Just two weeks after we collected nearly 200 applications for this year’s Next American Vanguard class, we’ve selected 43 people whose bright ideas for cities, experience in the field and ambition for the future all show great promise. Coming from 24 cities, this group will be assembling in St. Louis in October, along with past members of the Vanguard for workshops, tours and panel discussions about how to improve American cities. A host committee, led by the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis, and including members from HOK, STLStyle, Preservation Research Office, McCormick Baron Salazar and others, has graciously lent time and support to make the event a success.
What insights can be drawn from this year’s class? More than ever, our Vanguard class works for robust private and non-profit organizations and government, rather than community development corporations. While many of our Vanguard class members work for large organizations, many got hooked on having an impact on their city with blogs and other local projects of their own. So we’re seeing a formalization of young urbanists, with new pathways toward influence. In past years we’ve seen certain trends like sustainability, urban agriculture and social entrepreneurship show up in the applicant pool; this year, for whatever reason, we saw many people working in planning, technology, design. Perhaps this reflects renewed interest in placemaking and our continued love affair with digital technology.
We always try to keep the group geographically diverse. We’re still not making many inroads in the Southwest, (people in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico — call me!), but we have three Texans joining this year’s class. The Midwest and East Coast are heavily represented, but we’ve got people from Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and North Carolina representing the South better than in years past. With dozens of applications from St. Louis, we could only add two people to the official class, but we hope to find ways to engage locals at the Vanguard event — stay tuned for that.
Finally, the tenor of applications has changed. In the past, people wrote about literally feeling like they were helping to save their city. It seems that the city has come back from the brink, that while there are still many troublesome indicators in terms of jobs, crime and education, our cities are starting to grow again. I can’t wait to see how that changes the kind of conversations we’ll have this year and in future years.
Vanguard 2012 Class
Northwest Side Community Development Corporation, Fund Development Manager
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Adjunct Professor
PlaceEconomics, Director of Rightsizing Cities Initiative
Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority, Real Estate Lab Coordinator
Los Angeles, Calif.
Climate Resolve, Associate Director
Center for Community Progress, Vice President of Policy
New Orleans, La.
Author, A History of Future Cities (Norton, 2013)
D.C. Office of Planning, Urban Sustainability Planner
City Interests, Real Estate Development Associate
St. Louis, Mo.
HOK, Director of Social Responsibility
Detroit Regional Chamber, Manager of Small Business Programs / Urban Initiatives
City of New York, Chief of Staff, Office of Policy and Strategic Planning
NYCEDC, Senior Project Manager
Harvard Graduate School of Design, Lecturer in Landscape Architecture
St. Louis, Mo.
NYU Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management, Research Associate / Adjunct Assistant Professor
Fort Worth, Texas
Downtown Fort Worth, Inc., Planning Director
Data Driven Detroit, GIS Analyst
Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice, Justice Fellow
Louisville Metro Government / NYU, Bloomberg Innovation Delivery Fellow
New Orleans, La.
Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives at Tulane University, Director of Policy and Advocacy
Dallas CityDesign Studio, Community Designer
Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, Director of Community Based Research
City of Atlanta, CRM Analyst
Orange County Government, Principal Planner
California College of the Arts, Visiting Artist / Scholar in Residence
Baltimore Heritage, Field Officer
Jamaica Plain, Mass.
Goody Clancy, Senior Urban Designer
DSGN AGNC, Principal
University of Pittsburgh, Director, Congress of Neighboring Communities
Living Cities, Program Associate
City of Davenport, Planner
Reconnecting America, Program Associate
Friends of the High Line, Director of Public Programs, Education & Community Engagement
Soshl Studio, Founder
US Department of Transportation, Policy Analyst
Urban Strategies Council, Director of Research and Technology
Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Vice President of Economic Development and Advocacy
Station North Arts & Entertainment, Executive Director
Wiencek + Associates, Director of Communications and Business Development
Housing Research & Advocacy Center, Fair Housing Research Associate
Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice, Law and Policy Analyst, Criminal Justice Project Manager
City First Enterprises