Announcements 04.09.2020

Celebrating the Nagle-Johnson Family Fellow from the Harvard Graduate School of Design

We’re honored to highlight this year’s Nagle-Johnson Family Fellow from the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD). Established by our firm, Ralph Johnson, and Kathleen Nagle, the fellowship provides financial aid to students with the aim of expanding prospects to underrepresented members of the GSD community.

“We are happy to be able to support Sarai Osorio’s studies in community development which will lead to her future work in the public sector,” says Ralph Johnson, Global Design Director.

“Fostering a more diverse, inclusive design profession through opportunities like the Nagle-Johnson Family Fellowship is one of our firm’s core values, because we know diversity drives innovation,” says Phil Harrison, CEO. “The world is diverse. The design profession should be, too.”

In her own words, Sarai shares her passion for urban design and her work focusing on the intersection of migrant justice and urban planning:

My name is Sarai Osorio, and I am from North Hollywood, California. I received a bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 2018 from UCLA with a minor in urban studies, which fueled my interest in urban planning. I am currently working on an Urban Planning degree with a concentration in urban design at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. In addition to urban design, I am interested in community development and the intersection of migrant justice and urban planning. I carry my identity in every space I find myself, which always leads me to center my work on the immigrant and low-income population.

This past semester I worked on a studio project called East Boston’s Arrival Infrastructure: Preserving the Flavors and Comfort of Home. This project-centered on the immigrant-run food retailer network in East Boston as they are structures through which newly arrived immigrants find their first sources of employment and social circles. For established residents, these spaces serve as a mechanism to express their cultural identity, provide for their families, and claim “home” in the United States. East Boston’s vulnerabilities to sea-level rise and gentrification call for short term and long term solutions that reinforce and highlight the value of the local food retail community, provide short term rent assistance while working towards long term affordability and future financial loan support for businesses that will experience flood damages. In a previous studio, I worked with two other students on the creation of the Merrimack Street Business Alliance. This non-profit organization provides business support services for all of Lowell’s immigrant and refugee businesses while encouraging the revitalization of Merrimack Street through small business activity, specifically between Cardinal O’Connell Parkway and Austin Street. The ultimate goal for this project was to foster long-term community wealth in Lowell, MA. I am involved in various student groups. At the GSD, I am part of the MUP Diversity Committee and the Harvard Urban Planning Organization. The MUP Diversity Committee is composed of student and faculty representatives who seek to advance and actively engage in the recruitment and retention of students and faculty from diverse backgrounds. We also aim to create a space that serves to support all those within the department and stand as a platform where the critical discussion of issues, events, programming, and priorities regarding diversity, both in academia and practice, can be held in conjunction with faculty, the department, and School at large. I am personally involved with first-generation efforts, which include creating a supportive community on campus and providing a forum for concerns related to first-generation students to be relayed to faculty and admissions.

Outside of the GSD, I am co-president of the Central American Students Association. This association connects Central American students across all of the Harvard schools, acts in solidarity with Central Americans globally, and promotes the beauty, depth, and brilliance of Central American stories, culture, scholarship, and resistance. My future plans at the moment include working for the public sector either in the U.S., in El Salvador, or Central America. I plan to work on housing affordability issues while also being a strong advocate for immigrant rights and those who are the most vulnerable.

I would like to say thank you. Your generosity has allowed a first-generation, low-income student the opportunity to attend a school like the GSD. This opportunity has opened so many doors for me that would not have otherwise been possible.


Sarai Osorio