Vanessa Barrios facilitates research, engagement, and advocacy for work related to affordable homes, accessible transit, public health, climate justice, and equitable economic development for RPA.

Prior to joining the organization in 2016, she worked as a case manager, housing navigator, and outreach worker at People Assisting the Homeless, a homeless service organization which serves unhoused families, veterans, and individuals in the Greater Los Angeles area. In April 2022, Vanessa earned a spot on City & State New York’s Non-Profit 40 Under 40 list for her leadership both at RPA and the Healthy Regions Planning Exchange, an RPA-led initiative that convenes a network of planners, practitioners, and advocates from 10 regions across the country to address health and equity in planning.

She has a bachelor’s in sociology from the University of California, Riverside, and a master’s in urban planning from the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University where she focused on international development planning. This specialization culminated in an analysis of local economic growth in the 30 regions of Tanzania and provided recommendations for industry potential and quality of life improvements.

Vanessa’s ancestors are from the Philippines. She is originally from Los Angeles, CA and is currently based in Brooklyn, NY where enjoys tending to her small but mighty windowsill garden and planning her friends’ next birthday parties.