Alumni Profiles

Lily Canan Reynolds 

Lily is using what she learned in the master’s program in her current work as a planner for the City of Newton, a streetcar suburb of Boston that’s dealing with development pressures. She works in the long-range planning division on housing policy, transportation and vision-planning projects. Community engagement is another major focus. “We really try to get the middle 75% of people who are not pro- or anti- any given project to come out to our events.” she said.

Lily’s bachelor’s degree in human geography (with a minor in sociology) is from UBC. After graduating in 2005, she worked as a teacher in Spain for a year and eventually ended up at a Vancouver neighbourhood house, coordinating its intergenerational programming. That led her to think about going back to school to increase her skills and help her continue her social planning and community development trajectory. “I didn’t want to leave my job,” she said. “So that was a really good fit – the evening classes. It was difficult, but being able to continue my professional development while returning to school was really attractive.” The flexible schedule also meant that Lily was able to pursue volunteer opportunities while studying, including with the feminist advocacy organization Women Transforming Cities.

She finds that the urban and planning history she learned through her courses has provided her with a good foundation for planning practice. “That [history of planning course] was a really valuable class for me to get a sense of the different canons and waves of thought in planning - to explore where the City Beautiful movement came from and modernist movements and different phases of planning theory and urban development,” she said. “The other thing I really liked about the SFU program was being downtown at Harbour Centre. “That helped to connect the learning to everyday experience.”

Originally from the U.S., Lily says her Canadian degree has not been an employment barrier now that she’s moved back. “I don’t think that’s a big problem,” she said. “It takes a little bit more time to get up to speed on the issues and how things work. The program still really prepared me with a good foundation.”

Connect with Lily on LinkedIn.