Meet our Principal and Owner, Tanya Mooza Zwahlen

If you’ve interacted with Highland Planning over the years, you likely know Tanya Zwahlen, a Rochester resident and city planner. Tanya is a native to the central Massachusetts area, and still enjoys returning frequently with her family to vacation in Cape Cod.

How long have you worked at Highland Planning?

Since day one in March 2007.

What is your favorite thing about working at Highland Planning?

I love specializing in an area of planning that (a) is important and necessary and (b) lights me up. I love our team. I love our office, which was a vacant building for many years. Since pandemic ended, I really enjoy bringing my dog Rose to work. I enjoy that my 15-year-old son trashes my house all week but does a fairly good job cleaning our office on the weekends. I love the freedom and flexibility that owning a business has given to my life.

Coffee or tea?

Hot strong black coffee with oat milk and a little cinnamon

What did you have for lunch today?

I had a huge green salad with walnuts and craisins and chicken and caught up with my friend, neighbor and planning colleague, Kevin Kelley.

Best thing on the menu at Swillburger?

Tater tots, obviously

Best piece of public engagement advice?

Listen. Aim to listen more than you talk. Aim to listen even if the person talking is creating discomfort in you. Even if they cause you to have an emotional or intellectual response or if you think they are misunderstanding the issue or that they are flat out wrong. Listen for the value system that they are speaking from and try to understand why what they are saying matters to them. When we can understand another person better, we draw closer to them rather than farther apart. And drawing closer is the only way to work together.

Above: Tanya’s children help maintain the office space at 820. S Clinton Avenue in Rochester, NY.
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