I’m SYED AGMAL ALI. As an urban planner, my research and analysis guides strategies for equitable urban development related to food, health, housing, and wealth.
As an Analyst at HR&A Advisors, my work to promote inclusive cities has crossed a range of issue areas. While much of my work has focused on New York City, it has also ranged from the Mississippi Delta to California.
- Food Justice and Health Equity: stakeholder engagement for NYC’s first ten-year food plan, examining wellness practices in diverse communities
- Worker Ownership and Community Wealth: industry targeting approaches for growing worker ownership in NYC, power mapping the potential for economic mobility in four regions
- Criminal Justice Reform: landscape assessment of housing for New Yorkers released from Rikers Island, campaign management for a coalition of faith leaders calling for holistic reentry reforms
Prior to joining HR&A, I studied urban planning at Harvard University. My graduate projects included business district management strategies, proposing a public market as an immigrant food business incubator, a health lens analysis of Boston’s Chinatown, and developing a framework for a network of worker cooperatives serving Miami’s healthcare anchor institutions. As a graduate teaching assistant, I supported a seminar on community development, a project-based course focused on inequality in Miami, and an interdisciplinary design studio on the future of streets in Los Angeles. I also participated in the Urban Land Institute’s Randall Lewis Health Mentorship Program and co-led a student group focused on healthy places.
As Neighborhood Planning Intern at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), I supported comprehensive multi-agency neighborhood planning studies and housing plans for the City of New York.
I spent four years setting digital communications strategy for FoodCorps, a national nonprofit connecting kids to healthy food in school. There, I worked to expand and diversify the organization’s reach, redesign its website and brand identity, and collaborate cross-functionally on fundraising, recruitment, and advocacy campaigns.
In addition to a Master in Urban Planning from Harvard, I earned a Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University, where I studied government and English. At Wesleyan, I led student government committees on community building and information technology and also served as student representative on the university’s Board of Trustees. Today, I am a board member for the Wesleyan University Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship.