Rapid urbanization has become the dominant human settlement trend and challenge of the 21st century. As new hubs develop and existing cities evolve, the charge is greater than ever for a diverse, interdisciplinary generation of leaders to guide our world toward prosperity. Penn IUR’s newly established Fellows in Urban Leadership program aims to link the theoretical and the practical – the academic and the professional – to distill the values and processes of leadership, ultimately positioning Penn’s bright and dedicated students at the forefront of this global charge.
This Fall, Penn IUR welcomes its inaugural cohort into the program. First announced in April 2018, the new program provides an exceptional group of Penn students, drawn from all four of Penn’s undergraduate schools, with the unique opportunity to engage with established urban leaders in Philadelphia and beyond. Through these experiences, the program offers today’s student leaders insight into the role of visionary leadership in ensuring that urbanization is both inclusive and sustainable.
This forward-looking program echoes the inspiration and mission of the Partnership for New York City, a pioneering initiative to link civic and business leaders in the nation’s most populous metropolitan area. Scaling this model to Penn and Philadelphia, Penn IUR has created a platform for intergenerational mentorship and knowledge transfer, as students will advance the cities of tomorrow by learning from the leaders of today.
The program draws on Philadelphia’s unique position as a diverse, ambitious economic driver in today’s globalized world, bringing the Nation’s fifth largest city together to tackle everything from revitalization to affordable housing to education innovation. As a result, the program’s approach is fundamentally interdisciplinary and embraces the rhetoric of the new localism. Through first-hand experiences with urban leaders, the Fellows will connect their academic pursuits and professional endeavors and reflect on today’s most pressing issues and the potential of urban spaces in the future. Ultimately, Fellows will be poised to deploy innovative policies and leadership strategies and become future leaders in the public, private, and non-profit spheres to improve this increasingly urban world. Whether their ultimate contributions will come in private, public, or non-profit work, students will be exposed to the critical connections between these sectors and become prepared to address future urban issues.
Meet the inaugral class of Penn IUR Fellows in Urban Leadership:
Sabrina Aponte: As a Chicago-native, first-generation, minority student, Sabrina is committed to making a change in her urban communities. Sabrina is a rising senior in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) studying urban studies and urban education and sub-matriculating in social policy at the School of Social Policy and Practice (SP2). This summer she worked at Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, at the Glen Mills School as a tutor, and at JEVS Human Services working with “at-risk” youth. This year Sabrina will be interning with the US Department of Education in the Philadelphia Managing Director’s office. In her spare time, Sabrina is a choreographer for Onda Latina, a SWAG to College mentor, and a Philly Reading Coach.
Amrajan Aujla: Amrajan is a senior from Vancouver, Canada studying business economics and public policy, real estate, and finance at Wharton. He spent the summer at H2 Capital Partners in the real estate program. Amrajan is particularly interested in the intersection of real estate, public policy, finance, and community development in cities and has been inspired growing up by his father's work as the General Manager for the City of Vancouver's real estate and facilities department. Amrajan is also on the Student Financial Services Advisory Board, the Wharton Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and consults with the Investment and Trading Group (WITG). In his free time, Amrajan enjoys playing ice hockey and basketball, reading, and beating friends in FIFA.
Montell D. Brown: Montell is a rising senior studying criminology at CAS and secondary education in the Graduate School of Education (GSE) with a focus on K-8 education. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio in a family of public servants, he is currently in his third year running summer enrichment program for the Cincinnati Recreation Commission and aspires to become an urban leader and run for office. Montell will be working for the School District of Philadelphia this school year at Benjamin B. Comegys School in Southwest Philadelphia.
Carol Chen: Carol is a senior at Wharton concentrating in finance, statistics, and real estate. Carol hails from Taipei, Taiwan. Her freshman year she interned with Billion Bricks, a non-profit that provides infrastructure solutions for the homeless in Manila. Interested in both the physical and economic patterns of urbanism, Carol has focused on real estate, including work as a analyst at Morgan Stanley this summer. Carol has published original research on the role of public-private partnerships in the Asian financial system through Wharton's International Business Review. This fall she will be the Co-President of the Wharton Undergraduate Real Estate Club.
Lucy Corlett: A Philadelphia native, Lucy is a junior at the College of Arts & Sciences majoring in urban studies with a concentration in environmental studies, and a minor in Hispanic studies. Through her multi-disciplinary studies, she seeks to advance the role of local community action in cities to address large-scale, systemic social and environmental issues. Lucy traveled to Europe with the Berlin and Rotterdam summer program to learn about the sustainable ecological practices, and worked at the Sachs Program for Arts Innovation this summer. Lucy writes for Bloomers, Penn’s all-female comedy troupe, is Student Outreach Coordinator of Fossil-Free Penn, and Vice President of Mentorship for the Mayor’s Scholars Program.
Joel Fonseca: Joel is a senior at Wharton majoring in finance and real estate, and is interested in housing policy in urban and rural areas. Originally from South Carolina, he spent the past summer in Dallas working in Goldman Sachs' Real Estate Investing Group. He has also worked for Signature Wealth Strategies and South Street Partners. As a fellow with Wharton Passion Projects, Joel won an award for a new technology being used by performing arts groups on campus. He further serves as a research assistant in the Wharton Finance Department and a mentor with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
Elana Fortson: Elana is a junior at Wharton studying finance, operations, and real estate. On campus, she is involved in the Wharton Undergraduate Real Estate Club, Tamid at Penn, and Delta Sigma Pi. This summer she worked in Deutsche Bank’s Global Capital Markets group on debt capital market projects. This year she is an Operations TA and was previously a manager at the Student Federal Credit Union. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Elana hopes to use her real estate skills to help strengthen and revitalize her hometown and address the impacts of its one-industry economy.
Carolynne Liu: Carolynne is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, majoring in philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE) and minoring in urban studies and consumer psychology. Carolynne became fascinated by the effects of built environments and city planning on people's behaviors while growing up around the world. Last summer Carolynne received funding to implement an English curriculum at a monastery in Kathmandu. She is also an executive board member of the West Philadelphia Tutoring Project and a member of the Social Impact Consulting Group. Carolynne is interested in exploring the intersection of social justice issues and human behavior, especially as they relate to public policy and urban environments.
Jonathan Delgadillo Lorenzo: Jonathan is a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences studying mathematical economics and minoring in American public policy. As a first-generation low-income student in the Los Angeles Unified School District, he experienced directly how some urban schools fail to provide adequate educational support and is committed to closing the achievement gap. Last fall, Jonathan participated in the Penn in Washington program and interned at the Federal Trade Commission. He plans to pursue a PhD in economics to investigate economic development in underserved communities and serve as a government policy advisor. Jonathan is also co-chair of the CAPS advisory board, on Penn's Social Responsibility Advisory Committee, and a mentor to 16 latinx and low-income HS students.
Prakash Mishra: Prakash is a rising senior in the Management and Technology (M&T) Program studying systems engineering and statistics at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Wharton. Prakash focuses on economic research around neighborhood dynamics and structural and income inequality. This summer he worked at the Federal Reserve’s Consumer Finance Institute investigating the spatial effects of Medicaid coverage. He works with fellow students on a podcast entitled “blacklined” about neighborhood change and is currently working on a photo-documentary project that looks at the uses of vacant land in Philadelphia.
Yareqzy Munoz: Yareqzy is a rising junior at the College of Arts & Sciences studying urban studies, Latin American and Latinx studies, and Hispanic studies. She was born and raised in Chicago and is passionate about social justice issues. Last year, Penn awarded Yareqzy the Joseph “Beau” Biden Memorial Scholarship for civic engagement and public service. As a Community Partner Liaison at Penn’s Civic House - the campus’ Social Justice and Community Engagement Hub—she organizes volunteers for non-profits in the area. This summer she was an intern for Senator Tammy Duckworth and a Women Employed Fellow where she advocated for just labor policy.
Kevin Myers: Kevin is a rising senior at the College of Arts & Sciences from Reading, Pennsylvania. He is studying philosophy, politics, and economics and minoring in science, technology, and society. He spent the summer working at the Committee of 70 on re-redistricting and city fiscal authority. Kevin is interested in Title III civil rights issues and has interned at places such as Public Interest Law Center and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, improving the physical and social condition of cities through advocacy for disability rights, employment rights, and voting rights. Kevin is also involved in the Mask and Wig Club and the University Honor Council.
Rachel Pomerantz: Rachel is a senior at the College of Arts & Sciences majoring in mathematical economics with a minor in political science. Rachel is also a Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative Research Scholar concentrating in housing and urban policy. She interned this summer with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York performing micro-economic analysis on survey responses about consumer behavior and labor markets. Rachel is interested in pursuing a PhD in economics and investigating how urban policy affects housing markets and access to financial services.
Elise Reynolds: Elise is a senior at the College of Arts & Sciences from Ithaca, New York studying urban wtudies and French. She is interested in using qualitative and quantitative GIS to illuminate how people perceive and interact with urban environments, especially with regard to housing, community development, and mental health. Last spring, Elise participated in Penn IUR's Undergraduate Urban Research Colloquium with Dr. Amy Hillier, where she explored how residents of Project HOME navigate recovery services in Francisville and Sharswood, the two neighborhoods she is now studying for her senior thesis.
David Zhao: David is a senior at the College of Arts & Sciences studying philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) with a concentration in distributive justice. He is also pursuing a minor in urban real estate and development. David is interested in the interplay between environmental humanities, urban development, race and religion. He attended the Penn in Berlin and Rotterdam program on environmental stewardship last summer. At Penn, he is a student outreach coordinator with Fossil Free Penn, working on youth voter mobilization as a Fellow with NextGen Rising, and a member of the Mask and Wig Club. David is a residential advisor for first year students in Fisher Hassenfeld College House.