I am an urban planner and designer. My professional ambition is to marry design excellence and social justice to foster redevelopment in urban communities that is both equitable and inspiring.
I owe the privilege of pursuing this ambition to the work of Civil Rights activists, like my mother, who organized for SNCC in the 1960s. She boarded buses with fellow Freedom Riders to fight for end of Jim Crow. Because of their work, John F. Kennedy established Affirmative Action, which, a generation later, enabled me to receive a diversity scholarship to attend the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, where I obtained the degree that opened the door to my career.
Standing on the shoulders of the generation before me, I witness that our communities and our schools remain as segregated as they were before the Civil Rights Movement. Black neighborhoods that in my mother’s day were victims of Urban Renewal and redlining, remain cut apart by highways and denied access to credit. Gentrification threatens low-income communities with cultural erasure, if not outright displacement.
Clearly there is still much work to be done. I feel it is my duty to leverage the opportunities granted to me to continue the fight for an equitable city that affords every person a shot at their American dream. If we are to create such a city, I believe our plans must be compelling and defensible; and we must employ our best political savvy to realize our dreams.