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The 2012 Next American Vanguard Class

Every year Next American City picks a 40-under-40 class of amazing urban leaders. Working in the fields of planning, transportation, arts, technology, economic development, historic preservation, social justice, design and many other areas, this year’s group hails from 24 cities around the country.

Walk Raleigh, a project by Matt Tomasulo, one of this year’s Vanguard members

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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

Stephanie Allewalt
Milwaukee, Wisc.
Northwest Side Community Development Corporation, Fund Development Manager
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Adjunct Professor

Cara Bertron
Seattle, Wash.
PlaceEconomics, Director of Rightsizing Cities Initiative
Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority, Real Estate Lab Coordinator

Bethany Ritz
Los Angeles, Calif.
Climate Resolve, Associate Director

Michael Brady
Detroit, Mich.
Center for Community Progress, Vice President of Policy

Daniel Brook
New Orleans, La.
Author, A History of Future Cities (Norton, 2013)

Laine Cidlowski
Washington, D.C.
D.C. Office of Planning, Urban Sustainability Planner

Alison Crowley
Arlington, Va.
City Interests, Real Estate Development Associate

Sarah Dirsa
St. Louis, Mo.
HOK, Director of Social Responsibility

Emily Doerr
Detroit, Mich.
Detroit Regional Chamber, Manager of Small Business Programs / Urban Initiatives

Robert Feldstein
Brooklyn, N.Y.
City of New York, Chief of Staff, Office of Policy and Strategic Planning

Cali Gorewitz
Brooklyn, N.Y.
NYCEDC, Senior Project Manager

Andrea Hansen
Boston, Mass.
Harvard Graduate School of Design, Lecturer in Landscape Architecture

Alex Ihnen
St. Louis, Mo.
NextSTL, Founder

Sarah Kaufman
Brooklyn, N.Y.
NYU Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management, Research Associate / Adjunct Assistant Professor

Melissa Konur
Fort Worth, Texas
Downtown Fort Worth, Inc., Planning Director

Robert Linn
Detroit, Mich.
Data Driven Detroit, GIS Analyst

Ryan Lugalia-Hollon
Chicago, Ill.
Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice, Justice Fellow

Daniel Makela
Louisville, Ky.
Louisville Metro Government / NYU, Bloomberg Innovation Delivery Fellow

Nolan Marshall
New Orleans, La.
Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives at Tulane University, Director of Policy and Advocacy

Patrick McDonnell
Carrollton, Texas
Dallas CityDesign Studio, Community Designer

Neeraj Mehta
Minneapolis, Minn.
Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, Director of Community Based Research

Minh Nguyen
Atlanta, Ga.
City of Atlanta, CRM Analyst

Luis Nieves-Ruiz
Orlando, Fla.
Orange County Government, Principal Planner

Liz Ogbu
Oakland, Calif.
California College of the Arts, Visiting Artist / Scholar in Residence

Eli Pousson
Baltimore, Md.
Baltimore Heritage, Field Officer

Ganesh Ramachandran
Jamaica Plain, Mass.
Goody Clancy, Senior Urban Designer

Quilian Riano
Brooklyn, N.Y.
DSGN AGNC, Principal

Kathy Risko
Pittsburgh, Penn.
University of Pittsburgh, Director, Congress of Neighboring Communities

Tracey Ross
Washington, D.C.
Living Cities, Program Associate

Ryan Rusnak
Davenport, Iowa
City of Davenport, Planner

Bill Sadler
Denver, Colo.
Reconnecting America, Program Associate

Danya Sherman
Brooklyn, N.Y.
Friends of the High Line, Director of Public Programs, Education & Community Engagement

Marika Shioiri-Clark
Cleveland, Ohio
Soshl Studio, Founder

Lilly Shoup
Washington, D.C.
US Department of Transportation, Policy Analyst

Stephen Spiker
Richmond, Calif.
Urban Strategies Council, Director of Research and Technology

Will Stewart
Manchester, N.H.
Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Vice President of Economic Development and Advocacy

Ben Stone
Baltimore, Md.
Station North Arts & Entertainment, Executive Director

LaToya Thomas
Washington, D.C.
Wiencek + Associates, Director of Communications and Business Development

Matt Tomasulo
Raleigh, N.C.
CityFabric, Founder

Krissie Wells
Cleveland, Ohio
Housing Research & Advocacy Center, Fair Housing Research Associate

Katy Welter
Chicago, Ill.
Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice, Law and Policy Analyst, Criminal Justice Project Manager

Brandon Whitney
Brooklyn, N.Y.
ioby, Co-founder/COO

Dave Wilkinson
Washington, D.C.
City First Enterprises

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Diana Lind is the former executive director and editor in chief of Next City.

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Tags: st. louisnext city vanguardcommunity development corporations

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