Members’ Corner: Dory Estrada

Dory Estrada


Name, Title, Organization
Dory Estrada, Community & Economic Development Coordinator, City of Hyattsville
Explain your background in economic development
My educational background is a M.Sc. in Integrated Urbanism and Sustainable Design, and a B.S. in Environmental Science. I have over 9 years of work experience with specific expertise in both urban and environmental sustainable development. Prior to my role with the City, I worked in the non-profit sector as well as a for-profit international development consultancy. I previously co-founded an agri-business startup, and in the years since, I have been a passionate proposal writer and Project Coordinator for projects related to local economic development, international development, and entrepreneurship/business development. Working in local government is my “new hat” but I am excited to implement broad-level sustainability frameworks on the ground at the local level.
What are your key priorities within your current position?
My current position is multi-faceted, and involved managing the City’s two grant programs- Commercial Façade Improvement Program (supported by Maryland DHCD) as well as the Corridor Investment Program. I facilitate quarterly Business Roundtable events with our small business community, and am supporting business attraction, as well as the implementation of a new Business Improvement District in one of our commercial corridors. One of my main roles is also to coordinate the update of the City’s 5-year Community Sustainability Plan within our department. I also support our City Planner in collaborative placemaking implementations, as well as special events, like PARK(ing) Day, and local economy engagement campaigns like Love Local Hyattsville.
Does one particular project spark your excitement? If so, describe it below.
I love that my role is multi-faceted, but one of the most exciting parts is the coordination and eventual implementation of our City’s Sustainability Plan next year. Sustainability touches every aspect, and is deeply engrained in economic development and our community’s ability to thrive into the future as a healthy, desirable place to live, work, and play. This aspect of my job allows me to tap into my skills and educational background on a deep level, and is highly participatory with our community members. It is an exciting process to be a part of, and I am excited to see the outcome of our plan and our roadmap for the future.
What professional pressures keep you up at night?
I have so many questions and burning ideas about how we can tap into our City’s weaknesses (or perceived weaknesses) and turn them into strengths! Mainly, how can we ensure small business owners have the tools and resources they need to grow? How can we transform vacant or blighted properties into community assets? How can we preserve and enhance our natural resources? In new development, how can we build more resilient, energy efficient and affordable buildings? How can our City better adapt to the effects of climate change? These are critical questions that all tie into the role of economic development.
What attributes are unique to your community?
Hyattsville is a wonderful, unique community because of its diversity, in all aspects. The community is racially, ethnically, economically, and geographically diverse, and the people are tightly-knit because of this. We are fortunate to be a part of the Gateway Arts District, and our small business are a kaleidoscope of artists and makers in the local creative economy. We have several beautiful parks, the Anacostia River, the trolley trail, 2 Metro stops, a mall, and beautiful historic homes making up the fabric of our community.
What are your locality’s top three “selling points” for future growth?
-Hyattsville is convenient! We are close to the DC line as well as UMD in College Park, and are well-connected with roadways, buses, bike trials, and two metro stops.
-Hyattsville is diverse and growing; the City is breaking ground on several new development projects that are expected to welcome hundreds of new residents within the next few years
-Hyattsville is creative and open for business! Our Gateway Arts District, restaurants, and small business communities make for an excellent ecosystem for other entrepreneurs looking to set up shop in the area.
If you could wave a magic wand, what would you want to work with MEDA on to move Maryland forward?
I’d love to work with MEDA on getting more involved in building sustainable local economies. I mean this in a literally sense by training a workforce that is enabled to help mitigate climate change (ie, building retrofitting, renewable energy installations) as well as a resilient City that can withstand natural disasters and economic hardships. Build resiliency hubs, bringing in more local production, rethinking food systems, creating more equity. and thinking more holistically in terms of urban development would be some of the top priorities I have in mind.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with MEDA and your fellow members?
I would love to connect! I’m looking to learn more from other seasoned economic developers in the area, and would love to see how we can bridge together on common initiatives Please feel free to reach out, I’d be happy to hear from you!
Please include any personal background information that you’d like to share (Alma mater, Military Service, hobbies, etc)
If I’m not at work, I’m probably outside in my garden, or doing something else in the fresh air! I’m an avid hiker, swimmer, and love kayaking and camping. I also love going to cultural events in the DMV. I’m originally from Maine, but also lived in Florida for 6 years. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel abroad over the years and have lived in Costa Rica, Egypt, and Germany.

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