about

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.