Annalise H. Fonza

Annalise H. Fonza

Lecturer, Urban and Regional Planning, College of Environmental Design

About Me

Dr. Annalise Fonza has been a Lecturer in the Department of Urban & Regional Planning at Cal Poly Pomona since January 2022, but she has been crafting the art of teaching adults at the post-secondary level since the late 1990's when she accepted a position as a graduate assistant working for the renowned Rev. Dr. Tex Sample at Saint Paul School of Theology. Dr. Fonza proudly self-identifies as a writer, a womanist, an atheist, and full-time, outside of Cal Poly Pomona, she is a sworn federal civilian employee at the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Currently, she teaches URP 1051, Ethnic Communities, Places, and Urban Planning, which is an Area F course and thus it is cross-listed in the CPP Department of Ethnic and Women’s Studies.


In 2019, Dr. Fonza published a short electronic/digital document, which is available on most digital platforms entitled Rebuilding Black Communities, With Love. She refers to it as a short but important love letter to Black America. Writing as a womanist planning scholar in this bold yet brief publication, Dr. Fonza pays tribute to Kansas City entrepreneur and Missouri Restaurant Hall of Famer, Mr. Ollie Gates. In 2022, she published two online courses on behalf of Planetizen, Inc., which provides continuing education courses and resources to those certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). Her online courses explore the growing significance of culture and ethnicity in urban planning as a practice in placemaking. 


Conducting oral histories and thus preserving the cultural and collective histories of black people and black communities are dominant features of Dr. Fonza’s research, teaching, and professional profile. In 2007, she established her own digital collection of oral histories of black residents in Springfield, Massachusetts, and short audio/oral histories of black and brown lawmakers and staff from Beacon Hill, which  is archived at the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History in Massachusetts. This March (2024), Dr. Fonza will return to Springfield, Massachusetts to present a lecture in honor of black women lawmakers from Beacon Hill who served the Commonwealth during the early part of the twenty-first century. 


Wherever she is, Dr. Fonza is committed to and active in public service. Her professional tenure in urban and government administration began in what is now the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. During the historic same sex marriage decision of 2003, she was invited to serve the Commonwealth as a legislative aide for a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives; and, for a brief time she served as the chief legislative assistant for a member of the Atlanta City Council and was assigned to the proposed redevelopment of Fort McPherson, which is now owned by producer/director/actor Tyler Perry. 


In the mid 1990’s, for about a decade, Annalise used her talents as the Reverend Annalise Fonza, or as an ordained clergywoman in the United Methodist Church. Her service to vulnerable populations, including veterans and those affected by domestic violence began formerly at Saint John’s Community Church in Houston, Texas, and it has been an enduring feature of her personal and professional endeavors. As a pastor, she served under episcopal appointment to six separate congregations in three different states. Presently, she is certified by the American Humanist Society as a Senior Humanist Celebrant. As a humanist celebrant, she is duly authorized to co-create ceremonies and officiate services with those who identify as atheists, humanists, secularists, freethinkers, black “nones,” and any others who choose to hold no belief in supernatural beings, myths, or philosophies.

Dr. Fonza is the first black woman scholar in urban planning in the United States to write and publish in a peer-reviewed journal about the significance of womanist thought as a theoretical/methodological approach to urban planning and regional development. She articulates womanist thought as a means of affirming and empowering a growing number of planning students, academicians, and practitioners who wish to embrace their unique identities and ideas innovatively in the academy, which she asserts is a system that continues to hold them back or keep some out through various frameworks and microaggressions, including the tenure process. If you know Dr. Fonza at all, then you know that she believes wholeheartedly that the published work of planning scholars is something that should be often accessible to all and not just to those with special access to academic journals; just as her commitment to “tearing down walls and building bridges” – once the slogan of Saint John’s Community Church in Houston  -  is simply a part of who she is.