Colleen McHugh

Senior Adaptation Planner for Resilience Lab

Colleen McHugh, Senior Adaptation Planner for the Resilience Lab, has more than nine years of experience in urban planning and resilience work before joining the Institute in 2018. McHugh joined the Institute from the City of New Orleans where she was instrumental in the development of the city's award-winning Resilience Strategy, the city’s first-ever Climate Action Plan, and the implementation of green infrastructure and nature-based solutions. She was a core member of the team that developed the city’s $141 million award-winning proposal to HUD’s National Disaster Resilience Competition and guided the early implementation of a network of projects in the Gentilly Resilience District that will reduce flood risk while providing other community and climate benefits. In addition, she was responsible for the customization of decision support tools for the City of New Orleans including the Deltares Adaptation Support Tool (AST) and the Trust for Public Land Climate Smart Cities Tool.

Prior to working for the City, Colleen was a Resilience Planning Fellow for the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA), where she supported the planning, design, and implementation of projects and programs that reuse vacant land for community and environmental benefits. Colleen began her career working on urban planning and policy issues in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Colleen has a B.A. in Global Studies with a minor in Geography from UCLA and a Master in City Planning and Certificate in Urban Design from MIT. While at MIT, Colleen worked on client-based projects in Houston, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Singapore, and Japan. Her master's thesis analyzed vacant land in New Orleans through extensive imagery and GIS mapping and provided recommendations for how the city should target its limited resources in the future to maximize both social justice and environmental justice imperatives, as well as mitigate the negative impacts of future disasters.