Joan Ling is a real estate advisor and policy analyst in urban planning. Before she participated in a panel discussion about city transportation’s effects on housing costs, she talked in the Zócalo green room about cat videos, her former life as a real estate developer, and getting beer for a quarter in Pittsburgh.
What does it take to get you on the dance floor?
A few margaritas.
Who’s someone you’d love to be interviewed by?
Diane Sawyer or Barbara Walters.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be as a grown-up?
I had no idea. I’m not one of those people who wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer from third grade on.
What’s your favorite part of teaching, now that you’ve taken that up after years of urban development?
The freedom to teach whatever I think is important, and the students being interested in and getting excited about the work that I do.
What’s your least favorite part of teaching?
What keeps you up at night?
I have no problem sleeping these days. When I was a developer, it was getting the community to say yes to my projects.
You were named an L.A. County “woman of the year” this year. What was the best thing about that?
I’m very grateful and honored that Sheila Kuehl [Los Angeles County District 3’s supervisor] recognized me. She’s one my “sheroes.”
Where’s your favorite place to go in Pittsburgh, where you got your undergraduate degree?
There are a number of years that are important. Switching from being a developer to being a lecturer, that was important because it frees my summers for travel.
What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
Well, one of the most defining jobs that I’ve had was working as a laborer at a steel mill in Pittsburgh. I was one of the first waves of women to go work in the mills.
How do you procrastinate?
Watch cat videos. Or generally just be online.