GUS Icon

Meet A Few Alums And Learn What They’re Doing…

Heather Keafer

Heather Keafer

Heather Keafer is the Director of Communications for the City of Philadelphia Department of Human Services. She has devoted her last 20 years helping nonprofits strengthen their communications, fundraising and administration. Most recently, Heather was a development and communications consultant, helping Philadelphia area clients build their communications and fundraising capacity. She also served as Development Director for LiveConnections. Before that, Heather served as Director of Fund Development and Communications at Women Against Abuse, where she spearheaded the citywide public awareness campaign, iPledge, which just celebrated its tenth year. Prior to this, Heather was at Congreso de Latino Unidos, where she focused on  juvenile justice and behavioral health programs; and Philadelphia Futures. Heather holds a BA in Journalism from Messiah College and MA in Urban Studies from Temple University. She is also a 2008 graduate of Bryn Mawr University’s Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute.

Michael Schwebel


Michael Schwebel, Ph.D. received his Doctorate in Geography and Urban Studies in 2015. His research focused on Pacific small island states and international climate change policy. Small islands and the Pacific Region have historically received the brunt of climate change effects for decades, and attempts to make their voices and the repercussions of climate change known often came with fragmented and temporary international attention. Through his research, he aims to illuminate the applications of success, challenges, and resiliency that small island states can teach and share with the international community. Dr. Schwebel works for  the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium and Monmouth University’s Urban Coast Institute as their community resilience and climate change adaptation specialist.

PhD – Geography and Urban Studies – Temple University – 2015
MS – Environmental Sciences & Policy – The Johns Hopkins University – 2010
BLA – Landscape Architecture – The Pennsylvania State University – 2005

Chris Mizes


Chris Mizes, M.A. 2012, is a former adjunct faculty and Master of Arts graduate of Temple’s program in Geography and Urban Studies (GUS). After finishing at Temple, he began pursuing a PhD in City and Regional Planning at University of California, Berkeley. He has been awarded the Berkeley’s Chancellor’s Fellowship as part of a fully funded position in the College of Environmental Design. His time at Temple significantly shaped his encounters with Philadelphia and urban thought more generally, experiences he takes seriously in thinking through his burgeoning career as an academic at Berkeley. Since beginning at Berkeley his interests have shifted towards a focus on the politics of infrastructure and land tenure in rapidly urbanizing West African cities, a contentious and under-studied aspect of the global development project. Despite a shift in region, my work at Temple on the politics of vacant land management in Philadelphia informs his future research on African urbanisms, and is part of a larger commitment to tie together urban experience across the Global North/South divide.

Michaela Allwine


Michaela Allwine, M.A. 2013 completed her undergraduate degree in Architecture from Drexel University and served as an Americorps volunteer for two years before returning to Philadelphia to complete her Master’s in Geography and Urban Studies. She is now working as a Block Programs Coordinator in the Community Engagement Department with the New Kensington Community Development Corporation in Philadelphia. She is the lead on sustainable initiative, including Sustainable 19125 & 19134. She works with residents and civic associations on all civic and commercial development zoning on the service area. She also assists residents around vacant land acquisition and development, food accesses and any property based issues.

Steve Spindler


Steve Spindler, M.A. 1994, is the owner of Steve Spindler Cartography and founder of While studying at Temple, Steve completed an internship at the Clean Air Council as he biked across the United States.  Today, the collaboration with Clean Air Council continues through WikiMapping.

A passion for bicycling and transit led him to serve as a board member of the Bicycle Coalition, chair SEPTA’s Citizen Advisory Committee Railroad Sub-committee, and help found Neighborhood Bike Works.  Together with John Boyle, Steve promoted bikes on transit on

Since 1997, Steve and Gerry Krieg (another Temple GUS Masters graduate) have collaborated on bicycle and transit maps for the City of Philadelphia, SEPTA, Bicycle Coalition, Northeastern PA, and several environmental non-profits and national trail organizations.  Today they continue to design maps throughout the US.

Steve launched in 2013 with John Zeng to support community engagement efforts of bicycle and pedestrian planners.  The site has grown and is used for a wide range of projects.

In the Fall of 2016, Steve will teach technical cartography for students in the Professional Science Master’s in GIS at Temple.  He looks forward to sharing his passion for connecting with audiences through maps.

Lorena Muñoz 


Lorena Muñoz, M.A. 2000, is an assistant professor in the Geography, Environment and Society Department at the University of Minnesota. After completing her M.A. at Temple, she went to the University of Southern California for a Ph.D. in Geography. She is an urban/cultural geographer whose research focuses on the intersections of place, space, gender, sexuality and race. She is currently writing my book titled Queer, Brown and (In)Visible: Production, Consumption, and Counterhegemonic Performances in Immigrant Latina/o Vending Street-Scapes in Los Angeles, that examines Latina/o immigrant street vending and the attendant production and reproduction, as well as the consumption and transformation, of trans-border spaces in Latina/o Immigrant barrios of Los Angeles. Her second project examines (im)migrants production of sustainable livelihoods (health, food and labor) in informal settlements in Latin America, this project is currently funded by the UMN Global Spotlight Major Faculty Grant. 

Elizabeth Gutierrez


Elizabeth Gutierrez, M.A. 1998, has nine years experience as a city/neighborhood planner working with nonprofit community development agencies, largely in the northeastern U.S. She is co-founder (with her husband Gerry) of Group G in Philadelphia, an architectural, interior design and community planning firm that uses GIS technology extensively in its work with clients. About the time she was completing her Master’s degree at Temple, Elizabeth joined forces with St. Joseph Carpenter Society, a nonprofit housing group that promotes home ownership in Camden, New Jersey. Among her accomplishments, she implemented a new GIS system at the agency. Elizabeth was the planning manager for St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society for three years before forming her own practice. Her work involves culturally diverse neighborhoods with eclectic mixes of Vietnamese, Puerto Rican, and African American populations. Her goal is not to impose an outsider’s solution: “I use tools like GIS to help them make decisions about their community. I help them look for grants and other funding and try to provide home ownership opportunities.”

Her planning achievements there include the Frankford Avenue Arts Corridor Plan; Liberty Park in Camden , New Jersey ; Ridge Avenue Economic Development Plan, Project H.O.M.E. in Philadelphia ; Housing Data Collection and Analysis in Montgomery County , Pennsylvania ; and GIS Neighborhood Planning, Frankford Town Center , Philadelphia.

Sandra Andino


Sandra Andino, M.A. 1993, came to Temple from Puerto Rico to pursue studies of Latino social and cultural patterns in Philadelphia and completed an internship at Norris Square Civic Association, a community organization that serves a neighborhood with a significant Latino population. At Temple’s Center for Intergenerational Learning, Sandra served as a media literacy consultant in several elementary schools. Earning a PhD in Anthropology in 2001, Sandra worked first as a freelance program evaluator for WHYY, Philadelphia’s public braodcasting station, and was subsequently hired to lead the Ready-to-Learn Program. She organized workshops and events for parents, educators and caregivers of children aged 0-8 to support children’s development and educational growth. Sandra now holds the job of Director of Education at Taller Puertorriqueno, a community-based organization promoting Puerto Rican cultural traditions.

Mark Barnes


Mark Barnes, M.A. 1996, graduated from Temple and became a Business Services Manager for Philadelphia ‘s Empowerment Zone. He worked with business associations and connected individual business owners in older industrial areas with sources of financial assistance (like government programs providing tax incentives and low-interest loans), and with new supply networks and information resources. As a student intern at the Empowerment Zone while pursuing his master’s degree, Mark researched business development along commercial corridors and had written his thesis on enterprise zones. While employed as a business developer, Mark volunteered as a lead organizer of a nonprofit association to mobilize alumni of color who have graduated from colleges and universities in the region. Having decided to pursue his interest in higher education, Mark then served on the faculty of the Philadelphia Center , a program that gives college students from over 50 colleges around the U.S. a one semester introduction to urban issues and urban communities through experiential education.

Mark has taught courses in a number of academic departments in the region, including this department and the Department of Geography and Planning at West Chester University.Her planning achievements there include the Frankford Avenue Arts Corridor Plan; Liberty Park in Camden , New Jersey ; Ridge Avenue Economic Development Plan, Project H.O.M.E. in Philadelphia ; Housing Data Collection and Analysis in Montgomery County , Pennsylvania ; and GIS Neighborhood Planning, Frankford Town Center , Philadelphia.

Kristen Crossney


Kristen Crossney, M.A. 2002, came to Temple after earning an undergraduate degree in Geography at the University of Maryland/Baltimore County. While in the masters program, she worked part-time for Ben Franklin Technology Partners, to help organize a regional conference on promoting high technology development in southeastern Pennsylvania. She also served as research associate for the Eastern Pennsylvania Organizing Project, which researches policy issues affecting urban neighborhoods. Kristen’s thesis focused on the federal Home Owner’s Loan Corporation, evaluating how HOLC’s appraisal system affected differential access to mortgages in the 1930s. This work became the basis for a co-authored paper with Professor David Bartelt, which Kristen presented at the national meeting of the Urban Affairs Association in Boston in March 2002. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Rutgers University’s program in Urban Planning and Policy Development.

Kristin was one of only 10 doctoral students in the U.S. to win a 2003 Early Doctoral Student research Grant from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, to support her dissertation research. She is currently Assistant Professor of Geography and Planning at West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

Harley Etienne


Harley Etienne, M.A. 2002, worked as Senior Project Manager at Greater Philadelphia First (GPF), the region’s leading business organization, in its mission to transform Greater Philadelphia into one of the nation’s leading centers of knowledge. His duties included day-to-day management of Business/Academic Partnerships for the Information Technology Workforce, a partnership of 5 area employers working with 4 regional universities to increase the supply of skilled IT graduates to the local labor market. Harley’s master’s thesis, “University/Community Relations: Public Rhetoric and Private Interests,” examined the relationship between a large urban university and its surrounding community. Prior to completing his master’s thesis, Harley worked as a consultant to the Philadelphia Jobs Initiative and staff to the 21st Century League on issues like welfare reform, workforce development, job training and access to health care for the uninsured. In Fall 2003, Harley began doctoral work in Cornell University ‘s planning program, with funding for his studies there. He is now Assistant Professor in City and Regional Planning at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

Robert Stokes


Bob Stokes, M.A. 1993, earned his Ph.D. from Rutgers University ‘s Bloustein School of Urban Planning and Public Policy in 2001. After teaching for 3 years at the University of South Carolina in its criminology program, in 2003 Bob accepted a faculty position at the University of Texas at Arlington ‘s School of Public and Urban Affairs. Currently, Bob is Assistant Professor in the Department of Culture and Communication at Drexel University . His research focuses on the role of local business improvement districts in crime prevention and public safety. He has studied this phenomenon in Philadelphia , San Diego and Los Angeles . Bob ‘s take on Temple ? “While it has been more than a few years since my time at Temple ‘s GUS program, I still hold the opinion that my education at Temple was superior. As for students considering attending the program, I can only say that the faculty is fabulous; moreover, the city of Philadelphia itself presents you with such a richness of experiences and research opportunities as to make the overall graduate educational experience invaluable. In short, Temple ‘s GUS program provided a perfect blend of theory, practice and empirical skills (not to mention a half decent Hoop team now and again).”

Craig Totaro


Craig Totaro, M.A. 1993, is Manager of the borough of Lansdowne, a Delaware County suburb of Philadelphia . Craig entered the masters program with an undergraduate background in Sociology and took a combination of courses in urban economic development, housing and land use, along with basic training in geographic information systems. With his degree, he became a Program Associate with responsibility for geographic information systems at The Reinvestment Fund, a community development financial institution that makes loans and investments for affordable housing, small businesses, and community services, including workforce training. There, he helped build an information base to guide its investments within southeastern Pennsylvania and to evaluate the impacts of expenditures made on housing, child care, workforce development, commercial development, etc. Craig also provided information support for the Fund’s efforts to influence government policy concerning blight removal, predatory lending, and smart commuting. Now, as Manager of a borough, he is using the multi-disciplinary character of his education to improve the local economy, environment, infrastructure, public safety, and many other facets of town life.

Michelle Schmitt


Michelle Schmitt, M.A. 2004, found a job during her Master’s degree studies as a part-time researcher for the Center City District, a special services district committed to improving the quality of Philadelphia’s downtown district. While analyzing employment trends in the downtown area, Michelle gained knowledge about several data sources that she used to write her M.A. thesis, which employed Geographic Information Systems to analyze the residential choices made by “creative class” workers who are employed downtown. After graduating, Michelle worked for a period as a G.I.S. specialist for the city government of Philadelphia, but was soon offered a chance to return to the Center City District, this time as the organization’s Manager of Research and Analysis. While launching her career, Michelle found time in February 2005 to pursue her love of maps by curating a fascinating exhibition at the Rosenbach Museum and Library: “You Are Here: Maps and the Invention of Place.” Using a selection of historical maps from the Rosenbach’s vast collection, Michelle organized and interpreted them so that viewers could appreciating the carefully crafted and sometimes conflicting stories that maps tell. Our photograph of Michelle was taken at the entrance to her exhibition.

In 2006, we lured Michelle back to Temple University , asking her to accept the position of Project Coordinator for the Metropolitan Philadelphia Indicators Project. (See the project’s website at ). As Project Coordinator, she manages a student staff that handles data collection, analysis, and mapping, and she provides technical assistance to many civic, community, and governmental organizations that seeking help in using data to advance their work.

Dan Reagle


Dan Reagle, M.A. 2003, had employment experience with both the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and the city of Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks, when he decided to focus a significant portion of his studies for the Master’s degree on G.I.S. analysis applied to urban economic patterns. Dan’s M.A. thesis documented and explained the rapid expansion of chain drug stores in inner city Philadelphia , at a time when other forms of retail development were much less likely to enter into inner city markets. He analyzed their location decisions, their sales strategies, and the competition they presented to independently owned neighborhood drug stores. Upon graduation, Dan moved to Charlotte , North Carolina , where he joined Americorps to work for Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte. After his Americorps experience, Dan took a job with A.D. Marble and Company, a firm that supplies environmental, cultural, and engineering services in the mid-Atlantic region. He now works for the Maryland State Highway Administration, making sure that state projects meet environmental requirements under NEPA.

Kira Strong


Kira Strong, M.A. 2006, is now Vice President of Community and Economic Development at the People’s Emergency Center, a community-based organization that provides comprehensive supportive services to homeless women and their children, works to revitalize its West Philadelphia neighborhood, and advocates for social justice.  Kira supervises the activities of PEC’s community development arm, the People’s Emergency Center Community Development Corporation (PECCDC).  Prior to accepting the position of vice president, Strong was the senior project manager at PECCDC.  Kira received her undergraduate degree from Hampshire College before enrolling in Temple’s master’s degree program.  As a student here, Kira wrote a major paper delving into the mysteries of how Low Income Housing Tax Credits can be used to build affordable housing.  That research project, along with an internship and other learning experiences, helped build the skills that she has used to lead PECCDC’s community development program.  In 2007, USA Today quoted Kira about the need for affordable housing design and construction to take women’s needs into account:  “You take a typical three-story row home that has two apartments, and they want to stick the kitchen on the third floor,” she says. “Do you want to carry your groceries and strollers up to the third floor?”

Angel Coleman


Angel Coleman, M.A. 2008, is Executive Director of the Girard Coalition.  She leads this broad coalition of over 50 neighborhood groups, businesses and major institutions along Girard Avenue, a major east-west artery in Philadelphia, who have come together to stimulate commerce, increase foot traffic, and grow the population along one of the city’s historically vibrant commercial corridors.  Angel came to Temple with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Eastern Michigan University.  Complementing her graduate studies, she has worked in community organizing, created high school to college gateway programs, summer and after school recreational outlets, and provided technical assistance to merchants.  Angel’s academic focus within the graduate program was on the interdependent relationships between people, business and government in the community revitalization process.  Using ideas and insights she gained during her studies, Angel advanced from a staff member, to Interim Director, to Executive Director of the coalition.  As its leader, she has been working to develop a comprehensive business development and attraction program to strengthen Girard Avenue. She has also emphasized organizational development and growth strategies for the organization.