Rebecca Yanus (MUP '15, BAED '13)

by Rachel Teaman

Published May 20, 2019

Rebecca yannus.

Rebecca Yanus spent two years meandering through courses in pre-dental and engineering before finding her place in urban planning at UB.

She recalls an advisor at UB recommending a class in the environmental design program, a common undergraduate path of entry into the Master of Urban Planning program. "Urban planning? What's that?" Yanus remebers asking the counselor.

It wasn't long before Yanus realized she'd found her calling. After earning her BAED she stayed on at UB to earn her Master of Urban Planning. Today she's head of planning for the City of Dunkirk in Chautauqua County, in the southwestern corner of New York State.

The Lake Erie shoreline community has served as a dynamic forum for urban planning, particularly in the arena of tourism and economic development. The community of 12,000 is highly diverse - one third of its population Hispanic/Latino.  

Affordable housing renovation in Buffalo.

Rendering of improvements planned for the Dunkirk Pier in the City of Dunkirk. As Director of Planning and Development, Rebecca Yanus is advancing economic and waterfront development interests in line with community interests. 

In recent years, Yanus's office has led development of the city's comprehensive plan, a waterfront redevelopment plan, and multiple brownfield opportunity area plans. The city is in the midst of redeveloping the Dunkirk Pier, a major destination for residents and tourists alike. "We are a city on the lake, and we celebrate that," she says.

Under Yanus's leadership, the planning office currently oversees 17 grants totaling more than $6 million in public and private investment into the community.

Sharing advice to current students, Yanus says: "I can't emphasize enough the importance of grant writing. It's a huge piece in the urban planning field. If there's a grant writing class, take it."

Prior to her position with the City of Dunkirk, Yanus built her foundation in the practice of planning as a junior planner for the Laberge Group. Working out of the company's Albany office, she participated on planning efforts for 15 different communities. "I got myhands involved in everything," she says.

I can't emphasize enough the importance of grant writing. It's a huge piece in the urban planning field. If there's a grant writing class, take it.