The Vanguard conference is a gathering of the top urban innovators 40 and younger working to make change in cities. Designed to bring together professionals working across disciplines and sectors, each Vanguard class includes policymakers and politicians, architects and urban planners, artists and mediamakers, all selected through a competitive application process. The 2015 conference will be held in Reno on May 6-8.
Folayemi Agbede is an emerging voice in urban planning and an avid researcher of the African diaspora working for Chester Engineers, the largest Black-owned civil engineering firm in North America. She has worked with Progress 2050, a project for the Center of American Progress, was awarded an Irene Tinker-Millidge Walker Fellowship to pursue work with the UN Development Programme’s Economic Policy Analysis Unit in Mozambique, and will begin working on her Ph.D this Fall at UC Berkeley, studying urban planning with a focus on post-industrial and post-colonial cities.
University of Chicago
Paola Aguirre is an architect and urban designer based in Chicago. She recently joined Place Lab at The University of Chicago and is the founder of The Borderless Workshop, a collaborative initiative that focuses on the US-Mexico border region to further the understanding of cities, ecologies and cultures among the border condition.
New York City Council
Sasha Neha Ahuja is a community organizer and advocate from New York City. She has organized at the intersections of migration and labor for almost a decade. Sasha currently serves as Deputy Director of the Policy & Innovation Division, within the Speaker’s Office, at the New York City Council.
Corps Member Education Foundation Jamshid Rug Gallery Kentucky Campus Compact
Alen Amini operates Jamshid Antique Rugs, LLC in Cincinnati, and is the Director of the Corps Member Education Foundation, a nonprofit working to provide educational opportunities for low-income students. Alen served as a TFA member and assistant principal at Lakeside High School in Arkansas, as the ED of the Southeast Arkansas Community Foundation, and worked with the Mayor’s Office in Greenville, Mississippi to establish the Go Greenville! Program.
Paul Baker Prindle
University of Nevada, Reno
Paul is the director of University Galleries, the University of Nevada, Reno’s museum of art. He clarifies, through museum practice, how the visual arts make communities stronger, safer, more resilient, more dynamic and more innovative. He supports the next generations of artists as they transition into professional practice, through mentorship, critique and exhibition opportunities. He also cultivates a love for the arts among the museum’s viewership by sharing world-class exhibitions.
Tsedey’s experiences immigrating to Memphis from Ethiopia led her to study Urban Development at Cornell University where she earned her B.S. She went on to obtain her Masters in Nonprofit Management & Urban Policy Analysis at The New School, and has since held positions that range from Director of the DMI Scholars Program at the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, to Project Manager for the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team–an initiative of Bloomberg Philanthropies. Presently, Betru works passionately towards neighborhood transformation in her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, as Vice President of Community LIFT.
Bryan serves on the Board of Directors at Public Policy Lab, is a co-founder of Makeshift Society (a shared workspace and community center for creatives in San Francisco and Brooklyn), and co-founder of Dash Marshall (a design studio). At Dash, Bryan consults with organizations including Google, The Museum of Modern Art and the Knight Foundation.
The Participatory Budgeting Project
Ginny completed her Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning at UCLA with a concentration in Housing and Community Development. She joined PBP in 2012 to coordinate the first city-wide PB process in the US, in Vallejo, CA, now managing the organization’s West Coast project. Ginny has worked as a community organizer with the grassroots New York organization Good Old Lower East Side, a researcher with the Service Employees International Union in the Bay Area, and an AmericorpsVISTA associate with Fifth Avenue Committee.
Reno native Brianna Bullentini is a designer, entrepreneur and philanthropist. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Architecture from Parsons the New School for Design in NYC, and has since worked in roles ranging from a junior designer for ABC, an experiential designer with ICRAVE in NYC, and the lead on a redevelopment project in Kenya and a water conserving project in Cambodia. Her latest project is a Reno-based eco-concious, cold-pressed juice bar, Rawbry.
City of Portland, Maine
Caitlin is a first wave millennial having lived as a car-free planner and designer in five cities. Her recent projects in Portland include the India Street Sustainable Neighborhood Plan and Form-Based Code, Congress Square Redesign, Complete Streets Design Manual and improving immigrant community engagement methods. Caitlin is also a board member of Portland Buy Local and an American Friend volunteer with Catholic Charities of Maine Refugee Services.
City of Reno
Voters elected Oscar to represent Ward 3 in 2012. Ward 3 is an area of northeast and central Reno, which includes the Wells Avenue and Mira Loma neighborhoods, as well as neighborhoods east of the University of Nevada, Reno. As a member of the Reno City Council, Oscar brings to the Council his education, experience in the construction industry, understanding of economic development, and practice within the social service/community outreach sector.
D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development
Chris is from the Bay Area and has lived, worked, and studied in L.A., Mexico City, and D.C. He strives to advance social justice issues, such as poverty alleviation, income equality and racial integration, through the formulation and implementation of urban policies, specifically in the field of affordable housing.
Kate is an attorney, planner, and landscape designer who has spent much of her career in the public sector. Recently, Kate has been applying her skill set to making zoning ordinances more actionable and navigable for Flux Metro, an application that renders 3D visualizations of the maximum buildout permitted under zoning ordinances.
Andy is a Principal Planner with Wood Rodgers, serving public and private sector clients across the Western US. With a career marked by a wide variety of design influences across multiple sectors, he draws from his experiences to engage communities in meaningful dialogues surrounding complex land use and transportation planning issues. Andy also currently serves as President for the Nevada Chapter of the American Planning Association.
Zahra Ebrahim is a change-driven creative, deeply invested in using design and design process to explore community engagement, institutional innovation and participatory city building. As the Principal of the design think tank, archiTEXT, she has led innovation projects with some of Canada’s largest charities and governing bodies.
New York, NY
Jonathon is founder and CEO of SeamlessDocs, where he’s helping governments go paperless. He is passionate about changing the way that governments interact with their citizens and is starting with their forms. He and his team work every day to make the world a more seamless place. But as Jonathon says, it isn’t really work if you love what you do.
Alex Feldman is a Vice President at U3 Advisors, a nationally recognized consulting practice that specializes in real estate and economic development strategies around anchor institutions. Since joining U3 in 2009, Alex has served as a project manager for the firm’s Midtown Detroit anchor strategy where he helped lead the design and implementation of the $5M Live Midtown employee housing incentive program, and the formation of the community development organization Midtown Detroit, Inc.
Department of State
Steven Feldstein is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL). He is responsible for DRL’s work in Africa, international labor affairs and international religious freedom. He received his J.D. from Berkeley School of Law and his A.B. from Princeton University. He was born and raised in Bloomington, Indiana.
Gina is a landscape architect, principal, and chair of Sasaki’s Urban Studio. The Urban Studio is an energized and interdisciplinary group of practitioners solely dedicated to the improvement of quality of life in cities through rigorous planning, exceptional design and strong community partnerships.
Rodney is a social change advocate and philanthropy consultant focused on social entrepreneurship and community engagement. He co-founded the Baltimore Social Enterprise Network and is Vice Chair of Thread, an innovative dropout prevention and youth development organization. Rodney is featured in “Reach: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading and Succeeding.”
Revolution of Hope
David France is an active performer and an innovative educator. He believes that the intersection of innovation, community and the arts can catalyze social change and propel economic growth in a city. This belief catalyzed the launch of Revolution of Hope, a nonprofit focused on social impact through the arts in the inner city of Boston. He has enthusiastically taught in many countries around the world including Bermuda, Venezuela, Poland and India.
ATLAS Lab, Quadriga Landscape Architecture
Kimberly is a design professional providing services in art, landscape architecture and planning. Her research-based design approach, coupled with her ability to manipulate virtual models, helps to identify and illustrate complexities and opportunities hidden within a site. Her work aims to provide innovative platforms for cultural, educational and social engagement.
Stanford University, JSK Fellowships
Palo Alto, CA
Lope Gutierrez-Ruiz is a publisher, art director and cultural manager, and is passionate about the future of our cities and its relationship to media, design, data and culture. He is currently a Senior Fellow at TED Conferences, and a John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University. There, his research has centered on data visualization, database management, open government, mapping techniques, design thinking, product design and business enterprise growth.
Kansas City, MO
Gunnar is a city and regional planner by profession, an urban school district Board Member by passion, and an all-around community organizer by habit. From starting his own property reinvestment business and launching rail-based transit advocacy nonprofits, to promoting energy alternatives and neighborhood beautification on various Boards or finding ways to spend more time with his growing family, Gunnar is a problem solver.
American Communities Trust
Gregory Heller is a practitioner and author with over a decade’s experience in social-impact real estate and community development. He is CEO of American Communities Trust (ACT). Greg is also author of Ed Bacon: Planning, Politics and the Building of Modern Philadelphia. He is a graduate of Wesleyan University.
Mid-Region Council of Governments
Valerie Hermanson is a transportation planner at the Mid-Region Council of Governments where she is planning and implementing Albuquerque’s pilot bike share in partnership with a local nonprofit. She also provides technical and transportation planning assistance to urban and rural local governments. She co-planned Albuquerque’s first open streets event aka ABQ CiQlovía, serves as an educational lead on the New Mexico Complete Streets Leadership Team, and volunteers with MiABQ.
Green Communities, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
New York, NY
As Senior Director of Knowledge Impact and Strategy, Yianice directs the execution of strategic priorities to rigorously document the impact of affordable housing on families and communities across the U.S. Yianice also leads Enterprise’s comprehensive multi-year academic research study, “Healthy Home, Happy Kids,” to evaluate the effect of green housing improvements on children’s asthma and the health and well-being of their caregivers.
G. Emmanuel Hernandez
Planeación y Desarrollo S.C.
Mexico City, DF
Hernandez is part of the team “Planeación y Desarrollo,” an organization specializing in social prevention of violence against scholar communities and commuters. His work focuses on developing violence studies and strategies to improve the security and mobility of peripheral areas in Mexico City. He has also previously taught in the Architecture department at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
City of Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA
Lakisha Hull is a City Planning Associate at the City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning, in the Transit Neighborhood Plans Unit. Lakisha has a dual Master’s degree in Architecture and City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Michigan. She is a certified planner and LEED AP BD+C under the USGBC. She is involved in mentorship programs and has been a guest studio critic at multiple colleges.
Skid Row Housing Trust
Los Angeles, CA
Theresa Hwang is the Director of Community Design and Planning at the Skid Row Housing Trust, a non-profit permanent supportive housing organization where she was the Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow from 2009-2012. Theresa is on the Board of Directors for the Association for Community Design. She received her Master of Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and Art History from the Johns Hopkins University.
San Francisco MTA
San Francisco, CA
Earl Kaing is a transportation planner with the San Francisco MTA, where he works to improve the walking, waiting, and riding experience for transit customers. In a past life, he was a management consultant with Accenture. Earl holds degrees from UCLA (graduate), and the University of California, Berkeley (undergraduate).
Detroit Future City
Erin Kelly is the Blue and Green Infrastructure Program Manager at Detroit Future City’s (DFC) Implementation Office. Prior to joining DFC, Erin was a Detroit Revitalization Fellow at NextEnergy, where she managed a range of projects occurring between the public, private and nonprofit sectors in southeast Michigan, each aimed at creating value from vacant buildings and structure-free land.
Institute for Public Architecture
Karen Kubey is a New York-based architectural designer and educator specializing in housing. Currently Executive Director of the Institute for Public Architecture, Kubey began her career in affordable housing design. She co-founded both the Architecture for Humanity New York chapter and New Housing New York, the city’s first design competition for sustainable and affordable housing.
City of Montreal
Guillaume Lavoie is a City Councillor in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Elected in 2013, he is the official opposition’s spokesperson for finance, government relations and international relations. He is also Vice President of the Finance and Administration Committee at City Hall. Before entering politics, Guillaume Lavoie worked in public diplomacy, public policies and international relations.
Bryan Lee, Jr.
Arts Council of New Orleans
New Orleans, LA
Bryan is an architectural designer, artist, writer and devoted advocate for social justice through design. Throughout his professional career, Bryan has been dedicated to promoting diversity within the profession and relentless in his efforts to elevate the design process as an effective catalyst for community change. He is currently the Place & Civic Design Director for the Arts Council of New Orleans.
City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
Lora Lillard is an urban designer with the City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS). She joined BPS’s Urban Design Studio in 2005, where she works with communities to explore design issues and opportunities that create better places for people. Lora has served as a guest speaker and design critic for the University of Oregon and Portland State University.
Sao Paolo, SP
Anthony Ling is the CEO at Bora, a technology startup developing a new transportation service platform allowing on-demand rides in shared vehicles, as well as Editor-In-Chief and Policy Analyst at CaosPlanejado.com, a collaborative on-line journal covering issues on cities and urbanism.
Zakcq Lockrem is a principal and director of planning for Asakura Robinson, a planning, urban design and landscape architecture firm based in Austin, Houston, Los Angeles and Tokyo. In his work, he focuses on the experience of urban space and the role of public space in shaping civic engagement.
Michael is Place-Based Innovation Lead at HD MADE and Partner at Plot. He is an inter-disciplinary strategist who works at the intersection of placemaking and interactive technology. Over the past five years, Michael has worked with organizations,
cities and real estate developers to activate physical space.
White House Initiative on Strong Cities, Strong Communities, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Lynnette McRae is the Team Lead for the White House Initiative on Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) in Rockford, Illinois and a community development professional. She works for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and supports communities across the country on economic resilience and place-based economic development initiatives.
NYC Economic Development Corporation
Adam Meagher is a vice president for planning & development at the New York City Economic Development Corporation. At NYCEDC, he leads complex public-private initiatives that advance the City’s goals of promoting transit-oriented development, building affordable housing and strengthening infrastructure to support neighborhood growth. Adam is a graduate of the Master in Urban Planning program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Juan Sebastian, an urban planner, is an avid community advocate who strongly believes that true urban change begins at the neighborhood level. Through his professional and volunteer endeavors, he hopes to make a difference in his beloved hometown. Riding public transit in big cities is his pastime.
UT Dallas Institute for Urban Policy Research
Sara Mokuria is a Senior Research Associate with The Institute for Urban Policy Research at the University of Texas at Dallas, where she brings high-level experience in project management, program design and community engagement, combined with lifelong passions for justice, equity, and arts and culture.
Myeta is a native Washingtonian, lover of cities big and small, and current Director of City Initiatives at KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to ensuring that all kids get the balanced and active play needed to thrive. Most of her career has been spent in nonprofits and government with a focus on public health and equity in urban environments.
Neighborhood & Resource Planning, People’s Emergency Center
Kevin Musselman has worked on a diverse range of community development efforts throughout Philadelphia since 2006. He currently serves as a grant writer and project manager at People’s Emergency Center, overseeing a $1.5 million budget for a community development corporation located within the federally designated West Philadelphia Promise Zone.
Department of Human Ecology
Claire Napawan is an architect, landscape architect, urban designer, and academic who has designed and studied urban environments throughout the world for the past 10 years. She believes urban resilience requires social resilience and that designers and decision makers need to explore new techniques for integrating urban communities with their built environments.
DC Office of Planning
Thor Nelson is an urban designer with the D.C. Office of Planning whose work focuses on making cities more livable places though streetscape and public space design, park planning and public space design review. He is also an active civic leader serving as a past president of the Baltimore Architecture Foundation, where he focused on developing architectural education and scholarship programs for disadvantaged students.
City of Hartford
Kristina Newman-Scott, Director of Marketing, Events and Cultural Affairs (MECA) for the City of Hartford, Connecticut, has created artistic and cultural programming that is inclusive of the city’s many diverse communities. Ms. Newman-Scott was a popular television personality and visual artist in Jamaica, where she was born and raised and became a citizen of this country in 2009.
Liz Okeke-Von Batten
Center for Design & the City, American Architectural Foundation
Elizabeth Okeke-Von Batten is Director of the American Architectural Foundation’s Center for Design & the City where she produces Sustainable Cities Design Academy and City Managers’ Design Academy. Liz’s 10+ years of professional planning and preservation advocacy is informed by her belief that everyone deserves to live in beautiful, healthful places.
Detroit Collaborative Design Center
Ceara O’Leary leads collaborative community design and planning projects as a Senior Project Manager at the Detroit Collaborative Design Center (DCDC). She joined DCDC in 2012 as an Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow and previously practiced community design at bcWORKSHOP in Brownsville, Texas and the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio in Biloxi, Mississippi.
The Reset Foundation
Paul brings expertise as a teacher, administrator and school designer to his work with The Reset Foundation. Most recently, he was part of a team that designed and launched three new competency-based high schools within the New York City Department of Education, the nation’s largest school district. Paul earned his Doctorate of Education Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Corporation for Enterprise Development
Harold Pettigrew is CFED’s Entrepreneurship Director where he leads national efforts to advance policies and programs that increase financial capability, financial security and business success for low- and moderate income self-employed individuals and microbusinesses. In 2013, Harold was recipient of the “40 Under 40” Award in the Economic Development Industry.
Resilient Solutions 21
Charles is the President and CEO of Resilient Solutions 21, the world’s first holistic resilience consulting consortium. RS 21 integrates the best minds from multiple disciplines to help cities, businesses, and the developing world create imaginative solutions to thrive in the face of shocks and stresses from the 21st century.
Market Street Services
Ranada is the Research Manager at Market Street Services and has led research for economic development strategy processes across the nation, including in her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. She is a community advocate, spending much of her free time as Vice President of The Twenty Pearls Foundation, Inc., which gives scholarships to graduating students in South Fulton County and sponsors several community projects.
Reno Bike Project
Noah is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Reno Bike Project, a community bike shop that makes cycling affordable by providing an inexpensive resource for the community to purchase, repair and learn about bicycles. With the project, Noah creates innovative programs to educate, enable and challenge the community to think about the role cycling can play in their everyday lives.
National League of Cities
Alyia Smith-Parker is a Senior Associate for the National League of Cities’ (NLC) Institute for Youth, Education, and Families. She works with local elected officials, their staff, and community partners to advance policies to address the social determinants of health, reduce health disparities, and build healthier communities.
Development & Urban Regeneration, Lend Lease
Jason currently serves as Head of Sustainability for Lend Lease’s Development & Urban Regeneration teams in Sydney, Australia. With over 16 years of experience in the areas of development, construction, architecture, urban planning and sustainability, Jason works to deliver world-class urban precincts in the most ecologically and socially balanced manner possible.
Jay is the Creative Director of Toronto-based design team STUDIO JAYWALL, focusing on social, cultural, environmental and city-building initiatives. Jay’s use of graphic design and tactical urbanism to improve cities landed him on a list of Canada’s top public space champions in 2014. He also enjoys competing in urban cycling races.
NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Marlon Williams is a public servant skilled in leading large scale economic empowerment initiatives that include collaboration across the public, non-profit and private sectors. He is currently the Director of Cross Agency Partnerships for the NYC Department of Health leading urban planning and design efforts to improve public health.
Community Capital Fund / KCMO CDE
Kansas City, MO
Amanda Wilson is the program manager of Community Capital Fund — a community development funding organization in Kansas City, Missouri — and board member of the Heartland Conservation Alliance. She holds a Master’s in City & Regional Planning from Cornell University and a B.S. in biology from Missouri State University.