Mariela A. Alfonzo, Ph.D.

Bridging the worlds of academia and practice, Dr. Alfonzo is the Founder of State of Place, an urban data analytics platform that helps placemakers identify and economically justify optimal urban design, planning, and development projects that create thriving places people love; the president of Urban Imprint, an urban design-behavior research and consulting firm; and a Research Assistant Professor at New York University’s Polytechnic School of Engineering, where she’s been examining the links between the built environment and health in rapidly urbanizing Chinese cities for nearly four years. An expert on the triple bottom line of urban design, Dr. Alfonzo focuses on how the relationship between the built environment and behavior impacts health, broadly defined to include physical, mental, social, community, environmental, and fiscal health, within the context of neighborhood revitalization. In the Fall of 2014, she was recognized as one of Urban Land Institute’s 40 under 40 best young land use professionals around the globe. Additionally, Dr. Alfonzo was awarded a Fulbright to examine walkability in China in the Fall of 2013, where she focused on the socio-cultural and policy challenges to implementing walkable development.

Through Urban Imprint, Dr. Alfonzo has been demystifying how interactions between the built environment and human activity impact economic, social and ecological value for a decade. Working with planning and real estate industry professionals, Urban Imprint leverages that know-how to develop evidence-based sustainable planning, design, and development solutions. In 2011, State of Place began as a marquee offering of Urban Imprint, as a way to integrate Urban Imprint’s empirical approach and methodology into an easy to use, yet comprehensive design, planning, and economic development decision-making and scenario analysis tool that serves to enhance the triple bottom line. State of Place is now a sister, startup company to Urban Imprint.

For over 15 years, Dr. Alfonzo has worked with a range of private, public, NGO and non-profit sector real estate, placemaking, and public policy stakeholders.She has extensive speaking experience, having given presentations in both academic and practice settings including ULI, HUD, APA, Active Living Research, the Lean Startup Conference, Environmental Design Research Association, Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, New York Academy of Sciences, and others. Additionally, she has published a wide range of professional and peer-reviewed articles and book chapters ranging from Urban Land and Planning magazine, to Brookings, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Environment & Behavior, and the Journal of the American Planning Association. Further, Dr. Alfonzo has taught several Urban Design courses at NYU-Poly, Virginia Tech, and UCI. She served as the Chair of University Outreach for the Young Leaders Group of ULI Orange County for two years and has participated in several ULI Technical Advisory Panels. Dr. Alfonzo has a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning with an emphasis on Urban Design and Behavior, as well as a professional Masters in Urban Planning, from the University of California, Irvine (UCI), and a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and Psychology from the University of Miami.

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Michelle Woodhouse

Michelle Drousé Woodhouse is the Strategic Operations Director for State of Place and has over 14 years of experience working across non-profit, public and private sectors in a variety of leadership roles in the United States and United Kingdom. She has served in the following roles: business development consultant, project monitoring consultant, non-profit manager, city planner, urban designer, redevelopment project manager, PMO manager, change manager, design manager, delivery consultant, startup consultant, and social enterprise owner. Key former employers and clients include: City of Irvine, Forma Design, Design Council UK, and Technology Strategy Board/Innovate UK. She also has extensive experience serving on the Board of Directors and as an Advisor for non-profit organizations such as Bridge to Turkey Fund, Pi Beta Phi Women’s Fraternity, Orange County Turkish American Association, Association of Turkish Americans of Southern California, and Orange County Association of Environmental Professionals.

Ms. Woodhouse has been with State of Place since 2013 and has been directing strategy, operations, and business development. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Analysis and Design as well as a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of California, Irvine (UCI).