Ruby Bolaria: Applying a Global Perspective in a Domestic Career

By Brittany Woods, GPA Alumni and Public Relations Coordinator

Ruby is an alumna of the Masters in Urban and Regional Planning Program at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. She completed a certificate in Global Public Affairs  and also spent a summer abroad in Joburg, South Africa as a part of the IPP Summer Fellowship Program. Ruby is currently the Assistant Development Manager at Lennar Urban in San Francisco.

When asked about how GPA and IPP influences her career, Ruby shared with us her experience interning abroad through IPP, as well as the work she currently does in San Francisco.

“During my time in Joburg, I worked for the Department of Housing and focused on slum upgrading. I worked specifically in one settlement on a plan to rebuild 100 homes with sturdier materials. The government partnered with INT’L NGO Slum Dwellers International in order to organize the people, provide funds and help the process. It was one of the pilot projects Joburg was working on that forced communities to take more initiative and become more involved in their housing.”

“My time in South Africa was a very interesting experience and although I work on housing now, I don’t do the same kind of work I did in Joburg. I currently work for a master developer and am working on building housing in San Francisco’s Shipyard and Candlestick Point (former 49er stadium). I’m currently working on 3 projects in the Shipyard for a total of 264 new condos (this includes 10% at below market) and two projects in candlestick that are still in conceptual design right now but will be about 240 units (30% affordable).”

Ruby shared her perspective on the importance of having a global perspective in urban planning, even though she currently works on domestic issues.

 I think a global perspective is very important to both urban planning and all careers in general. Having a global perspective helps you put into context your own role, career and life path. I don’t work on international work now but I do like to know what others are doing in real estate- how people are thinking about the challenges like how to provide affordable housing, how to mitigate climate change, how our approach to the built environment around the globe can give us clues and how we can learn from experience what to do or not to do.”

Ruby concluded by sharing with us her favorite GPA/IPP experience and the impact that experience had on her.

My time in Joburg was definitely the highlight! My time in the settlements seeing how people were thriving and the innovative ways they were making the community their home. But also realizing how I had romanticized the slums in a way. And learning how in reality, they had their own set of inbred challenges that shouldn’t be dismissed when thinking about what options are available to people and what options should be available.”

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