The Vanguard conference is a gathering of the top young 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.
Sasha Neha Ahuja is a community organizer and advocate from New York City. She has organized at the intersections of migration and labor for over a decade. Sasha is a consultant with August Public Inc. and most recently served within the Speaker’s Office, at the New York City Council.
Liz is a place making professional from Auckland, NZ with a background in design and urban planning. Passionate about transforming complex urban challenges into opportunities for innovation she leads development of vibrant and inclusive places, by connecting community voices with agencies who deliver infrastructure and built environment projects.
Sruti is the director of community programs at FutureHeights Community Development Corporation. In her role, she aims to merge civic engagement and development with the end result of conscious development and human-scale design to meet the needs and values of residents, while addressing blight and disinvestment.
Colette is the Principal Advisor in the Office of the Chief Executive at Wellington City Council, where she leads the development of partnership-based growth programs. She previously worked as a policy advisor in the UK at HM Treasury, the Cabinet Office and in a Government Minister’s office.
Rajesh Bhardwaj is a Sydney based, Creativity & Wellbeing Strategist with expertise spanning Digital Innovation, Sustainable mobility and Open Data. This year he has worked extensively with the Air quality teams across the London boroughs of Hackney, Islington and Tower Hamlets to define their digital strategy and business participation program.
I was drawn toward urban issues in my thirties, after receiving degrees in English Literature and Cinema. An urban landscape architecture program was heaven, where I learned to use my abilities to think, design and communicate., I want to be a part of the movement toward healing our built environment.
Brandy Bones is a Senior Manager at ICF where she works with communities across the country to design and implement affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization and disaster recovery programs. She is the Board President of a health center for the homeless and Board Treasurer of her civic association in South Philadelphia.
Tre Borden is Principal of the placemaking and creative consultancy Tre Borden / Co. His team curates events, public art projects, community-based programming and space activations with an eye towards equity and engagement.
Robin Brulé is Vice President of Community Relations for Nusenda Credit Union, and serves as an executive on loan and Chief Strategist for the City of Albuquerque’s City Alive initiative. Robin is focused on applying new tools and approaches to transform systems to better serve vulnerable youth, families, and communities.
Tyler is an architect and founder of DCP, a practice exploring the overlap between design, planning & development. After leaving Syracuse University with degrees in Architecture and Business, New York City has shaped him as both a designer and writer with sustainability serving as a cornerstone to his pursuits.
Dr Subeh Chowdhury is a Lecturer at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Auckland. Subeh’s area of expertise is a combination of her background in Civil Engineering and her interest in psychology. Her research involves examining the needs of transport by various communities. Subeh has a strong passion for serving disadvantaged communities and has focused her research on finding feasible solutions to help them.
Rachel Cogger is a Sydney-based Senior Communications and Engagement consultant and skilled social/ urban planning researcher. She is passionate about soundscapes and how they influence our urban experiences and is exploring this through her PhD research. Previously, Rachel worked as an urban planning lecturer, environmental graphic designer and event manager.
Emily is a Senior Urban Planner. She is a passionate Novocastrian and wants Newcastle to be internationally renowned as an amazing, unique place. She is enthusiastic about people power and the creative industries, being the Co-director of Idea Bombing Newcastle and on the board of Octapod.
Edgar Garcia is Arts & Entertainment Deputy for L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti. With extensive experience in arts administration, cultural resource management, and historic preservation, he is committed to expanding and diversifying the cultural life of Los Angeles.
During her first term as a Wilkinsburg Councilwoman, Marita Garrett founded “Community Conversations”, an initiative to connect and empower residents to work together for neighborhood improvement. In furtherance of that goal, Ms. Garrett co-founded the Free Store Wilkinsburg, where donations of material goods are thoughtfully paired with families and residents.
Monica Gibson is the Department of Planning and Environment’s Director for the Hunter Region. Monica has been town planning since 2000, and has been leading the preparation and delivery of the Hunter Regional Plan since early 2016. The Hunter Regional Plan 2036 received the Secretary’s award for Innovation and Collaboration.
James is Practice Leader for AECOM’s Design + Planning Team in NSW/ACT and and experienced industry leader with demonstrated ability to lead complex projects with multiple stakeholders to agreed outcomes. James is passionate about delivering projects that focus on people first, enhance liveablity and derive public benefit.
Dr Gudes is an enthusiastic advocate for location intelligence and utilizing GIS and spatial modeling approaches especially with the intersection of public health. He has a diverse experience in developing GIS applications and using its tools under various disciplines including: Urban Planning, Environmental Planning, Health and Well-Being, Geography and Transportation.
A/Professor M. Hank Haeusler, PhD is Discipline Director of Computational Design at Australian School of Architecture + Design at the University of New South Wales; board member of the Media Architecture Institute and known as researcher, educator, entrepreneur and designer in media architecture and responsive transport through over 60 publications.
Danny Harris is Program Director for San Jose with the Knight Foundation. In his role, he supports the foundation’s strategy and grantmaking in Silicon Valley’s most populous city. Previously, he worked as a refugee aid worker, terrorist financing analyst, DJ, photographer, storyteller, creative director and co-founder of food start-up Feastly.
Lou Huang is an open source developer and designer working on software for urban planning and civic engagement. He has previously worked as an architect and an urban designer before joining Code for America in 2013, where he created Streetmix. Currently he is a user interface engineer at Mapzen.
Molly Rose Kaufman is the cofounder of the University of Orange, a free people’s urbanism school. Her writing has appeared in YES! Magazine, Kinfolk and the New York Times. She has an MS in journalism from Columbia University and was a 2016 Civic Liberal Arts Fellow at the New School.
Cecily is a Development Director for the City of Detroit as well as a real estate development consultant on various private projects. Cecily earned a Masters in Real Estate Development from Columbia University, Masters in Structural Engineering from Lehigh University, and Bachelors in Civil Engineering from Princeton University.
Ali Kopyt is an architect with over 15 years of experience in architecture, urban design, and community engagement projects. She focuses on housing and mixed use developments with a specialization in historic preservation and adaptive reuse projects. Ali uses place making at all scales as catalytic opportunities for underutilized urban infrastructure.
Natalia is a practicing architect in Sydney with a keen interest in designing community oriented spaces. She has been involved in advocating for child-friendly cities since graduating from Monash University in Melbourne, engaging in a range of place-making initiatives around the world with a focus on play.
Adrian Lipscombe is currently getting her Ph.D. student in the Community and Regional Planning program at the University of Texas at Austin, concentrating her studies on attitude and behavior of minorities towards transportation and land use, she has her Masters in Architecture and is the Principal of Urbanlocity Design firm. She resides in La Crosse, Wisconsin while finishing her dissertation.
Eamonn Lourey fell into community development through founding Perth’s Street Roller Hockey League, a social sporting association aiming to disrupt the traditional model of delivering organised sport.
He now also works in a private consultancy applying his learnings to communities and town centres all over Perth.
Nick Lovett is a Transportation Planner in Christchurch New Zealand. He is a passionate urban advocate with a keen interest in sociodemographic, economic and technological trends facing cities. In the weekends he runs bike tours showcasing Christchurch’s transformation, history, creativity, identity and future direction to like-minded visitors.
Tara Mei Smith is the co-founder and Executive Director of Extra Terrestrial Projects, based in New York and North Carolina. She is dedicated to finding new ways to explore, understand, and protect the world that surrounds us through play.
Jenga Mwendo serves as Deputy Director of Crescent City Community Land Trust, securing permanently affordable housing and commercial development in New Orleans. She is also the founder of Backyard Gardeners Network and has worked since 2007 to strengthen the Lower 9th Ward and the larger Black community of New Orleans.
John O’Callaghan is the Director of JOC Consulting, a creative urban planning practice. He is also the Chair of Brand X, a not for profit arts organisation filling vacant spaces with independent artists and Editor of Trending City, a collaborative blogging platform highlighting great city making projects across the globe.
Kevin is the passionate founder of Liftango, an innovative transportation startup. Liftango provides shared mobility solutions, such as car pooling and on demand bus platforms, to help ease congestion in our ever growing cities.
A strong advocate for smart cities Kevin and Liftango utilise new and emerging technologies to help solve city wide transport problems and bring our cities into the 21st century.
Chris is an Urbanist at Ethos Urban (Sydney, Australia). His recent experience includes complex State Significant projects with a focus on transport infrastructure and precinct renewal. Chris has previous experience as a placemaking consultant and has an interest in key drivers that influence cities through government policy and economic development.
Clare is a passionate and enthusiastic urban planner who is excited about the opportunities available in Christchurch post earthquake. Clare is a wonderful connector and networker in Christchurch for owners, developers and community groups who are keen to positively contribute to the recovery and regeneration of Christchurch.
Max is the founder and director of Brick + Board, a Baltimore-based non-profit that uses the salvage industry as a means towards creating green-collar jobs for people with barriers to employment.
As the inaugural Community Manager for Ipswich City Council’s award-winning Fire Station 101, Chad Renando has supported the growth of Australia’s only council backed innovation hub. Chad integrates PhD research and work on ecosystem measurement to define the role that innovation plays in building community resilience, particularly in regional areas.
Andrew Rodriguez is serving as a city councilman in his hometown of Walnut, California. Elected at 23 years old, he is currently one of the youngest elected municipal officials serving in California. A land use planner by profession, Andrew considers himself a new urbanist, and is a leader on sustainable land use polices in Southern California. He is an alumnus of Rutgers University and is currently a Master of Real Estate Development candidate at the University of Southern California.
Chris is the Active Transport Strategic Planner for the City of Greater Bendigo. He is passionate about empowering communities through genuine engagement and providing equitable and enjoyable transport solutions across Bendigo and the region. Chris also has extensive experience in community development in rural Australia and runs his own photography business.
Emily designs strategies for the public sector and universities to go green and build learning systems for sustainability. As a local government change manager and independent consultant, she crosses sectors to connect innovators to partners and resources. She is a Harvard-trained educator and certified biomimicry specialist committed to climate action.
Lindsey leads Scout, an inter-disciplinary development practice activating underutilized spaces through thoughtful design. Scout is redeveloping the historic Bok building into an innovative space for makers and entrepreneurs. The development approach at Bok seeks to reuse existing infrastructure from the former vocational school to create a place of production and collaboration.
Jas works at PwC in disruptive innovation, helping clients to anticipate disruption and ‘disrupt’ their own business models. He also plays a leading role in building the firms artificial intelligence practice – advising clients, transforming the firm’s services and working on initiatives to ensure AI is used for humanities benefit.
Ari is the Vice President, Chief Program and Strategy Officer of the Kresge Foundation – a philanthropy dedicated to expanding opportunities for people with low-incomes in America’s cities. In that role, he directs Kresge’s national and place-based programs, Opportunity Fund, and learning and evaluation efforts.
Astrid works in the Cities Branch of the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet. She supports the development and implementation of policy and projects that impact on cities. Astrid has previously worked in local government improving the social outcomes of the community. She is inspired by bike friendly European cities.
Data scientist for social impact
Dan is a California artist trained as an architect, organic farmer and greywater irrigation specialist. He designs systems and makes art to explore the complex connectivity between water, food, community and climate change. Additionally, he serves as a designer with Lincoln Training Center whose mission is to improve quality of life for individuals with disadvantages or developmental disabilities.
A long term advocate for regional Queensland small business communities, Amy also has a keen interest in social innovation and placemaking. She is also a committed volunteer, largely in working with disengaged cohorts to encourage their meaningful participation in the community.
Jason is Director of Urban Apostles, a property development firm specialising in alternative workplace & housing models for cities. Its work focuses on the intersection of the sharing economy and art of city making. Jason is also an Innovation Fellow within the School of Architecture at University of Technology Sydney.
Bella Vincent is returning to Australia after two years at Harvard Kennedy School, completing her MPA and assisting two experts in urban innovation, policy and development to communicate ideas and enhance experiential learning. She has previously led evaluation, service redesign and engagement for the Australian Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, and Indigenous think tank the Cape York Institute. She went to high school in Greater Newcastle.
Rachael is the Co-Director of Gap Filler, an innovative organisation that produces quirky projects to support the regeneration of Christchurch (New Zealand) post-earthquake. She has a background in Culture and Heritage and moved to Christchurch just over two years ago to take up her current role.
Hani White : Commissioner – Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs. Economic development professional, 12 years experience in asset building, business development, non-profit management. Co-founder Feed the Barrel movement. Previously served as Deputy Director Office of Immigrant Affairs City Philadelphia and Director Asset Building Immigrant Services for WORC.
President/CEO and Co-Founder of Communities First, Inc. in Flint, Michigan, is an equity driven visionary with the ability to put action to ideas and works hard to give a voice to the voiceless. Glenn’s work focuses on housing, economic development, philanthropy, environmental education, transportation, arts and culture.