Nicole Blumner

Blumner's desire to work in urban development was sparked in her first year of college by Jane Jacobs's book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Jacobs provided Blumner with the first sensible explanation of the economic and social isolation of poor communities she saw growing up in Baltimore, and spurred an interest in helping to knit urban communities back together.

After completing a B.A. in architecture at Yale University, Blumner returned to Baltimore to work for a community design nonprofit, and discovered the fields of city planning and economic development. She went on to pursue an M.R.P. and an M.B.A.

"My years at Cornell were wonderful," says Blumner. "I was surrounded by bright classmates with wide-ranging experiences and had direct access to professors who were experts in my concentration and who also showed me new paths of learning. The balance between theory and practice in the M.R.P. curriculum offered me the opportunity to explore ideas while gaining professional planning skills, a powerful combination. The rewards of the program have not diminished over time: I recently spent a year in Berlin, Germany, on a Robert Bosch Fellowship, and my Cornell network played a key role in helping me to win this honor."

Blumner has worked in New York City and St. Louis, Missouri, where she currently manages project finance for a company that builds mixed-income (affordable and market-rate) housing around the country for families, seniors, and special needs populations. In addition to the 13,000 units of housing Blumner's firm has created, she has also worked on projects including the development of a shopping center and several historic rehabilitations and expansions of schools and buildings for community organizations, all in distressed, inner-city areas.