Skip to main content

Sandra Pinel, PhD

Antioch University New England

Dr. Pinel serves as the community and regional planning expert and engagement lead for the Infrastructure Development and Recovery Program (IDR) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, since 2016. IDR was to work with academia, government, and private sector partners to enhance resilience of critical infrastructure during planning, design, and recovery operations. Dr. Pinel co-leads several emergent initiatives including the Resilient Investment Planning and Development Working Group of public and private subject matter experts, an agency-wide “Future Cell” group to address community and government service recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, a port resilience project with the United States Army Corps of Engineers and university partners to reduce vulnerability to climate change and other hazards, and infrastructure resiliency planning pilot projects to enhance the capacity of local, tribal, state and territorial agencies to reduce vulnerabilities on local and regional infrastructure systems to floods, drought, and other hazards when completing hazard mitigation and comprehensive development plans. She also deployed to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands to support DHS’s role in the National Disaster Recovery Framework and served as National Drought Resilience Partnership action officer.

Dr. Pinel holds an M.S. and Ph.D. in urban and regional planning from the University of Wisconsin Madison with minors in anthropology and Latin American studies. More than twenty years of professional planning experience includes working with Native American tribal, local, state, non-governmental agencies in New Mexico, Minnesota with a focus on capacity-building and inter-governmental coordination. She joined DHS after developing the Bioregional Planning curriculum at the University of Idaho and completing National Science Foundation transdisciplinary social and ecological systems research projects and working with Latin American colleagues as a Fulbright NEXUS of the Americas Scholar (2014-2016). Her international research, publications and graduate advising have focused on the protection and governance of multi-jurisdictional and multi-cultural natural resources and landscapes that are managed by overlapping local government, indigenous, and state authorities. Her publications apply social and ecological systems, social anthropology, and planning theory to the challenges of co-managing peri-urban and mountain landscapes in the high Andes, per-urban Latin America, the Philippines and the western US.1

Her interests are local, regional, and indigenous environmental governance. Her case study research in the US and Latin America applies anthropology and planning theory and ethnographic methods to investigate how and why diverse actors apply different cultural rules, policies and laws to manage cultural and natural landscapes that extend across multiple cultural and political boundaries. Pinel applies extended professional urban and regional planning career with Native American tribal, local, state, and federal government to engaged research and teaching partnerships in order to build local governance capacity.

Profesora Asociada, Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja, Ecuador
Fulbright NEXUS Scholar 2014-2016

1 Torres-Lima, Pablo, Pinel, Sandra L., Conway-Gomez, Kristen. 2019. Adaptive governance for Resilience of peri-urban socioecological systems. In Urban Resilience for Risk and Adaptation Governance, Edited by Grazia Brunetta et al. Springer, Resilient Cities, Re-thinking Urban Transformation Series.

Pinel, Sandra L. Lopez Rodrigues, Fausto; Astudillo Aguillar, Diana; Merriman, Danie. 2018. Scaling down or scaling up? Local actor decisions and the feasibility of decentralized environmental governance: The case of paramo wetlands in southern Ecuador. Scottish Geographical Journal, Vol. 134 (1-2), pp. 45-70.

Educational History

  • PhD, MS, Urban and Regional Planning, Minors Latin American Studies and Anthropology, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP)
  • BA, Anthropology, Brandeis University

  • Vice President, American Planning Association Regional and Intergovernmental Division
  • Fellow, Society for Applied Anthropology
Sandra Pinel

Research Scholar,

Environmental Studies & Sustainability


Skip to content