Michael Woo brings a unique background in public service, community involvement, and urban planning to his role as Dean of the College of Environmental Design. He was the first trained urban planner and the first Asian American elected to serve on the Los Angeles City Council. Representing a diverse constituency of 235,000 people in Hollywood and surrounding neighborhoods, Dean Woo spearheaded the Hollywood Redevelopment Plan, which laid the groundwork for Hollywood's current revitalization; played a key role in choosing the route and station locations of the Metro Red Line subway; and made decisions on numerous development proposals and neighborhood controversies. He gave up his Council seat after eight years to become one of 24 candidates for Mayor of Los Angeles in 1993, ultimately receiving 46 percent of the citywide vote and a second-place finish in the citywide run-off election.
In 2005, Dean Woo was appointed to the Los Angeles City Planning Commission. He chairs the national board of directors of Smart Growth America, the national coalition advocating compact development patterns and sustainable transportation choices; the governing board of Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center; and the board of directors of Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles (SEE-LA), the nonprofit organization which runs the Hollywood Farmers Market, the largest certified farmers market in the City of Los Angeles, which he helped to establish 19 years ago when he was a Councilman.
Reflecting his growing interest in the relationship between climate change and environmental design, Woo's recent special assignments include an appointment from the California Air Resources Board to the Regional Targets Advisory Committee (RTAC), and an invitation from the Urban Land Institute to co-chair a study panel on the economic impacts of Senate Bill 375.
A native of Los Angeles, Woo received his B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and earned his Master of City Planning degree from UC Berkeley. He was a Fellow of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Before becoming Dean of ENV, Woo taught the undergraduate introduction to urban planning and development at USC for seven years and led a seminar at UCLA on urbanization in China.