Creating Equitable Neighborhoods
Zoom - Register Below
22 October, 2020


13:30 & 17:00


19:30 & 23:00


23:00 & 02:30 (+1)


03:00 (+1) & 06:30 (+1)

Day 4 of the Design for Equity | Conscious NYC | Conscious Cities Festival 2020 event series, will be: Creating Equitable Neighborhoods.

Series of Presentation – Identifying and addressing inequity in NYC Neighborhoods | 1:30 to 3:00pm

At Conscious NYC, we believe pairing community engagement with critical thinking and intersectional ideation is essential to create equitable neighborhoods. In the first day of the 2020 NYC Conscious Cities Festival, speakers will identify and address various issues in equity and solutions to make a more inclusive and just NYC.

See the lineup of speakers below.

Round Table Discussion - Issues, Solutions, and Metrics in Equity for NYC Neighborhoods | 5:00 to 6:15pm

In the afternoon, attendees will be invited to join the speakers in a round table discussion to ideate how we can increase equity and inclusion within communities and public spaces. From this discussion, we hope to better illuminate issues, create collaborative solutions, and spark a community for long lasting reform.


Design for Equity | Conscious NYC | CCF 2020 | October 19th-22nd

“Equality does not see colour, therefore, contributes to privilege. Equity sees colour, recognizes systemic forms of racism and actively provides resources to level the playing field” ― Sope Agbelusi

“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”― James Baldwin

These quotes help us frame the dialogue and the flow of ideas we will explore in this year’s festival: How to recognize, discuss, and ultimately address racial equity issues in different experiences: governance, education, healthcare, and neighborhoods.

We intend to use this festival as a live experiment, to abstract key metrics and work towards the first real indicator of socio-economic equity.

Senior Director of Programs & Projects at Project for Public Spaces

Nidhi Gulati is the Senior Director of Programs & Projects at Project for Public Spaces, where she manages multiple programs with a variety of services designed for impact and a team of seasoned Placemakers. Nidhi is a trained architect, urban researcher, and social impact professional who first joined Project for Public Spaces in 2013 as an Associate. In that role, she managed more than 10 projects throughout the United States and abroad, while also making significant contributions to many others. Ingrained in all her work is a commitment to better serve the most vulnerable populations in our cities and towns, including women and children. She is a proud immigrant, lover of trains, and persistent pedestrian everywhere she goes.

Fellow, The Centre for Conscious Design, Senior Community Outreach Specialist at Melissa Johnson Associates, Community Advisor at Garra

Ali is a multilingual community development and engagement strategist, with experiences across continents and proven records of shifting systemic power dynamics through a people-centered approach to policy and placemaking.

She worked for nearly a decade with diverse, multicultural populations in Latin America, Spain, Africa, and the US. She has strong facilitation and communication skills with communities comprised of mixed cultures and ethnicities and is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and proficient in Italian.

She conducts and strategizes community engagement for large scale urban planning developments in New York City, is a community issues advisor at Garra - a nonprofit that advocates for the economic development of Brazilian immigrant women living in New York, and is a fellow at the Center for Conscious Design.

Ali holds a Master in Urban Planning from Columbia University, focused on Community and Economic Development, and wrote her thesis about the role of conflicts to enable community participation. She also holds a professional degree in Architecture and Urbanism from the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil) and is a Specialist in City Management and Revitalization from the University of Castilla La Mancha (Spain).

Founder and Chief Scientist at Sapien Labs
Founder, Chairman and Managing Director of Madura Microfinance

Tara Thiagarajan is the founder and chief scientist of Sapien Labs, a research organization enabling large-scale global collaboration to understand the diversity of brain dynamics across humanity. Her research focuses on new analytical approaches to brain signals to drive understanding of how environment influences human brain diversity and, in turn, economic outcome. She is also the founder, chairman and managing director of Madura Microfinance. She has founded and built companies in India that are focused on bringing cutting-edge analytics to enable more efficient rural inclusion, including Teach70 and SciSphere.  She earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Stanford University as well as a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Brandeis University and a master’s in business administration from the Kellogg School of Management

During his 40-year career at Community Access (CA) in New York City, Steve was committed to improving health outcomes and advancing the rights of people with mental illness. CA pioneered an integrated supportive housing model that blends affordable units for families and units for formerly homeless people recovering from mental illness, and now has a pipeline of 2,000 units in 25 developments. Steve was honored by the National Council for Behavioral Health in 2016 for his CIT advocacy.

Steve retired as CEO of Community Access in June 2019 and is now supporting a range of mental health housing and advocacy initiatives throughout the U.S. and abroad.  An avid proponent of human-centered design, Steve hopes to assist agencies and governments plan and implement social initiatives that are truly informed by user needs.

Senior Placemaker at Project for Public Spaces
Adjunct Professor of City Planning at Pratt Institute

A registered architect and licensed planner, Meg Walker is a Senior Placemaker at Project for Public Spaces as well as an Adjunct Professor of City Planning at Pratt Institute, where she teaches in the graduate program of Urban Placemaking and Management. Over her 14 year tenure at Project for Public Spaces, Meg has engaged communities around the country in creating vibrant parks, plazas, and waterfronts, revitalizing downtowns and developing public space master plans. Meg also directs the organization's work on new town centers and mixed-use development, focusing on the programming, design, and management of public spaces in new communities and infill development. She is an accomplished speaker who has presented at numerous planning and development conferences around the country.

From 1998-2003, Meg was Planning Consultant for the Village of Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, where she managed the community-based planning efforts that focused on the future of the waterfront and led the effort to prepare the Village’s LWRP. She also prepared new zoning for the downtown and promoted community walkability through a new pedestrian plan. Since 2009, she has been a Trustee of the Village, an elected position, where she is heading up the efforts to revitalize the downtown, and to clean-up and plan for development of the 50-acre industrial site on the waterfront.

As a Partner at Ryzinski/Walker Architects from 1986-1994, Meg was the architect of record on dozens of residential and commercial projects in New York City. These included historic brownstone restorations, new and existing multi-family residential buildings, new restaurants, and commercial offices.

M.Arch, Columbia University

B.A. Government, Wesleyan University

Environmental Psychologist and Architect

Nélida Quintero, Ph.D. is an environmental psychologist and licensed architect based in New York.  She is an American Psychological Association NGO Representative at the United Nations, member of the NGO Committee on Ageing/NY Executive Committee and the Habitat Civil Society Working Group as well as Fellow of The Center for Urban Design and Mental Health.

She has taught at various academic institutions including Hunter College, Parsons School of Design (Certificate Program), and as Assistant-in-Instruction at Princeton University, and is currently an Adjunct Faculty Member at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Her research interests are broadly focused on the interactions between people, behavior and the physical environment, in particular in relationship to health, well-being, culture, new media and gender. She was co-chair of Psychology Day at the United Nations in 2019 and of the United Nations International Day of Older Persons in 2016.

Project Manager for Skidmore Owings & Merrill’s City Design Practice

Charlotte Laffler is the Project Manager for Skidmore Owings & Merrill’s City Design Practice, where she manages urban design and open space projects, including the master plan for the South Street Seaport, and supports the practice’s new business efforts. In her past role as the Assistant Director of Operations and Public Space at the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, Laffler supervised the district’s maintenance, sanitation, and landscaping programs as well as a portfolio of over 1.1 million square feet of public space. She also co-developed the Partnership’s Living Lab program, which builds collaborations with urban tech companies to produce district improvements based on neighborhood-level data. Laffler has volunteered with Minds Matter, a high school mentorship program, for the past three years and is a proud alumnus of Coro’s Leadership New York program, where she completed a group research project on the impact of New York City’s nightlife ecosystem. She has a Master of Urban Planning degree from New York University and a BA in Urban Studies from the University of Michigan. Her favorite things about New York include BAM, the Tribeca Film Festival, and (unfortunately) the Knicks.