Meet the Planning Collective

Aug. 20

One group of new Penn grad students recently started their own planning and design firm, building a client base even as they still work or seek other jobs until their new venture can support them. They call themselves the Planning Collective. PlanPhilly asked them to tell us a bit about themselves.

Emily Dowdall

Age: 28
Degrees held: BA in Metropolitan Studies from NYU, Masters of City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania.
Related work experience: Worked in New York City Mayor’s Office for 3 years; interned with Kise, Straw, Kolodner planning department; served as research assistant on industrial market study for Brooklyn-based nonprofit seeking expansion to Philadelphia. As a native Philadelphian, I’m a lifelong student of this city.
Current work other than the Collective: I do some work for a civic sector (nonprofit, public, philanthropic) management consulting firm.
What is the area of interest/expertise that you bring to Collective clients? I’ve long been interested in issues related to vacant land and brown fields, which I looked at in my undergrad senior thesis, and what Philadelphia can do to turn those into assets. In grad school I focused on community and economic development and did extensive coursework in GIS. With this grounding I hope to use GIS and other tools to improve inclusive planning efforts at all scales, starting with neighborhood level projects. In addition, my work in government and civic sector consulting has given me an understanding of how process can work, how it can sometimes impede good endeavors, and how it can be altered to yield better outcomes – this is very much translatable to the kind of work PC will do.

Nick Frontino


Age: 28
Degrees held: B.A. University of Chicago, Master of City Planning, Penn.
Related work experience: As a Social Services Coordinator at the Italian-American Community Services Agency in San Francisco, I experienced first-hand many of the challenges and inequities that exist in American urban areas.  As Policy Fellow for the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, I developed a Sustainable Procurement Policy for the City of Philadelphia and helped write legislation for City Council to enact the policy.
Current work other than the Collective: Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, on a short-term basis, working on sustainability initiatives at the Navy Yard.
What is the area of interest/expertise you bring to Collective clients? Policy development,
sustainability planning, information design, stakeholder coordination.

Jeff Knowles



Age: 25
Degrees held: B.A. Rhodes College; M.C.P University of Pennsylvania, LEED AP.
Related work experience: Environmental Policy Fellow in the Office of Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown.
Are you currently working anywhere other than the Collective? PennPraxis, as a project consultant for the summer. Note: This was separate from the work of the collective.
What is the area of interest/expertise that you bring to Collective Clients? Policy development, government relations, project management, public outreach, environmental impact analysis, information design.

Donnie Maley


Age: 26
Degrees held: B.A., Northwestern University; Master of Science in Education and Master of City and Regional Planning, Penn.
Related work experience: Taught in School District of Philadelphia; Worked at the Philadelphia Office of Transportation and Utilities
Current Work: Working in Philadelphia at a transportation engineering firm.
Area of Interest/Expertise: Transportation planning, transit-oriented development.

Clint Randall



Age: 25
Degrees held: B.A., Boston University; Masters of City Planning, Penn.
Related experience: Policy research on best practices in community planning and engagement for City Planning Commission.
Current work: Summer contract work at PIDC focusing on marketing redevelopment initiatives at the Navy Yard.
Area of interest/expertise: Experience in project management, stakeholder outreach and coalition building, policy and best practices research. Expertise in project feasibility analysis, public-private financing and development strategies.

Julie Thompson


Age: 28
Degrees held: B.A. Bowdoin College, Masters of City Planning, Penn. LEED AP.
Related work experience: Worked in development for the American Institute of Architects; interned with PennPraxis, helping launch the Action Plan for the Central Delaware as well as the Casino Design Charrette and report for Mayor Nutter last summer.
Current work other than the Collective? Still looking.
Area of interest/expertise: Adaptive reuse of vacant buildings and land, civic engagement, land preservation techniques, open space and sustainability planning.

Amanda Wagner



Age: 26
Degrees held: B.A., Franklin and Marshall. Masters of City Planning, Penn. Master of Governmental Administration candidate.
Related work experience: Research Assistant, University of Pennsylvania; Food Systems Intern, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission; Hunger Fellow, Congressional Hunger Center.
Current work other than the Collective? Food Systems Associate at The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.
Area of interest/expertise: Food system planning and policy development, community-based
research and outreach.

– By Kellie Patrick Gates


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