The Vanguard conference is a gathering of rising urban innovators 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.
Trace Allen is a community builder, advocate, and intrapreneur committed to facilitating equitable, just ecosystems that support entrepreneurs and communities of color. Currently, he works as the Community Economic Development Program Manager at Propeller, where he manages an accelerator program supporting black-owned businesses located along a New Orleans commercial corridor.
Dave teaches city planning through educational videos posted to his YouTube channel, City Beautiful. Dave has experience as a planning practitioner and is currently earning a doctorate in city and regional planning from the University of California, Berkeley.
Laila is an environmental scientist and economist who develops tools to guide investments in housing and transportation. In her current role at the California Air Resources Board, she provides technical expertise to support programs that mitigate climate change, promote inclusive economic development, and advance environmental justice.
Keith Benjamin is the Director of the Department of Traffic and Transportation for the city of Charleston, South Carolina. His work aims to co-empower a coalition of diverse partners to promote safe access for all modes of transportation, operate at the intersections of community, and unapologetically raise the banner of equity.
Brytanee Brown is currently in the City of Oakland Department of Transportation as a Transportation Planner where she manages capital and planning projects that intersect with placekeeping, economic development, and housing.
Brytanee holds a Masters in Urban Planning from Tufts University and a Bachelor of Arts from the UC Berkeley.
Brian is a project manager at WeWork focused on the delivery of new locations throughout the West Coast. An urban planner by trade, he is interested in using planning principles and good design to cultivate new understanding and shared narratives within communities.
Cassandra is the Engagement Lead for Intelligent Futures. Cassandra has established herself as someone who artfully designs and delivers meaningful community conversations that influence decision-makers and build local capacity. She has led processes that explore issues as diverse as transit, social wellness, parks, affordable housing, urban agriculture and cultural vibrancy.
Toni Carey co-founded Black Girls RUN!, a national movement empowering black women to live a healthy lifestyle. Today, Carey is Founder Emeritus of BGR!, a marketing consultant, a freelance writer, and yoga instructor. She considers herself a lifestyle architect empowering and inspiring others to find balance in their own lives.
Marco Chavarín is a community and economic development professional with over twelve years of experience leading cross-sector partnerships to address financial inclusion and economic justice for low-to-moderate income communities. Marco has worked with federal regulators, financial institutions and municipal leaders to design services to help hard-working families and individuals.
Maya Chupkov spent the past five years in community organizing and housing justice work in San Francisco. She joined the Council of Community Housing Organizations in 2018 as Communications Director, overseeing its communications strategy. Maya earned a Master’s in Public Affairs, where she focused on issues in housing and homelessness.
Lynn Coppedge is an urban planner focused on accelerating the adoption of sustainable practices in local communities. In her current role as Senior Sustainability Planner with the City of Lakewood, she works with the community to implement the city’s sustainability plan through policy and program development. She received her Master’s of Urban and Regional Planning from Arizona State University.
Jamie’s expertise spans government and nonprofits, including community planning, economic development and environmental advocacy. As a Government Affairs Representative and former Associate City Planner, her work extends from permitting/entitlement reviews to policy development and sustainability program management. She holds a B.A. in Urban Studies from San Francisco State University.
Javon is an Assistant Deputy Commissioner of the Philadelphia Fire Department and a Co-Host of the GovLove Podcast. He is a graduate of the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University and is dedicated to using his training to advance equity in urban communities.
Veri di Suvero is the Executive Director of the Alaska Public Interest Research Group. Located in Anchorage, Alaska, they work on state-wide consumer initiatives including building an energy democracy, securing a complete and accurate Census count, and holding the government accountable.
Matt Endacott is Senior Urban Renewal & Engagement Consultant and Cities Lead at AECOM. Matt has held various roles on the “Revitalising Newcastle” program in Australia, including Communications Manager, and has a Masters in Urban Renewal & Housing. Matt is also a Director of the Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation.
Maya Ford is a 20+ year veteran in strategic marketing and communications and the owner of FordMomentum!, a strategic communications firm guided by her five-pillar methodology Standard of LOVE™: Literacy, Self-Esteem, Values, Economic Power, and Justice. She’s passionate about transforming transportation, food security, women in government, and fostering Millennial leadership.
Laura Grannemann leads the Quicken Loans Community Fund, which drives national philanthropic strategy for Quicken Loans. She co-founded the organization in May of 2016. Throughout her time at the Community Fund, Laura has focused on solving complex challenges like tax foreclosure, employment barriers, and the mortgage market in Detroit.
Mejay Gula is the founder and executive director of Tender House Project, working to secure the Chicago River with sites of community agency, cultural exchange, and universal inclusion. This development strategy reimagines Chicago’s historic bridgehouses to be a civic and cultural network that breathes needed life into the Chicago River.
Logan is the CEO for REACH Riverside, Kingswood Community Center, and the Warehouse. REACH (Redevelopment, Education, And Community Health) is a holistic revitalization effort in Wilmington, DE, working with nationally acclaimed Purpose Built Communities, to include 600 mixed-income homes, a new Kingswood, and the Warehouse (a collaborative teen center).
An urbanist at heart, Landon is originally from Florida but resides in Vancouver, BC, where he is the incoming Director of the Binners’ Project, an organization that fosters social and economic inclusion by empowering binners (those who bin or dumpster-dive). Landon is the former Executive Director of Hastings Crossing Business Improvement Association, Canada’s first ‘social innovation BIA,’ and has worked in sustainability and public engagement at Simon Fraser University.
Edurne Irizarry is a Program Officer with the Philadelphia Foundation and has 20 years of experience working in the Philadelphia nonprofit sector. As a PO, Edurne manages all aspects of the Fund for Children, and is assigned the coordination and management of special projects and capacity building initiatives.
Ronda Jackson is the Vice President of City Partnerships at KaBOOM! where she builds partnerships with city governments to increase access to play for kids living in poverty. Prior to KaBOOM!, Ronda was at Living Cities where she worked with city leaders to improve the economic well-being of low-income people.
Naria is Senior Planning Coordinator at KDI. She partners with policymakers and residents in underserved communities to establish resident-led land use through planning and design strategies. Naria holds a BS in Public Policy and Planning from the University of Oregon and an MA in Urban Planning from UCLA.
Andrew is the principal of Good Done Daily, a graphic design and strategy studio that works with mission-driven organizations and community impact programs throughout Southeast Michigan. For 14 years, his efforts have helped dozens of established and grass-roots leaders build movements, tell stories, and rally for social change.
Rani Langer-Croager founded Uptima Business Bootcamp to address the challenges of traditional entrepreneurship programs in providing rigorous and culturally relevant education and mentorship to diverse entrepreneurs. Rani draws on 20+ years experience advising organizations on strategic planning and capital raising to develop innovative models for entrepreneurship training and financing programs.
As President and CEO of Jubilee Park & Community Center, Ben leverages his expertise in policy, program development, and team-building to improve lives and strengthen community in Southeast Dallas. Under Ben’s leadership, Jubilee and its neighbors have built a national model in safety, health, housing, education, and opportunity programs.
Amanda Lovelee is an artist who works in city systems as a translator between government and community with the goal of building places where everyone belongs. Lovelee focuses on civic engagement through her city popsicle truck. She is interested in how people connect and the spaces in which they do.
Megan is a civil servant with a passion for people. As Strategic Initiatives Manager at Detroit Land Bank Authority, she couples degrees in policy and community development with project management expertise. Four years of experience growing housing and vacant land initiatives support her drive for pioneering solutions in equitable development.
Denver native Hannah Mae Merten was inexorably drawn to Detroit to work alongside catalytic investor Dan Gilbert on what the NYT calls “one of the most ambitious privately financed urban reclamation projects in American history.” Hannah directs special projects at the intersection of real estate development, economic development, and mobility.
Stephanie Michel is the Director of the North 5th Street Revitalization Project in Philadelphia. She leads implementation efforts for N5SRP’s key revitalization components: cleaning, safety, business assistance, and community development. Stephanie applies her passion and talent toward engaging residents and merchants to work towards effective solutions to this vibrant corridor.
Social entrepreneur – Executive Director at MR-63/Station F-MR, Director at Artbangbang, Candian G20 YEA Delegate.
La-Toya Niles most recently served as Senior Program Manager of Capacity Building with the NYCSBS Neighborhood Development Division, where she oversaw over 30 economic development projects that helped community-based organizations (CBOs) identify and develop solutions to internal and external challenges to growth for CBOs and communities they serve.
With a background in urban planning and project management, Munguntuya is committed to building more inclusive and just urban spaces for everyone. She currently serves as the Executive Director at Climate Campaign NGO and holds an MA in Urban and Regional Planning from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Bhavini is the CEO and co-founder of beamdata. She serves as Vice Chair of the Edgewood Democratic Committee and is Board Member of Civically and Women for the Future PGH. She was recognized as a 30 Under 30 by the Pittsburgh Business Times and The Incline’s Who’s Next: Politics 2018.
At the Philadelphia Division of Maternal, Child, and Family Health, Julia Reeves leads public health campaigns, advises the coordination of the Philadelphia FIMR team, and supervises a fatherhood resources awareness initiative. She is passionate about health justice and strives to promote equitable access to quality health experiences for all families.
Tyler is the Vice President of Community Development at Cook Inlet Housing Authority. He serves on the Anchorage Planning and Zoning Commission and on the Anchorage Community Land Trust board. Tyler holds a B.A. from Duke University and a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Minnesota.
Rachel is a leader at Kaiser Permanente where she specializes in performance improvement and strategic projects. She helps to define strategies and execute on operational plans that improve access, affordability, and health in the community. Rachel holds a Masters in Health Administration from the University of Washington.
In one of America’s newest and most diverse cities, Anchorage, Alaska, Jay Stange works to empower and activate underdeveloped communities to be more resilient, connected, healthy and equitable.
Elizabeth is the co-founder and co-executive director of LA-Más, an urban design non-profit based in Los Angeles. LA-Más uses policy and design to help communities shape their own growth. Elizabeth serves on Re:Code LA, and is an alumni from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and the University of Southern California.
Darcy Totten is a crisis communications strategist with over 18 years of experience. She is an expert in social impact strategies and advocacy communications centered in the nonprofit world, political campaigns, grassroots organizing, tribal governments, and education. Darcy is passionate about coalition building and working with intersectional and inclusive teams.
Erin White is the founder of Community Food Lab, an award-winning international firm focused on sustainable, community-supportive food systems. This innovative planning practice crosses design thinking with urgent food systems challenges across the rural-urban spectrum. He also teaches in NCSU’s College of Design, and helps lead his local food council.
Aaron Wilcher has worked as a program manager and technical assistance provider for workforce and economic development projects for over a decade. He works in the California community college system on community partnerships and career technical education strategy. He holds masters degrees in urban planning and American studies.