Willa Jones is a Project Associate at Project for Public Spaces, working primarily on the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design—an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts that provides workshops and resources to rural communities facing design challenges. Willa assisted CIRD in its pilot year at PPS, and loved learning about rural communities and planning the workshops that set the stage for revitalizing them. For CIRD, Willa worked with the communities to prepare them for the workshops, and helped develop a database of diverse resources for rural communities on CIRD’s website—in addition to composing blogs, and managing CIRD’s press and social media. She also worked on the evaluation of public spaces in Providence, RI, interviewing citizens there, and looks forward to doing this in more cities through PPS’ projects with Southwest Airlines. Willa has been inspired by PPS’ projects, and by the communities they work in, and has been thrilled to be working with them, in both rural and urban areas.
Willa graduated Cum Laude from Skidmore College in 2012, where she studied sociology, and was funded to conduct collaborative qualitative research. For her thesis, she researched the impact of socioeconomic and immigration status on residential satisfaction in urban communities, which she presented at the Eastern Sociological Society’s annual conference. After graduating, Willa assisted planners and city officials in Saratoga Springs’ Department of Planning and Economic Development with an application for the American Planning Association’s “Great Streets” award, which was awarded to the City, along with other plans and policies. In New York City, Willa helped open and organize events at the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space on the Lower East Side, and has worked with other nonprofits including ROW New York, where she loved tutoring and mentoring incredible girls in middle and high school—and she continues to enjoy volunteering in, photographing, and writing about spaces in the city.