The Power of the Commons: Policy, Practice & Systems Change in America’s Public Spaces

Learn game-changing strategies to achieve key social outcomes by transforming public spaces in your city.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

1:00pm Eastern

With an emphasis on achieving key social, economic and environmental outcomes, Reimagining the Civic Commons is creating a new model for public space — and changing what we expect from our shared civic assets. The initiative’s first five cities have served as demonstration sites since 2016, with collaborative teams on the ground transforming public spaces from places of untapped potential to places that bridge differences and create increased and more equitably shared prosperity.

This webinar explores the powerful impacts of this game-changing approach and shares strategies for investing in public spaces in ways that create positive social change. Each panelist has taken part in major shifts in their cities, from reimagining staffing models to creating public space investment models for equitable neighborhood redevelopment.

The webinar accompanies the release of The Power of the Commons: Impact and opportunity in America’s public spaces, a new report that highlights the inspirational impacts of Reimagining the Civic Commons over six years in Akron, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis and Philadelphia.



Kathryn Ott Lovell, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation

Kathryn Ott Lovell was appointed Commissioner of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation by Mayor Jim Kenney in 2016. In this position, Kathryn oversees 700 full-time employees, more than 2,700 part-time and seasonal employees, over 10,200 acres of land, 250 playgrounds and thousands of programs and events throughout Philadelphia.

Kathryn commissioned the first strategic plan for Philadelphia Parks & Recreation. The plan, Our Path to 2020, established a renewed vision for the department and set in motion a trajectory toward an equitable and exceptional parks and recreation system that connects people to each other, to enriching experiences and to the natural world.


Michael R. Smith, Invest Detroit

Mike co-launched the Strategic Neighborhood Fund, a partnership with the City that reinvests in Detroit neighborhoods. His duties include strategy, budgeting, neighborhood grants and partner relations. Additionally, he is interim co-lead of Invest Detroit’s development and fundraising department. While earning a master’s degree in community development from Detroit Mercy, he completed a capstone project that connected residents in Detroit’s Fitzgerald neighborhood with each other and two local university anchors. Prior to this, Mike spent 15 years in Major League Baseball front offices. He holds a bachelor’s degree in geology and geophysics from Yale and lives in Southwest Detroit with wife Kristen and son Asher.


Margo Sommerville, Akron City Council

Elected to Akron City Council in 2014 as the Ward 3 councilwoman, Margo is a committed public servant and staunch advocate for her constituency. In 2018, her exemplary leadership and prolific service resulted in her being elected the first African American woman to serve as president of Akron City Council. She has held this office for the past five years.

Born in West Akron, Ohio, Margo graduated from Firestone High School and completed her undergraduate education at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Later, Margo returned home and earned a master’s degree in public administration and urban studies from The University of Akon. Following in her father’s footsteps, Margo joined the family business, Sommerville Funeral Services, and presently serves as vice president.



Carol Coletta, Memphis River Parks Partnership

Carol Coletta is CEO of Memphis River Parks Partnership, leading the relaunch of a nonprofit to develop, manage and program six miles of riverfront and five park districts along the Mississippi River. Previously, she was a senior fellow at The Kresge Foundation and vice president of community and national initiatives at Knight Foundation. Carol led the start-up of ArtPlace, a broad collaboration to accelerate creative placemaking, and was president and CEO of CEOs for Cities. She also served as executive director of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design.


This is a sponsored webinar. By registering, you are agreeing to share your contact information with Reimagining The Civic Commons.



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