Moelis Fellowships support diverse voices in pursuing planning careers

The Weitzman School welcomes the first cohort of Moelis Scholars in the Master of City Planning program.

This fall, as part of ongoing efforts to support diverse voices within the Weitzman School of Design, the Department of City and Regional Planning is welcoming the first cohort of Moelis Scholars, a new program to encourage students with a commitment to diversity to pursue careers in housing and community and economic development.

Eboni Senai Hawkins and Sean Dajour Smith
Planning students Eboni Senai Hawkins and Sean Dajour Smith are the Weitzman School’s first Moelis Scholars. (Image: Weitzman School)

The Moelis Scholars Program supports students in the Master of City Planning program with tuition remission and other benefits. The goal is not just to bring people from a range of backgrounds into the planning discipline, but to help them find a way into the private development world as well, says Ron Moelis, CEO and founding partner of L+M Development Partners and the primary supporter of the new fellowship program.

“Diversity is a priority across our business, whether it be within our team, on our job sites or in the communities where we work. We have a number of initiatives that are focused on bolstering diversity in the industry, including working with Minority and Women Owned Businesses (M/WBEs) on our construction projects and partnering with nonprofits to deliver skills training,” Moelis says. 

The first cohort of Moelis Scholars includes Eboni Senai Hawkins from Chicago and Sean Dajour Smith from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Moelis says that in the last five or 10 years, as rising land costs, zoning challenges, affordability, and gentrification have become much bigger issues in American cities, the process of working with communities on development projects has become more important.

“Our work is centered around the idea that building and preserving affordable housing goes hand in hand with social responsibility. Our team demonstrates that every day by working with residents, non-profits, and elected officials to identify ways we can help strengthen communities. That might mean partnering with a nonprofit to deliver a construction training program or provide an after-school program at one of our properties.”

Read more at Weitzman School of Design.