first year as a transportation and public realm–focused master in urban planning student for a truly just cause.”

Bemporad noticed that the city’s trail system was seeing record use. This brought him to GSP, a Texas-based nonprofit working to build a 100-mile-long network of hike-and-bike trails connecting San Antonio and Austin as part of an effort to secure a national park-sized preserve protecting the springs along the proposed trails. As an intern, Bemporad was part of the regional conservation and trail network vision team, reporting to the chief strategy & operations officer.

“David’s authentic approach engenders trust and confidence which helps maintain a high-performing workplace for an organization dedicated to solving a very important problem on how to protect a critical water source, ensure public access to four of Texas’ iconic great springs and conserve beautiful open space for generations to come,” wrote GSP in their nomination application.

In addition to his planning responsibilities, Bemporad was part of GSP’s equity task force and was integral in developing the organization’s inclusivity framework. He also provided support to GSP partner ActivateSA, a San Antonio–based organization with a focus on transportation infrastructure and wellness. “His role has been critical to the growth of ActivateSA and to the momentum of Great Springs Project,” noted GSP.

“My urban planning studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Design center around building new infrastructure to heal our world, support redlined and underserved communities, and promote transportation choice in American cities,” says Bemporad in a Q&A with the Harvard Student Employment Office. “GSP’s vision is aligned with these concepts and goals and allows me to apply my learned theory in a close-to-home, real-world setting.”

Read more about David Bemporad’s work with GSP, how he manages his time as an intern and full-time student, and the importance of spaces for recreation in our cities.