Six Months and Going Strong

by Mariia Zimmerman


Six months ago today, I launched MZ Strategies, LLC to focus on the two areas where I believe communities and advocates need more effective strategies to create lasting change: 

  1. Strategic alignment of resources (human and fiscal) to implement and maximize sustainable results from public and private sector investments.
  2.  Navigating the state and federal policy and rule making paths to make equitable sustainable development easier. 

Enormous thanks to my clients for their financial support, collaborative spirit and enthusiasm for my approach. It’s been especially satisfying to re-engage on transit, regional planning, and housing and development efforts in my home state of Minnesota. It's fitting that my new career path would start in Lake Woebegone, where I first discovered my love of transportation and urban planning (and my husband, Roger to whom I also owe much thanks for his steadfast support). 

Some highlights from the past six months include:

Strategic Consulting for the Urban Land Institute, the McKnight Foundation, the National Association of Regional Councils, MN Housing Partnership and the MN Center for Environmental Advocacy and authoring a research summary for the Center for Transportation Studies.

Serving as a Visiting Fellow with the Metropolitan Institute at VA Tech;  blogging and overcoming my Twitter phobia; and numerous speaking engagements including for the American Planning Association, the American Public Transportation Association, the Baltimore Streetcar Coalition, the Corridors of Opportunity Policy Board, the Metropolitan Council (Regional Economic Development: Lessons Learned), and the Minnesota Environmental Initiative (TOD: Addressing the Challenges and Capitalizing on Opportunities)

My two sons enjoying a cone at my hometown DQ while I worked this summer in MN for MZ Strategies.

My two sons enjoying a cone at my hometown DQ while I worked this summer in MN for MZ Strategies.

My decision to leave a high level federal job and start MZ Strategies coincided with the much discussed Atlantic article by Anne-Marie Slaughter, “Why Woman Can’t Have it All.” No fewer than 18 friends emailed me the article in June alone. While some elements of her piece ring true, I’ve spent the last several months bristling at the whole premise behind the headline. I believe women can have it all … the distinction is that how we define “all” may differ between each of us, and at different points in our life. Currently for me, “all” is my own business where I work with passionate people on improving the quality of their communities, and more time with my two elementary-age sons relishing the unique gifts of motherhood. After Friday’s tragedy in Newtown, CT, this feels even more profound.

Thanks to each of you – clients, colleagues, friends and family -- who have provided support, advice, and funding to MZ Strategies, LLC.  I look forward to continued and new partnerships in the coming year and wish you all a very happy holiday season! ~ Mariia