Erin Sweeney is in her first year in the University at Buffalo Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MUP) program with a concentration in community health and food systems. She is a member of the American Planning Association. While immersed in her studies, Erin also works as a research assistant in the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab and the Community of Excellence for Global Health Equity (CGHE). She earned her BA in community development from Allegheny College in 2010, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Erin is from Geneseo, NY.
Her work prior to starting the MUP program was focused on rural community development through access to and education around local and affordable food in Northwestern Pennsylvania and Central Maine. She spent the last six years managing an intergenerational community garden, developing regional support for low-income shoppers at farmers markets, and integrating nutrition curriculum into programs for youth. In addition to her programmatic work, Erin served on several nonprofit boards, and was part of the Sustainable Food Systems Leadership Institute in Maine. These leadership experiences inspired her interest in group facilitation and leadership development among youth and underrepresented community members, which she is excited to explore through her work in Western New York. Erin is excited to bring the skills and knowledge she gained from living in other communities to her research focus: to understand the complex relationships and opportunities for innovative leadership, between growth in urban versus rural areas of Western New York. Since moving back to the region in August 2016, Erin has become involved as a volunteer with the Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP), a non-profit that supports youth leadership development through urban farming, and plays roller derby with the Queen City Roller Girls league. In the future, Erin hopes to launch a leadership hub that helps youth and adults develop creative solutions for economic development in the rural communities in Western New York.