Introducing our Community Partnerships Practice Area Leader: Stephany Lin
Stephany’s work to better understand urban life is rooted in a range of diverse interests – from furthering equitable education and creating nurturing environments for kids, to studying how diverse cultural identities affect urban spaces. Through a broad multidisciplinary lens, she helps advance comprehensive visions and strategies for impactful investments in urban communities.
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR U3 ADVISORS?
I have worked on a little of everything at all scales,from real estate transactions to neighborhood-level strategy. I’ve also been fortunate to work with all types of U3’s clients, from neighborhood-serving nonprofits, to higher education, to philanthropic foundations.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AT U3?
I have been at the firm for close to six years. Janne Corneil actually introduced me to U3 when I was working with her the summer after I graduated from my urban planning program. Before graduate school, I worked in K-12 education in Newark, New Jersey, for three years. I went into that experience knowing I was interested in urban planning, with the lens of thinking about schools as the most common interface between families and their local government and their cities. I’ve always been interested in cities and urban life.
WHAT PROJECTS HAVE YOU MOST ENJOYED DURING YOUR TIME WITH U3?
I’ve been fortunate to work on projects at U3 that sit at the intersection of education and planning, such as the Marygrove P-20, cradle-to-career campus in Northwest Detroit. I’ve been working with the Marygrove team on the ground for almost my entire time at U3. I feel really fortunate to be connected to the phenomenal, dedicated educators there.
WHAT WAS IT ABOUT UNDERSTANDING CITIES THAT WAS PARTICULARLY COMPELLING TO YOU?
I actually initially studied cities in terms of immigration. This is really going back, but my undergraduate thesis was about Turkish immigrant women in Copenhagen. Based on some study abroad experiences,I was interested in the way different cultural identities are expressed in public space.There’s always been an aspect of identity and anthropology that drove me to cities.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRM AND WHAT WERE YOUR INITIAL IMPRESSIONS?
Janne first pitched U3 to me as, “These are some really smart people – really smart, nimble people.” I found that working with them would still allow me to engage in education topics while applying different kinds of tools from my planning program. That’s what drew me in and how I talk about our firm still: it’s a very collaborative environment with really nice people and the flexibility to experiment.
WHAT EXCITES YOU ABOUT THE FUTURE OF YOUR WORK?
As it relates to the Marygrove campus, the high school opened in 2019 and the early childhood center opened last year, which was a really big deal. It’s purpose-built, so it’s a beautiful space. With the elementary school opening this fall we can finally put in place some really exciting opportunities for alignment between early childhood and elementary, on everything from curriculum to student supports, to make sure we best support these students. The campus itself, led by the Marygrove Conservancy, has something like fifty other tenants now, between individual artists, neighborhood organizations, citywide partners, and so on. Lots of cool stuff happening – and hopefully more and more that we can keep connecting.