J’Tanya Adams is the president of Historic West End Partners, an organization that advocates for a higher quality of life in Charlotte’s Historic West End through economic and cultural development while honoring its rich heritage. Founded by Adams in 2010, the mission of Historic West End Partners Inc. (HWEP) is to celebrate, promote, honor, and educate and inform the public about the cultural and historical heritage of the community known as the Historic West End. HWEP also seeks to preserve, support and demonstrate the continuing influence of the Historic West End’s history and cultural heritage in greater Charlotte by developing social, cultural and educational programs and facilities within its service area. Adams also co-founded the 5 Points Community Collaborative, a neighborhood lead organization dedicated to guiding the growth and maintaining the integrity of the 5 Points Cultural Arts and Education District. Adams received NeighborWorks America’s 2018 Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident Leadership.
Sabina Ali is a founding member and the executive director of the Thorncliffe Park Women’s Committee, which was created by residents of Toronto’s Thorncliffe Park to advance a transformative vision for the neighborhood and the surrounding community. Under Ali’s leadership, the Women’s Committee revitalized the local park and helped create a healthy, engaged and inclusive community. Ali manages a wide variety of food, art, fitness, markets and garden programs. She is involved in a community food project called Park Cafe by leveraging neighborhood assets such as the park, an existing bazaar, and local talent to improve livelihoods of low-income residents and create an engine of economic, environmental and social activity. Ali received the Elizabeth Coke award for excellence in leadership in 2011; the 2014 Jane Jacobs Prize; and the 2014 Phenomenal Woman Award. Also in 2014, she was selected by the Globe and Mail as one of the Top Ten Torontonians to get things done. In 2017 she received an award for excellence the MP’s Sesquicentennial Citizenship Award. She sits on various committees such as Neighbours’ Night Out Committee, Don Valley Citizenship Ceremony Committee and the jury for the Ombudsman Public Service Awards. Ali is an active member of the Toronto Food Policy Council.
Erica Atwood comes with a disclaimer: she tells the truth from a place of love. Mentor, coach, people lover, problem solver and troublemaker, she centers her work around this principle.
Her proof is in her partnerships, which range from the boutique grassroots non-profit to mayors’ offices, national foundations and community organizations. Her imprint can be found in a history of engagements and initiatives that include the arts, racial and social justice, community revitalization and youth leadership. Erica has two decades of experience in communications, project management, community outreach, policymaking and advocacy. She is an experienced public speaker, trained mediator, and an innovative facilitator. Erica engages everyone in her own village of clients and friends from a profound place of truth, told from a place of love.
A specialist in municipal engagement around culture and a certified interpretive planner, Joy Bailey-Bryant works with city officials, institutional leaders and developers in global municipalities like Chicago; New York; Dhaka, Bangladesh; and Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, to creatively plan cities and bring people to public institutions. Bailey-Bryant has been an integral part of the development of identity museums where people of color are engaged in telling and interpreting their own stories. She led the teams for planning on the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.; the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center; and the expansion of the Albany Civil Rights Institute in Albany, Georgia. She has written several articles on community engagement, including “Planning for Community Needs” in the third edition of the Manual of Museum Planning. Driven by the engagement philosophy of “meet people where they are,” Bailey-Bryant holds meetings at festivals and conferences, on social media, and in churches, community centers, schools and even bars.
ArtPlace America is a 10-year fund that supports enlisting artists as allies in building equitable, healthy and sustainable communities. ArtPlace has invested over $100 million to support projects in rural, suburban, tribal and urban communities of all sizes across the United States, as well as in sharing knowledge from that work in ways that are both useful and used by practitioners. ArtPlace convenes and connects people who are committed to this work in order to help build a strong and ongoing field of practice. Previously, Bennett worked at the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Agnes Gund Foundation, Columbia University, the Museum of Modern Art and the New York Philharmonic. He lives, works, worships and plays in Brooklyn, New York, and has been sober since 2009.
Yvette Bowden joined the Parks and Recreation Department in July 2014 after an extensive national search of over 200 deputy director candidates. In 2018 she also took on the role of director of community vitality. Before joining the city of Boulder, Bowden was the president and CEO of the Piedmont Park Conservancy and led the 43-acre expansion and enhancement of one of Atlanta’s largest urban historic parks, investing over $41 million in its restoration. She also served on the board of City Parks Alliance, a national organization dedicated to improving urban parks.
Carol Coletta is leading the relaunch of a nonprofit to develop, manage and program 6 miles of riverfront and five park districts along the Mississippi River. She is on loan from The Kresge Foundation, where she is a senior fellow in the American Cities Practice. She leads a $50 million-plus collaboration of national and local foundations, local nonprofits and governments to Reimagine the Civic Commons in five cities. This initiative is planned as the first comprehensive demonstration of how a connected set of civic assets—a civic commons—can yield increased and more widely shared prosperity for cities and neighborhoods.
Lilian Coral manages Knight’s national portfolio and focuses on the development of the foundation’s Smart Cities strategy. She came to Knight from Los Angeles, where she was chief data officer for Mayor Eric Garcetti. In this role, she led the mayor’s directive on open data toward his vision of a data-driven Los Angeles through the management of the city’s Open Data program, the expansion of the use of data science and analytics, and the development of user-centered digital services. Coral led the development of the GeoHub, a first-of-its-kind data management solution for integrating geospatial information across the city of Los Angeles’ 41 departments. Before joining Garcetti, Coral spent 15 years working on a wide range of health and human services issues as an advocate and executive leader, having had the opportunity to work with labor unions, NGOs, foundations and human service agencies at all levels of government to transform the way government uses data and technology to serve its citizens. Coral is a native of Colombia, where much of her inspiration for innovation and social justice emerged.
Meg Daly is a full-time volunteer CEO and president of Friends of The Underline, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit leading the transformation of the underused land below Miami’s Metrorail into a 120-acre linear park, urban trail and public art destination spanning 10 miles in the urban core (theunderline.org). A 30-year sales and marketing veteran, Daly owned a breakthrough target marketing company catering to the broadcast television industry. She has also held executive positions in the public relations, advertising, technology and real estate industries. Daly has served on a number of philanthropic boards. For her love of community, she was named one of Miami’s Angels by the Miami Herald for her volunteer leadership.
Meegan Denenberg is a co-founder of Pipeline Philly and Meta Global, parent company to Little Giant Creative (LGC), a Philadelphia-based marketing and branding agency that works with a variety of local and national companies and institutions to develop and execute custom brand strategies and events, and to design collateral and awareness promotions. She is the driving force behind Creative Cities Lab, the sister organization of LGC committed to racial and socioeconomic equity as cities invert and demographics shift via programs that include Institute of Hip Hop Entrepreneurship and A Dream Deferred. Denenberg co-created Women Led Cities, a multipart series of working conferences for women of all urban fields to come together and share ideas, tactics and a unified vision toward equitable city development and planning. LGC is a partner of S&R Holdings, a real estate initiative that focuses on properties in emerging neighborhoods and nurtures public engagement and local communities.
In her dual role in the Detroit Planning and Development Department, Kimberly C. Driggins is responsible for citywide planning initiatives in the following areas: comprehensive planning, historic preservation (including tactical preservation), neighborhood retail and creative placemaking. She is also responsible for developing a citywide cultural plan and catalytic neighborhood arts, culture and heritage projects for the city of Detroit. Driggins is a nationally recognized expert in creative placemaking and has received over $2 million in national grants for creative placemaking projects in Detroit and Washington, D.C. She was a Loeb fellow (2016) at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, where she explored the intersection of design, civic engagement and creative placemaking through the lens of equity and inclusion.
Denise Thugstable is a creative alias that Janelle Dunlap developed to identify her life and work, inspired by the character of Denise Huxtable of “The Cosby Show,” who operates in interstitial spaces of class, wealth and race. Dunlap has worked in several capacities within her nearly 10-year career, including working directly with at-risk youth and doing community outreach for the homeless population. Dunlap is passionate about building bridges, blurring lines and providing visibility to moments and people who often aren’t seen, but should be.
Ifeoma Ebo is an urban designer and strategist with 20 years of international experience in building, community and city design. In her role at the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, she leads interagency design and built environment initiatives to transform the public realm while addressing public safety and social justice in marginalized communities across New York. Ebo’s career encompasses projects of diverse scales and challenges, from the design of large urban redevelopment projects to research-based formation of urban policy. The diversity of her career emphasizes a commitment to equity and design excellence. As a former strategist at the New York City Department of Design and Construction, she developed equity-focused design policy for the Design and Construction Excellence program, guiding the design of public buildings, plazas and infrastructure. Ebo serves on advisory boards for the Association for Community Design, the Museum of Modern Art and the New York-based collective BlackSpace, a coalition of black urban professionals focused on supporting black communities in developing new tools for cultural preservation amid gentrification. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cornell University and a master’s in city planning and urban design from MIT.
In collaboration with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Erin Engelstad helps to manage the Philadelphia Park Friends Network, a collective of over 115 neighborhood volunteer groups supporting unstaffed park spaces across Philadelphia. Engelstad organizes Park Friends Network meetings, tours, grant investments, conferences and peer-to-peer learning opportunities. She fosters the growth of new volunteer friends’ groups and works to uplift essential legacy groups. She also supports the East Fairmount Park Coalition, a collaborative of over 40 community and institutional stakeholders in and around East Fairmount Park that formed in 2013.
Scott Fitzpatrick joined the team of BGCF in October 2016 after 14 years of higher education fundraising experience at Georgetown (Kentucky) College, the University of Kentucky and Midway University. He also has 10 years of experience in the financial services industry. As vice president of advancement, Fitzpatrick assists individuals and businesses in achieving their philanthropic goals through a variety of services available through the foundation. An unapologetic ambassador for his hometown of Lexington, he believes strongly in the transformations our communities can experience through the collective support of the people who live and work there. By building permanent endowment funds, he says, our communities can respond to urgent needs and compelling opportunities alike. Fitzpatrick earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown College and a master’s degree from the University of Alabama. He is president-elect of the Bluegrass Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
As a lifelong resident, Michelle Freeman is strongly committed to Philadelphia. She dedicates much of her work to creating programs and events that highlight civic-minded people and projects through her company, Witty Gritty. Witty Gritty brings communities together and strives to connect people with resources and one another through experiences and engagement. In a pursuit to deepen understanding and relationships at the neighborhood level, Witty Gritty tells stories from all angles through its online publication, CityWide Stories. Freeman has developed programs like Amplify Philly, Urban Consulate, TEDxPhiladelphia and Flying Kite on the Ground. She sits on the boards of SkatePhilly, CreativeMornings and Small but Mighty Arts. She resides in South Philly with her husband.
Sam Gill oversees Knight’s Community and National Initiatives program, which works to attract and nurture talent, promote economic opportunity and foster civic engagement in 26 communities across the United States. He also oversees the Learning and Impact program, which pursues research on the broader context of Knight’s work and the impact of Knight-supported programs. Previously, Gill was vice president of Freedman Consulting, where he provided leadership for many of the firm’s projects, including strategic planning and evaluation, as well as campaign and initiative management. He has led or participated in projects for elected officials and candidates for office, Fortune 500 companies and many of America’s leading foundations. Gill earned a Bachelor of Arts with honors from the University of Chicago and a Master of Philosophy in politics from the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes scholar. He serves on the boards of the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Miami and the Miami-Dade Urban Debate League.
Eric Gordon is a professor of civic media and the director of the Engagement Lab at Emerson College in Boston. His research focuses on the transformation of public life and governance in digital culture. He has served as an expert adviser for local and national governments, as well as NGOs around the world, designing responsive processes that encourage play, delight and deliberation. Gordon is the author of two books about media and cities and, most recently, is the editor of “Civic Media: Technology, Design, Practice” (MIT Press, 2016). His book “Meaningful Inefficiencies: How Designers Are Transforming Civic Life by Creating Opportunities to Care” is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.
Tonnetta Graham is a Philadelphia native who is a founder of the Strawberry Mansion Community Development Corp., a nonprofit organization dedicated to preservation and commercial, residential and economic development and planning in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood. She has led community engagement efforts and negotiations on a wide variety of local projects that have resulted in community benefits that stabilize the neighborhood and empower its longtime residents. Her additional service efforts include board affiliations with the Strawberry Mansion Neighborhood Action Center, East Fairmount Park Coalition, Community Partnership School, Reimagining the Civic Commons and the Audubon/Outward Bound Discovery Center. She also is an instructor for the Philadelphia Citizens Planning Institute and is a contributing writer to its Citizens Toolkit as well as the Neighborhood Preservation Toolkit. Graham has a bachelor’s degree in human resources from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master’s in higher education and organizational leadership from Drexel University, with additional certifications in volunteer management and citizen planning.
The Kinder Foundation is a Houston-based philanthropy that has provided catalyst funding for parks and greenspace projects in Houston. Projects include the $200 million plan for the 1,500-acre Memorial Park; the Houston Parks Board’s $220 million Bayou Greenways 2020 project, a seven-year program to yield 150 miles of connected trails and add 3,000 acres of green space along Houston’s bayous; the Emancipation Park area of the Third Ward; and the SPARK school park program targeting park deserts. Before joining the foundation, Guy Hagstette project-managed the 162-acre, $54 million Buffalo Bayou Park project, completed in 2015. From 2006 through mid-2010, he oversaw the $125 million development and 2008 opening of downtown’s Discovery Green park and served as its first president. Previously, he was director of planning and development for Central Houston Inc. and the Houston Downtown Management District, where he helped initiate downtown Houston’s recent renaissance. Through his design firm, Team HOU, he designed and implemented downtown’s $20 million Sesquicentennial Park from 1986 to 1998. Hagstette is a registered architect and urban designer who holds a Master of Architecture degree in Urban Design from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
Prior to joining City Hall, Christopher Hawthorne was architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times from 2004 to early 2018. He is professor of the practice at Occidental College, where since 2015 he has directed the Third Los Angeles Project, a series of public conversations about architecture, urban planning, mobility and demographic change in Southern California. He has also taught at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University, and the Southern California Institute of Architecture. A frequent collaborator with KCET-TV, the PBS affiliate in Los Angeles, Hawthorne wrote and directed the hourlong documentary “That Far Corner: Frank Lloyd Wright in Los Angeles,” which had its broadcast debut earlier this year, and received an LA-area Emmy Award as executive producer for the 2016 KCET program “Third L.A. With Architecture Critic Christopher Hawthorne.” He has been a midcareer fellow at Columbia University’s National Arts Journalism Program and a resident in criticism at the American Academy in Rome. Hawthorne grew up in Berkeley and holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale College, where he studied political science and architectural history.
Before joining Knight Foundation in April 2019, Ellen Hwang served Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology, where she oversaw the creation of SmartCityPHL, the city’s first road map to guide the use of technology in serving the community and improving government services. Before working with the city of Philadelphia, she directed programs at the city’s Asian Arts Initiative. There, she collaborated with the community, as well as artists, culture-based organizations and schools, to develop and implement programs that engaged youth in arts and community development projects. Hwang is a regular speaker on topics such as Smart Cities, community-driven technology planning and design, and engagement strategies for local government. She has presented at prominent events including South by Southwest, the Smart Cities New York Conference, and Tech Foundations for Congressional Staffers at the Georgetown University Law Center. Hwang has lived in the Philadelphia area for 13 years and grew up in greater Philadelphia. She is a graduate of Temple University, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Master of Science in city and regional planning. She is a member of American Planning Association PA Emerging Professionals and the CoLab Philadelphia Task Force with Jefferson University.
Alberto Ibargüen is president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. He is the former publisher of The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. During his tenure, The Miami Herald won three Pulitzer Prizes and El Nuevo Herald won Spain’s Ortega y Gasset Prize for excellence in journalism. Ibargüen graduated from Wesleyan University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Between college and law school, he served in the Peace Corps in Venezuela’s Amazon Territory and was the Peace Corps programming and training officer in Colombia, based in Bogotá. After law school, he practiced law in Hartford, Connecticut, until he joined The Hartford Courant, then Newsday in New York, before moving to Miami. He is a former board chair of PBS and of the Newseum in Washington, D.C. He also chaired the board of the World Wide Web Foundation, which promotes a free and universal web. He has served on the boards of other arts, education and journalism organizations, including the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Wesleyan University, Smith College, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Committee to Protect Journalists and ProPublica as well as on the Secretary of State’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board. Ibargüen is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and a member of MIT’s Visiting Committee for the Media Lab. For his work to protect journalists in Latin America, he received a Maria Moors Cabot citation from Columbia University.
Nigel Jacob co-founded the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, a civic innovation incubator and R&D Lab within Boston’s City Hall. Jacob’s work is about making urban life better via innovative, people-oriented applications of technology and design. Before joining the city of Boston in 2006, he worked in a series of technology startups in the Boston area and was the urban technologist in residence at Living Cities, a philanthropic collaboration of 22 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions. He is a board member at organizations such as Code for America and coUrbanize, and is an executive-in-residence at Boston University. Jacob’s work has been written about extensively in magazines such as Wired, MIT Technology Review, Fast Company and books including “The Responsive City” by Stephen Goldsmith and Susan Crawford, and “Smart Cities” by Anthony Townsend. This groundbreaking work has earned Jacob a number of awards including being named a Public Official of the Year in 2011 by Governing magazine, a White House Champion of Change and the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation award for 2012.
Rick Jacobus is a national expert in affordable housing and equitable development. He works with cities around the country to develop strategies that combat displacement and ensure that the benefits of growth are shared widely. He is working on long-term housing strategies for San Francisco, launching inclusionary housing programs in Minneapolis and Honolulu, and planning for the revitalization of the Los Angeles River. Jacobus founded Cornerstone Partnership and now serves as a strategic adviser to its successor, Grounded Solutions Network, which promotes inclusive communities and affordable housing. As an F.B. Heron Foundation joint practice fellow at CoMetrics, he researched business models for the collection of social impact data. He was previously a visiting fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Jacobus has also served as a lecturer in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley and as a senior program officer for the Local Initiatives Support Corp. He has a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and a Master of City Planning from Berkeley.
For the past six years, Scott Kratz has been working with the District of Columbia government to transform an old freeway bridge into a park above the Anacostia River. As the 11th Street Bridges have reached the end of their lifespan, Kratz is working with the community to use the base of one of the bridges to create a one-of-a-kind civic space supporting active recreation, environmental education and the arts. The Bridge Park has evolved by expanding its scope to include community development and neighborhood stabilization work. This is exemplified by the creation and implementation of an Equitable Development Plan that outlines how the Bridge Park and its partners can ensure that local residents can stay and thrive in place. Kratz, a resident of Barracks Row, has lived in Washington, D.C., for 13 years. He has worked in education for 20 years and began his career teaching at Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena, California, and later as the associate director of the Institute for the Study of the American West at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles. Most recently, Kratz was the vice president for education at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. He serves on the board of the Anacostia Coordinating Council and the United Planning Organization.
James Francis Kenney@JimFKenney
A lifelong city resident, Jim Kenney was the first in his family to graduate from college. Just a decade later, Philadelphians elected him to as a city councilman at-large, and, over the next 20 years, he fought for a real living wage, broader protections for LGBTQ Philadelphians, marijuana decriminalization and a more sensible immigration policy. In January 2016, Kenney was sworn in as the 99th mayor of Philadelphia. In his first budget, the mayor worked closely with City Council to fund bold anti-poverty initiatives, including expansion of quality pre-K, the creation of 25 community schools and a $500 million investment in parks, recreation centers and libraries, by making Philadelphia the first major city to pass a tax on sweetened beverages. In his first year, Kenney also increased efforts to spur economic growth in the city’s commercial corridors, launching a capital consortium for small businesses, creating a small-business coach program and expanding supports, including financial grants and loans, to small and immigrant businesses. The city stepped up its commitment to combat the opioid epidemic, cleaning up a heroin encampment and engaging 1,400 former residents for direct services, including housing and drug treatment. In his second year as mayor, the city reduced its prison population by nearly 20 percent as part of the MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge, and pedestrian stops were cut in half. Building on his administration’s early commitment to education, Kenney recently launched an effort to return the School District to local control and to provide adequate funding for teachers and students, so that all Philadelphians have a quality school in their neighborhood.
Kyle Kutuchief was named Akron program director in May 2015. In Akron, the birthplace of Knight Newspapers and the foundation, Knight focuses on downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods through investments in talent, opportunity and engagement. Akron is also part of Reimagining the Civic Commons, a Knight-supported national initiative that seeks to counteract economic and social fragmentation by revitalizing and connecting public spaces. Previously, Kutuchief worked in higher education and was a part of two initiatives to strengthen regional collaboration. He has served on a number of nonprofit boards and acted as president of Torchbearers, a young professionals organization focused on leadership development and community service. Kutuchief has received Akron’s 30 for the Future Award, Cleveland’s 25 Under 35 Movers and Shakers Award, and Torchbearers’ Friend of Young Leaders Award. Kutuchief earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the Ohio State University and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Akron.
Matthew Lister is a creative urban placemaker, real estate development strategist and designer. As a managing director at Gehl in New York, he focuses on the intersection of real estate strategy and the design and activation of great public spaces. Often working at multiple scales with both private and public clients, he works to develop aspirational yet economically sustainable and implementable solutions. Lister also brings an expertise in collaborative engagement with diverse communities in the urban change and development process. He is a visiting assistant professor at Pratt Institute in New York City.
Bridget Marquis is the project manager for Reimagining the Civic Commons, a national initiative supported by The JPB Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation that aims to demonstrate how strategic investments in civic assets, parks, libraries, trails and community centers can connect people of all backgrounds, cultivate trust and counter the trends of social and economic fragmentation in cities and neighborhoods. In this role she acts as director for the national Civic Commons Learning Network, which provides coordinated learning, impact assessment and storytelling across the five demonstration cities. The learning network regularly releases new tools and resources to support the innovation and collaboration required to achieve social impacts and increase broad support for investing in the civic commons in cities across the country. Previously, Marquis was program director for ArtPlace America, where she developed and executed grantmaking strategies to inform and accelerate the field of creative placemaking. She also developed and directed the expansion of the Talent Dividend research into a full portfolio of work including a 31-city tour, 60-city learning network and $1 million prize for CEOs for Cities.
Prior to his appointment as Executive Director, Shawn McCaney was the founding program director for the Creative Communities program and also managed National Initiatives for the Foundation, seeking to expand philanthropy in the region and share the Foundation’s learnings with others focused on similar issues nationwide. As part of the Foundation’s 2012 strategic planning process, McCaney led the creation of the Great Public Spaces grantmaking strategy. Through this work the Foundation is seeking to expand access to high quality public spaces that engage, connect, and serve communities in Philadelphia and Camden. As part of this work McCaney led the formation of a partnership with the Knight Foundation to pilot a new national initiative – Reimagining the Civic Commons – in Philadelphia, which has now been replicated in Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, and Akron. He also developed the Foundation’s two largest grants in its history, a $25 million grant in support of the Free Library’s 21 Century Libraries Initiative and a $100 million commitment to support the City of Philadelphia’s Rebuilding Community Infrastructure initiative, which will transform the city’s libraries, parks and recreation centers.
Sue Mobley is a New Orleans-based urbanist, organizer and advocate. She is director of advocacy at Colloqate Design and co-director of the Paper Monuments, a public art and public history project that invites New Orleans residents to imagine new monuments for the city. Mobley was formerly public programs manager at the Small Center for Collaborative Design at Tulane School of Architecture, where she combined creating public pedagogy projects; building strategic collaborations between the academy, public sector, and nonprofit sector; and exploring social science research methods with architecture students. She holds a B.A. in anthropology from Loyola University New Orleans and an M.A. in political science from the American University in Cairo. Her primary interests are in urban studies, municipal policy and politics, and design ethnography with a focus on race, class and gender. Mobley is the author of “Human Rights, Human Wrongs: Observance of Human Rights Law and Norms in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations” and a contributor to “Remaking New Orleans: Beyond Exceptionalism and Authenticity,” forthcoming from Duke University Press in 2019.
A passionate community servant, Wendy Morse is responsible for leading public life strategy and prioritization and coordinating internal public realm communications and innovative public engagement that foster a vibrant public life and comfortable public realm in West Palm Beach. She formerly served as a captain with the West Palm Beach Police Department, where she focused on community initiatives, training and development. Morse brings 30 years of experience in collaborative engagement with diverse communities in an urban environment. She is a certified instructor in many disciplines of police training.
Jessica Gaynelle Moss
The Roll Up is a national network of art incubators embedded in neighborhoods mired in persistent poverty and concentrated disadvantage. In addition to her projects that engage art and real property as a strategy of community revival, Jessica Gaynelle Moss is an educator, writer and independent consultant. As an arts administrator, she has served in many management and leadership roles. Currently, she is the director of development at BLK MRKT CLT, a creative studio in Charlotte supporting emerging artists of color in the Southeast. Previously, she was the creative director of the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture in Charlotte. While on the senior management team of Rebuild Foundation, she opened the Stony Island Arts Bank, a 14,000-square-foot space for contemporary art in the South Side of Chicago. She is a five-year member of the Carnegie Mellon University Admission Council, a two-year member of the National Coalition Black Women’s Roundtable (NCBWR), a member of the board of directors of Lorien Academy of the Arts, and a member of the Public Art Advisory Council (PAAC) for the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Moss holds a bachelor’s degree in painting, drawing and printmaking from Carnegie Mellon University; a master’s in arts administration, policy and management from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and a master’s in studies of the law from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Lynn Murphey joined Knight Foundation in January 2017 after a 20-year career with Cox Communications. Murphey’s deep commitment to Macon was established when she began her undergraduate studies at Mercer University. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Mercer, where she received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for excellence in character and leadership. Murphey has been recognized as a leader by Georgia Trend magazine in its annual “40 under 40” cohort as well as Macon Magazine’s inaugural “5 Under 40.” Additionally, she received the United Way of Central Georgia’s inaugural Glass Ceiling Award in 2017. She is a graduate of Leadership Macon, Leadership Warner Robins and Leadership Georgia, and she has served as an Air Force Materiel Command community liaison for Robins Air Force Base and as a gubernatorial appointee to the Georgia Commission on Women.
Reimagining the Civic Commons is a national initiative that supports place-based efforts to catalyze lasting change through the creative use of civic assets. Caitlin Murphy strongly believes in the principles of the Civic Commons as a means to advocate for equitable neighborhood transformation through participatory engagement. Murphy grew up off 6 Mile Road in Detroit and has described her role with Live6 to be her “dream job.” She is an emerging leader in the field and is actively involved with local initiatives that promote economic justice and social innovation. She is a fellow with Humanity in Action and StartingBloc. Murphy earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan’s Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design and her master’s degree in community development from the University of Detroit Mercy.
Students With a Goal (SWAG) is an after-school academic mentoring program that engages students aged 11-18 in Akron’s Summit Lake area. Previously, Eric Nelson was clinic office manager at OPEN M, a Christian ministry providing pathways out of poverty for all by feeding the hungry, caring for the sick and strengthening the community. Father of six children, Nelson is originally from Cleveland, but found himself at home when he and his family moved to Akron in 2007. He is a man of faith with a sincere heart of service.
With expertise in urban planning and facilitation, Suzanne Nienaber has orchestrated over 200 presentations and participatory workshops to encourage designers, planners and developers to transform the built environment to support healthy, engaged communities. She also leads Assembly, CfAD’s pioneering initiative exploring how community design affects measures of civic life, including trust, participation in public life, stewardship and voting. “The Assembly: Civic Design Guidelines” (2018) integrates input from more than 200 studies, over 50 cities and dozens of expert advisers to generate a playbook for creating well-designed and well-maintained public spaces as a force for building trust and healing divisions in local communities. Previously, Nienaber worked for New York City’s interagency Active Design team, where she developed and implemented training programs to familiarize professionals with New York’s award-winning “Active Design Guidelines” (2010).
Kathryn Ott Lovell@PhilaParkandRec
As commissioner since 2016, Kathryn Ott Lovell oversees 700 full-time employees, more than 2,700 part-time and seasonal employees, over 10,200 acres of land, 500 buildings, 166 miles of trail, 250 playgrounds and thousands of programs and events throughout Philadelphia’s parks and recreation system. In 2017, Ott Lovell commissioned the first strategic plan for Philadelphia Parks & Recreation. The plan, Our Path to 2020, set in motion a powerful trajectory toward an equitable and exceptional parks and recreation system that connects people to one another, to enriching experiences and to the natural world. The plan emphasizes citizen-centric service; high quality, relevant and accessible programs; and a commitment to well-maintained assets. Ott Lovell has presented widely on topics such as urban forestry, climate change and why parks are crucial to our future. Notable speaking and panel appearances include the South by Southwest Conference, National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Conference, the City Parks Alliance’s Greater & Greener Conference, and the One Water Summit. Last year, she was the 2018 NRPA Robert W. Crawford lecturer. Ott Lovell serves on the board of directors for the Please Touch Museum, Schuylkill River Development Corp., Parkway Council, Free Library of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Sports Congress.
Brandi Peacher oversees the projects under the Town Branch Commons umbrella. Her primary focus is on the implementation of Town Branch Commons Trail, a publicly funded 3.2-mile walking, jogging and cycling trail. This signature project will link downtown parks into a cohesive system and create 22 miles of continuous trails weaving through Lexington. Peacher holds a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Kentucky. Her design and development career has allowed her to work on a variety of commercial, residential and public projects in Chicago, Dubai and Lexington. Before working in the Office of the Mayor, she was a project manager at the Lexington Downtown Development Authority and a design specialist for the Division of Planning.
Jay Pitter, M.E.S., is an international placemaker and author whose practice mitigates growing divides in urban centers. She spearheads institutional city-building projects, rooted in neighborhood knowledge, focused on cultural heritage interpretive planning, gender-based mapping, inclusive public engagement, safe streets and healing fraught sites. She shapes urgent city-building conversations through media platforms such as the Agenda and Canadian Architect, as a keynote speaker for organizations like the UN Women and MIT, and as lecturer and knowledge producer in urban planning faculties across North America. Recently, Pitter consulted on a new heritage plan in Edmonton, Alberta; hosted a professional development luncheon for women city-builders in Detroit; shared her placemaking principles with Memphis River Parks Partnership; initiated a safe and connected streets engagement after the 2018 mass shooting in Toronto; and led (Re)Imagining Cheapside, a Confederate monument placemaking process in Lexington, Kentucky.
Trevor Pollack joined Barr in 2014 to staff a wide range of work. He manages a special initiative to achieve a welcome, inclusive and climate-resilient Boston waterfront through planning, policy and advocacy, and he leads Barr’s efforts to support a strong nonprofit sector and philanthropic effectiveness. He also supports the foundation’s board. Pollack previously was associate director for institutional giving at the Handel and Haydn Society, a professional chorus and period-instrument orchestra. In his five years there, he was responsible for all foundation, corporate and government relations. In addition to his work at Barr, Pollack serves on the board of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, the public policy committee for Philanthropy Massachusetts and the Commission on Strategic Priorities for Combined Jewish Philanthropies. He previously co-chaired the Boston chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy and served on the strategic planning committee for the Back Bay Chorale, of which he was a member. A proud Cleveland native, Pollack earned a bachelor’s degree in music at Brown University and is pursuing a Master of Public Administration at Northeastern University. He lives in Boston with his husband.
The Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition (OECC) is the regional nonprofit organization working for the conservation, development and interpretation of the natural, historical and recreational resources along the Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway from Cleveland to New Philadelphia, Ohio. OECC serves as the convener for the Akron Reimagining the Civic Commons project, a Knight-supported national initiative that seeks to counteract economic and social fragmentation by revitalizing and connecting public spaces. Since 1994, Rice has worked with more than 150 community partnerships and raised over $75 million in development funds for the 101-mile multiuse Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail and the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area and received numerous regional and national awards.
Karina Ricks was hired by Mayor Bill Peduto in 2017 to lead the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure. The mission of the department is “to provide the physical mobility necessary for the economic mobility of all Pittsburghers.” In her role, Ricks is responsible for providing safe, accessible, sustainable and efficient transportation options and facilities in the city. She previously was director of transportation planning for the District of Columbia and founding principal of the mid-Atlantic office of innovative transportation consultancy Nelson/Nygaard Associates, leading the firm’s multimodal practice on the East Coast working with cities and communities around the globe on integrated, implementable mobility solutions that serve local values and aspirations.
Bartram’s Garden, home of famed 18th-century botanist John Bartram (1699-1777), is a National Historic Landmark on the tidal Schuylkill River, a public space resource operated in partnership with the city of Philadelphia. In the past six years, Roy has worked with the board, staff and community leaders to restore and transform Bartram’s Garden as a historic and cultural asset, advancing an ambitious strategic action plan and establishing the garden as a vibrant civic commons and outdoor living room and class space for the Southwest Philadelphia community. Roy served as senior vice president at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, overseeing its nationally recognized urban greening programs, and as a landscape architect with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department on revitalizing and restoring its neighborhood parks. As a 2007 Eisenhower fellow, Roy traveled to urban centers in Europe to study best practices in urban open space policies and landscape design. Trained as an architect in India, Roy earned a master’s degree in landscape architecture at the Design School at Harvard University.
Shireen Santosham leads efforts to build the “smart city” vision and strategy for San Jose. Previously, she worked at the GSMA as a director in the Mobile for Development group, which aims to close the digital divide in the developing world through mobile technology and the internet. She has extensive experience working on innovative initiatives across sectors, including working at McKinsey & Co., with international NGOs and as an impact investor at Vulcan Capital. Santosham holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and an M.P.A. in international development from Harvard Kennedy School, and is a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Priya Sircar is a nonprofit administrator and practicing artist with experience in fundraising and grantmaking. As director/arts at Knight Foundation, she develops strategies for arts investments in cities across the United States where Knight has offices. She joined Knight from Lord Cultural Resources, where she specialized in strategic and cultural planning for arts, cultural and heritage organizations and communities in the United States and abroad. A principal consultant for Lord, she led community engagement and spearheaded Lord’s work with parks, gardens and other urban public spaces, as well as its film and media projects. Sircar began her career at the Lance Armstrong Foundation—now Livestrong—helping build a global cancer survivorship movement. She established the foundation’s national community grant program and founded its annual community and capacity-building conference of grantees. Sircar holds a master’s in arts administration from Columbia University and a bachelor’s in the interdisciplinary Plan II Honors Program from the University of Texas in her home state.
Charles Thomas joined Knight Foundation in February 2016. Raised in Charlotte, Thomas is the former executive director of Queen City Forward, a hub for entrepreneurs who have business ideas that address social needs. As founding executive director, he was responsible for launching the organization and building programs to catalyze and support social entrepreneurship, college entrepreneurship and civic innovation. Prior to that, Thomas, a professional photographer, was the director of education of The Light Factory Contemporary Museum of Photography and Film. He serves on the board of trustees of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and the board of the East Mecklenburg High School Foundation. He is an active member of the New Generation of African American Philanthropists giving circle and served on the founding steering committee of TEDxCharlotte. Thomas earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Duke University and is a graduate of several leadership programs, such as Leadership Charlotte, the Leadership Development Initiative and the Innovation Institute at the McColl Center for Art + Innovation. He lives in Charlotte with his wife, Micaila Milburn, and their three sons.
Make Public specializes in social impact assessments of the public realm for equity outcomes. Previously Tsay was executive director of Gehl Institute, where she built the nonprofit organization from the ground up, bridged design and planning with public health and equity, and catalyzed a new data standard for public life. A serial social entrepreneur, Tsay was deputy executive director at TransitCenter, where she contributed to its establishment as a philanthropy, and she founded and directed the Cities and Transportation Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where she led a project to reform and fund the federal transportation program. Tsay’s past roles include deputy director of transportation alternatives, chief operating officer of Project for Public Spaces, and founding member of ZGF Architects’ New York office. She also worked with Fortune 500 companies to develop internet strategies. Tsay is on the boards of ioby and Transportation Alternatives, and is a commissioner for the New York City Public Design Commission. She holds a Master of Science degree in Cities, Space and Society from London School of Economics and a B.A. with distinction from Cornell University.
Lilly Weinberg is the program director with the Community and National Initiatives, managing Knight’s $140 million investment in 18 small to midsize Knight communities. She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and environmental studies from Emory University and master’s degrees in public administration and business administration from the Harvard Kennedy School and the MIT Sloan School of Management, respectively. While attending graduate school, she worked with the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the New York City Economic Development Corp., creating strategies to promote economic development, entrepreneurship and business growth. A resident of Coconut Grove, Weinberg is a graduate of the Leadership Miami program and was a fellow of New Leaders Council. She then served as the executive director and on the advisory committee for the New Leaders Council Miami chapter until 2016. In 2018, she was chosen to participate in the Leadership Florida Connect Program and Miami’s Young American Leadership Program at Harvard Business School. She also serves on the boards of directors for the International Downtown Association and for Friends of The Underline, a proposed 10-mile linear park and urban trail under the Miami-Dade Metrorail.
Before joining Knight Foundation in 2016, Jai Winston was an associate of strategy and corporate development in the office of the chairman and CEO at Ariel Investments, a minority-owned money management firm in Chicago. At Ariel, he worked on firmwide strategic initiatives and co-led several of the CEO’s special projects, including some of the firm’s national work on financial literacy and minority entrepreneurship. Prior to joining Ariel Investments, Winston spent four years working at the nexus of politics, policy and business. He served on the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee with the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. He was the Illinois deputy finance director for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and was the North Carolina deputy finance director for the 2012 Democratic National Convention Committee. Winston serves on the board of the Illinois Humanities Council, the Lookingglass Theatre and buildOn junior boards, the Emerging Leaders Board for the Mikva Challenge, and the advisory board of INVEST Chicago. Winston earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Lizzie Woods manages a diverse portfolio of projects and initiatives meant to spur the transformation of the Delaware River waterfront into a dynamic and vibrant destination for Philadelphia residents and visitors. She oversees the implementation of the Master Plan for the Central Delaware, including the design and construction of new parks, trails and streetscape improvements as well as the strategy and coordination of waterfront-wide planning and policy initiatives. Additionally, she coordinates the redevelopment of publicly held land on the waterfront for new residential and commercial uses and works with private developers to ensure that the principles of the Master Plan are followed. Woods graduated from Smith College and received a Master in City Planning degree from MIT.
Springboard for the Arts operates Creative Exchange, a national platform for sharing free toolkits, resources and profiles to help artists and citizens collaborate on replicating successful and engaging community projects. An economic and community development agency run by and for artists, Springboard provides programs that help artists make a living and a life, and programs that help communities connect to the creative power of artists. Springboard directly affects over 25,000 artists each year in its home state of Minnesota, and through national tools and training, its programs have been replicated in over 80 communities across the U.S. and internationally. For her work with Springboard, Laura Zabel has been honored with numerous awards, including the Gard Foundation Award of Excellence and the Bush Foundation Leadership Fellowship. She is a BALLE local economy fellow and a creative placemaking policy fellow at Arizona State University.