I believe that institutions, organizations, and other entrenched systems can and must be improved to better meet the needs of all. The way a system "thinks" and operates internally affects how those outside of it are impacted by it - so new ways of working inside an institution stand to achieve great impact. I bring ten years of experience working to change organizations and systems in the built environment from the inside out so that they are fairer, more humane, and more equitably distribute resources.
At Friends of the High Line, the non-profit organization that operates the High Line park on behalf of the City of New York, I built a suite of programs - and the Department to sustain them - through community organizing and change-oriented management. While most park programming is developed for entertainment, our programs were build with a more ambitious goal - to leverage the significant resources the development of the High Line was bringing to the neighborhood to benefit those typically marginalized them. Through relationships with local community centers, arts organizations, public housing residents, tenant organizers, the community board, and others, my team and I built youth employment and empowerment programs, community-based performance residencies, in-depth partnerships with local public schools, and more. Several youth from our programs have gone on to work for the organization, and the Department is now a major driver of the organization's work over all. But while these programs benefit many, I matriculated to MIT to study urban planning and policy to better understand the drivers of inequality in the first place.
While a student at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning, I came to understand that urban development pedagogy itself needed a refresh to train students to be more oriented towards change leadership and organizing. I first worked with Professor Ceasar McDowell to create a new student-run course called Planners as Democratic Leaders, and then started a new initiative to create innovative multimedia curriculum focused on social impact urban development projects. The next best thing to experiential learning, our cases provide students more and different kinds of information about a place or topic. Our cases engage students more actively than paper curriculum, paving the way for deeper classroom conversations and emotional connections to the high stakes at play in urban development decision-making.
As a consultant to ArtPlace America...