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 2016-2017 UPSA Executive Board:

Chair:  Hallah Saleh

I am a full-time Master of Urban Planning student concentrating on environment, transportation, and infrastructure planning. I am excited to serve as the Chair for the 2016-2017 UPSA Executive
Board. I look forward to working with my peers to provide exceptional events and workshops related to the field of urban planning. Prior to moving to New York City I lived on the border of Texas and Mexico working with the City of McAllen on issues concerning land use, annexations, historic preservation, variances, special permits, and neighborhood planning. There, I also served as the American Planning Association Representative for the Texas Emerging Planning Leaders for the South most Section. I attended The University of Texas at Austin and obtained a BA in Urban Studies in 2011. I also served as the NYU Wagner representative with the APA NY Metro Chapter through the Student Relations Committee. I look forward to working with the Wagner MUP community and creating lasting memories!


Vice-Chair:  Maria Monica Salazar Tamayo

I am a Master’s of Urban Planning Candidate at NYU Wagner specializing in International Development Planning. My Interests include sustainable development in developing countries, decentralization, climate change, food security and resiliency. Previously I worked for the Colombian National Government, the International Republican Institute and was a teacher of Policy Analysis at Externado University in Colombia. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and International Relations and a Master in Government and Public Policy from Externado University in Colombia.


Communications Director:  Nonie Mathur

I am a Master of Urban Planning student at NYU Wagner, concentrating in Housing and Economic Development. I currently work as a graduate research assistant for Prof. John Gershman at Wagner. Prior to my education at NYU, I pursued my undergraduate studies at CEPT University, India. I am passionate about housing policy, economic research and policy analysis. I look forward to working with our family of urban planners and connect them to the wider community of professionals in New York!


Events Chair:  Alexander Marte

I am a Master’s of Urban Planning Candidate at NYU Wagner specializing in Economic Development and Housing. My interests include commercial revitalization, business improvement, and city zoning, and alleviating poverty. I am currently working as a Planning Intern for Community Board 5 in the Bronx, NY. I was selected to lead a local Community Development Corporation to complete a Commercial District Needs Assessment project. After I ended my services as a United States Marine, I worked with Council member Helen Rosenthal as a Participatory Budgeting Representative and NYC Department of City Planning as an intern in its Change Management Department.

Financial Manager:  Jenny O’Connell

I am a first year, full-time Master of Urban Planning candidate (2017) specializing in Environment, Infrastructure, and Transportation. I have a BA from Tulane University in New Orleans, where I studied Political Economy and graduated in 2011. Before moving to New York City to begin the Master’s program, I was living in Washington, DC. While there, I worked for three years as a transportation consultant at ICF International and one year as the Program Coordinator for Environment at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). I am specifically interested in the relationship between transportation systems, mobility, and community health, and I’m excited to bring my interests and experience to the UPSA Executive Board! 


WTA Chair:  Chelsea Brandon

I am a Master’s of Urban Planning student at NYU Wagner specializing in Environment, Infrastructure and Transportation. I am currently working as a Sustainability Intern for the Community Preservation Corporation, helping to create sustainable affordable housing opportunities throughout New York State. My interests include environmental justice, sustainability, infrastructure projects, affordable housing, and community development. Previously, I worked for The New York City Housing Authority assisting in day-to-day administration of the Section 8 Voucher program. Before studying at Wagner, I completed my B.A. at NYU majoring in Social and Cultural Analysis. I look forward to serving as the WTA Chair of the 2016-2017 board.

APA Representative:  Caroline Peri

I am a first year, full-time Master of Urban Planning candidate with a concentration in Housing and Economic Development. Prior to moving to New York City and starting at Wagner, I lived and worked in Baltimore, Maryland for six years. Most recently, I served as the Director of Economic Development for Baltimore’s business improvement district, the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore. Outside of employment, I have worked on local transportation advocacy issues, hosted a transit hackathon, and helped administer a nonprofit arts collective. I graduated from Dickinson College in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in English. I am looking forward to working with the UPSA Executive Board and to helping fellow students better connect with the APA!


First Year Representative:  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 by being a first-year representative and hopeful will get the chance to cook you all a delicious meal!


First Year Representative: Siddarth 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 a First Year Representative to UPSA and hope to work towards UPSA’s mission together with our urban planning community at Wagner and beyond.


First Year Representative: Mariano Moran Ventura

Hi! My name is Mariano. I am a Mexican student, live and worked in Mexico City, but originally from Veracruz, in the Gulf Coast. I studied two BA’s, one in Economics and another one in Political Science.

While at college I worked as a Research Assistant in a project for the improvement of Mexican justice system. After graduation, I worked for four years in two different consulting firms helping Mexican government with a variety of projects, from improving efficiency of seaport infrastructure to studying the financing means of the housing market.

I am enrolled in the MUP program, probably focusing in Environment, Infrastructure and Transportation. If you ever visit Mexico City (please do!) you’ll instantly understand my inspiration. I’m obsessed about public transportation as a mean to reduce social inequities, improve community relations and increase public’s welfare.

I love traveling (next stops Japan and Morocco), reading dramatic fiction (DFW FTW), and watching obscure films. You should know that I take karaoke very seriously.

I’m honored to have been chosen as First year Representative of the Urban Planning Students Association, and I’m very excited to meet all of my fellow classmates and colleagues. See you around! 😀


Wagner Planner Representative:  Nikki Kokkinos 


Zhan Guo- Faculty Advisor

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