I recently sat down with Highland Planning’s Director of Engagement to learn more about what makes her tick, as well as her interests and passions outside of work. Nancy Raca has been with Highland Planning since 2020 and has been instrumental in managing our engagement team and leading efforts for a variety of high profile projects.
What is your favorite part about what you do at Highland Planning?
I really enjoy the variety of projects and the fast pace. I’ve had the chance to work on public engagement projects all over New York State, on topics ranging from housing insecurity to downtown development to nuclear waste cleanup. I love that things are always changing!
What would you describe as your greatest most recent accomplishment?
I’m coming to appreciate small wins as great accomplishments these days. Getting my car inspected after being way overdue…Organizing my pantry (actually, not such a small feat)…Finding an awesome dress at Goodwill for $6.00. You don’t have to win awards or be perfect to be successful. Small victories happen every day.
What is your favorite way to spend your spare time?
My husband and I do cryptic crosswords together every day. We’ve done hundreds of them. I joke that when we run out of puzzles to do it will be the end of our 28-year marriage, but actually we’ll probably never get through them all. When I have a moment to myself, you can probably find me in a thrift store. Paying $2 for something that would cost $60 online never gets old.
What is the best advice you can give about someone starting a career in community outreach?
Put yourself in the community member’s shoes. Why should they care about your issue? What kind of experience do you want them to have when they engage with you? How can you demonstrate to them that you really value their time and input? Really think about whether you would engage if you lived in the community.