Neda Moayerian joined the Planning, Governance and Globalization program in Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs as a Ph.D. student in 2015. In her doctoral dissertation, undertaken with Dr. Max Stephenson as her adviser and mentor, she explored the connections between community cultural development and the sustainability of tourism in a Central Appalachian coal community that has suffered rapid economic and social decline in recent decades. As an avid member of the Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance (VTIPG) Community Change Collaborative (CCC), Neda has participated in that groups’ weekly subject discussions and scholarly forums. She also has interviewed some of the program’s guest speakers for its podcast series profiling professionals, working here and abroad and representing diverse policy domains, interested in securing social and economic change in their communities. Her involvement with CCC’s community-based research projects in Southwest Virginia and West Virginia has provided her hands-on experience in community facilitation, community strategic planning and collaborative governance processes. After serving as a graduate assistant with VTIPG from 2015-2018, she joined the Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development (OED) in a similar role in May 2018, where she had the opportunity to participate in several impact evaluation projects and workforce and economic development feasibility studies.
Neda completed her Ph.D. in the spring of 2020 and currently serves as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at VTIPG and OED. In a collaborative project between the Institute and OED, an evaluation of drug courts’ impact in the region, she assists with conducting interviews of key stakeholders. She is also co-authoring three articles addressing individual and collective agency in Brazil’s Favelas, the impact of the Syrian immigration/refugee crisis on neighboring nations and community cultural development as a social change strategy in Central Appalachia. She is also helping to plan an international symposium bringing scholars of decoloniality and decolonization into dialogue in spring 2021, co-sponsored by VTIPG. The principal organizers of that program, Professors Desiree Poets and Laura Zanotti of the Department of Political Science, and Max Stephenson of SPIA and VTIPG, plan to publish the articles presented at the symposium in a special issue of the journal, *Antipode*, for which the three are also serving as editors.
Neda holds a bachelor of science degree in Urban Planning from the Art University of Tehran (2011) and a master’s degree in Urban Management from the University of Tehran (2014). During her residence in Blacksburg, she has met new friends from the U.S. and around the globe, enjoyed hiking on gorgeous trails and attending cultural events at the Moss Art Center.