“I was drawn to planning because of its potential to help address some of the biggest challenges facing our cities - particularly poverty and segregation.”
Torey Hollingsworth is the Manager of Research & Policy with the Greater Ohio Policy Center, a research and advocacy organization that promotes revitalization and sustainable growth. Torey’s work focuses particularly on Ohio’s smaller legacy cities, and she is an author of multiple reports on the topic including “From Akron to Zanesville: How are Ohio’s Smaller Legacy Cities Faring?” and “Revitalizing America’s Smaller Legacy Cities.” Prior to joining GOPC, Torey served as Senior Regional Organizer at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition in Washington, DC. In that role, she worked to build and strengthen local coalitions throughout the Midwest focused on enforcing financial regulation and promoting community reinvestment. Torey joined NCRC after working as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Washington, DC's Ward 7 for Greater DC Cares.
Torey has a Master’s of City & Regional Planning from The Ohio State University’s Knowlton School, where she focused on policies and practices that help develop strong neighborhoods in Ohio’s older industrial cities. She received her Bachelor’s in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, where she wrote her honors thesis on the evolving relationship of a mainline Protestant church with its socially- and economically-isolated neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. Although she lives in Columbus, she still calls Dayton, Ohio home.
Here’s more from our conversation with Torrey:
Q: Which ACSP member school did you attend?
A: The Ohio State University
Q: What specialty did you study?
A: Housing, real estate, and neighborhoods, with an emphasis on public policy.
Q: Why did you select your particular specialty?
A: I was drawn to planning because of its potential to help address some of the biggest challenges facing our cities; particularly poverty and segregation. I think focusing on neighborhood-level issues shows how these big, structural problems play out in people's lives and can give us better insight into how to address them.
Q: Where do you currently work?
A: I work for the Greater Ohio Policy Center, a nonprofit advocacy and research organization focused on urban revitalization and sustainable growth in Ohio. I manage and carry out major research projects, help develop state policy proposals, and work with local partners around the state. My main area of focus is on supporting revitalization and reinvestment in Ohio's smaller legacy cities.
Q: Is there a particular class or professor that has made a great impact on you? How so?
A: I took an independent study with Dr. Mattijs Van Maasakkers where we read through much of the literature on shrinking cities. In many of Ohio's cities, it's really important that planners think about the ongoing impact of population loss and property abandonment, especially on communities that are marginalized. The readings and discussion led me to think more deeply through these issues, and made me feel better-equipped to tackle some of them in my professional life.
Q: What's your favorite project you’ve worked on, in class or in practice?
A: In grad school, I took a studio class where we prepared a comprehensive plan for Fayette County, Ohio; a small, rural county about an hour outside of Columbus. I have always lived in pretty urban areas, and spending time in Fayette County was a huge eye-opener. I never realized just how many challenges smaller, rural communities shared with urban areas. And I also didn't know much about the issues that are unique to them. I gained a whole new appreciation of Ohio's diverse communities, and I'm sure I'll be a better planner for it.
Q: What future goals do you have in your field?
A: Cities are going through some big changes right now, and I hope to get to be a part of shaping them into more prosperous and equitable places. My hometown, Dayton, is a great example of a place that went through some really tough years, especially since the Recession, but is starting to bounce back. I can't think of a better job than helping Dayton thrive.
Q: How has planning school changed your daily habits?
A: Well, I'm definitely more careful about managing my time! But really, I've been so grateful that planning school has forced me to set aside time to read and think more. It can be difficult to carve that time out when you're working full time, but school has given me space to be more reflective.
Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A: An astronaut!
Q: How many different cities have you lived in and which was your favorite?
A: I've lived in four cities: Dayton, Ohio (my hometown); Chicago, IL; Washington, D.C.; and now Columbus, Ohio. Each of them had something special to offer, but ultimately, there's no place like home.
Q: What is the title of the last book you read? What did you learn from it?
A: I'm reading Nixonland, by Rick Perlstein. It has been fascinating to get more context for how American cities were - and politics, culture, you name it - and continue to be impacted by what was going on in the 1960s and 1970s.