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.
George Abbott leads the Knight Cities Challenge, an annual $5m call for ideas to make the 26 cities that Knight Foundation invests in more vibrant places to live and work. Abbott is also currently serving as Knight’s program director in St. Paul, Minn. Abbott previously worked in creative placemaking and political campaigns.
Lena P. Afridi is the Policy Coordinator for Equitable Economic Development at the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development. Lena has extensive experience merging data, policy, and grassroots organizing. Lena integrates quantitative research, geographic analysis, and coalition-based campaign planning to inform ANHD’s goal of economic justice in New York City.
Folayemi Agbede is an emerging voice in urban planning and an avid researcher of the African diaspora working for Chester Engineers, the largest Black-owned civil engineering firm in North America. She has worked with Progress 2050, a project for the Center of American Progress, was awarded an Irene Tinker-Millidge Walker Fellowship to pursue work with the UN Development Programme’s Economic Policy Analysis Unit in Mozambique.
Paola Aguirre is an architectural and urban designer, educator and founder of Borderless Studio, Chicago-based collaborative and interdisciplinary design consultancy. Her professional experience includes working with government, universities and architecture/urban design offices in Mexico and the United States. Paola’s transnational background and strong collaborative approach focuses her research and design practice on inter-disciplinary exchange, urban systems integration and participatory processes.
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.
Jamie Alderslade leads communications, policy and research for Citi’s community development and inclusive finance divisions. His aim is to develop exciting new agendas in the areas of financial inclusion, asset building, inclusive finance and equitable urban growth. Prior to joining Citi, Jamie was deputy director of Social Compact, Inc., a national non-profit organization of business leaders committed to investing in low-income and underserved communities.
Kareeshma Ali is a human-centered designer, researcher, and planner. Kareeshma’s social impact design work is informed by her experience in architecture, urban design, and planning and deep interest in communications, art and culture, and graphic design. She most recently joined Greater Good Studio, a social impact design agency, to bridge her experience in the built environment with the practice of human-centered design, and use design research to create positive, social and environmental impact.
Michael Allen serves as Director of the Preservation Research Office (PRO), a historic preservation and public history consultancy he founded in 2009, and serves as an adjunct faculty member and program coordinator in the American Culture Studies Program at Washington University in St. Louis. Allen is one of the founding executive committee members of the Preservation Rightsizing Network.
Scott Allen is the Vice President of Design and Development for the family and private investment office of Zhang Xin and Pan Shiyi (Soho China). Through a series of award winning projects and publications Scott has developed an international reputation for work that challenge the status quo pushing for new limits in design and innovation. His experience spans over fifty million square feet of new construction and has won over two dozen global design distinctions. He has spoken at events hosted by TEDx, The World Architecture Festival and the American Institute of Architect’s National convention to name a few.
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.
David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington, a website which advocates for a growing and inclusive Washington, DC region. He has a BA in Computer Science from Harvard University, worked as a Product Manager for Google, and now lives with his wife and daughter in Washington, DC.
Alen Amini operates Jamshid Antique Rugs, LLC in Cincinnati, and is the Director of the Corps Member Education Foundation, a nonprofit working to provide educational opportunities for low-income students. Alen served as a TFA member and assistant principal at Lakeside High School in Arkansas, as the ED of the Southeast Arkansas Community Foundation, and worked with the Mayor’s Office in Greenville, Mississippi to establish the Go Greenville! Program.
Ashley Atkinson is a planner with an economic development focus and a decade of experience in LA-area agencies. She serves as both Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Senior Planning & Development Manager and volunteer director of the American Planning Association’s Los Angeles section. She received a master’s degree from USC in 2007.
Rotem works as a food and planning consultant for Québec en Forme. She advises, creates, and implements strategies, action plans, programs and policies to encourage healthy eating and physical activity in cities in Québec. Recently, she has been helping with the development of a food strategy in Montréal.
Mallory Baches is an urban designer and civic specialist. Certified by AICP, LEED, and CNU, she is the founder and director of The Civic Hub, a civicism incubation firm that blends her design and implementation skills with her passion for cities and towns, and for the community-supportive systems that help them thrive.
Demelza Baer is a Policy Counsel for the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, where she directs the Economic Mobility Initiative. She previously worked as a Policy Counsel for the Washington Legislative Office of the American Civil Liberties Union, and as an Assistant Counsel for the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.
Paul Baker Prindle is the director of University Galleries, the University of Nevada, Reno’s museum of art. He clarifies, through museum practice, how the visual arts make communities stronger, safer, more resilient, more dynamic and more innovative. He supports the next generations of artists as they transition into professional practice, through mentorship, critique and exhibition opportunities.
Stonly Baptiste is co-founder and principal at Urban.Us, the venture fund for startups that make cities better. Stonly also helped create and teach the first Urban focused Entrepreneurship course at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Stonly previously founded 5 companies, speaks 3 languages, and programs in 2.
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.
Westley Bayas III is the principal owner of Magnolia Strategies, a mission driven public affairs & policy consulting firm. Bayas currently works with the City of New Orleans and the Justice & Accountablity Center of Louisiana on a variety of endeavors. A New Orleans native, Bayas is involved in numerous local organizations and boards.
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.
Karen Beck Pooley is a Senior Associate at czbLLC and teaches at Lehigh University. She was previously the Executive Director of the Allentown (PA) Redevelopment Authority and a Deputy Director with New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. She has a Ph.D. in City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania.
Ian Beniston is the Executive Director of the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation. He has spent the past five years building capacity for neighborhood revitalization in Youngstown, Ohio. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and lives in Youngstown with his wife and Irish Wolfhound.
Dana is an experienced community development and housing professional, currently serving as Vice President for Citi Inclusive Finance. Prior, she worked as a Program Specialist for the DC Department of Housing and Community Development. She has a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University, and a B.A. in Political Science from University of Delaware.
Emma Berndt is the Executive Director of the Energy and Environment Urban Lab at the University of Chicago. Previously she served as Director of Regulatory Affairs at Opower, a software company leveraging data management, analytics and behavioral science to transform the way utilities relate to their customers.
Matt is an Urbanist, Designer, and Lecturer. He is passionate about creating sustainable urbanism[s] in both practice and research. Matt is a Senior Urban Designer at Washington University in Saint Louis where he focuses on projects that engage civic and institutional partnerships in the St. Louis region. As a lecturer, Matt lectures in the Urban Design Graduate program at the Sam Fox School and Brown School of Social Work on sustainability, informality, and community development. Previous to WashU, Matt worked in the private sector as a Designer and Planner in St. Louis, New York City, San Francisco, and Charlottesville. Most recently, Matt was the project manager for one of the winning designs in the Van Alan Changing Course International Design Competition.
Cara Bertron is the Deputy Preservation Officer at the City of Austin and the Chair of the Preservation Rightsizing Network. She has completed preservation-based planning and revitalization projects around the country, including innovative historic resource surveys, creative community documentation, and citywide preservation plans. Cara also edits Pocket Guide.
Tsedey Betru’s experiences immigrating to Memphis from Ethiopia led her to study Urban Development at Cornell University where she earned her B.S. She went on to obtain her Masters in Nonprofit Management & Urban Policy Analysis at The New School, and has since held positions that range from Director of the DMI Scholars Program at the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, to Project Manager for the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team–an initiative of Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Rajesh is a Sydney based Urban Data Architect and founder of the Australia-wide “Sustainable Travel living lab” series. He is currently working on an Open Data platform that will give Local Council, Businesses and Residents tools to better access, nurture and value their common green spaces and local biodiversity.
Imron Bhatti is the Presidential Management Fellow at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. His career has focused on how urban planning can ameliorate or exacerbate inequities in access to opportunity.
John Bilderback is Program Manager for Step ONE and the Chattanooga project director for a grant funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Under John’s leadership, residents, partner organizations and government agencies have collaborated on more than $1.37 million of programmatic and infrastructural improvements.
Architect and urban planner with 16 years’ experience in governmental institutions at local and national levels, especially in housing and urban development public policies, governance, strategic planning, social inclusion and citizen participation; more than 5 years of international experience (UK, Latin American and the Caribbean), including an UN agency, with specific interdisciplinary skills, working with heterogeneous teams in the most diverse environments and cultures. Currently working as Project Director for the Urban Development Strategic Plan of the Metropolitan Area of Rio de Janeiro.
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.
Frederic Bourrely is the General Manager of Soder, a family of 4 not for profit organization active in three fields: education to environment, supporting citizen in their local green projects and companies/States in their sustainable development.
Nick Bowden is the co-founder and CEO of MindMixer. Nick is fascinated by the intersection of cities and technology, and is a recovering urban planner and proud downtown dweller.
Bryan Boyer is co-founder of Dash Marshall, a design studio working at projects from rethinking a single room to reimagining an entire city’s civic infrastructure. At Dash, Bryan leads the firm’s strategic design projects, with organizations including Google, The Museum of Modern Art and the Knight Foundation.
Will Bradshaw is the Co-Founder and President of Green Coast Enterprises. He also teaches real estate development at the Tulane University School of Architecture. He lives in New Orleans, LA, with his wife, Rebekah, and their two children.
Kirby is the Beam Fellow of Placemaking + Equity at Western Reserve Land Conservancy, working with residents to green and repurpose vacant lots and activate spaces in the community. She’s a former elementary school teacher, a trained mediator, and an organizer with her local “artivist” group called Bridging The Tracks.
Daniel Brook is a journalist and author who writes about architecture and urbanism. His latest, A History of Future Cities, was published by W. W. Norton in 2013. He has also written for publications including The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, Harper’s, Slate, Metropolis, and NextCity.
Brandy H. M. Brooks is a nonprofit professional with a design and planning background who has spent the last 10 years working on social and environmental justice. Her particular areas of focus include community engagement and empowerment; community-base design and land use planning; and just and sustainable food systems.
Marlon I. Brown serves as mayor pro tem of the City of Mason, Michigan. He also works as a Budget and Policy Analyst for the State Budget Office of Michigan. Marlon holds a B.A. in Political Science from American University, a M.P.A. from the University of Delaware.
Sean Brown is a full time graduate student and the founding director of Young Urban Leaders. Former Camden school board member. Father of two. Blogger.
Ginny Browne joined PBP in 2012 to coordinate the first city-wide PB process in the US, in Vallejo, CA, now managing the organization’s West Coast project. Ginny has worked as a community organizer with the grassroots New York organization Good Old Lower East Side, a researcher with the Service Employees International Union in the Bay Area, and an AmericorpsVISTA associate with Fifth Avenue Committee.
A planner and former diplomat, Raabia serves as an Innovation Program Manager at the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development where she advances international and philanthropic partnerships to create sustainable and equitable communities. Previously, she led a federal place-based team to launch the White House Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Initiative engagement Macon-Bibb County, GA and support community goals through cross-sectoral and interagency collaboration.
Noah Budnick is the SF Bicycle Coalition’s Executive Director. Noah works with the organization’s staff, board and active membership to provide organizational leadership and vision to improve life for San Franciscans by promoting the bicycle for everyday transportation. Prior to this, he was Deputy Director of Transportation Alternatives, New York City’s advocates for biking, walking and public transit.
Brianna Bullentini is a designer, entrepreneur and philanthropist. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Architecture from Parsons the New School for Design in NYC, and has since worked in roles ranging from a junior designer for ABC, an experiential designer with ICRAVE in NYC, and the lead on a redevelopment project in Kenya and a water conserving project in Cambodia. Her latest project is a Reno-based eco-concious, cold-pressed juice bar, Rawbry.
Brian Burch has spent 15 years in public relations specializing in media, strategic positioning and crisis communications on behalf of consumer goods, startups, business services and venture capital; six years in public service on the Holland City Council, advocating for green housing, neighborhood engagement, urban design and municipal fiber infrastructure.
Evelyn Burnett is Vice President, Economic Opportunity at Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, an intermediary whose mission is to foster communities of choice and opportunity throughout Cleveland. Evelyn also consults with the Admiral Center, initiative of Living Cities. Originally from Youngstown, Ohio, Evelyn sits on the board of several organizations throughout Northeast Ohio and nationally.
Straddling domestic and international work, Jackie designs strategy and acts as the coordinator of Ford’s New York City and New Orleans grant portfolios and also supports the foundation’s engagement in the UN SDG and Habitat III processes. She speaks Spanish and holds an MUP in International Development from NYU.
Sam Butler served as the Interim Executive Director for Creekside Community Development Corporation before joining Michigan Community Resources in July 2010. Since then, Sam has continued to hone his professional interests in housing program design, participatory planning, and creating alternative models for community revitalization in response to vacant land.
Efrem Bycer is the Director of Economic Development at Code for America. Previously, he was an Economic Development Manager at the San Diego Regional EDC where he led public policy efforts and EDC’s engagement with the Global Cities Initiative. Additionally, Efrem is on the Board of Directors for Next City and is the founder of BoardNEXT, an innovative program to prepare young professionals and underrepresented groups for and connect them with nonprofit board service.
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.
Caitlin Cameron is a first wave millennial having lived as a car-free planner and designer in five cities. Her recent projects in Portland include the India Street Sustainable Neighborhood Plan and Form-Based Code, Congress Square Redesign, Complete Streets Design Manual and improving immigrant community engagement methods.
Monica Campana, a native of Peru based in Atlanta, GA is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Living Walls: The City Speaks, Inc. Living Walls is a non-profit organization that seeks to promote, educate and change perspectives toward our public space in our communities via street art.
Natalie is a Sustainability – Sr. Consultant, with a focus on Urban Resiliency, for AECOM in Texas. Natalie also co-founded Green Money Search to inspire sustainable city development by leveraging incentives to encourage citizens to implement sustainable practices on their projects. She also leads Advocacy for USGBC Texas Gulf Coast Region.
Megan Canning is an artist who is passionate about the power of art and design to create positive change in our cities, our communities, and our lives. Since 2005 she has worked for the Design Trust for Public Space, a nationally-recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to the future of public space in New York City. Megan holds an MFA in Painting from Hunter College and a BFA in Art Education from Ohio University, and maintains a studio in Brooklyn, NY.
Sharon Carney serves as chief of staff to the president of the Urban Institute, Sarah Rosen Wartell. Carney is responsible for supporting and advising the president on strategic matters, coordinating executive office initiatives, serving as a liaison between the president and external parties, and overseeing the president’s schedule. She also serves as assistant corporate secretary to the Urban Institute board of trustees.
Antionette D. Carroll is the Founder and CEO of Creative Reaction Lab, a civic engagement and design social enterprise addressing building healthier and more inclusive cities. Throughout her career, Antionette has worked for social justice, human rights, and diversity and inclusion nonprofits. She is AMEX/Ashoka Emerging Innovator.
Christine Gaspar is Executive Director of the Center for Urban Pedagogy, a nonprofit whose mission is to use art and design to increase meaningful civic engagement, particularly among historically under-represented communities. She has over fifteen years of experience in community design.
Jonathan Cha is an Urbanologist, Landscape Architect and Doctor in Urban Planning. He teaches at the University of Montreal, UQAM and McGill. Specialist of public space, he is co-founder of MTL ville en mouvement, vice-president of the Association of Landscape Architects of Quebec and member of a several Boards of Administration.
Marvin Chaney is an Austin Native working with the Texas Water Development Board (state agency) which finances water and wastewater infrastructure. His primary responsibility is financial reporting. He is a Cornell alum (2009) with a degree in Urban and Regional Studies.
Amy Cheung is a doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research broadly explores Asian American youth civic engagement and the roles of culture and place in constructing civic identities. Previously, she launched a youth development program for Asian American teens, and managed a pop-up library in Boston’s Chinatown.
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.
Michael Christoff graduated with an M.Arch from Kent State University in 2005, and moved to Cleveland to work on the Flats East Bank redevelopment project. His focus has been on complex projects that require strategic physical, social and cultural interventions. When not in his office at architecture and strategy firm Vocon, he is immersed in initiatives that leverage Cleveland’s creative efforts into visible and tangible change.
Elizabeth Bowie Christoforetti is design director and co-founder of Supernormal, a design and research collaborative built to explore the potential of big data for the design of small urban places. Supernormal bridges the disciplines of architecture, urban design, and planning to bring increased sensitivity and systematization to urban development.
Director, Case Studies and Publications at the Urban Land Institute; editor at Greater Greater Washington; board member at Sierra Club, DC Chapter.
Laine Cidlowski is the Lead Urban Sustainability Planner for the Office of Planning. She is the project manager for the Office of Planning for the Sustainable DC initiative to make the city the healthiest, greenest, and most livable city in the United States. It is a citywide initiative crafted for and by the District’s diverse community with the ultimate goal of making DC more socially equitable, environmentally responsive, and economically prosperous.
Kate Clark, MPA is the Assistant Director of the Center for Population Health Innovation at Thomas Jefferson University. Prior this position, she worked in local governments and organizations managing initiatives, such as Age-friendly Philadelphia and GenPhilly, that aim to address the social and environmental determinants of health.
Matthew Clarke is Senior Associate at SHoP Architects, where he works on a wide variety of projects, with a special focus on planning and cultural work. Prior to joining SHoP, Matthew worked in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration managing capital projects for the Department of Cultural Affairs, the largest funder of culture in America.
Jason Lloyd Clement creates online/offline campaigns that engage local communities across the country in saving places that matter. Clement studied advertising and communications at the University of Texas. During his four years in Austin, he learned what to this day is his personal and professional motto: Always keep it weird.
Demion Clinco is a native Tucsonan. Graduating with a background in art, art history and design, he created a career advocating for Tucson’s historic urban resources. He attended college in L.A. and a post graduate program in Milan, Italy. Demion serves on numerous community boards focusing on projects affecting the built environment.
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.
Howard Conyers works to increase minority participation in STEM education, historic home ownership & preservation, and southern food history preservation. These activities are a dichotomy from his career as an engineer with NASA. Howard holds a BS in Bioenvironmental Engineering and MS/PhD in Mechanical Engineering.
Monty Cooper practices law with Sedgwick LLP in Washington, D.C. He handles matters on behalf of corporate clients in state and federal courts across the country. He is also chairman of the board for the Redevelopment Authority of Prince George’s County (MD), which selects development partners for infill development projects and administers affordable-housing programs.
Lyz Crane is the Deputy Director for ArtPlace America. Previously, she served as the Communications Director at ArtHome, an organization that helps artists and their communities build assets and equity through financial literacy; and the Director of Program Development and Program Manager of the Shifting Sands Initiative at Partners for Livable Communities, a national nonprofit leadership organization.
Rondell Crier began his art career in 1991 after joining a youth arts organization called YAYA. During his participation in the program, he gained worldwide experiences through commissions and travel opportunities abroad and in numerous cities across the States. Currently, he continues to practice and mentor art in his community
Stephen Crim is a planner who is passionate about fostering sustainable movement for people. His current focus is in transportation demand management, parking policy, as well as coordinated transportation and land-use planning that provides individuals with access to life’s needs instead of focusing on mobility alone. His work experience includes land-use planning and transit advocacy on the Gulf Coast.
Alison Crowley is a real estate development professional focused on restoring vacant and underutilized properties, placemaking, and housing development in high barrier to entry markets. She received her Masters in City Planning and Masters of Science in Real Estate Development from MIT in June 2015.
Betty Cruz founded Change Agency, a social enterprise that elevates civic initiatives, in September 2016 where she leads implementation of a countywide immigrant integration plan. Previously, Betty was Deputy Chief of Special Initiatives for City of Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto. Originally from Miami, Betty is the daughter of Cuban immigrants.
Mara D’Angelo has her Master’s in Public Policy, and has spent her career working on smart growth, vacant property reclamation, and urban revitalization policy issues. She is currently the Director of Special Projects for Baltimore Housing’s Permits and Code Enforcement Division.
Ana Teresa Dahan works in Legal & Government Affairs at NBCUniveral while attending Loyola Law School. Specialties: Education reform, political strategy and advocacy, public relations, communications, social media, conflict resolution, government negotiations.
Lyndsay Daudier seeks to find ways to make cities more livable through inclusion. With a background in urban planning, law, and project management, she is a dot-connector creating innovating partnership through Amplifier Montréal a movement within The Maison de l’innovation sociale – MIS (Social Innovation Centre). She aims to bring together entrepreneurs, citizens, academics, technology experts and investors across the province of Quebec with the purpose of maximizing the collective impacts of initiatives for equitable and sustainable development.
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.
Ennis Davis is a community activist focused on facilitating urban revitalization through social engagement and placemaking. In addition Ennis is the Chair of APA Florida’s First Coast Section, a mayoral appointee to the board of the Northeast Florida Regional Transportation Commission and co-founder of tactical urbanist group, TransformJax . Ennis holds a Bachelor in Architecture from Florida A&M University and is an Urban Planner with Ghyabi & Associates.
Jake Day is the City Council President of his hometown – Salisbury, MD – elected at the age of 30 with 75% of the vote. Jake is an urban designer, Army cavalry officer and candidate for Mayor. He has spent his 2 years on Council devoted to the revitalization of downtown Salisbury.
Oscar Delgado was elected to represent Ward 3 in 2012. Ward 3 is an area of northeast and central Reno, which includes the Wells Avenue and Mira Loma neighborhoods, as well as neighborhoods east of the University of Nevada, Reno. As a member of the Reno City Council, Oscar brings to the Council his education, experience in the construction industry, understanding of economic development, and practice within the social service/community outreach sector.
Chris Dickersin-Prokopp is from the Bay Area and has lived, worked, and studied in L.A., Mexico City, and D.C. He strives to advance social justice issues, such as poverty alleviation, income equality and racial integration, through the formulation and implementation of urban policies, specifically in the field of affordable housing.
Megan Dickerson is an exhibition developer and designer who works with communities to create play spaces that connect people with each other. In her current role at San Diego’s The New Children’s Museum, Megan collaborates with artists to develop emergent, site-specific artworks for a family audience. She is one of the first Americans to earn a Masters in Play and Playwork, a practice that originated on adventure playgrounds in the United Kingdom and in Scandinavia. She writes regularly on play and urbanism.
Gerald S. Dickinson is a law professor and lawyer focusing his advocacy and writing on the intersection between constitutional property, land use law, housing and urban development. A former Fulbright Scholar, he advocated on behalf of inner-city squatters in unlawful removals in South Africa and, while practicing at Reed Smith LLP in Pittsburgh, he founded and coordinated the firm’s Housing Rights Project representing indigent tenants in eviction proceedings.
Kate Didech is an attorney, planner, and landscape designer who has spent much of her career in the public sector. Recently, Kate applied her skill set to making zoning ordinances more actionable and navigable for Flux Metro, an application that renders 3D visualizations of the maximum buildout permitted under zoning ordinances. Now, she consults for municipalities across California on a variety of long-range planning, zoning, and urban design matters.
Sarah Dirsa is an architect and public interest designer. She co-founded and directed the social responsibility initiative at one of the world’s largest architecture firms before moving to New York to join a small firm that focuses on schools and projects rooted in the local community.
Melissa Dittmer is the Director of Architecture + Urban Design at Bedrock Real Estate Services. In her role, Melissa is responsible for leading Bedrock’s internal architecture studio – a collaborative group that completes the research, analysis, programming, and conceptual design of Bedrock’s real estate projects.
Alex Dodds works at the intersection of cities, public policy, and digital advocacy. As Communications Director of Smart Growth America, she helps to lead the national movement of organizations, companies, and advocates working for better urban development strategies nationwide. When not working, Alex is usually out exploring the ever-evolving Washington DC.
Naomi Doerner is a racial justice advocate, coalition builder and planner. She recently joined the City of Seattle as the first-ever Transportation Equity Program Manager. She provides internal policy leadership and builds community partnerships to expand the accessibility of safe, reliable and affordable mobility options for all. Over the last 10-years, Naomi has held numerous leadership roles, including principal and co-founder at Seneca Planning, a transportation equity consultancy. She earned her M.U.P. from NYU, serves on the Boards of ioby and PlayBuild New Orleans and co-organizes The Untokening, a mobility justice leadership of color development network. Naomi lives in Seattle, WA.
Emily Doerr (Collins-Hamel) currently works as a Business Attraction Manager for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. She has previously worked in community and economic development advocacy, grants management, small business development, and local government. In 2011, she founded Hostel Detroit (www.hosteldetroit.com) which has welcomed over 4000 people to explore the Motor City for themselves.
Kevin Donoghue is serving his third term as a City Councilor in Portland, Maine. Representing a diverse urban district and several islands in Casco Bay, his policy work focuses on affordable housing and transportation choice, updating zoning and transit service to reflect the needs of Portland.
Kimberly Dowdell’s overarching professional mission is to improve the quality of life for people living in cities. She is pursuing this mission through her work in the City of Detroit’s Housing & Revitalization Department. Kimberly is a licensed architect with a specialty in real estate project management and public administration.