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Ebony Walden, City of Charlottesville

Ebony Walden, Neighborhood Planner

Where were you born (and raised, if different)?

I was born in Queens, New York and lived there until I was 8. The rest of my youth I spent in Long Island, NY (Hempstead)

When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?

I moved to the Charlottesville area in the fall of 2003. I came here from Washington, DC to participate in the Trinity Fellows Program , a leadership development program that prepares young adults for entering their future vocations and approaching their lives from a Christian worldview.

What neighborhood do you live in now?

I have spent most of my time in Charlottesville living in Fifeville (Prospect), but most recently I live in North Downtown.

Family (spouse, kids, etc)?

I am single with no children

What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?

I graduated from Georgetown University in 2002 and the University of Virginia in 2006.

What were you doing before coming to the city government?

After graduating from Georgetown, I participated in a hunger/poverty fellowship called the Congressional Hunger Fellows Program . I was a Trinity Fellow in 2003-04 and worked for the Hudson Faith in Communities Initiative. In 2004, I enrolled in graduate school at UVA (in Urban Planning) and began an internship at the City’s Neighborhood Development Services Department in 2005.

Your job title is Neighborhood Planner – what, in your own words, would you say you do?

My job is multifaceted and diverse. Being a Neighborhood Planner primarily means:

What is the best part of your job? The most difficult part?

The best part of my job is working with various players in our community to help shape the future built environment of Charlottesville. The most difficult part is trying to balance the competing interests of all the parties involved in the development process. Land use issues can become very emotionally charged because they touch on people’s everyday lives.

How does your job most directly impact the average person?

My job impacts the average person’s experience of the built environment and the uses that support their everyday lives. I help shape the uses, location, size, height and character of the buildings, streets, housing and commercial areas of Charlottesville.

What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the city government?

In 2005, I helped plan and coordinate the city’s Neighborhood Planning citizen outreach effort, Neighborhood Design Day. We had all 18 neighborhoods meet for a day long planning and design charette.

What is a little known fact about you?

Last year, I traveled around the world (to 5 continents, 17 countries and about 70 cities) in 8 months. It was an adventure of sightseeing, writing poetry and volunteering at schools, orphanages and community centers.

What do you do outside of work hours – hobbies, etc?

I work out, worship, volunteer at the Haven and other community organizations, host, plan and attend arts/community events, write poetry, drink a lot of tea and have meals/conversations with other Charlottesvillians as often as I can.