Diego is a recent graduate from Rice University approaching the field of urban planning with a focus on community engagement. His experience as a Salvadoran immigrant sparked an ambition for serving marginalized communities and improving their material conditions, bringing him to Asakura Robinson. Diego dedicated his university career to fostering community and access to opportunities for members inside and outside of academic contexts, developing replicable frameworks ranging from academic outreach to electoral mobilization for Houston’s Hispanic community. Studying political science and working with both public policy and non-profit organizations enabled him to adopt an interdisciplinary perspective on the role of built environments.
As a Rice Kinder Institute fellow, Diego worked with Buffalo Bayou Partnership in developing a snapshot of Houston’s Greater East End and its community-based organizations. Working within East End communities enabled him to outline community factors for consideration in the partnership’s East End Master Plan. Resulting exposure to the intersection of sociology, development, and social justice brought him toward urban planning as the next step in his career.
Diego enjoys bringing his different passions together beyond his professional ambitions, constantly exploring new cultures, cuisines, and perspectives on the built environment. He always brings a camera along to capture anything he finds interesting in the world around him.
What’s your favorite type of community engagement activity?
Embedding directly into communities often results in my favorite type of engagement activities, where I can work together with community members and establish a direct understanding of their day-to-day lives in the community, building strong relationships that go beyond the project at hand.
If you could work on a project anywhere in the world where would it be?
Hailing from San Salvador, El Salvador, my dream is to one day work on a project aiming to better understand the dynamics affecting equitable development across the city and surrounding region.
If you had a superpower to make a bigger impact on communities/ cities/ or environments what superpower would you have?
My chosen superpower for affecting communities is to be in multiple places at once, as both time and resources often prove a limitation for engagement and there are always more events I could attend and people I could meet to expand our mutual understandings.