Next City Vanguards - Directory of Past & Present Attendees

Vanguards

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. After more than a decade of Vanguard conferences, the Vanguards number more than 400. Learn more about Vanguards past and present on this page, where you can search for Vanguards and Vanguard alumni by discipline, geographic area and more. Find your next collaborator or just learn about these rising leaders.

  • Racheal Allen

    Marygrove Conservancy
    Detroit, MI
    2022

    Racheal Allen is an Operations Strategist who serves as COO for Marygrove Conservancy, a non-profit that stewards the 53-acre former Marygrove College in Detroit. Allen oversees P-20 partnerships, operations, external engagement, and programs. Allen is also CEO of Operations School, a firm that helps startups and nonprofits build operational capacity.

  • Elysse Alvarado

    Whole Kids Foundation- Whole Foods
    Dallas, TX
    2022

    Elysse currently serves as the Program Innovations Lead at Whole Kids Foundation whose mission is to support schools and inspire families to improve children’s nutrition and wellness. Previously, she managed community engagement for the community schoolyards program at TPL TX. She holds a BA in International Relations from UT Austin.

  • Vanessa Alvarez Diaz

    COLLABO Planning + Design
    Chicago, IL
    2022

    Vanessa’s aspiration is to serve her cultural community through the design of shared spaces and experiences. Being a part of the COLLABO Planning + Design team, Vanessa aims to continue being a community steward, building relationships and sharing experiences with communities to create sustainable and equitable change.

  • Dan Baisden

    City of Fort Wayne
    Fort Wayne, IN
    2022

    Dan Baisden is the Director of Neighborhood Planning and Activation for the City of Fort Wayne and facilitates neighborhood plans and projects. Prior to joining the City, he was a Main Street Director, and Public Art Manager, and spent twenty years in radio. He is also Chair of CNU Midwest.

  • Jimmy Baldwin

    TRG
    Dallas, TX
    2022

    Baldwin’s a brand creative director. His creative magic helped turn Motel 6 into an iconic brand and made Corona a #1import. Jimmy is also a top-40 Americana artist with three first round Grammy nominations. His song “Peace, Love, and Chicken Fried Steak” made him a part of Texas history.

  • Brian Bonanno


    Albuquerque, NM
    2022

    Brian is a community development and sustainability professional with 14 years of experience working alongside neighborhood stakeholders to build relationships and strengthen communities.

    Brian lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he most recently worked with the City Planning Department’s Urban Design and Development Division. He is currently preparing to return to school, to pursue a Masters in Resilient and Sustainable Community from Prescott College, in Arizona.

  • Aaron Brown

    Oregon Transportation Futures Project
    Portland, OR
    2022

    Aaron is a community organizer and political consultant working at the intersections of housing, climate, and transportation policy and politics in his hometown of Portland, Oregon. He’s a co-founder of No More Freeways to oppose freeway expansions across the state of Oregon and most recently co-hosted the 2022 YIMBYtown conference.

  • Durell Coleman

    DC Design
    San Francisco, CA
    2022

    Durell Coleman is the founder and CEO of DC Design, a social impact design consultancy that co-designs solutions to social problems alongside governments, foundations, non-profits, and the communities they serve. He has worked to reduce homelessness, develop new approaches to criminal justice reform, reimagine healthcare service models, and more.

  • Cinthia De La Rosa

    Hester Street
    New York, NY
    2022

    Cinthia De La Rosa is a Senior Project Manager at Hester Street where she manages various public health, resiliency, and community engagement projects. She has over 10 years of public health and community engagement experience and is committed to working alongside low-income communities to create opportunities where people can thrive.

  • Margaret Decker

    City of Chicago, Office of the Mayor
    Chicago, IL
    2022

    Margaret Decker is passionate about effective, accessible, and equity-focused government. In the Chicago Mayor’s Office, she works on projects related to land access and community development. Margaret holds a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor’s in Engineering from the University of Michigan.

  • Nicole Eigbrett

    Community Action Agency of Somerville (CAAS)
    Somerville, MA
    2022

    Nicole Eigbrett is a queer, Asian American adoptee and community organizer in the housing justice movement. She brings her experiences and passion for public service, progressive policy making, and radical organizing to build the collective power of working-class, BIPOC, and immigrant residents in Somerville, Massachusetts.

  • Jesus “Chuy” Flores

    Estolano Advisors
    San Bernardino, CA
    2022

    Proudly born and raised in San Bernardino, Chuy is an interdisciplinary urban planner with expertise in community economic development and environmental policy. He works across sectors managing applied research studies, stakeholder engagement processes, and technical assistance programs. He enjoys bringing folks together to uplift and advance community driven policy solutions.

  • Emma Freedman

    Community Foundation of South Jersey
    Camden, NJ
    2022

    Emma Freedman is the Community Impact Manager of the Camden Community Food Fund. Prior to this role she was working to support corner store owners in Camden to collectively purchase goods and services. Freedman works to strengthen the communities she works in through building connections between residents and stakeholders.

  • Philip Freeman

    City of Charlotte
    Charlotte, NC
    2022

    Philip is a civic engagement pro with passions for public art, outdoor recreation, and writing. As the City of Charlotte’s Neighborhood and Community Partnerships Manager, he oversees community grants, environmental programs, and leadership + training opportunities that equip residents to build successful lives. Philip graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill, where he majored in English and minored in Entrepreneurship. He earned a Master of Public Affairs at UNC-Greensboro, and he completed graduate coursework at Fuller Theological Seminary in Colorado Springs.

  • Ashley Garcia

    Fund 17 / BGPM New Orleans
    New Orleans, LA
    2022

    Ashley Garcia is the Regional Leasing & Marketing manager at local real estate property management firm BGPM and board president at Fund 17. Originally from New York City, Ashley believes real estate and community engagement are key factors to healthier cities for the livelihoods of our future generations.

  • Paul Gleye

    North Dakota State University
    Fargo, ND
    2022

    Paul Gleye is a city planner specializing in historic preservation and urban design, with a focus on bringing vitality to city centers. In addition to his commitment to civic affairs in North Dakota, he is a professor of architecture at North Dakota State University and lives in downtown Fargo.

  • Andrew Goddeeris

    Office of United States Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib
    Detroit, MI
    2022

    Andy Goddeeris is an attorney, urbanist, and lifelong Detroiter currently serving as Senior Policy Counsel to Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. His work focuses on developing radical policy and supporting grassroots movements for social change and intersectional justice. He lives in Northwest Detroit with his partner and a whole bunch of cats.

  • Breyonne Golding

    City of Minneapolis
    Minneapolis, MN
    2022

    Breyonne Golding is a senior city planner with the City of Minneapolis, passionate in helping marginalized communities envision and shape their neighborhoods over the past 10 years. She holds a Masters in City & Regional Planning (The Ohio State University) and Masters in Ecological Design (Conway School of Landscape Design).

  • Yonina Gray

    Reinvestment Fund
    Atlanta, GA
    2022

    Yonina is a Chicago native with over a decade of experience building strategies and institutional change management practices to mobilize underserved communities to improve their quality of life. Today, working in external relations, Yonina drives national business development objectives to establish new market presence and relationships that pave the way for corporate growth. Yonina’s principal goal is to drive strategic partnerships that honor local leadership and lived experiences for harmonious social and economic impact.

  • Brandon Greene

    New Venture Fund (Oakland Civic Design Lab)
    Benicia, CA
    2022

    Brandon Greene is director of the racial and economic justice program at the ACLU of Northern California. In this capacity, Brandon provides programmatic vision and leadership for advancing racial and economic justice in the state.

    Previously, Brandon managed the Civic Design Lab in Oakland and was an attorney and clinical supervisor at the East Bay Community Law Center, where he helped create and lead the decriminalization of poverty clinic.

    Brandon has also worked as public defender in Contra Costa County and as a fellow at Public Advocates in San Francisco.

    Brandon is a graduate of Boston University Law School, where he was a public interest scholar and Martin Luther King Social Justice Fellow.

  • Michael Grote

    Alembic Community Development
    New Orleans, LA
    2022

    Mike Grote is a real estate developer and registered architect in New Orleans, focusing on community development projects in the city and regionally. He is always striving to make the projects he works on equitable and anti-racist in their processes and outcomes. He also makes mean guacamole.

  • Joe Gudenrath

    El Paso Downtown Management District
    El Paso, TX
    2022

    Originally from Nebraska with a background in Public Policy and Urban Placemaking, Gudenrath relocated to El Paso, Texas to run the El Paso Downtown Management District (DMD) $1 million budget and over a dozen full and part time staff.

    He’s recognized as an Emerging Leader by the International Downtown Association.

  • Taylor Holloway

    Prospect New Orleans
    New Orleans, LA
    2022

    Taylor Holloway is a designer, architect, and educator who uses design-driven approaches to promote equity in the built environment. Her work is focused on developing new and radical uses of public space, advancing collective capacities for social impact, and championing the preservation of shared cultural legacies.

    Taylor is the inaugural Manager of Programs and Audience Engagement for Prospect New Orleans, a contemporary art triennial that invites artists from around the globe to engage with New Orleans and raises the voices of artists who represent the Global South. Taylor is also an Organizer with Design As Protest, a 2019 ACD Fellow, an AIA Jason Pettigrew Memorial ARE Scholar, and the Founder of Public Design Agency.

  • Alex Horton

    International District Economic Development
    Albuquerque, NM
    2022

    Alex Horton born in Albuquerque; NM spent his time working to serve underserved communities. Supporting local initiatives to break down the barriers for entrepreneurs of color.

  • Laura Janka

    local / Insper
    São Paulo
    2022

    Laura Janka, architect and urban designer, has focused her professional and personal interests on civic space and creative planning processes, especially in Mexico City and São Paulo, with interscalar experiences involving public policies and social local initiatives.

  • Ersela Kripa

    Texas Tech University
    El Paso, TX
    2022

    Ersela Kripa is a registered architect and founding partner of AGENCY, a design and research practice leveraging spatial design and information to counteract forms of global and urban inequality. Located on the US–Mexico border, AGENCY develops methods to identify and subvert subperceptual urban and atmospheric events that violate human rights.

  • Stephany Lin

    U3 Advisors
    Astoria, NY
    2022

    Stephany Lin is an urban planner focused on the role of anchor institutions in communities. At U3 Advisors, Stephany works with universities, foundations, and non-profits to advance mission-aligned real estate and community development strategies. She is passionate about aligning educational and neighborhood-based investments to support young people in our cities.

  • Monique Lopez

    Pueblo Planning
    San Diego, CA
    2022

    Monique G. López is a Social Justice Planner and founder of Pueblo Planning and utilizes storytelling and art-making to engage communities in the planning process in order to dismantle unjust systems and co-develop equitable communities. For the past 16 years, Monique has advocated for social, economic, and environmental justice.

  • Allison Lukacsy-Love

    Greater Cleveland Partnership
    Cleveland, OH
    2022

    Allison is a licensed Architect, certified City Planner and urbanist at heart. Prior to joining Greater Cleveland Partnership, Allison was the Director of Planning and Development at the City of Euclid and a Project Manager in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Shanghai, China. Allison is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University.

  • Lizzie MacWillie

    buildingcommunityWORKSHOP
    Dallas, TX
    2022

    Lizzie MacWillie is a Director at buildingcommunityWORKSHOP in Dallas, TX. She is an urban designer who works across project types. Recent work includes community engagement for the City of Dallas’ Cultural Plan; and El Sonido del Agua, an arts and advocacy project in the Rio Grande Valley.

  • Nidhi Madan

    Beyond Built Pvt. Ltd.
    New Delhi
    2022

    Nidhi Madan is an architect and landscape architect based in New Delhi, India. Her current work in the public domain includes community-driven projects -streetscapes, parks and greenways, with a focus on accessibility, resource-consciousness and equity through nature-based solutions. She is also Director and Access Consultant at Samarthyam, National Centre for Accessible Environments.

  • Alec Martinez

    CoEverything
    Laredo, TX
    2022

    Alec Martinez is a city planner and community organizer from Laredo, Texas. They are currently writing their thesis on the development of cooperatives in the context of climate change/migration at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. They work on community projects on the border and with development firm CoEverything.

  • Kasi Munoz

    Farmer D
    El Paso, TX
    2022

    Kasi has cultivated a career focused on activating people, activating spaces, and activating change. She practices landscape architecture to work with communities to build healthy neighborhoods and gathering places that inetgrate art, play and nature. She is passionate about shifting current development practices to be more equitable and resilient.

  • Aditi Nair

    Habitat for Humanity International
    Jersey City, NJ
    2022

    Aditi is a design consultant and urbanist with background architecture and planning. Aditi addresses
    critical design related urban challenges for sustainable innovation. Aditi has advanced applied research capabilities with experience in designing tools to co-create people-based solutions embedded in social justice, inclusion, diversity, and economic equity.

  • Ivan Niño

    El Paso County
    El Paso, TX
    2022

    Ivan Niño was born in El Paso, Texas. Currently, is a member of the TxDMV Title and Registration Division board, City of El Paso Museum and Cultural affairs board, Public Art committee, El Paso County Democratic Party, State Bar of Texas Paralegal Division, and the Texas Court Administration.

  • Stephen Parker

    Stantec
    Washington, DC
    2022

    As Stantec’s behavioral health planner, Stephen is a proponent of “architect as advocate” for colleague, client, and community alike, and he believes strongly in leadership through service. Conducting design research and developing best practices in collaboration with stakeholders helps drive positive patient outcomes and advance behavioral health treatment through design.

  • Nydia Parries

    Quadel
    Philadelphia, PA
    2022

    Nydia has held various roles in government, consulting, and advocacy focused on financing affordable housing for low-income families or working with housing providers to improve the quality of their services and the housing they provide. She is passionate about transforming formerly redlined neighborhoods and serving the families who live in them.

  • Natalia Rodriguez-Hilt

    Local Initiatives Support Corporation
    Indianapolis, IN
    2022

    Born and raised abroad, Natalia is passionate about economic development and advocating for underserved communities. As a Program Officer at LISC, she is focused on supporting small businesses, managing funds focused on closing the racial wealth gap, supporting business support organizations, and creating more access within the Latinx community.

  • Ben Schulman

    Memphis Medical District Collaborative
    Memphis, TN
    2022

    Ben is the Vice President, Director of Real Estate + Economic Development, for the Memphis Medical District Collaborative (MMDC), where he oversees a team and suite of tools and funds that rewrite the rules of community development. Prior to joining MMDC, he helped build, launch, and voice an equity crowdfunding platform with a focus on impact-oriented real estate, and served as the communications director for the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU).

  • Anisha Steephen

    Racial Equity and Public Policy Leader
    New York, NY
    2022

    Anisha Steephen is a leader in community investing with experience in successful multi-sector partnerships that drive capital to build assets for low-wealth communities. They currently work in federal-level racial and economic justice policy. They are a first generation American.

  • Howard Tam

    ThinkFresh Group
    Toronto
    2022

    Howard Tam is a Strategic Designer. He is the founder of ThinkFresh Group, a consultancy in Toronto, Canada that has helped urban organizations with their business strategies and models. Howard is also founder of Dragon Centre Stories, an urban heritage commemoration project for North America’s first indoor Chinese mall.

  • Jessica Thorpe

    Storyboard
    Indianapolis, IN
    2022

    Jessica employs a transdisciplinary approach to her work, leveraging her expertise in policy, urban design, storytelling, and visual communication. After the birth of her daughter, she founded Storyboard, an independent planning and design practice that specializes in crafting strategic solutions and compelling narratives for complex urban issues.

  • Zen Trenholm

    Democracy at Work Institute
    Portland, OR
    2022

    Zen Trenholm is the Director of Employee Ownership Cities and Policy with the Democracy at Work Institute (DAWI), equipping cities with tools and support to build equitable economies through worker ownership. He informs state and federal employee ownership legislation and develops policy agendas, reports, and toolkits for lawmakers and advocates.

  • Quinton Ward

    Operation Food Search
    Saint Louis, MO
    2022

    I’m Quinton Ward, a multidiscipline artist, designer, and connector. My passions and work is at the intersection of art, design, community, and relationship. I’m currently the Senior Manger of the MetroMarket at Operation Food Search a metro bus turned into a farmer market on wheels.

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