Professor Michael Greenberg welcomes Nick Masucci (MCRP 1975) back to the Bloustein School
Nicholas J. Masucci, MCRP 1975
Professor Michael Greenberg recalls the nine graduates from the 1975 MCRP class as some of the most talented ever to pass through Rutgers University. One of those graduates, Nicholas J. Masucci, returned in November as a guest lecturer at the Bloustein School, describing how his career in planning has taken him from the Middlesex County Planning Board to Iraq and Afghanistan where he now helps direct the reconstruction of shattered societies.
The president and CEO of Berger Group Holdings, Inc., which includes The Louis Berger Group, Masucci addressed Bloustein School faculty, students and alumni on “International Development and Reconstruction: The Role of a Large Planning Firm.” He discussed how Louis Berger has managed highway, school and medical clinic building efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Philippines, as well as helped to implement economic growth and infrastructure development strategies.
Professor Greenberg described his former student as possessing enormous energy and intellect. The 1975 MCRP class took on a project to site a solid waste management facility as the basis for a research article. Following his lecture, Masucci met for dinner with the Bloustein School alumni association.
Upon graduation from Rutgers, Masucci went to work for Middlesex County and then the New Jersey Governor’s Office of Planning and Policy. Masucci entered the private sector by working for the Louis Berger Group as a planner and then left to start his own firm, VMS Inc., a company created around the concept of utilizing asset management for the maintenance of infrastructure. Upon building VMS to a $100 million company, Masucci was invited back to Berger to lead the company as president and CEO. In addition to The Louis Berger Group, Inc., Berger Group Holdings owns ENDER, Berger Devine Yaeger, Inc., Ammann & Whitney, Berger/ABAM, and Klohn Crippen and investments in VMS and EA Engineering Science and Technology.
Mr. Masucci’s knowledge of infrastructure and sound management practices allowed him to create not just successful companies, but also new products that fill a special need in today’s marketplace. He has adapted generally accepted private sector business methods and developed systems to create a program to manage infrastructure using an investment perspective.
Masucci described Louis Berger’s philosophy as “Figure it Out, Think it Through, Plan It, DO IT.” In working overseas, the firm directs its employees to get involved directly in projects, minimize the use of middlemen, rely on local resources, adapt to local cultural conditions and focus on results.
Former Humphrey Fellow Nadwa Al-Dawsari (2004-2005) serves as senior program manager for the National Democratic Institute's Conflict Management Program in Yemen. She returned to the Bloustein School in February to speak on "Managing Tribal Conflict in Yemen" as a guest of the Center for Negotiation and Conflict Resolution and the Humphrey Fellows Program.
|Nadwa helps manage a tribal conflict management program in Yemen, helping the Yemeni government and tribal leaders deal with the causes and manifestations of tribal conflict. She holds an MA in Development Studies from the University of Leeds, England. While at the Bloustein School as a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow, she received training and conducted research on conflict resolution and public policy issues. The Humphrey Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and administered by the Institute of International Education.|
Two Bloustein School graduates, Frances Hoffman (PhD 2001) and Annemarie Uebbing (MCRP 1984), made Real Estate New Jersey's list of 50 Women of Influence. Hoffman directed the NJ Office of Smart Growth's brownfields program before joining Lakewood-based Somerset Development. At Somerset, she is transforming one of the state's largest brownfields sites in Wood-Ridge into Westmont Station, a mixed use "New Urbanist" transit village.
Uebbing, who also held several positions in state government, including director of affordable housing, joined Community Preservation Corp. in 2003 where she now serves as vice president and regional director. She focues on financing low-, moderate- and middle-income multi-family housing, and in 2007 managed $11 million in financing for projects in Asbury Park and Paterson.
Kristen Crossney (PhD, 2006) was featured in Research in Focus, a newsletter of HUD’s Office of University Partnerships (OUP), regarding her research work into predatory lending practices and ongoing interest in the urban housing market. An assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at West Chester University, Crossney has maintained her relationship with the Bloustein School, working as a postdoctorate research fellow at the National Center for Neighborhood and Brownfields Redevelopment.
While a second-year PhD student at the Bloustein School in 2004, Crossney began seeking funding to help focus her research efforts on her dissertation in the field of housing and community development. In October 2005, while presenting at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) annual conference in Portland, she learned she had been awarded a two-year HUD Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant.
“It seemed a perfect fit for my interest in housing finance and its relationships to neighborhoods,” she said. “The program allowed me to focus on my research, and I was able to complete my dissertation in a timely manner.”
Crossney’s dissertation, The Paradox of Predatory Lending: An Examination of Mortgage Lending in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, drawing on public mortgage and property data, found the practice to be significantly clustered, occurring in a distinct spatial pattern. The research showed areas with racial minorities and economically disadvantaged residents were most impacted.
Crossney credited her doctoral work with helping her develop her research design and analytical skills, thereby preparing her for a career either in academics or as a policy analyst.
Jeremy Nemeth (PhD 2007), an assistant professor of planning and design at Colorado University-Denver, helped a group of Master's degree students in urban planning become involved in the redevelopment of the city’s historic Union Station.
As part of a class project, the students took input from city residents about how they would like to see the $500 million project proceed. As described by KWGN-TV, the project has become controversial, pitting developers and the city on the one side against preservationists and some local business.
"We figured this is a great opportunity for the students to get involved in the public process," Nemeth told the newscast. "In addition to studying the area and the architecture, they're also seeing the political forces that are involved in such a large civic project."
The National Center for Bicycling & Walking (NCBW) named Sharon Z. Roerty, (MCRP 1986) its new executive director in July. A certified planner with more than 25 years of experience in environmental planning, policy analysis and transportation finance, Roerty also worked at the Bloustein School with the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center.
NCBW is an advocacy organization that supports bicycle friendly and walkable communities across North America, and is the major program of the Bicycle Federation of America. Roerty joined NCBW as Director of Community Programs in 2004 and was named Deputy Executive Director in 2007.
Lisa A. Conte has joined the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. She had been working in Atlanta as a Congressional affairs specialist for the Federal Emergency Management Association.
Basilio Verduzco, PhD, 1997
Michael Greenberg and Basilio Verduzco
|During a visit to Mexico this summer, Professor Michael R. Greenberg caught up with Basilio Verduzco, who graduated from Rutgers in 1997 with a PhD in Urban Planning and Policy Development. Professor Verduzco became the founding president of the Jalisco Academy of Sciences, the first state academy of sciences created in Mexico, and has conducted research projects for the Mexican government, including the Ministry of Tourism, the Federal Electricity Commission and National Water Commission.|
He is now a professor at the University of Guadalajara, where he conducts research on conflict and negotiation in the fields of public policy and planning. He teaches Urban and Regional Planning and Methods for Policy Research.
Upon graduating from Rutgers, Professor Verduzco joined the University of Guadalajara as an associate research professor in the Department of Regional Studies. He has been invited to teach graduate courses at El Colegio de Jalisco (Guadalajara) El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (Tijuana), El Colegio de Sonora (Hermosillo), and the University of Arizona, Tucson.
He recently proposed an Urban Development Plan and a Municipal Development Program for Puerto Vallarta under a contract with the city.
Professor Verduzco has published many articles on planning, conflict and negotiations in journals published in Mexico, Spain and the United States. These include:
- “Explaining variations in environmental activism on the United States-Mexico Border,” Journal of Latin American Geography, Vol. 7, Num. 1, 2008
- “Acquiring Knowledge and Improving Environmental Policy: a bi-national agenda for civic organizations” in Equity and sustainable development: reflections from the U.S.-Mexico Border, Jane Clough-Riquelme and Nora Bringas R. Editors, 2006, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, University of California, San Diego