Over the past 50 years, MAPP has produced its fair share of power couples. In the fall of 2016, Ryan Rattanni and Chelsie Miller were added to the roster. The two met through UMD’s Urban Studies and Planning Program, where they worked and studied alongside each other in a tight-knit cohort; sparks began to officially fly during Uri Avin’s Land Use Planning Class… possibly because Uri is known to make Barry White references during his lectures (but more likely because they worked on a project together). A year after graduating—Chelsie with a Masters in Community Planning, Ryan with Masters in in Community Planning and, later, a second in Real Estate Development—they were married at sea in Annapolis; their wedding was officiated by their classmate, Matt Jones, M.C.P. ’15. Now settled in Baltimore, Ryan works for the city as an analyst with the Department of Finance, managing Baltimore’s property tax credit programs that promote development throughout the city. Chelsie travels the world for the Lutheran World Relief as a business development manager, supporting project design, engaging donors and managing proposals for new projects. Below, they discuss work victories, each other’s strengths and their next adventure:
Notable project from this past year:
Ryan: We’ve worked on a number of exciting developments in the last year but, personally, I’m most proud of a new tax credit designed to attract and retain police officers and firefighters to buy homes in Baltimore City. It’s no secret that Baltimore has been experiencing a spike in crime since the Freddie Gray riots of 2015. Our hope is that this credit will begin to mend community-police relations and encourage first responders to live in the communities that they serve.
Chelsie: I recently coordinated Lutheran World Relief’s proposal for a Global Development Alliance opportunity with the United States Agency for International Development in Niger, West Africa. The project brings together private sector investments in the banking, telecommunications and agriculture export sectors, as well as investments from the U.S. Government and foundations. The 5-year, $41 million initiative leverages complementary funding to increase farmer incomes through improved agricultural production and marketing in rural Niger.
What drew each of you to UMD?
Ryan: Honestly? The graduate assistant program was a huge incentive and made my degrees way more affordable. Graduate school often comes with a hefty price tag. Maryland offered the best combination of solid academic reputation and affordability.
Chelsie: A lot of reasons, but primarily the graduate assistant program and the opportunity to work at the National Center for Smart Growth. Plus, I was excited to be in close proximity to both D.C. and Baltimore.
Do you ever lean on each other’s expertise in work matters?
Ryan: Sure. Chelsie is a GIS whiz, so I’m often asking her questions about mapping this or that. While GIS is not something I use on a daily basis, it’s really helpful to be able to visually communicate complex ideas in a really straightforward way.
Chelsie: Ryan is a fantastic writer and an even better editor. As a proposal writer, it is so helpful to be able to ask Ryan to read through proposal drafts with me to ensure I am writing in a concise, compelling manner.
What’s a skill your spouse has that you rely on/admire?
Ryan: Chelsie is able to focus and meet deadlines in a way I can’t. I’m much more of a procrastinator.
Chelsie: Ryan is really great at public speaking – he’s fantastic at speaking clearly off the top of his head. Traits that I greatly admire as I’m often putting my foot in my mouth!
Last TV show you binged together:
Ryan & Chelsie: Retribution on Netflix. The Last Post on Amazon. The Good Place on Hulu. We probably watch too much TV.
What’s next for you:
Ryan: I ended up getting a Master’s in Real Estate Development – also from UMD – after my planning degree, so the ultimate goal is to work in real estate development in a way that draws heavily on my planning background. I really enjoy what I’m doing at the moment, but I’ll probably make the switch to the private sector in the near future.
Chelsie: I have been with Lutheran World Relief for almost three years now and don’t see myself leaving anytime soon. Ryan and I live in Baltimore, in walking distance to both of our offices. We have a blast exploring our city every weekend – from trying out new restaurants to checking out the city parks with our dog. We’re currently planning our next trip together (Switzerland!), but we’re always thinking about the next place to explore together.