Yonah is a native of Durham, North Carolina and is currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). His work is focused on regional governance, public housing history, and zoning policy. He passed his comprehensive exams in two fields: City Design and Development, and Politics and Planning of Metropolitan Infrastructure. He is a graduate student affiliate of the Harvard Center for European Studies.
He attended Yale University as an undergraduate, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, with distinction. He later received masters’ degrees in city planning (MCP) and transportation (MST) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His city planning thesis focused on the work of New York’s Urban Development Corporation to construct mixed-income housing in the 1970s; his thesis for transportation analyzed transit farecard data to determine journey time impacts of disruption on the London Underground network.
He spent two years researching community engagement in Paris, where he studied the planning and construction of the Rive Gauche project, which is a model for neighborhood involvement in development decision-making. He also founded the national blog The Transport Politic, which has received dozens of mentions in the press and awards from Planetizen, and has contributed dozens of articles for media including CNN, The New York Times, Planning, Dissent, CityLab, Next City, Urban Land, and others. He has written or co-written peer-reviewed articles for Journal of Urban History and the Journal of the American Planning Association, as well as book chapters for Public Housing Myths (2015) and Affordable Housing in New York (2015).
Previously, Yonah joined Chicago’s Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) as an associate in 2013 and worked as a project manager between 2014 and 2016. He focused on policies to promote equitable transit-oriented development and transportation investment. He co-managed the public engagement programs that MPC undertook in Chicago’s Uptown and Logan Square communities. He led MPC’s research on the Illiana Expressway and the existing conditions of the public transportation network in Northeastern Illinois, in association with the state’s 2013 Transit Task Force. He served on the Transportation Committee of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.