NDC welcomed Matt in the summer of 2017 as a Senior Planner. Though we haven’t known him for long, the following interview confirms our suspicion: that we hit the jackpot with this addition to our team.
Tell me a little bit about your history-your studies and experience. Well, I went to OSU for both undergrad and grad school- I have a B.A. in History and a Master of City and Regional Planning. My first job out of college was the Legislative Service Commission (LSC) Fellowship, a 13-month placement with a state legislator at the Statehouse. I had worked in nonprofit and public service through various internships before, with the Ohio Attorney General, the U.S. Forest Service (Americorps), Habitat for Humanity—MidOhio, and the Ohio Dept. of Veterans Services. After the LSC Fellowship, I stayed on at the Ohio Senate as full-time staff until I moved to The Ohio State University Center for Urban and Regional Analysis in the fall of 2015. For nearly three years, I managed the daily operations of the Center, coordinated external relationships, led communications, planned events, and oversaw the work of graduate students. I left CURA to join NDC as a senior planner in the summer of 2017.
That’s impressive! I’m sure your diverse experience helps in your current role at NDC. Definitely. Because we have a small full-time team here, it is nice that we can bring more skills and experience to our roles than what is determined in the scope of our work on projects. We all have to work to improve the organization as well as deliver on projects for clients. So the work that I did in communications at the Senate and OSU really helps me with communicating our work at NDC, as well as communicating with the communities we are working with.
What drew you to the NDC? The opportunity to work on the Linden Community Plan and join a team of mission-driven professionals driven to improve urban neighborhoods and quality of life for Columbus residents!
How did you become interested in improving urban neighborhoods in Columbus as a career? I would like to think that nearly everything I’ve done professionally has been in the vein of “public service” in a general sense, and I think my pursuit of urban planning and community revitalization has been kind of a pinpointing of that more recently. I’ve lived in Weinland Park since 2011 and I’ve seen a big change around the Short North, so I’m drawn to address to the diverse needs of residents in Columbus’ historic urban neighborhoods.
What have you been working on recently? We wrapped up the Linden Community Plan (so exciting), which we are super proud of, and are in the process of conducting community meetings for the Hilltop Community Plan.
That is exciting! What do you enjoy most about the planning work you’re doing? It’s what I’m most passionate about. We’re working directly with community residents to identify issues, suggest solutions, and create a roadmap for a stronger future. We’re planning for a higher quality of life, better access to education and jobs, and a more equitable shot at the American dream. Community planning is visionary, but the execution of very crucial day-to-day actions allow the process to be resident-driven and authentic.
Other than community planning, what do you consider yourself an expert in? Social equity considerations, preparing and eating eggs, active mobility and transportation equity, neighborhood history and change, and militant pedestrianism.
Can you prepare us eggs sometime? Definitely.
When you’re not at the office or work-related meetings, where can we find you? At a coffee shop, on a bike ride, or buzzing around on the scooter.
Bike or scooter: which do you prefer? Biking—by far the most sophisticated mode of transport. You see the world pass by at the perfect pace and use human-powered energy.
Biking is pretty rad. What are your 3 favorite hidden gems in Cbus to bike to? Basi Italia. The Topiary Park. Iuka Ravine.
If your coworkers could describe you in 3 words, what would they be? They couldn’t. But if they tried, perhaps opinionated, obtuse, and (over)zealous.
You’re still young… where do you see yourself in 10 years? In mirrors, photos, and very reflective pools of water…
(Laughs) Maybe we’ll see you there!
A special thanks to Matt for sharing so much with us! Check back soon for more NDC staff interviews.
Bonus Feature: Click the link for a listen to the theme song to Matt’s life.