City Practice Manager, Mayors Migration Council
Helen Elizabeth Yu comes to the MMC with experience working across multilateral humanitarian and development agencies and cities grappling with the realities of migration, rapid urbanization and climate change. In 2021, she served as Cameroon Coordinator for UN-Habitat’s Urban Planning and Infrastructure in Migration Contexts Project (UPIMC), establishing a field office in Douala, Cameroon and liaising with the municipality, communities displaced from the Anglophone Crisis, and humanitarian and development partners to improve access to basic services, infrastructure and socio-economic opportunities for migrants and vulnerable populations. Prior to working in Douala, she was based at UN-Habitat’s headquarters in Nairobi as an Urban and Environmental Planner, undertaking missions and implementing sustainable planning and migration programming across the African continent and Asia-Pacific region. During her time with UN-Habitat, she was also seconded to UNHCR in Geneva to enhance inter-agency collaboration on settlement planning across the humanitarian-development nexus. Before joining the world of international policy and development, she practiced as a landscape architect and urban planner in Zürich, helping design open spaces that aim to foster connections between humans and our built and living environments.
As MMC’s City Practice Manager, Helen supports the development and delivery of our City Practice Portfolio. Working closely with MMC’s Head of Practice, Samer Saliba, she assists in managing an active pipeline of Global Cities Fund (GCF) projects through providing technical assistance and serving as a thought partner for current and prospective city grantees. She also helps facilitate solicitation, selection, and grant-making processes related to the GCF and other programming, and supports the development of urban tools, knowledge products and city-to-city learning related to inclusive integration and migration mainstreaming.
Helen holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in International Agriculture and Natural Resources from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania, where her thesis proposed the re-design of refugee camps to maximize social integration and encourage self-determination.