Empowering Communities Around the World–Introducing the 2016 Loeb Fellows

They have traveled the world to lead humanitarian response and sustainable reconstruction in the face of conflict and disaster. They have ranged the country to guide decision makers in revitalizing urban areas. And close to home, they are designing creative ways of achieving just, inclusive and sustainable communities. They promote smart growth, smart aid, smart use of resources and a smart relationship with the natural world. Introducing the 2015-16 class of Loeb Fellows!

As founding director of the Local Leaders Council of Smart Growth America in Washington, DC, Neha Bhatt specializes in supporting elected decision-makers who champion affordable housing, public transportation and walkable communities. She has worked in government developing urban policy solutions and in advocacy organizing community voices to promote decisions and public investments that lead to more inclusive and sustainable neighborhoods. She will spend her Loeb year investigating how to optimize and scale up elected leaders' access to policy and financing models that strengthen their effectiveness as builders of diverse, healthy and competitive communities.

Liliana D. Cazacu is an architect and instructor in architecture and heritage conservation, whose work with fortified churches is having a dramatic impact on the cultural landscape in her native Romania. Her efforts are strengthening traditional communities, identifying unique features and paving the way for robust cultural tourism, while providing the mayors with tools to improve the design of their cities and towns. She looks forward to the Fellowship as an opportunity to create strategies for sustainable development based on local built heritage and cultural resources.

As director of the Asian Community Development Corporation, Janelle J. Chan has faced off against displacement of the ethnically and culturally cohesive working class immigrant community in Boston’s historic Chinatown, while working to foster a thriving and connected regional community. She has successfully used a three-part strategy of increasing affordable housing, ensuring community engagement in planning processes and creating public-private partnerships. As a Loeb she will explore new financing tools to increase sustainable, community-driven affordable housing and investigate innovative placemaking that promotes economic development.

As associate director in the District of Columbia’s Office of Planning, Kimberly Driggins established the Citywide Planning Division and manages housing, economic development, transportation, facilities planning and capital improvement planning studies and projects. She has implemented innovative creative placemaking initiatives to spur neighborhood revitalization and increase the vibrancy of the District’s under-resourced communities and changed the narrative of what neighborhoods can be. During her Loeb year she will study the intersection of design, civic engagement and creative placemaking with a focus on equity and inclusion.

Architect and planner Alejandro Echeverri is co-founder and director of URBAM, the Center For Urban And Environmental Studies of EAFIT University in Medellin, Colombia. As general manager of the Empresa de Desarrollo Urbano and then as the city’s director of urban projects, he led the mayor’s social urbanism strategy to improve the most impoverished neighborhoods, making Medellin a blueprint for the future for other distressed cities worldwide. In the coming year he will delve into the urban, environmental and social issues of emerging developing countries, particularly those with weak political structures, and advance an ongoing project about collaboration with the Action Cities Network.

Since founding Our United Villages 18 years ago in Portland, Oregon, Shane Endicott has grown the organization into one of the region’s most visible examples of triple bottom line values in the sustainability movement. OUV strengthens the environmental, economic and social fabric of local communities by reclaiming reusable building parts and dismantling obsolete structures, while promoting strategies for using the materials for community building activities. He plans to use the Fellowship to expand his understanding of strategies for sustainable development and community engagement and explore models for team building and collaboration.

Arif Khan coordinates partnerships for the UN Secretary-General's World Humanitarian Summit, to improve policies, collaborations and ways of working in situations of disaster and conflict. Drawing on his background as an urban planner in Portland, Oregon, he has managed disaster relief projects in Africa, Asia and the Middle East and has led initiatives to improve disaster resilience, promote urban bicycling and increase urban farms and green space. During his Loeb year he will explore the issue of social capital in urban disaster preparedness and response and develop new approaches to support community resilience.

From his home in Victoria, Australia, Brett Moore deploys to conflict and disaster zones around the world in his role as humanitarian shelter, infrastructure and reconstruction advisor with World Vision International. He leads teams and ensures a coordinated humanitarian response for significant global emergencies and has guided rebuilding efforts for disaster and conflict-affected communities ranging from refugee camps to urban slums. As a Loeb Fellow, he will look closely at the social, technical and institutional aspects of recovery and reconstruction in the US and how communities build resilience against future disasters.

Community developer, social design activist and conceptual artist Euneika Rogers-Sipp is director of Sustainable Rural Regenerative Enterprises for Families and Social Enterprise Development at the Black Belt Community Based Tourism Network. Her creative practice has addressed topics like re-use and resource conservation, experiential and social impact design, systems change, regenerative agriculture and creative economy planning in historically oppressed environments globally. This year she will research cooperative action, entrepreneurship and impact investment strategies that reflect local cultural and legal traditions, preserve land-based wealth and reduce family vulnerability.

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