Alia Fierro hails from the state of Illinois. Her Mexican-American upbringing instilled in her a heightened awareness and deep commitment to social justice issues that face underserved communities in the U.S. and abroad.
Fierro graduated with a B.A. in Latin-American studies and a minor in urban planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in 2013. Following her undergraduate studies, Fierro went on to work closely with uninsured immigrant and Latino communities and facilitated the implementation of the U.S. Affordable Care Act in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Fierro says this work shed light on the place-based consequences of policy and how that impacts access to resources such as housing, healthcare, and employment, and led her to graduate study at Cornell, where she earned a master of regional planning degree in 2016.
While a graduate student at Cornell, Fierro focused on economic and community development. She was president of both the Latina/o Graduate Student Coalition and Planning Students for Diversity; a member of the Graduate School's Leadership Council; and worked with the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives to improve institutional support and resources for first-generation students. In 2015 Fierro spent a summer working on international development and human rights advocacy in Chiapas, Mexico, with a focus on indigenous community housing and land rights. During the following fall semester, she worked on a team to understand how local Upstate New York government officials respond to fiscal stress. In the spring of 2016, she traveled to northern Brazil as a Mellon Fellow to study the changing urban landscapes and the influence of a global economy on the Brazilian Amazon.
"My time at Cornell was shaped by advocacy and scholarship that have proven invaluable to my work as a Latina professional in our nation's capital," Fierro says. "The Department of City and Regional Planning's M.R.P. degree program offered a multi-disciplinary space where I was able to gain knowledge and experience, allowing me to carve my own path and meld a macro-level perspective grounded in micro-level practice."
After graduating from Cornell, Fierro worked with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Policy Development and Research as the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 2016-17 Housing Policy Graduate Fellow. In January 2017, she began working on the housing policy portfolio with the U.S. House Financial Services Committee.
Going forward, Fierro says she will continue strengthening her leadership skills and looks forward to exploring the potential of coupling advocacy with comprehensive policymaking to empower underserved communities.