Speakers

Jennifer Allen

Jennifer Allen

Interim Director of Leader Experience, ioby

Twitter: @ioby
Instagram: @inourbackyards

Jennifer Allen works at ioby (in our backyards), a national nonprofit crowdfunding platform for community-led change. She is the interim director of leader experience and works to make sure each ioby Leader has a seamless experience from the start of their crowdfunding campaign to project implementation. Prior to joining ioby, Allen was the director of strategic initiatives at Trailnet in St. Louis, where she oversaw The Calm Streets Project, built strategic partnerships, and assisted with advocacy campaigns. Jennifer has a master of arts in urban planning from UCLA. Throughout her career, Allen has enjoyed working in a variety of sectors with community engagement as her focus and expertise.

Gia Biagi

Gia Biagi

Commissioner, Chicago Department of Transportation

Twitter: @gia_biagi, @ChicagoDOT
Instagram: @chicago.dot

Gia Biagi is an urban planner and designer with experience in the private and public sectors. She was appointed Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) by Mayor Lightfoot in December 2019, and charged with implementing a vision for a transportation system that prioritizes equity and mobility and lowers the economic and environmental burden of transportation on residents and communities. As head of CDOT, she manages Chicago’s roadways and bridges, sidewalks and bike lanes, the citywide bike share system, traffic signals and signage, streetlights, activities in the public right-of-way, and policies prioritizing equity and focused on issues like climate adaptation, poverty alleviation, safety, and new mobility.

Dana Bourland

Dana Bourland

Vice President, Environment, The JPB Foundation

Dana Bourland works at the intersection of issues related to health, poverty and the environment. Bourland led the creation of and leads the Environment Program at The JPB Foundation, with a focus on transitioning to a just, equitable and clean energy future, increasing access to the benefits of nature, detoxifying the built and natural systems, and strengthening the field of environmental justice. Bourland was vice president at Enterprise Community Partners, where she developed and oversaw all aspects of the award-winning Green Communities program, including creation of the first green building standard for affordable housing. A returned Peace Corps Volunteer,  Bourland is a graduate of Harvard’s Graduate Program in Real Estate and holds a Master of Planning Degree from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. She is featured in and has contributed to numerous publications and spoken to global audiences on a range of topics related to sustainability and community development. She is the author of “Gray to Green Communities,” which will be available in January 2021.

Tamika L. Butler

Tamika L. Butler

Founder + Principal, Tamika L. Butler Consulting

Twitter: @TamikaButler

Tamika L. Butler is a national expert and speaker on issues related to built environment, equity, anti-racism, diversity and inclusion, organizational behavior, and change management. As principal and founder of Tamika L. Butler Consulting, she focuses on shining a light on inequality, inequity, and social justice. She provides consulting, training, coaching, and public speaking for a wide range of organizations in the public and private sectors. Most recently, she was director of planning, California and director of equity and inclusion at Toole Design. Previously, Tamika served as the executive director of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, a nonprofit organization that addresses social and racial equity, and wellness, by building parks and gardens in park-poor communities across Greater Los Angeles. She transitioned to policy work after litigating for three years as an employment lawyer at Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center. Tamika received her J.D. from Stanford Law School and received B.S. in Sociology in her hometown of Omaha, Neb.

Mayor Melvin Carter

Mayor Melvin Carter

City of St. Paul, Minn.

Twitter: @MayorCarter, @cityofsaintpaul
Instagram: @mayorcarter_

Melvin Carter is a fourth-generation St. Paul resident, St. Paul public school graduate, former St. City Councilmember, father, and St. Paul’s Mayor. The son of one of St. Paul’s first black police officers and a teacher, Carter grew up in the historic Rondo neighborhood. He attended Saint Paul Public Schools, ran track at his neighborhood rec center, and graduated from Central High School. He currently resides in St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood with his wife, Dr. Sakeena Futrell-Carter, and their children, just a few doors down from his childhood home. Carter has been working to engage, enfranchise, and uplift people not only in St. Paul, but also across the state and nation. Most recently, he served as executive director of the Minnesota Children’s Cabinet, advising Governor Mark Dayton on early childhood policy. Prior to joining state government, Carter represented Ward 1 on the Saint Paul City Council from 2008 to 2013.

Raphael Clemente

Raphael Clemente

Executive Director, West Palm Beach DDA

Twitter: @raphaclemente, @downtownwpb
Instagram: @raphaclemente, @downtownwpb

Raphael Clemente joined the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority in January 2006, bringing with him a multi-disciplinary background and local knowledge. With experience in land use and transportation planning, human scale design, and project management, Clemente has used his skills to find solutions to challenges in ways that have carried downtown West Palm Beach toward its long-term goals of economic growth and a high quality of life for residents. Clemente holds a master’s degree in urban planning from Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions. He is a member of the International Downtown Association’s Board of Directors. Clemente is married and has two young daughters and his interests include pretty much any human-powered outdoor activity that involves wheels or water.

Carol Coletta

Carol Coletta

President and CEO, Memphis River Parks Partnership

Carol Coletta is president and CEO of the Memphis River Parks Partnership. She is leading the relaunch of a nonprofit to develop, manage and program six miles of riverfront and five park districts along the Mississippi River. Most recently she was with The Kresge Foundation, where she was a senior fellow in the foundation’s American Cities Practice.  She led a $50+ million collaboration of national and local foundations, local nonprofits and governments to Reimagine the Civic Commons in five cities.  It is the first comprehensive demonstration of how a connected set of civic assets – a civic commons – can yield increased and more widely share prosperity for cities and neighborhoods. 

Naomi M. Doerner

Naomi M. Doerner

Principal and Director of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, Nelson/Nygaard

Twitter: @Bici_Urbana, @NelsonNygaard
Instagram: @thetinyurbanista

Naomi Doerner is a nationally recognized transportation equity and mobility justice strategist. She’s skilled at bringing diverse communities, organizations and institutions together on shared principles and supporting agencies with putting goals into action. Naomi is a principal and the director of equity, diversity and inclusion at Nelson/Nygaard, a national transportation consulting firm, where she supports staff and clients to work in partnership with historically underserved communities. Previous to her current role, she served as Seattle’s — and the nation’s — first ever Transportation Equity Manager. Naomi is also a co-founder and national co-organizer for The Untokening, a national collective of Black & Brown mobility justice leaders.

Joshua Edmonds

Joshua Edmonds

Director of Digital Inclusion, City of Detroit

Twitter: @JoshEdmonds216

Joshua Edmonds is the City of Detroit’s inaugural director of digital inclusion and a Poverty Solutions Fellow at the University of Michigan. Edmonds is responsible for developing a sustainable digital inclusion strategy to bridge Detroit’s digital divide. His work intersects with public policy, telecommunications and public-private partnership building. Edmonds has testified in front of Congress on the matter of digital equity, hosted Detroit’s first Digital Inclusion Summit, and most recently, helped raise $23 million to provide every public school student with broadband and computers. Prior to his current role, Edmonds served as a Digital Innovation Fellow at The Cleveland Foundation where he leveraged philanthropic and corporate funding to help address Cleveland, Ohio’s digital divide. Edmonds also worked on President Obama’s ConnectHome initiative at the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority.

Paul Farber

Paul Farber

Director, Monument Lab

Twitter: @paul_farber, @monument_lab
Instagram: @paul_farber, @monument_lab

Paul Farber is director of Monument Lab. He is the author of “A Wall of Our Own: An American History of the Berlin Wall,” and co-editor with Ken Lum of “Monument Lab: Creative Speculations for Philadelphia.” He also serves as senior research scholar at the Center for Public Art & Space at the University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design.

Rebecca Fishman Lipsey

Rebecca Fishman Lipsey

President and CEO, The Miami Foundation

Twitter: @RFLipsey, @MiamiFoundation
Instagram: @miamifoundation

Rebecca Fishman Lipsey is a social innovator and former policymaker focused on building stronger, more equitable cities. She is president and CEO of The Miami Foundation, a $350 million foundation focused on solving the issues that matter most to the future of Miami. Since starting her tenure at the foundation in June, Rebecca has raised tens of millions of dollars to support COVID-19 recovery, increase Wi-Fi access to all youth in the region, and take a stand on racial equity. Rebecca founded Radical Partners, a social-impact accelerator that incubates and accelerates ventures that solve civic and community challenges. She was the youngest person to ever serve a four-year term on the Florida Board of Education, a seven-person board overseeing education policy impacting 3 million students from kindergarten through college. Rebecca has a Masters in Education from Bank Street College of Education, and was valedictorian for her graduating class at the University of Pennsylvania. In her free time, she bangs on the piano and serves as a personal assistant to two young boys.

Sam Gill

Sam Gill

SVP/Chief Program Officer, Knight Foundation

Twitter: @thesamgill, @knightfdn
Instagram: @knightfdn

Sam Gill is senior vice president and chief program officer at Knight Foundation. In this role, he oversees all of Knight’s grantmaking programs — Community and National Initiatives, Journalism and Arts. He also oversees Learning and Impact, Knight’s research and assessment program. Gill joined the foundation in 2015.

Vikram Grover

Vikram Grover

Senior Director, Partnerships, Niantic Inc.

Twitter: @v2g

Vikram Grover is senior director at Niantic Inc., publishers of Pokemon GO & creators of the Real World Platform used by developers to build location-based, augmented reality games. Vikram was the second business hire at Google Maps in 2004, where he spent the next decade forming groundbreaking partnerships, leading teams and formalizing programs that helped grow its user base to 1 billion and drove adoption of its APIs by thousands of businesses worldwide. Vikram is passionate about the use of digital tools & games to drive outdoor exploration and human connection.

Shamichael Hallman

Shamichael Hallman

Senior Library Manager, Memphis Public Libraries

Twitter: @shamike2009, @MEM_Library

Shamichael Hallman currently serves as the manager of the historic Cossitt Library in Memphis, Tenn. As a part of the Reimagining the Civic Commons (RCC) initiative, Cossitt Library is undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation which is scheduled to reach completion in December of this year. Hallman also serves as the Community Engagement Coordinator for the RCC work that is happening in Memphis, where his responsibilities include mobilizing, organizing, and building a base of community support through volunteer recruitment and training, and development of community partnerships at the corporate, institutional, and civic levels. Hallman is currently in The Nonprofit Leadership (NPL) Program at the School of Social Policy and Practice (Penn).

Robert Hammond

Robert Hammond

Co- Founder & Executive Director, The High Line

Twitter: @robertrhammond, @highlinenyc
Instagram: @thehighlineguy, @highlinenyc

Robert Hammond is co-founder and executive director of the High Line, overseeing daily operations, art, cultural and family programming, events, finances, and fundraising, of which nearly 100% is raised privately. He is a tireless advocate who shares his creative energy to help influence, inform, and encourage others to step up to challenging new projects within their communities. Before the High Line, Hammond supported the launch of online businesses in the public health and travel commerce industries, and worked as a consultant for an array of organizations, including the Times Square Alliance, and Alliance for the Arts. Hammond is one of the seven Knight Public Spaces Fellows.

Meli Harvey

Meli Harvey

Senior Computational Designer, Sidewalk Labs

Twitter: @tranopticon
Instagram: @tranopticon

Meli Harvey is a senior computational designer at Sidewalk Labs, where she builds software that uses quantitative analysis to help cities and real estate developers achieve a balanced set of outcomes in urban designs. She also recently created an interactive map of New York City’s sidewalk widths showing where social distancing is difficult. The project influenced the city’s recent open streets legislation and a volunteer effort has replicated her map for cities around the world. Her background spans regional planning, public policy, architecture, software development, entrepreneurship, and digital fabrication, giving her a diverse approach to problem solving that’s rooted in design, policy, and product development. She has a master’s degree in city planning from MIT and a bachelor’s degree of architecture from Syracuse University.

Daniel Horrigan

Mayor Daniel Horrigan

City of Akron, Ohio

Twitter: @AkronOhioMayor
Instagram: @mayordanhorrigan

Mayor Horrigan took office in January 2016 and is now in his second term as Akron’s mayor, winning more than 77% of the vote in 2019. With a core focus of growing Akron’s population again, he has been laser-focused on key areas of opportunity, including jobs and economic inclusion, improving infrastructure, diversifying city vendors and workforce, uplifting neighborhoods and investing in public spaces. Some of the mayor’s key accomplishments include tripling Akron’s annual repaving budget by passing a vital income tax increase, reducing the city’s financial obligation on mandated sewer projects by $158 million, passing the city’s first non-discrimination ordinance, convening annual summits to address maternal and child health, and partnering with the United Way of Summit County in opening the City’s first Financial Empowerment Center to offer free financial counseling to residents.

Amanda Howell

Amanda Howell

Project Manager, Urbanism Next Center at the University of Oregon

Twitter: @UrbanismNext

Amanda Howell is a project manager at the Urbanism Next Center at the University of Oregon. She conducts technical research on the impacts of emerging transportation technologies on cities with expertise in e-commerce and new urban freight. She holds a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Portland State University and was the project manager for an affordable housing transportation study sponsored by the California Department of Transportation during her studies. Before moving to Portland for graduate school, she provided programmatic support to the Prison University Project, a Bay Area nonprofit that operates an onsite, degree-granting program for people incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison.

Alberto Ibargüen

Alberto Ibargüen

President and CEO, Knight Foundation

Twitter: @ibarguen, @knightfdn
Instagram: @knightfdn

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. He 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.

Kyle Kutuchief

Kyle Kutuchief

Director/Akron, Knight Foundation

Twitter: @KyleKutuchief, @knightfdn
Instagram: @knightfdn

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 Torchbearer’s Friend of Young Leaders Award.

Nico Larco

Nico Larco

Director, Urbanism Next Center; Professor, University of Oregon

Twitter: @nicolarco, @urbanismnext

Nico Larco, AIA is a professor of architecture and urban design at the University of Oregon, where he is also the director of the Urbanism Next Center and co-director of the Sustainable Cities Institute. Urbanism Next is focused on how technological advances, such as new mobility, autonomous vehicles, e-commerce and the sharing economy, are changing city form and development. Larco assists cities and projects with future-proofing and is currently coordinating work in this area with various agencies across North America and Europe. 

Ming-Chun Lee

Ming-Chun Lee

Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Dr. Ming-Chun Lee is an associate professor in the School of Architecture at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He conducts research in the areas of immersive visualization, geospatial technologies, and their applications to the field of urban design and community planning. He also teaches urban planning and design studio courses, in which he introduces scenario analysis methods and geospatial mapping and modeling tools to his students and apply these techniques to real-world projects through university-community partnerships. Lee was named Knight Foundation-Niantic Augmented Reality and City Fellow in 2018 and again named one of seven recipients for Knight Foundation Data for Civic Engagement Grant in 2020. For both projects, Dr. Lee has been exploring new ways to incorporate immersive technologies to envision urban futures and promote inclusiveness and transparency in decision-making.

Bryan C. Lee, Jr.

Bryan C. Lee, Jr.

Design Principal, Colloqate Design

Twitter: @bcleejr, @colloqate
Instagram: @bcleejr, @colloqate

Bryan C. Lee, Jr. is an architect, educator, writer, and design justice advocate. He is the founder and design principal of Colloqate Design, a nonprofit multidisciplinary design practice in New Orleans. Colloqate is dedicated to expanding community access to design and creating spaces of racial, social, and cultural equity. He has led two award-winning youth design programs nationwide and is the founding co-organizer of the DAP (Design As Protest) Collective. He was most recently noted as one of the 2018 Fast Company Most Creative People in Business, a USC Annenberg MacArthur Civic Media Fellow, and the youngest design firm to win the Architectural League’s Emerging Voices award in 2019.

Eli Lehrer

Eli Lehrer

President, R Street Institute

Twitter: @elilehrerdc, @RSI

Eli Lehrer, president of R Street Institute, oversees all R Street operations, making major strategic decisions and ultimately responsible for all of R Street’s products. He also tells pirate jokes. Having previously served as vice president for Washington operations at the Heartland Institute, overseeing its D.C. office, Lehrer co-founded R Street in June 2012. Earlier in his career, he worked as a speechwriter to then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.); as a project manager for the Unisys Corp.; as senior editor of The American Enterprise magazine; and as a fellow at the Heritage Foundation. Lehrer started his career as a reporter for The Washington Times.

Jacqueline Lu

Jacqueline Lu

Co-Founder, Helpful Places

Twitter: @jackiewtlu

Jacqueline Lu helps organizations build new nervous systems that use tech and data. As co-founder of Helpful Places, she’s focused on building a coalition of supporters that can together implement and improve the open-source project Digital Transparency in the Public Realm, a communication protocol that enables greater transparency and civic dialogue on the use of digital technologies in the built environment. Currently, Lu serves as data lead at Mozilla Foundation. Previously, she was director of digital integration at Sidewalk Labs, where she led incorporating innovation objectives, technology policy and data ethics into the company’s approach to urban development projects. Lu was the inaugural director of data analytics at the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, where she led data strategy and founded the agency’s data science team. There, she spearheaded the largest participatory street tree mapping project in U.S. history, culminating in a new digital platform for the collaborative management of NYC’s urban forest.

Bridget Marquis

Bridget Marquis

Director, Civic Commons Learning Network, Reimagining the Civic Commons | U3 Advisors

Twitter: @bamarquis, @CivicCommonsUS

Bridget Marquis is the manager of Reimagining the Civic Commons, a national initiative transforming public places to foster engagement, equity, environmental sustainability and economic development in cities. In this role, she serves as director of the national Civic Commons Learning Network, providing coordinated learning, impact assessment and storytelling across 10 U.S. cities. Previously, Marquis developed and executed grantmaking strategies for ArtPlace America, a public-private collaboration to accelerate creative placemaking across the U.S. and served as program director for CEOs for Cities. She is a frequent speaker and author on reimagining public space as critical civic infrastructure for resilient communities.

Maura McCarthy

Maura McCarthy

Executive Director, Fairmount Park Conservancy

Twitter: @myphillypark
Instagram: @myphillypark

Maura McCarthy joined Fairmount Park Conservancy as its executive director in 2019. For the past 13 years, McCarthy has been the executive director of Friends of the Wissahickon, Philadelphia’s only professionally staffed Park Friends group, harnessing over 10,000 hours of volunteer engagement each year to support a National Recreation Trail and an 1,800-acre National Natural Landmark. A native to the Philadelphia region, McCarthy has a strong record of public service. She currently serves on the Green City, Clean Waters Steering Committee for Philadelphia Water Department and was a member of Mayor Jim Kenney’s Transition Team on Environment & Sustainability. She holds a Ph.D. in social anthropology from the University of Oxford and a bachelor of arts from New York University. She also received a Certificate in Performance Measurement for Effective Management of Nonprofit Organizations from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Raul Moas

Raul Moas

Director/Miami, Knight Foundation

Twitter: @rmoas, @knightfdn
Instagram: @raulmoas, @knightfdn

Raul Moas joined Knight Foundation as Miami program director in March 2018. Prior to joining Knight, Moas served as the managing director of Miami Angels, Florida’s largest angel investor collective which brings together exceptional entrepreneurs and accredited investors to fuel success. Moas served as the executive director of Roots of Hope, an international non-governmental organization focused on youth empowerment in Cuba. Moas led the creation of programs like StartUp Cuba, which supports emerging entrepreneurs from the island in gaining valuable and practical skills, and social ventures like Discover Cuba, a B-Corp subsidiary which has facilitated hundreds of socially conscious trips and family reunifications.

Justin Garrett Moore

Justin Garrett Moore

Executive Director, New York Public Design Commission

Twitter: @jgmoore, @nycpublicdesign
Instagram: @j.g.moore, @nycpublicdesign

Justin Garrett Moore, executive director of the New York City Public Design Commission, is a transdisciplinary designer. He has extensive experience in architecture, urban design, and planning — from large-scale urban policies and projects to grassroots and community-based planning, design, and arts initiatives. At the Public Design Commission, his work focuses on prioritizing quality and excellence for the public realm and fostering accessibility, diversity, and inclusion in New York’s public buildings, landscapes, and art. Moore is a member of the American Planning Association’s AICP Commission, the Urban Design Forum, and a founding board member of BlackSpace, a Black urbanist collective. His social enterprise, Urban Patch, focuses on sustainable development through social and environmental design projects in the U.S. and Rwanda. He is an adjunct faculty member at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and the Yale School of Architecture. His courses and studios focus on social and environmental equity.

Claire Nelson

Claire Nelson

Co-Founder, Urban Consulate

Twitter: @clairernelson, @urbanconsulate
Instagram: @clairernelson, @urbanconsulate

Claire Nelson is co-founder of Urban Consulate, a network of parlors for urban exchange. Since 2016, the Consulate has hosted hundreds of conversations in Detroit, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Austin, Cincinnati & Chicago to bring people together and share ideas for better cities.

Chelina Odbert

Chelina Odbert

Executive Director and Co-Founder, Kounkuey Design Initiative

Twitter: @kounkuey
Instagram: @kounkuey

Chelina Odbert believes in the power of community-engaged design to advance racial, environmental, economic, and physical equity in neighborhoods and cities. As co-founder and executive director of Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI), she has built an award-winning practice that brings good design to places where it is not often found, and connects localized design interventions to large-scale policy change. An urban planner by training, Odbert’s experience and expertise cover a range of topics from participatory planning to gender-inclusive design. She has written extensively about KDI’s community-engaged approach to planning in the U.S. and abroad, and has been recognized by notable institutions including the Van Alen Institute, Ashoka Changemakers, and the Aspen Institute. In 2019, Odbertwas named one of seven Knight Foundation Public Space Fellows. She has held teaching appointments at Harvard Graduate School of Design and UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Odbert earned a bachelor of arts with high honors from Claremont McKenna College. She received her masters of urban planning from Harvard University.

Liz Ogbu

Liz Ogbu

Designer, Urbanist, and Spatial Justice Activist, Studio O

Twitter: @lizogbu
Instagram: @lizogbu

A designer, urbanist, and spatial justice activist, Liz Ogbu is a global expert on engaging and transforming unjust urban environments. From designing shelters for immigrant day laborers in the U.S., to a water and health social enterprise for low-income Kenyans, Ogbu has a long history of working with communities in need to leverage the power of design to catalyze sustainable social impact. She is founder and principal of Studio O, a multidisciplinary design consultancy that works at the intersection of racial and spatial justice. In addition to her practice, Ogbu has held academic appointments at several institutions including at UC Berkeley, Stanford’s d.school, and the University of Virginia. She also previously served as the Droga architect-in-residence in Australia, investigating urban marginalized populations and community development practices in the country.

Kathryn Ott Lovell

Kathryn Ott Lovell

Commissioner, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation

Twitter: @PhilaParkandRec
Instagram: @PhilaParkandRec

Kathryn Ott Lovell was appointed commissioner of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation by Mayor Jim Kenney in January 2016. In this position, 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. She is driving new investments in these community centerpieces fostering deeper connections between people and their city. One of the seven inaugural Knight Public Spaces Fellows, Ott Lovell has amplified the role of public spaces as a vehicle for resident participation, connection to place, and as a place for trying new ideas and connecting leaders. She has led innovative initiatives to activate public spaces and engage residents city-wide.

Jay Pitter

Jay Pitter

Placemaker and Author, Jay Pitter Placemaking

Twitter: @Jay_Pitter
Instagram: @Jay_Pitter

Jay Pitter, MES, is an award-winning placemaker whose practice mitigates growing divides in cities across North America. She spearheads institutional city-building projects specializing in public space design and policy, forgotten densities, mobility equity, gender-responsive design, inclusive public engagement and healing fraught sites. What distinguishes Pitter is her multidisciplinary approach, located at the nexus of urban design and social equity, which translates community insights and aspirations into the built environment. Pitter also makes significant contributions to urbanism theory and discourse. She has developed an equitable planning certificate course with the University of Detroit Mercy’s School of Architecture and taught a graduate level urban planning course at Ryerson University, among others. Pitter also delivers keynote addresses for entities such as the United Nations Women and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is the co-editor of Subdivided: City-Building in an Age of Hyper-Diversity, and her forthcoming books, Black Public Joy and Where We Live, will be published by McClelland & Stewart, Penguin Random House Canada in 2021. Pitter is currently the John Bousfield Distinguished Visitor in Planning at the University of Toronto.

Lysa Ratliff

Lysa Ratliff

VP, Partnership Development, KABOOM!

Twitter: @kaboom
Instagram: @kaboom

Lysa Ratliff is the acting CEO and vice president of partnership development at KABOOM!, the national nonprofit that works to end playspace inequity by amplifying the power of communities to build playspaces for kids and families. Ratliff has spent the past 25 years building partnerships that bring resources back into communities that have been disinvested in for decades. She has led development and marketing teams at KABOOM!, Save the Children and Habitat for Humanity International. Ratliff has also led various bodies at work at KABOOM!, most notably advancing their diversity, equity and inclusion work. Ratliff lives in Maryland with her husband, and together they have two daughters. 

Judilee Reed

Judilee Reed

Director, Creative Communities, William Penn Foundation

Twitter: @JudileeReed
Instagram: @Judilee

Judilee Reed serves as program director of Creative Communities at the William Penn Foundation. There, she oversees all of the foundation’s arts, culture and great public spaces grantmaking portfolios, as well as national initiatives. Previously, Reed led the Thriving Cultures Program at the Surdna Foundation in New York City, where she was responsible for leading national arts and culture grantmaking, working in cities across the country including Philadelphia. Her work helped the organization to implement a strategy modeling new ways to support racial and economic equity through the arts and culture. Prior to that role, Judilee was the executive director of Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), where she worked to advance artists and arts organizations and improve support systems for working artists in the United States.

Anna Richards

Anna Richards

Assistant/Macon, Knight Foundation, RYT 200

Twitter: @annarichc, @knightfdn
Instagram: @annarichards.art, @knightfdn

Anna Richards joined Knight Foundation in September 2017. Before joining Knight, Richards worked for the Macon Arts Alliance where she served as the gallery and communications assistant. While at the Alliance, she managed the front gallery and the Macon365 community calendar. Richards earned her associate’s degree from Georgia Military College and is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art at Wesleyan College. She is also a certified yoga instructor and artist who lives and works in downtown Macon.

Roshell R. Rinkins

Roshell R. Rinkins

Senior Director/Grants Administration, Knight Foundation

Twitter: @knightfdn
Instagram: @knightfdn

Roshell Rinkins joined Knight Foundation in March 2019. She directs the grants administration department and promotes activities that support and improve Knight’s grant-making. Prior to Knight, Rinkins worked at Apple as a global supply manager. In that role, Rinkins was responsible for the qualification, selection and contracting of business-to-business and business-to-consumer outbound transportation services supporting Apple’s North and South America operations. Rinkins built systemic ways to vet prospective suppliers, drive supplier compliance and build top- and bottom-line growth.

Lynn M. Ross

Lynn M. Ross

Founder and Principal, Spirit for Change Consulting, LLC

Twitter: @mslynnross, @SpiritforChange
Instagram: @mslynnross

Lynn M. Ross is the founder and principal of Spirit for Change Consulting, LLC, where she works nationally and across sectors with organizations on a mission to create and sustain equitable policies, practices and places. The work of Spirit for Change takes many forms including serving as the lead consultant to Knight Foundation on Reimagining the Civic Commons — a national demonstration working to advancing equitable public spaces — and as the Senior Fellow at Community Change for the Housing Playbook Project — an effort to reimagine the federal role in housing policy for future administrations. Dedicated to serving mission-driven organizations, Ross has more than 18 years of multi-sector experience, including past senior leadership roles at Knight Foundation; the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; the Urban Land Institute’s Terwilliger Center for Housing; the National

Lauren Ruffin

Lauren Ruffin

Co-Founder, Crux

Twitter: @Ruffin, @CruxXR
Instagram: @CruxXR

Lauren Olivia Ruffin is a co-founder of Crux with 20 years of experience in policy, marketing, fundraising, and strategic planning. She is a frequent speaker on best practices in leveraging immersive storytelling to combat racial and economic injustice. In addition to her work with Crux, she serves as co-CEO for Fractured Atlas, the nation’s largest association of artists and creators. She is also the founder of Artist Campaign School, an educational program that has trained more than 70 artists to run for political office. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in Political Science and received a J.D. from the Howard University School of Law. Ruffin has served on the governing board of Black Girls Code and on the advisory boards of ArtUp and Black Girl Ventures.

Chantel Rush

Chantel Rush

Managing Director, Kresge Foundation

Twitter: @cmrush, @kresgefdn
Instagram: @thekresgefoundation

Chantel Rush is managing director of The Kresge Foundation’s American Cities Program. Her work advances the foundation’s efforts to catalyze more effective community and economic development practice that expands opportunities for people with low incomes in American cities. Rush manages Kresge’s American Cities Program grantmaking to support: knowledge exchange among community development practitioners; national community development intermediaries; innovative and scalable community development solutions; pioneering research; and city-based dialogues aimed at promoting effective practice and policy. She also stewards the foundation’s place-based work in Memphis, Tennessee and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Molly M. Scott

Molly M. Scott

Principal Research Associate, The Urban Institute

Instagram: @urbaninstitute

Molly M. Scott is a principal research associate at the Urban Institute, and co-principal investigator on Knight Foundation’s Community Ties study. Her past work includes designing and evaluating community collective impact initiatives, like Promise Neighborhoods and Feeding America’s Coordinating for Clients initiative; analysis of destination neighborhoods in U.S. metro areas for Mexican and Central American immigrants; as well as an assessment of degree inflation and access to opportunity in local labor markets.

Mitchell Silver

Mitchell Silver

Parks Commissioner, NYC Parks

Twitter: @mitchell_silver, @nycparks
Instagram: @mitchell_silver, @nycparks

One of the nation’s most celebrated urban thinkers, Mitchell J. Silver is commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks, a former president of the American Planning Association (APA), and is president-elect of the American Institute of Certified Planners. As an award-winning planner with more than 35 years of experience, he is internationally recognized for his leadership in the planning profession and his contributions to contemporary planning issues. He specializes in comprehensive planning, placemaking, and implementation strategies. Silver was named one of Planetizen’s 100 Most Influential Urbanists in 2017 and has been honored as one of the top 100 City Innovators in the world by UBM Future Cities. In 2012, the Urban Times named him one of the top international thought leaders of the built environment.

Priya Sircar

Priya Sircar

Director/Arts, Knight Foundation

Twitter: @priyasircar, @knightfdn
Instagram: @sircarpriya, @knightfdn

Priya Sircar joined Knight Foundation in October 2018. She is a nonprofit administrator and practicing artist with experience in both 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.

Rachel Mukai Stark

Rachel Mukai Stark

Senior Urban Designer & Landscape Architect, City of Charlotte

Twitter: @urbanagami, @cltgov
Instagram: @clturbandesign

Rachel Stark has been designing places and influencing policy and regulation changes in Japan, South Africa, and North Carolina for 15 years, with over 10 years of leadership in urban design, planning, and community engagement. Stark is a licensed professional landscape architect in South Africa, as well as in the U.S., and has a aasters of landscape architecture degree from North Carolina State University. Stark designs places that foster a sense of community; develops policy that promotes walkability, livability, and social justice; and works with the community to build capacity for co-creation and co-ownership of the city’s future. She is the project manager for several placemaking and urban design projects, including Charlotte’s Urban Arboretum Trail. 

Ryan Streeter

Ryan Streeter

Director of Domestic Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute

Twitter: @streeterryan, @AEI

Ryan Streeter is the director of domestic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Before joining AEI, he was executive director of the Center for Politics and Governance at the University of Texas at Austin. Streeter has previously served as a special assistant for domestic policy to President George W. Bush at the White House, deputy chief of staff for policy for Indiana Governor Mike Pence, and policy adviser to Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith. He has also served as a senior fellow at the Legatum Institute in London and as a research fellow at the US-based Hudson Institute. He is the author of “Transforming Charity,” coauthor of “The Soul of Civil Society,” and a contributor to the Stephen Goldsmith book, “Putting Faith in Neighborhoods.”

Jordan Sun

Jordan Sun

Chief Innovation Officer, City of San Jose

Twitter: @sanjosemoti

Jordan Sun is the chief innovation officer for the city of San Jose. Prior to MOTI, Sun was deployed to Afghanistan as the chief operating officer for the Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan Technology Team. He holds the rank of Major as a reservist supporting the Army’s technology modernization efforts and was previously with In-Q-Tel’s Investments Team.  Before deploying, Sun was the Director of Venture Development at Siemens Healthineers, where he led a digital health spinout venture as CEO.  He also held various commercial leadership roles in both growth stage startup and public medical technology companies based in the Bay Area and Asia. 

Charles Thomas

Charles Thomas

Director/Charlotte, Knight Foundation

Twitter: @cthomasclt, @knightfdn
Instagram: @cthomasclt, @knightfdn

Charles Thomas joined Knight Foundation in February 2016. Thomas leads a program of work focused on fostering and supporting equitable development in the Historic West End district. 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 and civic innovation. Prior to leading Queen City Forward, he served as the education director of The Light Factory Contemporary Museum of Photography and Film. During his tenure he expanded the museum’s outreach program, increasing impact and earned revenue. He began his career working as a consultant for Andersen Consulting. A professional photographer, Thomas co-published a book of photography and stories with author Valaida Fullwood titled “Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists.” In addition to winning the 2012 Terry McAdam Book Award, Thomas and Fullwood partnered with Johnson C. Smith University to create and launch a traveling exhibition titled the “Soul of Philanthropy: Reframed and Exhibited.” projects.

Charles Thomas

Christopher Thompson

Director/San Jose, Knight Foundation

Twitter: @thompson_kf, @knightfdn
Instagram: @knightfdn

Chris Thompson joined Knight Foundation in January 2019. Previously, Chris served as vice president of product marketing at communications technology company Plantronics, where he drove strategies that helped organizations transform their communications and collaboration practices. Prior to joining Plantronics, Thompson held executive positions in business strategy and marketing for major technology companies including Cisco, Network Associates, Nortel and Gartner Group. He is an industry thought-leader on collaboration technology and business strategy and is a regular speaker at prominent events including CEBIT, Cisco Live, Gartner Symposium, Mobile World Congress, Morgan Stanley Global Technology Summit, Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum, SXSW and the World Economic Forum. projects.

Shin-pei Tsay

Shin-pei Tsay

Director of Global Policy for Cities and Transportation, Uber

Twitter: @stsay, @uber

Shin-pei Tsay is director of global policy for cities and transportation in Uber’s Central Policy team. In her current role, she leads a team that contributes to creating a sustainable, inclusive, and multi-modal urban future. Prior to joining Uber, she founded Make Public, a social impact analysis firm that specializes in the public realm. She was executive director of Gehl Institute, a nonprofit that advocated for public life in public spaces. Tsay was also the deputy executive director of TransitCenter, a national foundation focused on improving urban transportation. She founded and directed the Cities and Transportation Program under the Energy and Climate Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and was deputy director at Transportation Alternatives based in New York City. 

Deanna Van Buren

Deanna Van Buren

Design Director and Co-Founder, Designing Justice + Designing Spaces

Twitter: @deannavanburen, @designtorestore
Instagram: @designingjustice

Deanna Van Buren is the co-founder and design director of Designing Justice + Designing Spaces. She is a nationally-known advocate for magnifying the role of design for ending mass incarceration, and her work includes the creation of multi-use hubs for restorative justice and workforce development across the country. Van Buren received her BS in architecture from the University of Virginia and her MArch from Columbia University, and she is an alumna of the Loeb Fellowship at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.

Mark de la Vergne

Mark de la Vergne

Michigan Director, Cavnue

Twitter: @markdlv, @cavnue

Mark de la Vergne is the Michigan Director for Cavnue. In this role, he is responsible for the successful delivery of the initial feasibility study for the nation’s first dedicated connected automated laneway. Prior to joining Cavnue, de la Vergne served as Detroit’s Chief of Mobility Innovation where he established the nationwide blueprint for delivering resident-centered mobility innovation in a major city. He led the development of a number of major initiatives, including launching a regional fare pass with a mobile option, implementing a number of public private partnerships with private mobility companies, and assisting with the growth of micro mobility across the City. De la Vergne also led the national transportation planning practice of a boutique consulting firm, working with city leaders across the country to improve mobility and accessibility. De la Vergne has a bachelor of science in engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

Nate Wallace

Nathaniel L. Wallace

Director/Detroit, Knight Foundation

Twitter: @MrNateWallace, @knightfdn
Instagram: @knightfdn

Nathaniel L. Wallace joined Knight Foundation in September 2019. Wallace comes to Knight with nearly two decades of entrepreneurial and business management experience. Previously, he served as vice president of operations and co-owner of his international family firm, Communications Professionals Inc. (CPI). There, Wallace created both the IT services and staffing arms for the $20 million firm; developed infrastructure to pursue new markets; and led business and partnership development, talent acquisition, and growth strategy. As a proud Detroit native, Wallace is deeply motivated by new possibilities for the city and its residents. He is an avid supporter of the local arts and cultural community and a strong advocate for artists of color. 

Lilly Weinberg

Lilly Weinberg

Senior Director/Community and National Initiatives, Knight Foundation

Twitter: @lillyweinberg, @knightfdn
Instagram: @knightfdn

Lilly Weinberg joined Knight Foundation in August 2012. She is the senior director with the Community and National Initiatives, managing Knight’s $140 million investment in 18 small to midsize Knight communities. Weinberg graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School and the MIT Sloan School of Management, where she concurrently earned master’s degrees in public administration and business administration. While attending graduate school, she worked with the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the New York City Economic Development Corp., in both cases creating strategies to promote economic development, entrepreneurship and business growth. She also worked with CVS Caremark on successfully developing new marketing and digital strategies.

Sarah Williams

Sarah Williams

Associate Professor Technology and Urban Planning And Director of the Civic Data Design Lab, MIT

Twitter: @datasew, @MITdusp, @CivicDataDesign
Instagram: @datasew, @mitdusp

Sarah Williams is an associate professor of technology and urban planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she also directs the Civic Data Design Lab and chairs MIT’s new undergraduate program in urban science. Williams combines her training in computation and design to create communication strategies that expose urban policy issues to broad audiences and create civic change. She calls the process “Data Action,” which is also the name of her recent book published by MIT Press. Williams is co-founder and developer of Envelope.city, a web-based software product that visualizes and allows users to modify zoning in New York City. Before going to MIT, Williams was co-director of the Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation (GSAPP). Her design work has been widely exhibited including work in the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Venice Biennale, and the Cooper Hewitt Museum. Her upcoming exhibition, “Visualizing NYC 2021,” opens on Nov. 17 at the Center for Architecture in New York City.

Jai Winston

Jai Winston

Director/St. Paul, Knight Foundation

Twitter: @knightfdn

Instagram: @knightfdn

Jai Winston joined Knight Foundation in 2016. Previously, Winston was an associate of strategy and corporate development in the Office of the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Ariel Investments, a minority-owned money management firm in Chicago. At Ariel Investments, he focused on working with senior members of the firm and on other firm-wide strategic initiatives. In addition, he co-led several of the CEO’s special projects, including some of the firm’s national work on financial literacy and minority entrepreneurship.

Robert Zarr

Robert Zarr, MD, MPH

Physician, Founder and Medical Director, Park Rx America

Dr. Robert Zarr, founder and medical director of Park Rx America, is a board-certified pediatrician at Unity Health Care, located in Washington, D.C. There, he cares for low-income and immigrant populations. He previously served on the national park prescription steering committee and as an advisor to the National Park Service on park prescriptions. Zarr received his M.D. from the Baylor College of Medicine and master’s of public health degree from the University of Texas School of Public Health.

Sara Zewde

Sara Zewde

Principal, Studio Zewde & Harvard University

Instagram: @zewdiac, @studio_zewde

Sara Zewde is founding principal of Studio Zewde, a design firm in New York City practicing landscape architecture, urbanism, and public art. The studio is devoted to exploring the “aesthetics of being” and creating enduring places where people belong. Concurrent to practice, Zewde serves as assistant professor of practice at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Zewde was named the 2014 National Olmsted Scholar by the Landscape Architecture Foundation, a 2016 Artist-in-Residence at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and in 2018, was named to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s inaugural “40 Under 40” list. Most recently, she was named a 2020 United States Artists Fellow.  Her work has been exhibited at the 2016 and 2018 Venice Biennale, in the Brazilian and U.S national pavilions.