About Us: Staff Biographies
Chris Ryer, Director
Chris returned to the Department of Planning as the Director in February 2019 after serving for over a decade as Executive Director of the Southeast Community Development Corporation (CDC), an organization dedicated to the vitality and growth of neighborhoods in Southeast Baltimore. Prior to joining the Southeast CDC, he worked for the Department of Planning, including 10 years as Community Planner and four years as Deputy Director.
Stephanie Smith, Assistant Director
Stephanie M. Smith is the Assistant Director and a member of the Maryland Bar. She has spent the bulk of her professional career working to advance environmental health and justice through federal clean air policy. As a former congressional staffer, Stephanie worked on affordable housing and voting rights issues. Most recently, Stephanie served in the executive leadership of a professional association focused on higher education and public health. Stephanie is an active member of the Greater Baltimore Urban League and Greater Baltimore Leadership Association. Stephanie is a proud graduate of Hampton University (BA), University of Delaware (MA), and Howard University School of Law (JD). Stephanie is married to Calvin, a mother to Parker, and a friend of Baltimore. She resides with her family in Baltimore City's Middle East community.
Nichole Stewart, Assistant Director
Nichole Stewart is a new Assistant Director for the Department of Planning. Previously, Nichole served as the Executive Director of Facilities for the Baltimore City Public Schools System where she regularly worked with DoP’s capital team. In that role she managed City Schools' real estate office and analyzed enrollment and city demographic and housing trends to inform school closures, rezoning decisions, and the prioritization of long-term facility capital needs. Nichole is experienced in building staff capacity, facilitating department organization, and collaborative cross-functional decision-making. Her interests are in urban planning, housing, intersecting neighborhood data and indicators, and spatial analysis techniques using GIS. Nichole received her BS in Economics from Morgan State University, MCP in Community Planning from the University of Maryland and a PhD in Public Policy from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
Leanne Reese, HR Generalist III
Leanne Reese is a new HR Generalist for the Department of Planning. Leanne has 24 years of combined HR and Administrative experience. Previously, she served in both capacities for 15 years at Johns Hopkins University and Health Systems.
Chad Hayes, Director of Community Planning and Revitalization
Chad Hayes earned a Bachelor's degree from Towson University and a Master's degree in City and Regional Planning from Morgan State University. Chad found his calling in 2004 when he joined Belair-Edison Neighborhoods, an amazing non-profit community development organization in Northeast Baltimore. After 10 wonderful years in Belair-Edison, Chad jumped at the opportunity to bring his passion for urban planning and community development to the Department of Planning where he proudly served the 46 neighborhoods in the western planning district prior to being promoted to the Director of the Community Planning & Revitalization Division.
Imani Jasper, Eastern District Planner
Imani Jasper is the Eastern District Planner, returning home to Maryland after working on property blight in Memphis, TN for three years. She initially gained an interest in Urban Planning after an activity in which she was challenged to change the layout of a fictional city to help alleviate some of the problems facing the city. That activity continues to influence and shape her problem-solving based approach to city planning. In her studies, she explored her interest in adaptive re-use, resiliency, and community engagement. Imani graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor's degree in Urban and Regional Studies in 2016 and her Master’s in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University in 2018.
Jazmin Kimble, Southern District Planner
Jazmin Kimble is the Southern District Planner in the Community Planning & Revitalization Division. Jazmin earned a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies and a Master of Science in Geodesign from Philadelphia University, now Thomas Jefferson University. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Urban & Regional Planning at Georgetown University, where she plans to graduate by 2023. Prior to joining DOP, Jazmin worked in the private sector specializing in Multimodal Transportation Planning, Urban Design, Environmental Planning, Geospatial Analysis, and Community Engagement. She is passionate about community empowerment and identifying solutions to design and planning challenges to create equitable and sustainable communities, while maintaining its culture and history. In her spare time, Jazmin enjoys traveling and exploring spaces, baking, horseback riding, and the arts.
Kimberley Knox, Greening Coordinator
Kim is the Greening Coordinator for the Baltimore Green Network, so she works with residents to implement their vision in recreating vacant lots into community assets in their neighborhood in the Baltimore Green Network’s focus areas. She has an extensive background in community outreach and engagement. Kim has worked in water conservation, renewable energy, and energy conservation in San Francisco, Colorado, and Maryland. Kim is the author/primary editor of several books on water-conserving landscaping and other environmentally-related topics. Kim has taught classes on fruit trees, best management practices for stormwater, and other similar topics. Kim has also worked with volunteers to plant over 4,000 trees in Maryland. With a Masters in Public Administration, Kim is also a certified arborist and a Master Gardener. When she is not exploring beautiful Baltimore, she is putting her passport to good use by exploring the world.
Kyle Leggs, Southwest District Planner & Planner Supervisor
Kyle Leggs is the Planner for Southwest who has worked for the Department of Planning for 25 years. Throughout his tenure, he has managed the capital budgeting process, represented the department in the areas of Transportation Planning, Emergency Preparedness, and has worked extensively over the years as a District Planner for Southwest Baltimore. He is also a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and is the Director of Planning and Design to build the National Desert Storm War Memorial in Washington, D.C. He holds an M.S. in Transportation from Morgan State University, a B.S. in Social Science from Coppin State University, and is a graduate of the United States Army Command and General Staff College.
Marie McSweeney Anderson, Northern District Planner
Marie McSweeney Anderson (she/they) is the Northern District Planner for over 50 neighborhoods in the north central region of Baltimore City. Joining the Planning Department in 2022, Marie has 10+ years of experience working with and for neighborhoods in the Govans/York Road area on projects related to building civic capacity, strengthening commercial corridors, enhancing education and youth development, and increasing affordable access to fresh produce as part of Loyola University Maryland's York Road Initiative. Marie is a double graduate of Loyola University Maryland with a multidisciplinary liberal arts background in Political Science, Economics, Sociology, and History, which helps to build context for successful community engagement. Marie comes to the Department of Planning with the lens of asset based community development and a commitment to racial equity. Marie lives in northern Baltimore City with their spouse, child, and frug (frenchie pug) named Freddie Prince Mercury.
Carmen Morosan, Northeast District Planner
Originally from Romania, Carmen Morosan came to the United States to further her education. After graduating from Boston University with a Master’s degree in Urban Affairs, Carmen moved to Baltimore and worked for several nonprofits managing projects in the areas of transportation equity and environmental justice. Carmen has been working as a City Planner for the Baltimore City Planning Department for over 10 years, most recently as the Northeast District Planner. Carmen enjoys traveling during her spare time.
Kari Nye, Northwest District Planner
Kari Nye works with City agencies, community members, neighborhood organizations, and nonprofits to achieve equitable planning and investment for neighborhoods in the Northwest District. Her role also comprises staffing the Pimlico Community Development Authority to facilitate community input on local impact aid in the Pimlico area. Prior to joining DOP, Kari worked in neighboring counties on planning and policy related to affordable housing, transit-oriented development, and small business development. She is a long-time Waverly resident and first became interested in city planning through serving on her neighborhood association. Kari earned her bachelor’s degree at UC Berkeley and her master’s at the University of Maryland. On weekends, find her exploring Cylburn Arboretum, playing tennis at Druid Hill Park, or teaching sewing classes at the Station North Tool Library.
Eli Pousson, INSPIRE Planner
Eli Pousson (he/him) is an INSPIRE Planner with a background in community planning, public health, and historic preservation. Prior to joining the Department in June 2022, Eli worked as a planner with the Neighborhood Design Center and completed a Masters of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health where he focused on the health effects of vacant housing and worked with Bikemore and the Department of Transportation on a "play streets" pilot program. Outside of work, Eli is a historian, cargo bike riding family cyclist, city schools parent, and a Harwood neighborhood resident. He is often seen picking up litter and enthusiastically encouraging friends and neighbors to use 311.
Jaffa Batya Weiss, INSPIRE Planner
Jaffa graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Environmental Studies from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. She went on to get a Master of Public Administration from Clark University and a Master in City and Regional Planning from Morgan State University. Prior to joining the CPR team, Jaffa worked as a Project Manager for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. She got her start in Baltimore over a decade ago as an AmeriCorps member. Jaffa lives in Baltimore City with her family and in her free time enjoys exploring new cities, improving her cooking skills, and has a dream of producing an urbanist podcast one day.
Nick Chupein, Southwest Partnerhip District Planner
Nick Chupein (he/him) is the community planner for a dynamic mix of historic neighborhoods collectively known as the Southwest Partnership district, where he coordinates between residents, neighborhood associations, city agencies, organizations, and businesses to encourage equitable, sustainable, and people-focused growth and revitalization. Prior to pivoting his career to city planning, Nick worked extensively in the construction management and real estate development fields in Chicago and Baltimore, including owning and operating a small construction company. Nick holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology and a Master of City and Regional Planning degree from Morgan State University. He makes music in his free time and is a proud resident of the Arcadia neighborhood where he lives with his wife, two young children, and Australian cattle dog.
Tarek Bolden, Western District Planner
Tarek Bolden is the Western District Planner, joining the Department of Planning with over 20 years of professional experience in urban planning and zoning. Prior to joining DOP Tarek has worked as a city planner in urban communities in New York City, Washington D.C. and Virginia. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), and has earned a Master’s of City and Regional Planning degree from Pratt Institute in 2004. Tarek enjoys volunteering and community service through coaching youth sports.
Eric Tiso, Division Chief
Eric Tiso joined the Department of Planning in 2000 and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), the American Planning Association’s Professional Institute. He has earned a Master of City Planning degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography and Regional Planning from Salisbury State University. Eric enjoys community service through a variety of organizations and outdoor recreation.
Matthew DeSantis, City Planner & Area Planner for Outer Southeast
Matt joined the Department of Planning in 2016 and is a proud Baltimore City resident. He worked in local planning in South Florida after serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic. Currently, he manages the land subdivision process, oversees wireless telecommunications policy, and assists with various other land use matters. In addition, Matt serves in the Community Planning and Revitalization Division as the Planner for the Outer Southeast district. He holds a Master of Science degree in Urban and Regional Planning as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Florida State University and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.
Martin French, City Planner
Martin French has worked for the Planning Department since 2004. After five years in the Research & Strategic Planning Division, where he was a contributor to LIVE EARN PLAY LEARN, the City’s Comprehensive Master Plan, he began working in the Land Use & Urban Design Division as the Department’s representative at zoning hearings. Apart from this principle responsibility, Martin is part of the LUUD team advising developers and citizens about possible development or redevelopment and how zoning may shape outcomes of those ideas. Before joining Planning, Martin worked for several decades in the subsidized housing field for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. His career started with a BA in Geography from the Johns Hopkins University. A 45-year resident of the Baltimore area (20 of them in the City), Martin tends to his gardening in good weather and his coin collection in bad weather.
Ivor Quashie, City Planner
Ivor graduated City College of New York with a BA in Political Science. He worked with many NGOs in New York City to aid businesses with accessing city and state revitalization programs and provided community support. He works as a planner in the city of Baltimore in the Land Use and Urban Design Division which touches every corner of the city though legislation, design and development.
Urban Design Team
Renata Southard, AIA, NCARB, Urban Design Division Principal
Ren is an architect, licensed in Maryland, an urban designer and planner. Prior to joining the Department of Planning in 2018, Ren spent more than a decade in the private sector as a designer and project manager working on adaptive reuse, multi-family, mixed-use and master planning projects. In her current role, Ren splits her time between Design Review and special projects, such as community visioning, cross-agency coordination, and technical design support. Ren is the former chair of AIA Balimore's Urban Design Committee and a proud graduate of the University of Maryland, where she obtained her Master of Architecture degree and a Graduate Certificate in Urban Design. A resident of Baltimore for more than 10 years, Ren is continually delighted by Charm City.
Caitlin Audette, Design Planner and Downtown Planner
Caitlin is a Design Planner in the Land Use and Urban Design Division, as well as the Downtown Planner. Caitlin transitioned to this position from the Historic Preservation Division where she acted as a Preservation Planner serving CHAP. Prior to joining the city in 2014, Caitlin worked in the private sector in Washington, D.C. as a preservationist and historic tax credit consultant. In that role, she explored many unique places including leading an architectural survey of the U.S. Capitol Building. Caitlin earned her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Architecture from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. A resident of the Lake Evesham neighborhood, Caitlin is an avid reader who enjoys exploring the city with her family.
Eric Holcomb, Division Chief/Director
Eric obtained a Liberal Arts degree from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and a Master’s Degree in Preservation Studies at Boston University. He worked for several remodeling and restoration companies as a tradesman until he joined the staff of the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) in 1994. In 2004, the staff of CHAP merged with the Department of Planning. In 2014, he became the Executive Director of CHAP and Division Chief where he has worked to further integrate and coordinate historic preservation into Planning activities. He is the author of City As Suburb: A History of Northeast Baltimore Since 1660. In 2016 he was awarded the Mayor’s Medallion for Meritorious Service and in 2018 the Honorable mention for the 14th annual Richard A. Lidinsky, Sr. award for Excellence in Public Service. He is married and has two boys, a one-eyed dog and a cat with a crooked tail.
Tyriq Charleus, Historic Preservation Planner
Tyriq Charleus is a Historic Preservation Planner for Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. Tyriq earned a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Architecture & Environmental Design from Morgan State University. Originally from the Washington DC area, Tyriq loves working in the Historic Preservation field because of all the uncovered knowledge that can be discovered daily. He fell in love with Baltimore City as he matriculated through Morgan State University and wanted to become an agent of change for communities. It is a goal for Tyriq to be a steward of knowledge for generations to come.
Eddie Leon, Historic Preservation Planner
Eddie has been with CHAP since 1994 and has functioned in every area of the Preservation Division for the past 25 years. Originally, born in Lima, Peru, he came and settled in the Greater Baltimore area since he was 2 years old. He is primarily responsible for the oversight and permits review for more than half the designated properties and districts in the City. Eddie is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park with a degree in Architectural History. He's worked on Underwater Archaeological projects in Israel and is currently on the board of directors for the Baltimore Courthouse and Law Museum Foundation. Eddie is also on the board and a founding member of the Baltimore City Historical Society. He enjoys traveling with his family and is an avid fan of the Science Fiction genre.
Lauren Schiszik, Historic Preservation Planner
Lauren is a preservation planner for several local historic districts and Baltimore City Landmarks, and coordinator for the landmark designation and monument restoration programs. Prior to joining the department in 2011, she was a public archaeologist and cultural resources planner in Anne Arundel County. Lauren is also an adjunct faculty member in the Historic Preservation graduate program at Goucher College and the Public History undergraduate program at Stevenson University and serves on the Governor’s Commission on Maryland Military Monuments. She holds a Master of Historic Preservation degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a degree in Sociology/Anthropology from Earlham College. Outside of work, you can find this city resident in her garden or kitchen exploring new foodways, outdoors on a trail, or at an event in Baltimore's rich arts scene.
Anthony Stewart, Historic Preservation and Central District Planner
Anthony Stewart is a Preservation Planner for the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. Prior to joining CHAP, Anthony worked as a project designer for several local architecture firms specializing in residential housing, senior living, and commercial buildings. Anthony graduated with his Bachelor of Science in Graphic Communications with a concentration in Architecture from North Carolina A&T. He then went on to get his Master of Architecture degree from Morgan State University. In Anthony’s spare time he enjoys playing video games and spending time with his wife and their puppy.
Sara Paranilam, Division Chief
Sara Paranilam has more than twenty years of community and comprehensive planning experience. As a veteran within the Planning Department, she has developed many neighborhood master plans and launched new planning efforts. She oversees the City's billion-dollar Capital Improvement Program and the Department’s data and mapping services.
Kristen Ahearn, Capital Improvement Program Planner
Kristen joined the Department in 2016. As the Capital Improvement Program Planner, she works with all city agencies to prepare the City's six-year Capital Improvement Program. Prior to working for Baltimore City, she worked for Johns Hopkins University's Center for Government Excellence and the Maryland Energy Administration. Outside of work, Kristen enjoys exploring Baltimore's amazing restaurants and trails.
John Lloyd, Asset Manager
John Lloyd joined the Department of Planning in September 2020. His role is to identify and develop tools that will provide the Department of Planning and Finance insight into agency-level information on the city’s assets. This data will allow Planning to analyze capital projects and ensure that funding decisions are supported by sound data. John is originally from Washington, DC, but he has called Baltimore his home for the past twenty years. John is a proud graduate of Morgan State University.
Nick O'Gara, GIS Analyst
Nick joined the Department of Planning as a GIS analyst in 2022. He studied applied linguistics and Spanish at Portland State University and geographic information systems technology at the University of Arizona. He's had formative experiences in music, teaching, editing, writing, and environmental consulting. When he's not doing maps or data as a member of the Policy and Data Analysis team, he might be thinking about the ways people speak or exploring the city on foot or bike.
Jamie Williams, City Planner Supervisor
Jamie manages web, IT, and data/mapping support for the Department as well as other City agencies. She joined the Department of Planning in 2003. In her spare time, she enjoys the outdoors, traveling, and spending time with her family.
Ava Richardson, Director
Ava Richardson is the new Sustainability Manager for the Baltimore Office of Sustainability. In this role she will lead the implementation of the 2019 Baltimore Sustainability Plan, support the Commission on Sustainability and convene stakeholders across the city to advance sustainability initiatives. Besides her previous work with the Office as a technical adviser for the Baltimore Food Matters program, Ava has over a decade of experience leading public health initiatives, advocating for environmental policies, and managing programs designed to address social inequities. Most recently she served as a project director at the Baltimore City Health Department, leading efforts to address decades of trauma in West Baltimore. Ava holds a BS in Biology from Frostburg State University, an MPH from Morgan State University, and is currently obtaining a DrPH from The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Aubrey Germ, Climate and Resilience Planner
Aubrey Germ is the Climate and Resilience Planner for Baltimore’s Office of Sustainability. Her work entails developing, managing, and implementing a wide range of hazard mitigation, climate adaptation, and community resilience plans and projects. She hails from Cleveland, Ohio, and holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and a BS in Environmental Health Sciences from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Go Heels!) where she was a Morehead-Cain Scholar. Her background includes serving as an Assistant Program Manager for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in both Tangier, Virginia, and Baltimore and conducting independent research in sustainable development around the globe. In her spare time, she enjoys knitting, pottery, swimming, SCUBA diving, yoga, exploring the city, and spending time outdoors.
Amy Gilder-Busatti, Sustainability Manager
Amy Gilder-Busatti joined the Baltimore Office of Sustainability in 2010. Amy’s primary areas of responsibility include coordinating the City’s Forest Conservation program and representing the Office of Sustainability on issues and initiatives related to water quality, greening, and urban design. In her time with the Department, she has also led the creation of the Baltimore Green Network Plan, coordinated the Critical Area Management Program, and developed the Baltimore Landscape Manual. Before joining the Office of Sustainability, Amy worked as a landscape architect and planner with several Baltimore area architecture and engineering firms. She holds a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree from Ball State University and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from Morgan State University. Amy is also a licensed landscape architect in the state of Maryland.
Rachel Whiteheart, Environmental Planner - Forest Conservation
Rachel Whiteheart is an Environmental Planner with the Office of Sustainability overseeing forest conservation. Prior to joining the City, Rachel worked as an environmental engineer for several local consulting firms. As a licensed Professional Engineer, Rachel has developed designs for green infrastructure and helped restore natural ecological systems across the Baltimore region and beyond. Rachel holds a Master of Community Planning degree from the University of Maryland and a BS in Environmental Engineering from Cornell University. She currently lives in Remington and enjoys biking the streets of Baltimore, hiking, reading, and climbing on rocks.
Valerie Rupp, Climate and Resilience Program Manager
Valerie provides support for our office's growing climate and resilience portfolio. She has prior experience as a public lands professional and is skilled in partnership building, nonprofit management, communications, planning, and project management. Before joining our office, she served as the Executive Director of the Partnership of the National Trails System. Prior to that, she worked with the Parks & People Foundation in Baltimore for eight years, led the fundraising and external relations as Development Director for the Women’s Law Center of Maryland, and worked in various positions with the Baltimore Museum of Industry.
Valerie holds Bachelor’s degrees in history and communications from Shippensburg University and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Baltimore. She hails from Northeastern PA, and currently lives in Ednor Gardens where she feeds the feral cats on the block and makes sure all the street trees are properly mulched.
Grace Hansen, Coastal Planner
Grace Hansen is the Coastal Planner for the City. Her work focuses on managing development as it relates to Floodplain Management and the Critical Area Management Program. She also assists in updating the City’s Disaster Preparedness and Planning Project (DP3) and Nuisance Flood Plan. Grace has experience in the environmental field at the state, regional, and international levels. She previously served as a coastal planner in Coastal Virginia where she collaborated with seventeen local governments across Hampton Roads to strengthen the region’s ability to adapt to recurrent flooding issues. She also worked for The Nature Foundation SXM in St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles where she led the country’s first plastic brand audit and has assisted in the upkeep and maintenance of coral fragments in the Man of War Shoal Marine Park through SCUBA diving.
Grace holds a Master of Arts degree in International Environmental Policy with a specialization in ocean and coastal resource management from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and a BA in environmental studies from Rollins College. She is a former collegiate swimmer and spends her weekends as an Ocean Rescue Lieutenant in Sea Colony, Delaware. She is also an avid athlete in the sport of USLA surf racing where she competes at the local, regional, and national levels. Grace enjoys all things related to water and being outdoors. Hailing from Timonium, Maryland, she is excited to be back in the area.
Kat Tebbetts, Climate Community Engagement Fellow
Kas Tebbetts is the Climate Community Engagement Fellow at Baltimore’s Office of Sustainability. She is passionate about empowering new voices in the field of urban planning and utilizing all forms of expertise in the process of building community. She is excited to build community around sustainability in Baltimore and inspire equitable climate action for the city. In the past, she has worked with local history museums, urban farmers, community activists, architecture firms, real estate developers, and financial institutions in her ongoing endeavor to understand community development from every perspective. Kas originally hails from East Texas, holds a B.A. in Architecture and Urban Studies from Yale University, and spends all her time with her two wonderful and slightly-crazy Kuwaiti rescue dogs.
Taylor LaFave, Chief of Food Policy and Planning | Food Policy Director
Taylor LaFave (he/him/his) is the Chief of Food Policy and Planning and Food Policy Director for the City of Baltimore. He works to build an equitable and resilient urban food system through community food planning. During the pandemic he helped manage the City’s COVID-19 Emergency Food Response by overseeing emergency procurement contracts totaling over $38 million for food box distribution, and launched an innovative home delivery program in partnership with Amazon, the Maryland Food Bank, and the Baltimore Convention Center. Currently, he manages the Food Policy and Planning Division’s $11 million American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) proposal, "Improving Nutritional Security, Food Access, and Food Equity In Baltimore City During and After COVID-19”. Taylor earned his Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from the University of Michigan. In his free time, Taylor enjoys working in his neighborhood garden, biking to work, exploring Baltimore’s history, baking pies, and visiting baseball stadiums across the country.
Lindsay Adams, Food Resilience Planner
Lindsay Adams earned her Master’s in Health Sciences with a focus on Food Systems, Agriculture, and Sustainability and received a certification in Food Systems, the Environment, and Public health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2019. Before this, she spent 10 years in Colorado where she received her BA in Public Health from the University of Colorado and worked as a community gardener, nutrition educator, and managed two research teams focused on improving food systems in rural and underserved communities. Most recently, she spent two years working as the Program Coordinator for the Accountable Health Communities project at the Baltimore City Health Department. In this role, she served as a project manager, working to improve health outcomes by addressing social determinants of health in clinical settings, and managed BCHD’s public resource directory, CHARMcare.
Yewande Akinkuowo, Food Access Planner
Yewande "Wande" Akinkuowo is a lover of all things food and public health. Wande holds a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Rhode Island and a master’s degree in Health Equity from the University of Maryland College Park. Her decision to study Nutrition came from the desire to learn how to be the healthiest version of herself. Wande has three years of experience in nutrition education, working for university extension programs in both Rhode Island and Maryland. In addition Wande has three years of experience in grants, contracts, and budget development from her last role as a Grants and Finance Project Manager at Children's National Research Institute. In her spare time you can probably catch Wande watching Guys Grocery Games or Hell's Kitchen, her hobbies include creating recipes, food photography, content creation and crossfit.
Najahla Olumiji, Food Systems Planner
Najahla Olumiji is the Food Systems Planner. Najahla is a Virginia native, but considers Baltimore her long-term home. She has a bachelor’s degree in International Politics from the University of Virginia and a Master’s of City and Regional Planning from Morgan State University. She loves planning because it is the perfect combination of all her interests: politics, health, and history. While at Morgan, Najahla was a graduate assistant where she worked on courses from architecture and city planning to construction management. She is also a Baltimore Corps alumna, where she worked as a Food Policy Fellow for DOP. Najahla enjoys reading, spending time with her dog, and sewing clothes for herself and family.
Nzingha Campbell, Food Policy Fellow
Nzingha Campbell is the Baltimore Corps Food Policy fellow. She grew up in Baltimore City and is proud to come from a city with rich history, gorgeous natural resources, and a strong sense of community. Nzingha has a bachelor's degree in Political Science from McDaniel College, where she also minored in Urban and Community studies. Prior to joining the FPP team she worked at the Baltimore City Department of Health’s Division of Aging, connecting older adults to community resources and assistance programs. Nzingha was also a member of the Department of Planning’s Spring 2022 Planning Academy, which solidified her interest in community planning and development. She is passionate about bringing direct services and resources to underserved communities, and ecstatic to join the Department of Planning. Outside of work she enjoys hiking, home improvement shows, and spoiling her two cats.
Jessica Fink, Food Policy Data Fellow
Jessica joined the Department of Planning as a Food Policy Data Fellow through Baltimore Corps. She received her BA in International Relations and Development from George Washington University and an MS in Health and Medical Policy focusing on public health leadership and management from George Mason University. Jessica has experience in community engagement, public health education, data analytics, and health policy analysis. Her areas of interest include food access, nutrition education, and food system resilience.