Christopher A. Watson
DIRECTOR OF PLANNING
Christopher A. Watson, M.Sc., Ph.D.[c] serves as the Director of Planning and Development Services at Murphy Schiller & Wilkes LLP (MSW). In this role, he leads a team of professionals in actualizing development projects, from conception to certificate of occupancy, in municipalities throughout New Jersey, with a particular focus on projects located in the City of Newark – New Jersey’s largest municipality. Prior to joining MSW, Chris served as City Planning Officer (Director of City Planning) for the City of Newark, New Jersey. In that capacity he was able to advance key policy initiatives for the administration of Mayor Ras J. Baraka, including the adoption of the City’s latest ten-year master plan, Newark360, the winner of New Jersey’s American Planning Association 2022 Planning Excellence award for Plan of the Year. Chris is a national subject matter expert in planning and development and uses this acumen to advocate for his clients’ interests through all stages of the development process.
Chris has lived and worked in the City of Newark for nearly two decades. Born in Guyana, South America, he received his undergraduate degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of Guyana. He gained his master’s degree in Urban Affairs and Planning, with honors, from Hunter College, CUNY, and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the joint Urban Systems program at the Hiller College of Architecture and Design, New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University’s Graduate Center. His research interests coalesce around some of the most enduring themes of urban scholarship: the intersections of poverty, race, and class; community economic advancement and the physical and socio-political impacts and consequences of gentrification in American cities.
He is the 2018 recipient of the President’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching from Queens College, CUNY where he was an adjunct professor in the Urban Studies department, teaching courses on Urban Poverty and Affluence, Graduate Research Methods, Researching New York City, and Urban Planning and City Government. Chris served as Vice President of the board of directors for United Vailsburg Service Organization. Chris is the 2021 American Planning Association, New Jersey Chapter’s recipient of the prestigious Stuart Merk Distinguished Service Award, for forwarding planning in the City of Newark that is inclusive of the community’s voice.
Chris is an avid supporter of the arts, an urban gardener, and hiker of the many trails of New Jersey.