John Cruz

John Cruz, MUP


Urbanist and city planner

John is a graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan, where he completed a Masters Degree in Urban Planning with a concentration in Economic Development. John’s research focused on economic development strategies for urban areas, demographics research, placemaking strategies, retail business development, and transportation planning. He has used his extensive background in programming and information technology to utilize database systems and Geographic Information Systems. He is comfortable with civic engagement as well as working with the public.

He is currently the Data Management Coordinator for Rise Community Development in St. Louis, Missouri and is available for media interviews, speaking engagements, workshops and civic engagement.

Personal Information

Date of birth
December 31, 1985
The South Hampton Neighborhood, St. Louis, MO USA 63109
Email |
314 688 6463


Dec. 2015 - now

Data Management Coordinator @ Rise Community Development Corporation

As of December 2015 | St. Louis

Rise provides capacity-building technical assistance and training to community development organizations, government agencies and institutions in the St. Louis region.

As Data Management Coordinator, John works to improve communities through data-driven approaches to problem solving. In this capacity, the following duties are some of the required aspects:

  • Utilizing GIS services and map making
  • Technical assistance to partner organizations
  • Maintain and improve internal databases
  • Online web-based development as needed

→ View website

2011 - now

Editor-In-Chief @ The Urbanist Dispatch

from 2011 to present day | St. Louis MO

Founded The Urbanist Dispatch, an online periodical aiming to contribute to the conversation on how to improve the places people live, work, and play.

As Editor-In-Chief, John is responsible for the technical upkeep of the site as well as all the tasks associated with maintaining a staff of numerous writers and editors who regularly contribute to the site. These tasks include:

  • Delegation of writing tasks to authors and editing tasks to editors.
  • Content creation, including article writing and research.
  • Tutorials and walk-throughs for staff, including documentation creation.
  • Editing articles for content, spelling, grammar, and fact-checking.
  • Working directly with authors to brainstorm and improve potential content.
  • Social Media management and engagement.
  • Project Management.

→ View website

Sept. 2015 - Dec. 2015

Community Development Intern @ Old North Restoration Group

From September 2015 - December 2015 | St. Louis

Old North St. Louis Restoration Group is a community based non-profit aiding the Old North neighborhood of St. Louis.

John lends his time as a part-time intern aiding the office in whatever duties are necessary. These include:

  • Community development research and recommendations
  • Grant writing and related research
  • IT and web based needs.
  • As needed organizational based work.
  • John continues to volunteer with and aide the organization on an as-needed basis

→ View website

2014 - 2015

Web Developer @ Face3 Media

from 2014 to July 2015 | Montreal, QC

Face3 Media is a full service web design and development firm, which services a wide variety of clients.

Projects include small business websites, custom web applications, and custom Wordpress development. John joined the development team at Face3 in 2014 after relocating to Montréal. John's duties as a developer at Face3 include:

  • Software development on the Wordpress platform, including custom plug-in development and front-end development.
  • Large and small scale projects including e-commerce and large music festivals.
  • Backend web programming using PHP, MySQL databases.

→ View website

2012 - 2013

Immigration Research and GIS Intern @ Global Detroit

from 2012 to 2013 | Detroit, MI

Global Detroit, a part of the New Solutions group is a small non-profit organization, which aims to strengthen Southeast Michigan and make Detroit a global city by pursuing initiatives that will make the region more attractive to immigration and foreign investment.

Completed an extensive mapping project and social / economic statistics report on the foreign-born populations of the Metro Detroit area. Worked directly with Global Detroit staff as well as Kurt Metzger of Data Driven Detroit on this project. You can download the full report along with the companion maps at the Global Detroit website here.

The final report received news coverage from various media outlets, including:

John was asked, along with Kurt Metzger of Data Driven Detroit, to do an interview on WDET’s The Craig Fahle Show for a segment titled “Detroit: America’s Melting Pot”. You can view WDET’s segment notes and listen to the interview online on the WDET website by clicking here. Click here to download a PDF of the segment notes and click here to download an MP3 of the interview.

→ View website

2013 - 2013

Social Media Manager and Photographer @ Detroit Revitalization Fellows Program

from March 2013 to August 2013 | Detroit, MI

The Detroit Revitalization Fellows Program is a fellowship program housed at Wayne State University that recruits professionals and helps to place them with potential organizations to help aide in the economic recovery of Detroit.

John developed social media strategies with DRFP staff as well as other Wayne State partner organizations to reach a broader audience and spread program awareness through social media. This included social media updates from partner organizations and employers of fellows. He also worked to produce demographic reports, presentations and statistics on the potential fellows as well as social media benchmarks.

Other duties included on-site photography and photo editing for various program events with fellows and potential fellows.

→ View website

2008 - 2013

Web Developer @ The Red Theory Online Services

from 2008 to 2013 | Mount Clemens, MI

The Red Theory Online Services is a small business that provides custom web solutions, web design and programming for individuals, non-profits, and businesses. John was The Red Theory’s first employee.

Worked in custom development on numerous consumer platforms including: blogging platforms, content management systems, e-Commerce, and web programs run on custom frameworks primarily using PHP.

  • Custom web design utilizing Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, CSS, and template schemes that work on various online platforms.
  • Worked directly with clients and partner agencies to collaborate on projects.
  • Oversaw work of other designers, developers and interns.

→ View website

2011 - 2011

Web Content Producer @ CBS Detroit

from September 2011 to December 2011 | Detroit, MI

CBS Detroit features the stories of people and places from Southeast Michigan

Produced the first “Defend Your Ride” segments for CBS Local Detroit, interviewing people about their cars and their driving activities.

Conducted on-location interviews and photographed people with their rides.

→ View example interview

2006 - 2007

eCommerce Developer at

from October 2006 to December 207 | Utica, MI is a “Business to Business” producer of custom signage. John designed and built the online system to purchase signs from scratch.

Working with ownership and staff, John was able to access the business needs and designed an online ordering system that would allow the business to stop local “business to customer” sales and focus entirely on online sales. Once the site was active, he worked to fix software bugs, add site improvements, design changes, handled customer support, and eventually coordinated all the day's shipments via DHL and UPS.

When John started, the company had no presence on the web. When he left, online sales were up to around $20k per month and in-store sales were almost completely phased out. Since then, the company has continued to build and expand upon the technology. They are now located in Macomb TWP Michigan with a large printing warehouse to handle all the worldwide orders.

→ View website


2009 - 2012

Wayne State University, Detroit MI

from 2009 to 2012

Master of Urban Planning; Concentration in Economic Development

Grade: 3.5/4.0 | View Diploma

Masters Essay Topic: Transit Oriented Economic Development for American Rust Belt Cities.

Capstone Project: Conceptualizing Woodbridge, a Neighborhood Plan.

Michigan Association of Planning Student Conference Host Committee Chairman (2012).

Michigan Association of Planning Student Conference Steering Committee (2011).

American Planning Association Student Representatives Council (SRC) Student Representative (2010 - 2011).

Wayne State Student Urban Planners Communications Chairman (2011 - 2012).

Wayne State Student Urban Planners Co-Chairman (2010 - 2011).

→ View website

2006 - 2008

Baker College Online, Flint MI

from Fall 2006 to Spring 2008

Bachelors of Web Development (Information Systems)

Grade: 3.4/4.0 | View Diploma

By the time John graduated he was already working as a full time web developer. Instructors at the college were also hiring him for some additional freelance work to support their own businesses.

→ View website

2003 - 2006

Baker College, Clinton Township MI

from Fall 2003 to Spring 2006

Associates of Applied Science; Major in Web Design

Grade: 3.5/4.0 | View Diploma

→ View website

1999 - 2003*

Mount Clemens High School, Mount Clemens MI

from Fall 1999 to Spring 2003

High School Diploma, focus on Music Performance

Grade: 3.4/4.0 | View Diploma

Graduation Honors for Music and the National Honor Society (Junior year President).

2002 Central Michigan University Jazz Fest class B-C-D Outstanding Soloist Award for baritone sax playing during Carnival by Steve Spiegl.

Stage Crew for all in-school productions and the community concert series.

Marching Band, Jazz Band, Student Teacher (6th grade woodwinds).

First three years of High School completed at Mt. Clemens Senior Academy, an Edison Partnership School.

→ View website

Board and Committee Membershp

January 2018 - Current

National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP)

Executive Committee Member | St. Louis, Washington D.C.

Coordinated by the Urban Institute, NNIP consists of organizations in 32 cities that share a mission to help community stakeholders use neighborhood data for better decision-making, with a focus on working with low-income communities. The Executive Committee is a partially elected body which oversees the direction of NNIP.

→ View website

August 2017 - September 2018

Civ Tech St. Louis

Charter Board Member | St. Louis

CivTech STL is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the goal of empowering citizens with tools and data that lead to more effective government, a more engaged community, and a more equitable society. John helped oversee efforts to turn CivTech into a nonprofit from an initiative, serving a year on the board as Vice President and Treasurer.

→ View website

July 2016 - Current

St. Louis Metro Section of the Missouri Chapter of the American Planning Association

Board of Directors | Web Committee Chairman | St. Louis

The American Planning Association is the largest professional organization of community planners in the United States. The St. Louis Metro Section covers the 11-county St. Louis Metropolitan Area in both Missouri and Illinois. John was on the planning committee for the 2017 Missouri State Planning Conference in St. Louis.

→ View website


Urban Planning

Professional Skills
Geographic Information Systems (ArcGIS) Community Development Public Policy and Analysis Transit Oriented Development Transportation Policy and Implementation Economic Development Retail Development Comfortable working alone or in a group settings
Research Skills
Census Data analysis Ability to navigate databases and journals Critical and Analytical thinking

Web Design and Development

Development Skills
Front-end programming php5 Wordpress mySQL Database Design

Additional Skills

Additional Professional Skills
Public Speaking Event Planning Volunteer Management Political Consulting Campaign Management Community Outreach Ability to explain technical jargon in easy to understand language

Human Language

Verbal and Written Languages
English (Native) Spanish (Familiar) French (Familiar) Strong English Writing and Editing Skills

Letters of Recommendation

Adam Diehm

Founder and Principal, The Red Theory Online Services LLC

Download Letter PDF

Steve Tobocman

Director, Global Detroit. Former representative in the Michigan State Legislature.

Download Letter PDF

Dr. Robin Boyle

Chairman of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Wayne State University.

Download Letter PDF

Dr. Chade Saghir

Transportation Planner, SEMCOG. Adjunct Professor, Wayne State University.

Download Letter PDF

Lauren Carlson

Director of Information and Planning, Michigan Association of Planning.

Download Letter PDF

Memberships and Professional Organizations

American Planning Association American Planning Association Missouri Chapter

Hobbies and More

CPR Certified (Heart and Stroke Foundation of Quebec) Music Books Tea Dachshund Owner Traveling Photography


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