Who We Are

The Urban Planning Student Association (UPSA) is a student-run organization whose mission is to help students develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of various planning issues. We provide quality lectures and programming which reflect the interests of students while introducing them to new ideas. UPSA also strives to improve and raise the profile of Wagner’s Urban Planning Program within the school and among other planning schools. UPSA welcomes all students to participate in the organization, and seeks to collaborate with other student groups to provide the best possible opportunities for all Wagner students.


Meet the 2017-2018 UPSA Executive Board:




Mariano Moran

Hi! I am a full-time Master in Urban Planning candidate in NYU Wagner. My specialization is International Development Planning, with community empowerment and mass transportation systems as my preferred topics. I am from México, originally from the Gulf Coast, but I lived for about 20 years in Mexico City. I have a BA in Economics with a minor in Political Science, and I worked for about 4 years as a private consultant to the Mexican Federal Government.

I love travelling (next stops Japan and Morocco), reading dramatic fiction (DFW FTW), and watching obscure films. You should also know that I take karaoke very seriously. Most importantly, I’m excited about the opportunity to work with all of you, Wagner Students and Faculty, to foster a wide variety of events and experiences valuable to your academic and professional life.


Siddharth Shah


A full-time student in the Master of Urban Planning program at NYU Wagner, I am currently specializing in Environment, Infrastructure, and Transportation. I am passionate about our built environment and love roaming around cities. My interests lie particularly in transit, infrastructure, urban resiliency and urban economics. I am also a civil engineer, with my bachelors in the same from CEPT University (India) and masters from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I have previously interned in construction and consulting industry, and have worked on the construction of New Delhi’s mass transit rail project, 100 feet below ground. I am excited to serve as Vice Chair to UPSA and hope to work towards UPSA’s mission together with our urban planning community at Wagner and beyond.

Financial Manager
Monica Flores


I am a Master of Urban Planning candidate at NYU Wagner, specializing in Housing and Economic Development. I am currently working at NYU Furman Center as a Research Assistant. Previously I worked as an Architect at the Department of External Projects of the School of Architecture of Universidad Catolica de Chile’, and as an Instructor Teacher in History and Theory of Architecture courses at the same institution.  My research interests focus on cultural development, urban economics, and real estate development as factors that have historically shaped cities. My real-life interests (just kidding!) are weird music and visual arts-I have a special crush for 70’s – 80’s electronic & alternative music-;  and traveling around the globe discovering different cultures. I graduated from Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, receiving a B.A. and a Professional Degree in Architecture.

Communications Director

Rachel Gichinga


I am a Master of Urban Planning candidate, specializing in International Development Planning. I am from Nairobi, Kenya, and have a BA in International Relations from the United States International University in Kenya. Before coming to Wagner, I worked primarily in the tech startup ecosystem in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and South Africa. I managed Intel East Africa’s strategy around engaging with local software and hardware developers, and I worked with Kenyan organizations to set up their in-house incubator/accelerator programs. Prior to that, I also worked in the nonprofit sector, having co-founded and run a startup that partnered with the Open Society Foundation and the Nike Foundation. I am interested in participating in creating and sustaining the livelihoods of the people who live in African cities, as well as helping those cities adapt to rapid urbanization. I’m looking forward to an exciting year ahead with UPSA!

Events Chair

Makenna Olson


I am a Master’s candidate in Urban Planning, specializing in Economic Development and Housing. I recently moved here from San Francisco where I completed my undergraduate in Urban Planning and Studies as well as Political Science. While in San Francisco I held a variety of different roles such as: a campaign associate for several different campaigns, a field member for the Coalition on Homelessness, a Research Assistant where I conducted research on homeless ordinances initiated in the city, a computer-aided designer for a private architectural firm and even as a Sales Associate at The North Face. In my free time I absolutely love going on backpacking trips, cooking, collecting records and cassette tapes, and spending time with my cat, Oli. I look forward to experiencing New York City and hopefully will get the chance to cook you all a delicious meal!

WTA Chair

Firnalia Putri


I am a full-time Master of Urban Planning student specializing in Environment, Infrastructure, and Transportation. Before coming to Wagner I obtained my undergraduate degree at Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember in Indonesia, where I studied Civil Engineering. From there my degree led me to an internship with the university where I worked on Jakarta’s light rapid transit (LRT) project.
A topic in the current transportation world I am currently interested in is the emergence of autonomous vehicles and policies that should entail, and the prospect of autonomous public transit. I hope to be able to bring those issues to a discussion in Wagner.


Caroline Peri


I am a Henry Hart Rice Urban Studies Fellow and Master of Urban Planning candidate at NYU Wagner, specializing in Economic Development and Housing. Prior to starting graduate school, I spent six years living and working in Baltimore, MD, and most recently served as the Director of Economic Development at the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore. In this role, I led the organization’s residential outreach and research initiatives, assisted with real estate development incentives and site selection, and worked on issues ranging from transportation policy to tech attraction and retention. I have also worked for the Sustainable Endowments Institute and the Center for Social Philanthropy at the Tellus Institute. I received a B.A. in English from Dickinson College in 2010.


Sebastian Coss


Hello, Sebastian here! I am a second year Master of Urban Planning candidate concentrating in Housing and Economic Development at NYU Wagner. Outside of class you can find me working as a policy and data graduate research assistant at the NYU Furman Center, and prior to school I’ve held positions in consulting, project management, and sales at Forrester Research and Shutterstock. I’ve been living in New York City since a few weeks after Hurricane Sandy, having relocated from Boston with fortuitous timing. In completing my undergrad in International Business I received a Bachelors of Science from both Northeastern University and the European School of Business of the Hochschule Reutlingen via a dual-degree exchange program. My interest in urban policy comes naturally from life long passion for understanding cities and a desire to help them meet the dual challenges of economic growth and housing. I am excited to be working with the UPSA Executive Board to help fellow students better connect with the APA!

Wagner Planner Representative:  Nikki Kokkinos 


Zhan Guo- Faculty Advisor

You can also email us with any general questions at nyuplanning@gmail.com