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Staff Spotlight: How Margaret is Embracing Continuous Learning in Urban Planning

By Public Works Partners

July 24, 2023

Public Works shines the spotlight on Margaret Hanson, showcasing her profound passion for urban planning and how it paved her path to our firm. With an unwavering commitment to creating sustainable, vibrant communities, she embodies the ideal combination of expertise and enthusiasm. In this feature, we are delighted to share her story, delve into her background, and gain valuable insights into her personal approach to growth. At Public Works, we take immense pride in our team of devoted changemakers who put their values in action every day to create a lasting impact. Get to know Margaret and her inspiring journey below.

  1. What drew you to Public Works Partners? 

Coming out of my master’s program, I knew I wanted to gain practical planning experience and work alongside thoughtful, committed people. I was drawn to Public Works for this opportunity, and the exciting prospect to work across diverse urban and public policy sectors — from economic development to transportation. I also resonated with the firm’s commitment to developing community-informed strategies that center justice, equity, and sustainability, values that are critical to the work I want to pursue.

2. What was the initial catalyst that ignited your passion for your field of work?

During my senior year of college, I took an anthropology course titled “Housing Matters” which explored housing as a key component of the structure and functioning of cities. Through this course, I learned about urban governance and started to make connections between city development and the other subjects I was studying at the time, like public health and economics. I became really interested in the history and theory behind cities and within a matter of months, decided to pursue a graduate degree in planning!

3. Are there any issues that you are particularly passionate about tackling in your role here?

In my role at Public Works, I’m particularly excited to work on project proposals that are focused on place-making and climate resiliency, especially as the firm continues to expand its Community Health practice under Melissa.

4. What unique perspective or expertise do you bring to our team?

Having previously studied and worked in the field of public health, I am uniquely aware of the critical and often overlooked intersections between health and urban interventions. One of my hopes throughout my planning career is to leverage urban policy and design tools to cultivate physical and mental wellness in our cities.

5. What does continuous learning mean to you, and how do you embrace it in your work? 

Continuous education has been something that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, having just finished a consecutive eighteen years of formal education. To me, it means cultivating a mindset that allows for growth, both professionally and personally. I embrace the concept of continuous learning in my work by intentionally engaging in conversations that expose me to new perspectives and continuing to read and write about urban issues — even when I’m not required to by a professor.

6. How do you personally connect with our mission and values? 

Something I’ve already noticed throughout my time at Public Works is the firm’s dedication to meaningful community engagement. Throughout planning school, I was keenly aware of how urban interventions can perpetuate undemocratic processes, which is why I was so interested in joining a firm that interfaces with the communities they affect through accessible, interactive, and equitable engagement strategies.

7. Can you share a specific project or initiative that exemplifies our values in action? 

Reading about the firm’s work with the NYCEDC, to facilitate a task force between stakeholders that held divergent views on the future of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal site — I was struck by Public Works’ deep understanding of the neighborhood’s dynamics and the firm’s correspondingly responsive approach, resulting in an impressive set of consensus-driven goals for the site’s redevelopment.

8. How do you stay informed about the latest trends and best practices in your area of work?

I stay informed by reading the news, subscribing to relevant journals and newsletters, and attending planning events when I can!

9. How do you see your role contributing to our mission? 

I see my role as a critical component of the firm’s business development efforts. From developing compelling proposals for Public Works’ diverse clientele to writing pertinent, informative content for the website, I hope to shape the future and face of Public Works’ growing practice.

10. Outside of work, how do you engage your community?

Outside of work, I engage my community through attending local events, supporting small businesses, and taking part in my local Open Streets program every weekend!

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