2016–17 Salon Members
The Ethical Redevelopment Salon is a membership-based, social-learning network and peer-mentorship club. The Salon fosters relationships through cross-city networks and cross-sector innovation, and provides members with the knowledge and support needed to create meaningful community change. From July 2016 to June 2017, Place Lab hosted monthly Salon Sessions focused on city-building methods that depart from profit-driven interventions.
Each Session explored one of the 9 Principles, analyzed member projects and processes, and refined the underlying strategies of Ethical Redevelopment. Although the Sessions are private, the content generated will be shared for discussion in a website and publication.
Salon Members hail from around the nation and represent diverse backgrounds of expertise and experience. Member projects range from implemented to conceptual, and the Sessions will adapt to members' real-time needs and issues.
Ethical Redevelopment Salon Sessions are made possible with the support of
Artist, educator and researcher Miguel Aguilar has been painting graffiti in Chicago since 1989. He founded Graffiti Institute in 2012, and, in 2013, curated "Outside In: The Mexican-American Street Art Movement in Chicago" at the National Museum of Mexican Art. Aguilar holds BFA (2000) and MAT (2011) degrees from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is a recipient of the 3Arts Teaching Artist award. He currently teaches a History of Graffiti in the Art History dept. at SAIC, works independently as a visual artist and is executive director of The Remix Project.
Iván Arenas is a Mexican-American anthropologist, architect, artist, activist, and parent. His research focuses on the production of emergent political subjectivities and alternative political imaginaries through practices of struggle in urban settings. Arenas works at UIC's Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy, which supports engaged research that aims to increase society's understanding of the root causes of racial and ethnic inequality and create research-based policy solutions and collective action. Arenas seeks to create research and programming that enable not just greater understanding but mobilizes towards collective action. He has curated three yearlong exhibits at UIC that have mobilized and extended his research on the intersection between protest practices, social transformation, and aesthetics.
Catherine Baker is a Principal at Landon Bone Baker Architects, a hands-on, full-service architectural practice. The Chicago-based firm has earned a strong reputation for bringing responsible design to affordable housing and neighborhood planning.
Landon Bone Baker Architects is distinguished by a community-based approach, working closely with neighborhood organizations, not-for-profit associations, and developers of affordable housing to create the best possible solutions for residents. The firm's growing portfolio of projects ranges from large to small-scale urban developments; from single-room-occupancy buildings to affordable apartment rehabilitations; from daycare centers to college dormitories. Much like our clients and community partners, the firm is mission-driven. We believe that housing plays a critical role in creating comprehensive, sustainable, and progressive urban development. LBBA strives to provide good design in a respectful way to the many lower and middle-income residents and communities in Chicago and the Midwest.
In her role as Program Manager with Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, Ciere Boatright focuses on all aspects of CNI's Real Estate Development activities, including community planning, pre-development, financing, contracting, construction oversight and project close-outs. Boatright splits time between large scale commercial projects, like Pullman Park and Halsted Parkways in Englewood, and smaller scale affordable homes preservation projects in the Pullman area. Prior to working with CNI, Boatright worked in retail banking with a national banking institution for 8 years. Boatright received her Bachelor's degree from Hamilton College in New York and her Master's in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Boatright volunteers with LINK Unlimited and was recently appointed as a Commissioner of the Roseland Medical District by Mayor Emanuel.
Brian Bonanno is a sustainability and community development professional, with 8 years of experience working as an advocate for healthy and resilient communities. Bonanno recently assumed the role of Community Development Director for Community Housing Initiatives, one of Iowa’s largest nonprofit providers of affordable housing. Bonnano will be working to guide Viva East Bank!, a coalition of partners and residents working together to revitalize three of Des Moines' east-side neighborhoods: Capitol Park, Capitol East, and Martin Luther King Jr. Park.
Prior to his current role, Bonanno worked as a Project Manager with the Delta Institute, a nonprofit working throughout the Great Lakes region to build healthier environments through sustainable, market-driven solutions. Bonanno managed Delta projects related to community engagement and urban land revitalization through creative reuse. Prior to the Delta Institute, Bonanno spent nearly five years working as the Sustainability Director for the Andersonville Development Corporation on Chicago's North side. There he developed and managed a variety of innovative programs that focused on everything from urban agriculture and energy efficiency to bike infrastructure, creative placemaking and public art. Before arriving in Chicago, Bonanno spent two years working in the sustainable development field in Boston, MA. Bonanno is a graduate of Iowa State University, and a native of Des Moines, Iowa.
Jennifer Brandel is CEO and Co-founder of Hearken. She began her career in journalism in the early aughts, reporting for outlets including NPR, CBC, WBEZ, The New York Times and Vice. In 2012 she founded a groundbreaking series called Curious City at WBEZ in Chicago and is spreading the audience-first model around the world via Hearken. The company graduated from the Matter VC accelerator and took home "Best Bootstrap Company" at the SXSW 2016 Accelerator competition. Brandel was awarded the 2016 Media Changemaker Prize by the Center for Collaborative Journalism.
Lauded as a Breakout Artist in New City and ARC Magazine, artist/scholar Rashayla Marie Brown (RMB) manages a living studio practice across an extensive list of cultural production modes. Her work spans camera-based image-making; performance and social engagement/disruption; curation and installation; and theoretical writings infused with subjectivity and spirituality. A lifelong nomad who has moved 24 times, her journey as a professional artist began as a radio DJ and poet performing research in London, England and as founder of the family-owned design company, Selah Vibe, Inc., in Atlanta, GA.
RMB currently serves as the inaugural Director of Student Affairs for Diversity and Inclusion at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), fostering queer Afrofeminist narratives across institutions. RMB holds degrees from Yale University and SAIC, advised by Paul Gilroy and Barbara DeGenevieve respectively. Her work has been commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; and Yale University.
Her work has shown at the Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, IL; Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago, IL; Calumet Gallery, New York, NY; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA; Centro Cultural Costaricense Norteamericano, San Jose, Costa Rica; and other venues. She has received numerous awards, including Chicago Artist Coalition's BOLT Residency, the Archibald Motley Fund, the Roger Brown Residency, and the Yale Mellon Research Grant. Her work and words have been featured and published in Bad at Sports, Blouin Modern Painters, Hyperallergic, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, the Radical Presence catalog, and the cover of the Chicago Reader. RMB's essay "Open Letter to My Fellow Young Artists and Scholars on the Margins: A Tribute to Terry Adkins" was shared over 4K times online as of 2016.
Monica Chadha is a LEED certified, licensed architect who has been practicing for over 20 years. Based in Chicago, she is the Founder of Civic Projects LLC, focusing on the design, building and development of community led projects through a project's social, economic and environmental impact. Through economic drivers such as pop-up retail and kitchen and business incubation she provides a platform for grassroots and underserviced economic development. Chadha had been an Adjunct Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology's College of Architecture since 2007. She has recently served as Founding Director of Impact Detroit. At both Studio Gang Architects and Ross Barney Architects, Chadha has been responsible for the design and team leadership of several award-wining buildings including the University of Minnesota Duluth's Civil Engineering Building. Her architecture practice ranges from long term planning initiatives such as Chicago's 606 (Bloomingdale Trail) Framework Plan to the design and development of mixed-use residential projects to the design and construction of early childhood facilities and libraries. Chadha has served as a design expert for the American Architecture Foundation's Sustainable Cities Design Academy. Her work has been widely published and the Design Futures Council recognized her as a 2010 Emerging Leader. www.civic-projects.com
Kerri Culhane’s experience spans twenty years of professional community development practice ranging in scale from single sites to landscape-scale planning and development projects. Culhane holds an MS in ecological landscape planning & design and an MA in architectural history & preservation. Neighborhood preservation - economic, social, cultural and architectural - is central to her work, using the past as a lens to gain perspective on critical issues
confronting communities today.
As the former associate director of Two Bridges Neighborhood Council on Manhattan's Lower East Side, Culhane made the urban environment the centerpiece of the 60-year-old affordable housing nonprofit's community development work. For the past two years, Culhane has worked with the developers of the former Herman Kiefer Hospital site in Detroit to design an equitable and sustainable plan for redevelopment for the campus as well as the surrounding Virginia Park neighborhood.
Akeem Dixon's background is centered in branding, economic development, and project management. The Philadelphia native is currently a Commercial Corridor Manager in West Philadelphia where he implements market driven activities focused on economic and retail development, small business technical assistance, job creation, blight and litter reduction, retail and restaurant site selection, business attraction, and crime reduction.
Appointed by the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce, Dixon is a member of the North Central Empowerment Zone Trust Board. Under the supervision of the Department of Commerce, grants and programs totaling $1.2 million have been implemented to revitalize North Central Philadelphia.
As a former Ride Indego Bike Share Ambassador and 880 Cities Fellow (Knight Foundation partner), Dixon aims to connect stakeholders to all aspects of economic development to increase awareness, capacity, and accountability.
D. Denenge Duyst-Akpem is an Afro-Futurist space sculptor, performance artist, designer, writer, and educator. Her work bridges the disciplines of site-specific sculpture, ritual, public art practice, interior design, and science fiction. Duyst-Akpem is a ten-year veteran professor and currently a Lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism, in the Low-Residency MFA Program, and upcoming Sophomore Seminar. She is the recipient of an SAIC Diversity Advisory Group inaugural 2016 Teaching Award for Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion and teaches courses including "Perception", "Afro-Futurism: Pathways to Black Liberation", "Ritual Art Performance in the African Diaspora", "Survey of African Art", and "Power to the People: Revolution and the Black Arts Movement."
Duyst-Akpem is the founder of Denenge Design+Studio Verto which offers specialized, holistic design services and site-specific sculpture for residential and commercial clients. She has exhibited multi-media sculptural and performance work nationally and internationally, and speaks widely about her work in the field of Afro-Futurism and space sculpting, appearing in television, radio, print, and online in a range of interviews and articles. Current and upcoming collaborative projects include design for the recent world premiere of Honey Pot Performance's Ma(s)king Her at Pritzker Pavilion, Barak adé Soleil's What the Body Knows premiering at Stony Island Arts Bank in October 2016, and an augmented reality digital story by Pixel Fable set for release in 2017.
Duyst-Akpem received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and BA from Smith College where her document on the exhibition of African art in Western museums prepared at Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African Art received the Gardner Prize in American Studies. She has received numerous faculty development grants along with a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for the NEH Institute on Black Aesthetics and Sacred Systems and awards from Illinois Arts Council and Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.
Victoria G. Smith Ellison is a Chicago native and was raised in Bronzeville. She is a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in Social Service Administration with a concentration in Community Schools at the University of Chicago. She received her B.A. in Educational Studies from Trinity College (Hartford, CT) in 2015. Ellison is an emerging scholar activist and plans to pursue a doctoral degree. Her research interests include critical race theory, black feminism, the relationship between education and housing, and community engagement.
Emilie Evans is the Director of the Rightsizing Cities Initiative (RCI) with PlaceEconomics and leads projects using Relocal, a data-based tool that uses over 70 distinct metrics and a community priority survey to develop tailored, parcel-level recommendations for incorporating vacant buildings and lots into neighborhood revitalization strategies. She is a co-founder and current co-leader of Brick + Beam Detroit, a Knight Cities Challenge winning project that coalesces the building rehab community across Detroit and connects them with tradespeople, resources, and support to get reinvestment projects going.
Previously, Evans served as Detroit Preservation Specialist working jointly for the Michigan Historic Preservation Network and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. There she spearheaded a smartphone survey of nearly 18,000 historic properties across Detroit neighborhoods targeted for blight mitigation to help inform strategic demolition decisions. She also serves as Secretary on the leadership team of the Preservation Rightsizing Network. Prior to Detroit, Evans worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and served as Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University, from which Evans holds masters' degrees in Historic Preservation and Urban Planning. Evans is the 2015 winner of the American Express Aspire Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
James Feagin has 15 years of professional experience that includes stints in education, digital marketing, entertainment, and community development work. Currently focusing on his work as a consultant and real estate developer, Feagin maintains and active role in Detroit’s resurgence working on projects ranging from the design and execution of small business grant challenges to acquiring and repurposing abandoned commercial structures.
Some of Feagin’s current projects include NEIdeas and Motor City Match, along with a creative-centered development project that encompasses an entire block in one of Detroit’s emerging neighborhoods. Current and past partners and clients include the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, Knight Foundation, New Economy Initiative, and MIT Media Lab.
Consistently present through Feagin's work are three themes; engaging and supporting community stakeholders citywide, creating sustainable equity, and strengthening Detroit’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Hunter Franks is the founder and Artistic Director of the League of Creative Interventionists. His participatory projects create shared spaces and experiences that break down social barriers and catalyze connections between people and communities. Franks’s projects include a 500 person meal on a freeway, a storytelling exchange to connect disparate neighborhoods, a public display of first love stories, and a vacant warehouse turned community hub.
In 2014, he was named one of GOOD Magazine's GOOD 100 and his Neighborhood Postcard Project was named one of "12 bright ideas for better cities" by the Los Angeles Times. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States and featured in Fast Company, the Guardian, and Atlantic Citylab. In 2011 he walked from Los Angeles to New Mexico - an experience that fueled his desire to connect with strangers and tell the stories of underrepresented places.
Maria Fuhrmann is Coordinator of Grants and Strategic Partnerships for the City of Memphis, managing special projects and serving as the Executive Team liaison and to the City's philanthropic, quasigovernmental, and community partners. Fuhrmann came to city government in 2006 as a Research Analyst for the Memphis City Council and previously served as Special Assistant to the Mayor for Research and Innovation. Fuhrmann is a graduate of the University of Memphis and has lived in her adopted hometown since 1991. Fuhrmann is passionate about leveraging Memphis' unique assets to create a vibrant and thriving urban core, encourage quality infill development in the inner city, and provide a range of safe, convenient, sustainable mobility choices.
Nicholas Gauna has worked on the Social Responsibility team at Groupon since 2011 and currently leads the Local Community Development program. In this role, he seeks to leverage Groupon’s assets and resources to help communities thrive and prosper by establishing partnerships with organizations that focus on placemaking, neighborhood development and small business acceleration.
Gauna has a background working with nonprofits of varying sizes in the environmental, microlending and social development sectors, including time on the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid team. Gauna graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in International Relations and French Cultural Studies and was a 4 year member of the Varsity Soccer Team. He has lived abroad in both France and Paraguay, and currently resides in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village neighborhood.
Jonathan Harwell-Dye is the director of creative placemaking at Macon Arts Alliance where he leads the arts-based community development initiatives in Mill Hill: East Macon Arts Village. He is a member of the One Macon! Economic Development
Implementation Committee and a 2012 graduate of the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Macon program. In 2014, Harwell-Dye was named one of Macon Magazine's "Five Under 40" Young Leaders, and in 2015, he was commissioned as a regional leader by the Middle Georgia Regional Commission.
Harwell-Dye was previously co-founder and curatorial director of the Three Cities Group Artist Collective and gallery curator at the Contemporary Arts Exchange in Macon. He attended Middle Georgia College and the University of Georgia where he received a BFA degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in 2003. He is currently pursuing certification in creative placemaking through The Ohio State University.
Harwell-Dye lives in the Tattnall Square Heights neighborhood of Macon with his wife, the Reverend Stacey Harwell-Dye, and their dog Colby.
Tobe Holmes is the Planning and Development Director at University City Partners in Charlotte, NC. In this role he works with governments, developers, institutions, businesses, residents, and special interest groups to fulfill the vision of University City. Holmes is an integral part of all land use and transportation decisions, helps guide and influence private and public investments, and advocates for neighborhood, business and destination infrastructure and amenities.
He recently held the position of Director of Historic South End for Charlotte Center City Partners where he managed economic, community and transportation development for Charlotte’s first transit oriented district. During his tenure in that role the South End neighborhood was the focus of nearly one billion dollars of private investment and its residential population more than doubled. In addition to his role in the development process, Holmes developed the neighborhood’s brand into one of the most recognizable in the Charlotte region and worked diligently to advance the presence of art in all forms throughout the district.
Holmes has a master’s degree in Regional Planning from Clemson University and a bachelor of arts in Anthropology from the University of South Carolina. Outside of his work with University City Partners, he serves on the Board of Friendship Trays (Charlotte, NC) and is an active member of Leadership Charlotte Class 37 and the Charlotte Chapter of the Urban Land Institute.
Lauren Hood specializes in ecosystem development with a strong focus on a community engagement. She is the newly installed Acting Director of Live6, a planning and development organization that seeks to enhance quality of life and encourage economic opportunity in Northwest Detroit. The organization will act as a conduit between anchor institutions and their surrounding communities, with a particular focus on the McNichols and Livernois corridors. The organization will actively serve the community in the following five program areas: placemaking, business attraction & retention, residential stabilization, safety, and commercial corridor real estate development.
Prior to joining U3, Hood worked in various capacities within the realm of community revitalization. She was the Manager of the Economic Development project portfolio for the city of Highland Park, MI. In this role she directed the allocation of CDBG funds, housing rehab projects, demolition efforts and business attraction activities.
Her subsequent role, as the Director of Community Engagement for Loveland Technologies enabled her to build relationships nationally with social investors, real estate professionals and navigate various municipal governments. While at Loveland, a firm who seeks to place every parcel of land in America onto a public platform, Hood was tasked with to balancing the terrain between investment, government, and community members.
Simultaneously, while navigating those experiences and building relationships, Hood started DeepDive Detroit, a consciousness raising consultancy with a focus on racial, social and economic justice. Hood was retained by corporate, philanthropic, and non-profit entities seeking to align internal culture with values.
Born and raised in the Live 6 service area, Hood is a civically engaged preservationist and serves as a Mayoral appointee to the Historic District Commission, and as a member of Preservation Detroit's Board of Directors. She speaks regularly at events concerning community engagement, equitable development, social investment and the intersections of economic development and social justice. In addition to being a regular guest columnist in local Op-ed pages, she is active at her alma mater, University of Detroit Mercy where she received a Masters in Community Development and undergraduate Business Degree.
Erik Howard has worked with southwest Detroit youth for fifteen years as a teacher, social worker, artist and mentor. He has led several major participatory processes for Young Nation and its partners. Howard holds a Bachelor's in Sociology from Spring Arbor University and a Master of Community Development from the University of Detroit Mercy.
Howard is a photographer and the co-founder of both Expressions, a low rider club, and Young Nation. He combines his passion for youth and community development with a love of photography. Using activities such as low riding, photography, and street art as a mentoring tool, Howard has been able to reach out to young people in the community of southwest Detroit.
Beth Johnson, a native Chicagoan and Director of the Chicago office of Partners for Sacred Places, has more than 30 years of combined professional experience in sales, planning & development, and architectural design. Over the years she has worked in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors on a variety of projects from gut rehabs to restorations to new construction. She has expertise in navigating historic preservation projects through local government processes and revitalizing communities in blighted areas of the city. Johnson has the ability to collaborate with multiple constituencies, including government officials, developers, and community leaders, to achieve desired goals and deliver creative, economically viable, and sustainable projects. Johnson has an MS in Historic Preservation and a BA in Economics.
As a co-founder of Amber Art and Design collective, Keir Johnston works with individuals, organizations, and leaders dedicated to making positive, lasting and sustainable changes within their community. The collective, consisting of 6 artists, believes in the greater power and potential of a collaborative approach to art making. Their mission is to leverage art from a point of renewal and service; a platform that invites individuals and communities to grow, express and advocate for positive change. Since forming in 2011 they have developed a creative commitment to the arts, and its ability to be informative and transformative to people, places, cities and organizations around the world.
Amber Art and Design artists have been collaborating and creating art that delves into stories, histories and circumstances that have impacted communities of color but are often missing from mainstream historical reference and media representation. These bodies of works address issues of structural inequity and seek to give a voice to underrepresented communities who are lacking in resources.
Steve Kay is a founding partner of Roberts & Kay, a research and organization development firm established in 1983 to assist organizations in the private, nonprofit, and public sectors improve their internal and external communications and functioning. Kay has more than 30 years of experience in the design and implementation of effective group process.
Kay's major clients at the local, state, and national levels have included Fayette County Public Schools, Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy (Kentucky), Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, Kentucky Department of Education, Kentucky Environmental Education Council, Kettering Foundation, Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, Paul J. Aicher Foundation, Sustainable Racine (Wisconsin), University of Kentucky, and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Before founding Roberts and Kay, Kay directed education research on school-community relations for six years at Kentucky State University.
In 2010 Kay was elected to the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council as an at-large member. In 2014 Kay was elected Vice Mayor.
Kay’s opportunities to contribute to civic life in Lexington have included service on the boards of the Lexington Transit Authority and the Martin Luther King Neighborhood Association. He is a former Vice Chair of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Planning Commission, and a former president of the board of the Good Foods Coop.
Kay earned a B.A. from Bowdoin College (1966), an M.A. from Yale University (1968), and an Ed.D. from the University of Kentucky (1979).
Majestic Lane is the Director of External Affairs & Membership Engagement at Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG), a membership organization for Community Development Corporations, Community-Based Organizations, and related nonprofits that represent low- and moderate- income communities throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania. Lane works with government, philanthropy, neighborhood groups & other stakeholders to advocate for improvements in quality of life for traditionally disadvantaged communities around the issues of land, capital & mobility. Prior to his time at PCRG, Lane was the Director of Community Engagement & Strategy at A+ Schools, an education advocacy organization dedicated to improving outcomes for Black & Brown children in Pittsburgh Public Schools. He also served as a legislative aide to Pennsylvania State Senator Jim Ferlo focusing on community development, education & sustainability issues. Lane has also served as a member of the planning committee for the Heinz Endowments Transformative Arts Process (TAP), an initiative focused on building the field of those working in and through the arts in African American and “distressed” neighborhoods.
Melissa S. Lee is the Senior Advisor for the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA). In this capacity, Lee is responsible for funding and planning support to help revitalize commercial corridors throughout New Orleans. As part of her responsibilities, she is managing NORA’s first façade improvement and placemaking grant program stimulating investments opportunities to redevelop commercial spaces for active use, support small business retention and growth, and create walkable neighborhoods.
Prior to joining NORA, Lee served at the Managing Director of the Coalition for the Improvement of Bedford-Stuyvesant (CIBS), a Brooklyn based nonprofit association of two dozen member organizations dedicated to enhancing an sustainable community. Prior to joining CIBS, Lee worked at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Comprehensive Neighborhood Economic Development (CNED) where she lead an interagency initiative building capacity and community assets in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. She has also worked at the Lower East Side Business Improvement District (LES BID) managing the Lower Manhattan Small Business and Workforce Retention Program aiding area small businesses in the September 11th recovery, and then as Director of Economic Development for Pratt Area Community Council overseeing local commercial revitalization strategies in Central Brooklyn.
Lee received a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Redlands and a M.P.A with a concentration in Urban Community and Economic Development from the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University.
Janet Li serves as a Liaison under the Office of Resident Engagement at the Chicago Housing Authority. As a Liaison, she works with residents and local stakeholders on community building efforts in mixed-income housing developments that arose under CHA’s Plan for Transformation.
Li holds a B.A. in comparative literature from Barnard College, Columbia University and an M.A. in social service administration with a concentration in poverty and inequality from the University of Chicago.
Jeremy Lile is an ordained pastor turned community organizer who helped establish City Hope Akron, a nonprofit in West Akron, Ohio whose mission is "the restoration of people and place." Lile has helped envision and inhabit numerous ideas that have lead to community clean ups, gardening, meals, and block watches. Additionally, City Hope Akron has impacted hundreds of lives in its community through several programs, including an open choice food pantry, food backpacks at two local schools, mentoring, summer kids programming, and literacy efforts.
Liles is currently working on a project that involves the restoration of an abandoned building in his community. Following renovations, The Grand Exchange will be a beautiful place for people to gather to create, collaborate and (ex)change.
Lile’s says of himself: “I am no one special. I am simply someone who is willing to take the first step to lead out on ideas and get the ball rolling. I am very aware that none of this would be possible without the daily commitment of the incredible people in our community who want to make our community a great place to live and work.
Jennifer Q. Mahar joined the Fairmount Park Conservancy, the non-profit champion of Philadelphia parks, in 2012. As Senior Director of Civic Initiatives, Jennifer helps oversee the ‘Reimagining the Civic Commons’ project – an innovative, collaborative network of public space organizations in Philadelphia. Together, the collective will demonstrate the ways that civic assets can be connected as an integrated system and how they can be designed and developed to foster talent, opportunity and engagement. Jennifer also oversees the Neighborhood Parks Stewardship Program, a unique partnership with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and our network of 100 volunteer park friend groups. Together we organize, resource and advocate for our wonderful city parks.
Ernel Martinez was born in Belize. He was raised in South Central Los Angeles and Detroit. His introduction to art world came in the form of graffiti. Martinez Studied art at Pratt Institute and attained his BFA from the Kutztown University. In 2004, he received his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2003, Martinez began making public art in the city of Philadelphia, as well as working with various non-profits and social services to provide art to disenfranchised youth. His artistic practice focuses on creative methods to give urban communities the tools to tell their stories through art making. He uses their stories as a framework to produce social practice artwork to engage and build dialogue.
Meida Teresa McNeal is an Independent Artist and Scholar of performance studies, dance and critical ethnography. McNeal works with the Chicago Park District as Arts & Culture Manager supporting arts and culture partnerships and programming initiatives across the city's parks and cultural centers. Additionally, McNeal is part time faculty in Interdisciplinary Arts and Dance at Columbia College Chicago. She is also Artistic and Managing Director of Honey Pot Performance, an Afro-feminist creative collaborative that integrates movement, theater, and first-voice to examine the nuanced ways people negotiate identity, belonging, and difference in their lives and cultural memberships.
Cindy McSherry is the Executive Director of the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) Chicago District Council. As one of the most respected sources for broad, objective information on urban planning, growth, and development, ULI relies heavily on the experience of its global membership to provide leadership in the responsible use of land. Drawing upon this deep knowledge, ULI Chicago’s 1300+ members have been instrumental in building the District Council’s cornerstone program of technical assistance services providing sustainable, creative solutions for challenging land development issues, often in communities with limited resources and capacity. A hallmark of ULI Chicago’s program under McSherry’s leadership is engaging local community members and municipal leaders where they are at; having conversations that lead to an understanding of how people live, work and relax; the challenges they face; and, the aspirations they have. Using this understanding as a framework, ULI Chicago’s technical assistance program develops recommendations grounded in reality. As a result of partnering with the City of Chicago, neighborhood leaders, and suburban municipalities, ULI Chicago has grown a valuable network bringing industry knowledge and connections together to form new partnerships. Recognizing her contribution to the field, McSherry now serves as a National Advisor for other ULI District Councils across the country seeking to launch or strengthen technical assistance programs in their regions. With over 30 years in the not-for-profit sector, McSherry has a broad understanding of management and growth issues and how organizations develop into productive, effective catalysts for change.
Kevin Moran, an association and non-profit leader with an affinity for urban places, is the executive director of the Fairmount Community Development Corporation in Philadelphia's Art Museum Area. His experience includes developing research and policy agendas, providing corridor management services, advocating for healthy urban places and crafting strategic messaging to position urban districts as great places to live, work and invest. Prior to joining Fairmount CDC in this role, Moran served as the Marketing & Communications Manager at the International Downtown Association, a leader and champion for vital and livable urban centers. He has a M.A. in Strategic Communication and B.S. in Business Administration, Marketing from Villanova University. A Fairmount resident, when Moran isn’t working he enjoys traveling, craft beers and exploring new cities by bicycle.
Matthew Naimi is the founder and Director of Operations of Recycle Here! Naimi attended the University of Tennessee and graduated in 1996 with a double major in Political Science and Philosophy. Not long after graduation, his entrepreneurial spirit and desire to make Detroit a better place brought him back to Michigan.
Naimi’s first challenge was to creatively rehabilitate an old, obsolete, automotive warehouse into a Green business as well as a creative space for the cultural community. He created a community within this warehouse where local musicians and artists can rehearse and create music and art. Naimi created Recycle Here! in 2006 to address the need for a recycling option in the City of Detroit. To date, over 17.5 million pounds of recyclable material has been collected from over 400,000 citizens visiting Recycle Here! drop off facility. These two programs formed the backbone of the Lincoln Street Art Park, a guerilla style urban art space surrounding the facility that has served as a community gathering spot and given the neighborhood an identity.
Kristofer Nonn has been with the NoLi CDC since June 2014, where his role is to oversee all design and construction aspects of NoLi CDC's programs and operations. Nonn and his family relocated from Madison, WI, where he had worked at KEE Architecture for the previous 6 years. After earning his Bachelor of Trumpet Performance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2002, Nonn went on to get his Masters of Architecture from the University of Tennessee in 2006. This, along with subsequent experiences designing and building his own house in Madison, as well as more experimental design & construction work done in Santa Elena Venezuela, combine to inform how he thinks of the built environment as a framework for and representation of the community's aspirations, history, individuality, beauty, and challenges.
Alysia Osborne is an urban placemaker that works to improve public gathering places, community stewardship, and creation of equitable development strategies in the Charlotte community. Osborne joined Charlotte Center City Partners (CCCP) as Director of Historic West End in October 2015. In this role, Osborne works closely with neighborhood stakeholders and local businesses, coordinating Charlotte Center City Partners’ efforts to create and implement a vision for a strong neighborhood center that preserves and enhances existing neighborhood assets while attracting new investment.
Osborne joins CCCP from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department, where she has worked for eight years as a Planning Coordinator in the Long Range Planning Division. Prior to that, she served as a Transportation Planner for the Charlotte Department of Transportation, and as a Planner for the City of Jackson, Miss. She began her career with Parsons Brinkerhoff.
Osborne, a Mississippi native, has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science/Pre-Law from Tougaloo College and a Master of Arts Degree in Urban and Regional Planning with an emphasis in Environment/Land Use Law from Jackson State University. She is a certified planner in the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and a member of the American Planning Association, International Downtown Association, and has executive and advisory roles on the local and national levels of the Urban Land Institute.
Todd Palmer is the Associate Director and Curator at the National Public Housing Museum. In this role and as its Interim Director in 2014 he's spearheaded the creative rehabilitation of the museum's historic site, organized exhibits that activate place through interdisciplinary creative collaboration, and piloted educational and public programs to catalyze a more equitable public sphere. In 2016, Palmer joined the Chicago Cultural Alliance Board of Directors, after steering their multi-institutional 2015 Chicago's Families project. He collaborated on the content development of the Community Galleries at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of African-American History and Culture (2011-12), culminating more than a decade of professional design, curatorial and planning work on a wide range of arts, cultural heritage and civic conscience projects in the US, Australia and Europe.
Palmer has spoken globally on contemporary arts and cultural issues, completed installations and public art commissions for The Studio Museum in Harlem and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, and published historical and critical essays in The Avery Review and African American National Biography. His creative and curatorial works have been recognized in organs including The New York Times, Artforum, Art News, Metropolis and Domus. Todd holds a BA, summa cum laude in Architectural History and Theory from Princeton University and a M. Architecture from Columbia University. He was born on the Indiana University Bloomington campus to parents descending from Great Migration families who settled in East Chicago, Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky (by way of Harlem). Though he was raised in Denver, Colorado, his first memories are of Chicago and Philadelphia.
Eve Picker’s world is wrapped around cities and change. Picker’s background as an architect, city planner, urban designer, real estate developer, community development strategist, publisher, and instigator, has given her a rich understanding of how cities work, how urban neighborhoods are revitalized, and what policies are needed to make change. Her latest urban (ad)venture is Small Change, a real estate equity crowdfunding portal. Small Changes raises funds for real estate projects that make cities better by connecting developers to investors. The organization stay true to its mission by scoring the impact of each project with a proprietary Change Index. This measures the mobility, sustainability and economic vitality contributed by the project to its city or neighborhood. You can read more about Small Change at learn.smallchange.com/change, and learn more about Picker at evepicker.com.
Kelli Pirtle is an Arts + Culture Policy Fellow at Place Lab, whose research evaluates the economic impact of cultural policies aimed at igniting change in local communities. She is currently pursuing a joint master's degree in public policy and business administration at the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy and Booth School of Business. With experience in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, Pirtle's most recent roles were on projects related to financial inclusion in low and moderate income communities at the Center for Financial Services Innovation and economic policy implementation at the Federal Reserve. Pirtle's scholarly interests lie at the intersection of social impact, economic development, and real estate investment.
Robert (Rob) Rose is Executive Director of the Cook County Land Bank Authority. Rose previously served as Chief Operating Officer at the Chicago Community Loan Fund and Director, Commercial Real Estate at Urban Partnership Bank. Prior to his time in Chicago, Rose worked for The Lynd Company and GE Capital. Rose serves as a board member of: Muntu Dance Theater of Chicago; Illinois Department of Transportation Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Revolving Loan Fund; Citibank New Markets Tax Credit Advisory Board; Mercy Loan Community Development Entity Advisory Board; and as a past member of Sweet Beginnings LLC Board of Managers and The Law Project Advisory Committee. He is a recipient of the 2016 Men of Excellence Award from the Chicago Defender newspaper and is a 2017 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow. Rose has an MBA from Cornell University and BBA from St. Edward’s University.
Paul Rosenblatt is a licensed architect nationally recognized for planning and design of facilities for purpose driven groups like health service organizations, museums, and universities. As founding partner of Springboard Design, Rosenblatt provides creative direction to the firm and brings his distinctive artistic vision to each commission.
Since 1987, Rosenblatt has taught in the School of Architecture and the Center for the Arts in Society at Carnegie Mellon University, where he is currently Associate Professor (adjunct). Since joining Carnegie Mellon University in 1987, Rosenblatt has balanced the teaching and practice of architecture with work as an exhibiting artist. Previously he taught at Yale University, and has lectured and served as a juror at numerous schools of architecture throughout the US and Canada.
As an exhibiting artist, his one-man-installation was included in the 2014 Pittsburgh Biennial. Entitled "Well-Played: Paul's Vinyl Records," the installation incorporated paintings, sound, and over 15,000 vintage vinyl records.
These overlapping practices in art and architecture led to the founding of a new artisan residency in Johnstown, PA, Creator Square, which is an anchor project of that community's 2025 Visioning Project built on the framework of Carnegie Mellon
University's Remaking Cities Institute.
In 2011, Rosenblatt published Every Building A Museum, a book about museums and cultural facility design with a contribution by Raymund Ryan, Director of the Heinz Architectural Center. Earlier research has been included in publications for ACSA Annual Meeting, CAAD Futures, and the London Futures Conference, among others.
Lindsey Scannapieco is the Founder of Scout, an urban design and development practice that activates underutilized space through creative programming and innovative development. Most recently, Scout is redeveloping the 340,000 sqft Bok Vocational High School into an innovative new space in South Philly for innovators, artisans and entrepreneurs.
Previous projects include the innovative pop-up Films on Fridges, which was named “the UK’s hottest cinema” in 2011, a community-led project that reconsidered traditional construction hoardings and the design of 9 pieces along the Southbank Centre in Central London.
Previously, Scannapieco worked for the Olympic Park Legacy Company where she developed an Interim Use Strategy that proposed a business model and cross-departmental approach for temporary uses across the Olympic site after the 2012 Games.
Scannapieco was recently named by Curbed National as a Curbed Young Gun, a designation which seeks to identify ten of the most promising up-and-coming practices and people in architecture and urban development. In 2014, Scannapieco was selected as a Vanguard to attend the Next City Vanguard Conference and identified as a “Keeper” by Leadership Philadelphia. Her work has been featured in numerous publications including Condé Nast Traveller, TimeOut London, GOOD Magazine, FT Weekend, Le Cool and the Guardian.
Scannapieco holds a B.S. in Real Estate Finance from the University of Southern California and MSc in City Design and Social Science from the London School of Economics.
Benjamin Shorofsky is a Technical Associate at Delta Institute, where he provides technical and programmatic support across all of Delta's work, including the areas of deconstruction, environmental markets, green infrastructure, and community development, among others. Shorofsky holds an M.S. and a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Northwestern University. Prior to joining the Delta team, he completed a Fulbright Fellowship focused on piloting an innovative wetland treatment system for textile effluent in the Thar Desert Region of Rajasthan, India.
A native of Lexington, KY, Ashley C. Smith graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. Pairing her effective, strong communication skills, and work ethic she achieved a combined 10 years of experience in the healthcare, non-profit, and hospitality industries. Within this time she was awarded the Saint Joseph East Teen Volunteer of the Year 2001, and Regatta Employee of the Month August 2005. Within her first year as Marketing Events Coordinator at NetGain Technologies, Smith increased the event metrics associated with client attendance and event offer conversion. Evolving her position within the organization, Smith managed the Internship Program, where she professionally invested in and develops college students. Smith pioneered and managed the Professional Lead Sharing Program, which is focused on reciprocal lead sharing with organizations in the community. She was awarded the NetGain Technologies Marketing and Development Employee of the Year in 2012.
As the first Development Coordinator at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center, Smith brings her track record for producing success. Under her leadership, The Lyric has secured partnerships with leading companies such as Forcht Bank, EHI Consultants, Toyota Manufacturing, PNC Bank, LG&E/KU Foundation, Keeneland Foundation, Transylvania University and the University of Kentucky resulting in $42,446.00 raised its inaugural year of development efforts. She is tasked to present and produce fundraising efforts through grant writing, program development, and cultivating strategic partnerships. Smith refines her development skills as a member of the Bluegrass chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Currently, she serves as the Scholarship Chair. In addition, her community participation includes Not The Only One in the Room, a women of color empowerment group. She has served on a Management Team Member and Vendor Services Manager for crave food + music festival, a 2 day event visited by over 100,000 annually.
Michael Smith recently joined Invest Detroit through the Detroit Revitalization Fellows Program. As Director of Neighborhood Strategies, Smith will be assisting the President & CEO and other staff in community outreach and making the day-to-day connections and inroads into strategically targeted Detroit neighborhoods beyond the borders of the 7.2 square-mile Downtown and Midtown cores. Previously, Smith spent the last fifteen years in Major League Baseball, most recently as Director of Baseball Operations for the Detroit Tigers. He also has served as a board member of The Greening of Detroit since 2010, most recently as board secretary. Smith received a Bachelor of Science in Geology & Geophysics from Yale University in 1999 and a Master of Community Development from the University of Detroit Mercy in 2013. He has resided in Detroit since 2005 and now makes his home in the Hubbard Farms neighborhood with his wife Kristen.
Tayyib Smith has long been a successful conduit between artist, niche brands, and the music industry, earning the respect of corporate brands for his unique ability to connect with the hearts and minds of the trend-setting youth market via facilitation of successful relationships. His marketing reputation was further solidified through his work with SCION, introducing the brand to the Philadelphia region through a series of underground marketing initiatives. He has also worked with such clients as Nike, Heineken USA, Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Corporation, and Red Bull, and showcased artists such as Diplo, Common, The Roots, Questlove, Talib Kweli, and John Legend.
Presently, Smith serves on the Philadelphia Jazz Project Brain Trust funded by the William Penn Foundation, the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia chapter of the Recording Academy and on the planning committee for Philly Tech Week.
Linda Steele is an Amherst College Wade Fellow and 2016 recipient of an Artworks grant from The National Endowment for the Arts for The Fellows Program at ArtsMemphis, where Steele oversees all social change grantmaking and capacity-building initiatives at the organization. She invests in projects that demonstrate the role of arts and culture in a neighborhood’s revitalization and redevelopment. Steele launched the ArtsMemphis Fellows program to build the capacity of Memphis arts groups, artists, and neighborhood leaders in the emerging field of arts-based social change and has presented across the country on this work.
Steele came to Memphis from New York City where she was a Fellow with the Arts Leadership Institute at Columbia University. Her professional experience includes work at Urban Gateways: Center for Arts Education, The Art Institute of Chicago, and Cool Culture, Inc. Steele’s career has focused on building diverse and inclusive audiences for theaters, museums, and performing arts venues. She is a graduate of Amherst College and Harvard University.
Prior to ArtsMemphis, Steele worked as an arts consultant based in New York City where she helped to open the first arts-based private pre-school in Park Slope, Brooklyn. She began her career in the arts at Playhouse Square Center and Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival in Cleveland, Ohio. She also has a background in youth development and K-12 education.
David Stovall, Ph.D. is Professor of Educational Policy Studies and African-American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). His scholarship investigates four areas 1) Critical Race Theory, 2) concepts of social justice in education, 3) the relationship between housing and education, and 4) the relationship between schools and community stakeholders. In the attempt to bring theory to action, he has spent the last ten years working with community organizations and schools to develop curriculum that address issues of social justice.
Stovall's current work has led him to become a member of the Greater Lawndale/Little Village School of Social Justice High School design team, which opened in the Fall of 2005. Furthering his work with communities, students, and teachers, Stovall is involved with youth-centered community organizations in Chicago, New York and the Bay Area. Currently this work manifests itself in his involvement with the Peoples Education Movement Chicago, a collection of classroom teachers, community members, students and university professors who engage in collaborative community projects centered in creating relevant curriculum. In addition to his duties and responsibilities as a professor at UIC, he also serves as a volunteer social studies teacher at the Greater Lawndale/Little Village School for Social Justice.
Angela Tillges is a Chicago-based public space artist, educator, and programmer working with cultural, social and public institutions, on the intersecting topics of education, public art, community creative development, and social well being. She holds a Masters in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education, Arts in Education program. Tillges currently serves as Senior Program Specialist for the Chicago Park District's Department of Culture Arts and Nature. Formerly she served as Associate Artistic Director and lead Community Educator to Redmoon, a Chicago-based public art and spectacle organization from 2007-2013.
Susana Vasquez joined IFF as vice-president for strategic initiatives and resource development in November 2015. In this role Vasquez serves on the executive team and helps develop innovative strategies and identify capital and grant opportunities to advance IFF's mission. Prior to joining IFF, Vasquez served as the executive director of the Chicago office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Vasquez led a professional staff of 15, an active program grant making and real estate loan portfolio, and an organizational budget of $10 million. Before serving as executive director, Vasquez led the New Communities Program a ten-year demonstration of comprehensive community development which is considered a national model.
During her 12 year tenure at LISC, Vasquez helped raise $100 million in grant and loan commitments for the Chicago program from private and public sources to support neighborhood development. Prior to LISC, Vasquez worked for The Resurrection Project, a community development organization in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood.
Vasquez earned a master's degree from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. She has a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Vasquez serves on the Board of Directors for ChangeLab Solutions, the Advisory Board of the University of Chicago's Civic Leadership Academy and is a member of The Chicago Network. Twitter Handle: @susanalvasquez
Joan Vorderbruggen is the Director of Public Art and Placemaking for Hennepin Theatre Trust. An artist and organizer, Vorderbruggen envisions possibilities for the most dejected spaces, connecting local and international artists with opportunities to revitalize the West Downtown Minneapolis Cultural District with innovative and inclusive Creative Placemaking initiatives.
In 2013, Vorderbruggen developed and implemented Made Here, a project which pairs Minnesota based artists work with vacant commercial storefronts. Made Here is the largest storefront initiative of its kind in the nation, now in its sixth iteration having featured work by more than 300 artists in more than 200 vacant storefronts across 15 city blocks. In fall of 2015, Vorderbruggen worked with internationally renowned street artist Eduardo Kobra and his team to create a five story mural of Bob Dylan in the heart of downtown Minneapolis.
Vorderbruggen is a founding member of the Placemaking Leadership Council and serves on the Board of Directors for Forecast Public Art. Vorderbruggen continues to be a visionary source of creative urban revitalization that connects and celebrates diverse cultural landscapes.
Brent Wesley is the man behind Akron Honey Company, which is quickly becoming a popular phrase in Akron and Cleveland. A 35-year-old resident of Akron for ten years, Wesley began exercising his responsibility and devotion for his city and her people by transforming a vacant, blighted city plot into an apiary (bee yard) in 2013. Wesley has experienced a snowball of momentum and media press since creating Akron Honey Company, including regular requests for educational engagement with school children; a successful kickstarter campaign; high demand for his small batch urban honey from different parts of Akron; and the recent launch of his new personal care line. To Wesley it's all about how you feel, and when he imagines his future with the city, the feeling is sweet.
A native of Detroit, MI, Rebecca “Bucky” Willis received her Master of Architecture degree from the University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) in 2012. Bucky has volunteered and worked for a number of nonprofit organizations in Detroit, including the Foundation for Agricultural Resources in Michigan (F.A.R.M), Habitat for Humanity, Detroit Future City and the Detroit Collaborative Design Center (DCDC) at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture. The heart of her career and research lies at the intersection where architecture and design meet social issues and emotional impact. This career and research focus inspired her to create the concept of Bleeding Heart Design a design movement and nonprofit that inspires altruism. Bucky believes that artists, designers and architects should seek to improve humanity and solve social issues through design. Designers who embrace their social responsibilities are what she likes to call "design superheroes"!
Carol Zou is a Texangelena by way of the Chinese diaspora. Her work focuses on layered human geographies, craft as non-western cultural production, and polyvocality through a community organizing model. Her work ranges from facilitated community collaborations to more personally driven, conceptual works. Zou is the current project manager + artist-in-residence for Trans.lation, an arts and cultural platform initiated by Rick Lowe and commissioned by the Nasher Sculpture Center, located in the immigrant, refugee, African American and Latinx neighborhood of Vickery Meadow, Dallas, Texas. Through resident-led councils, resident-taught workshops, professional development, and pop-up exhibitions, Zou facilitates a space of cultural freedom and self-organization among a diverse and polylingual community.