June 2023 Alumni Spotlight
In this month’s alumni spotlight, MPA alumna Alidia Vane tells us about her job as Planner for Augusta County in Virginia, her past role at NYC Parks, and how the Marxe School has helped her pursue a career in community engagement.
What got you interested in community engagement and how has the Marxe School helped you pursue that?
I’ve been interested in community engagement since a young age. I remember always being involved in school government and local clubs, and have always been passionate about connecting with my community and discussing the issues that affect us all. My time at the Marxe School helped me pursue that interest in two ways: first, by improving my skills around policy analysis and communication, so that I can more effectively inform, communicate with, and advocate on behalf of the communities I interact with. Second, my time at the Marxe School gave me the opportunity to connect with a diverse range of professionals with similar interests, goals, and passions. Meeting and working with peers, professors, and alumni from the Marxe School was an excellent opportunity to build communities of my own.
What projects did you work on when you worked for NYC Parks?
At NYC Parks, I worked in the Bronx Borough Commissioner’s Office, where I worked on special events, standard operating procedures, and other projects, along with providing executive support to the Borough Commissioner. I also worked on the Capital Projects team, which manages all of the major infrastructure projects within Bronx parks. One part of that role that I particularly enjoyed was the Community Input Meetings, where members of the local community come together to discuss what features they would like to see in the renovated park. It was always rewarding to facilitate that process, which empowered residents to design public facilities that suited their community’s specific needs and unique characteristics.
One project that stands out to me was the Mullaly Bike Park renovation. The Mullaly Bike Park was started in 1988, and has a rich history as a hub of the East Coast BMX community. This rich history made the community input process for this project particularly special. The volunteers who operate the park and young people who ride there are a vibrant, warm community, and it was such a pleasure meeting all of them, hearing about their experience with the sport, and learning about BMX along the way.
Can you talk a bit about what you do as a Planner for the Augusta County Government in Virginia?
Absolutely! Our Planning team strives to promote the health, safety, vitality, and general welfare of our Augusta County residents through responsible land use decisions. Our team fields and reviews all potential rezonings, rezoning applications, ordinance changes, solar facility and other utility applications, and Comprehensive Plan amendments within the County’s approximately 970 square miles of land. We also provide staff reports, recommendations, and research support to our Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors, fellow County staff, and agency partners on all land use and development matters. As the County Planner, I also regularly present a variety of requests to our Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors during public meetings. Given this responsibility, I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to practice such a wide variety of presentations in front of my peers during my time at the Marxe School.
A large part of this role is also community engagement. We work closely with members of the public to hear their input on rezoning requests, proposed ordinance amendments, the County’s Comprehensive Plan, and a slew of other County projects and initiatives. In fact, hearing the public’s input is my favorite part of this role.
What was your favorite class and/or professor during your time at the Marxe School?
During my time at the Marxe School, my favorite class was Public and Nonprofit Management II (PAF 9160) with Prof. Neil Hernandez. I loved the hands-on, project-based approach to learning in this class, and the client project was an excellent opportunity to develop practical skills and experience. I also loved working with my team for the client project!