What influenced your decision to attend the MSRED program?
Growing up in Baton Rouge/South Louisiana did truly play a large role in my decision to pursue this field. After working construction for several years in middle and high school both on and off the record I knew I had a passion for building things – so I pursued an Architecture degree at LSU. About halfway through that I realized that the dream of influencing the world through my design was misguided, since both the Architect and Contractor are essentially under contract to the owner developer – hence “He who holds the Gold” etc. I dedicated the final few years of my architecture studies to the understanding of urban environments, both in success and failure. I realized I had to pursue development to enact the physical and social change I believed in and started looking for programs.
…Tulane spoke to me for several reasons: 1) knowing this was my back yard, an area I had some familiarity with, and a place where a statewide and regional network could eventually benefit the places I grew up in; 2) the program was still slightly costly, but was only a single calendar year which would allow me to accelerate my path; 3) the adjunct nature of the program so everyone I learned under was a practicing professional, and could introduce me to people and opportunities. The third and final really became one of the key aspects to my decision to apply and attend, and directly resulted in my early networking and my first job at Harmony in February of 2015. Since then, that network has expanded exponentially within the New Orleans area, subsequently getting my name in the door for my current position, but also expanded my name to larger regional, and even now national partners.
How did the MSRED program help prepare you for your career?
To expand on what I’ve detailed above, networking. Not only was I hands on with actual projects, practicing professionals and principals, but every person I met got my card and knew my face. By the time I received my first job offer jumping into a trial by fire wasn’t daunting, because I had access to the multifaceted network that MSRED exposed me to. It can’t really be stressed enough that this was work on both sides – not only the MSRED program making key introductions and inviting presentations and site/field visits, but the student absolutely must make the effort to connect, otherwise you’re simply a tourist passing through on the way to a meaningless yet expensive piece of paper.
What do you enjoy most about your current position with Providence Community Housing?
I didn’t expect to be in a position like this so soon out of the program. A mixture of good work ethic layered on top of the ever-expanding network initially provided by the program led me here to a Senior position where I manage a development pipeline nearing $100M worth of projects. The best part about that pipeline is that the work is all community oriented, which touches on one of my key prompts to pursue this career path originally. Providence has been and continued to be an opportunity to expand not only my skills as a developer now working with multiple large-scale projects under a wide variety of funding and legal structures, but also to grow as a community and business leader. On a daily basis, I employ a full skillset for strategic community and organizational goals with both the trust and respect to make the critical decisions.