Kate Nelischer

Assistant Professor - Department of Urban and Regional Planning

Assistant Instructor - Department of Urban and Regional Planning

Kate Nelischer headshot.

Kate joined the School of Architecture and Planning in 2022. Most recently, Kate served as a Definite-Term Lecturer at the University of Waterloo School of Planning and has previously taught at the Ryerson University School of Urban and Regional Planning and the University of Toronto Urban Studies and Human Geography Departments. 

From 2018-2020, Kate served as the Assistant Dean, Academic Planning and Governance at the University of Toronto John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. In this role she managed curriculum planning and represented the Faculty on University-wide initiatives to expand online and in-person experiential learning resources for students and faculty. She also managed program accreditation reviews, the development of the Faculty’s first Ph.D. program, and Faculty governance. As Assistant Dean, Kate also served as the secretary of the Faculty’s Diversity and Equity Committee, authored annual reports on the Faculty’s responses to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action, and organized anti-bias training for faculty and staff.

Kate’s research interests center on the governance of planning, design, and development processes, including community engagement. She is interested in who is represented in planning and design processes, who is underrepresented, and the resulting impacts on the forms and management of the city. Kate is currently completing her PhD in Planning at the University of Toronto, where her doctoral dissertation offers a case study of Sidewalk Toronto, a former public-private partnership between Sidewalk Labs (an Alphabet Inc. subsidiary) and Waterfront Toronto (a tripartite government agency) to develop a smart city. Kate’s research analyzes the project’s unique partnership structure and identifies how this shaped the planning and engagement processes, and contextualizes the project within the history of Toronto’s waterfront development. Kate was awarded the Van Ginkel Graduate Fellowship from the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance for her doctoral research, and has presented results at the American Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Conference (ACSP), and Urban Affairs Association (UAA) Conference.

Kate’s research interests are shaped by nearly a decade of professional planning, urban design, and community engagement experience across the public and private sectors. She previously served as a Senior Public Consultation Coordinator for the City of Toronto, where she designed and led community participation processes for major planning, design, transportation, and engineering projects and fostered partnerships with local organizations and institutions. Kate also helped to launch the City of Brampton’s first Office of Community Engagement, and previously worked for the Toronto-based consulting firm The Planning Partnership Ltd., managing large-scale landscape architecture, urban planning, and consultation projects for public and private clients. With a professional background and interest in government-led public consultation, Kate has authored a number of reports on best practices for public consultation, including a white paper on conflict management for the International Association for Public Participation, and more recently a report on improving policy outcomes through more inclusive consultation for the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance.

For the past nine years, Kate has served on the National Board of Directors of YWCA Canada, where she has chaired the Nominating Committee, participated on the Diversity Strategy Task Force, Governance Committee, and Young Women’s Leadership Committee, and was nominated to the World YWCA Board of Directors as the Canadian delegate. YWCA Canada is the country’s largest feminist women’s multi-service organization, providing shelters and long-term affordable housing for women and engaging in gender equity advocacy work at the federal and local levels. Motivated by experience with the YWCA, Kate has undertaken research projects on the history of purpose-built women’s housing in Toronto and has more broadly published on women’s right to the city. Kate has presented this work at the 2018 UN Women Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Leaders Forum and has organized related expert panel events, such as a recent forum in collaboration with the University of Toronto School of Cities and the Institute for Gender and the Economy.