Sarafina recently graduated from Wesleyan University where she majored in Urban Studies. Over time, she has increasingly focused on the role urban policy plays in the construction of the built environment and efforts to increase a community’s awareness of the urban development-related issues affecting them. During college, Sarafina spent two summers in her hometown of Austin working with Forklift Danceworks, a nonprofit that creates large-scale productions highlighting municipal workers and community members as performers. While working on shows conducted in partnership with the City of Austin aquatics department, she developed outreach skills crucial for her work in the urban planning realm. In 2018, Sarafina participated in a semester study abroad program in Buenos Aires, Barcelona, and Cape Town. During this program, Sarafina became acutely aware of how each city must address housing and mobility challenges according to their cultural frameworks. This semester, coupled with a summer transportation planning internship, inspired a senior thesis in which she investigated the planning process surrounding Austin’s 2020 campaign for light rail. By connecting the city’s spatial development to shifting relationships among politicians, planners, and residents today, the work positioned the transit plan as a force testing and projecting Austin’s urban identity.
Public Works Partners initially caught Sarafina’s attention because of the firm’s tangible commitment to equity and supporting communities through its work. She also saw a unique opportunity to apply skills gained in consulting and community organizing settings across a broad range of topics and types of clients. As someone who has looked up to and sought mentorship from many women in the nonprofit and urban planning realms, Sarafina was drawn to the idea of working at a woman-led firm.
Outside of work, Sarafina can often be found soaking up the sun at her local park, describing the different types of bike lanes to her friends, or stopping traffic on the sidewalk as she marvels at a building’s architectural design. Her favorite cookies are Linzer Tarts and she excels at making breakfast scrambles.