The Centre for Conscious Design

Family Friendly Cities | Workshop

October 16, 2019 – 9:00 am
Pratt Brooklyn, NYC
Recordings (available to CCD Members)

The push for child-friendly cities is a positive indicator towards inclusivity, but it is also a symptom of the decades of urban planning that has marginalized families to specific points in the city. In most urban areas raising a family can be a challenge to parents and children alike, what can we change to make the city supportive of growing families?

The day’s events will address with what needs to be done to create more inclusive environments in which families thrive and children experience healthy physical and mental development.


Designers, community planners and organizers, advocates and activists, decision- and policy-makers, and behavioral scientists will present forward-thinking approaches to share knowledge and problem-solve in this festival workshop.

Workshop goals

  • Create a dialogue between researchers, practitioners, community planners and decision-makers reaching practical applications for impact-driven design.
  • Establish a Community of Practice focused on each festival thematic which activates and sets up engagement into the future.
  • Create outputs from each session that can act as both a resource and a catalyst for action within city agencies.

We will be joined by representatives of New York’s City Hall and other city agencies interested in the latest innovation in planning and engagement with local communities.

This event is part of an event series

Host Chapter / Organisers

Organising Fellow/s

Reilly Bergin Wilson is a scholar and activist focused on urban environments in which children play. She is a research associate of the Children’s Environments Research Group at the Center for Human Environments and a doctoral candidate in Environmental Psychology at CUNY Graduate Center. Through her research, Reilly has sought to understand the social production of environments built for play, using qualitative field methods and archival research. She is particularly interested in how play environments function as spaces through which competing social, economic, and political agendas are revealed. Reilly was a co-founder and the former Board Chair of play:groundNYC, a nonprofit organization that advocates for children’s right to play through the production of playworker-run environments, including operation of the only adventure playground in New York City, The Yard.

Rebecca Hinkhouse serves as the UNICEF UNITE: Advocacy & Engagement Fellow at UNICEF USA. In this role, she mobilizes supporters across the country to make their voices heard on legislation that aligns with UNICEF’s mission to protect and empower children around the world. She also supports on the Child Friendly Cities Initiative pilot program, through which UNICEF USA will work with American municipalities to elevate the voices of children in local governance and decision-making.

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.

Marnie Davidoff is the Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of Children, Youth and Families of the Division of Mental Hygiene (DMH) at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH). The Bureau of Children, Youth and Families works to strengthen the mental health and social emotional well-being of children and youth in NYC through policy, planning, research, health prevention and promotion, and program development and oversight. Since joining the Division of Mental Hygiene in 2004, she has also served as the Director of a Divisional Office of Policy and of the Office of Policy and Planning in the Bureau of Children, Youth and Families. Prior to joining the NYC DOHMH, Marnie worked at the International Rescue Committee, where she provided programmatic support to domestic and international programs for refugees. She also served as a Program Coordinator at the Program on Forced Migration and Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Iwona Alfred is an alumna of Pratt Institute holding her MA in City and Regional Planning. She currently works at Institute for Transportation and Development Policy as a TOD specialist coordinating best practices, research and knowledge exchange on the matter for all ITDP’s offices worldwide. Her interest includes aspects of land use and transport integration and its impacts on city efficiency and public health. Iwona also has a passion for filmmaking, and she is a co-founder of a media business focusing on content related to social justice, climate change, gender and aging.

Ana Colares, A.I.A, is licensed architect from New York State, with master’s in science, Interior Design major from Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn, NY. Her background encompasses more than 20 years of experience in architecture & engineering design and construction in the United States and Latin America, in the public and private sectors. She has been working for the public sector for almost 20 years, starting at NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC), and moving to more related to social public missions as NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) and Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), where she can apply her expertise and experience in providing adequate environment for the clients (public) and staff . She is currently working as the Assistant Commissioner for Real Estate, Design and Construction Management with the NYC ACS. In this position she is responsible for the well-being of the most vulnerable public in NYC, the children. She is in charge of renovations of the entire ACS portfolio to meet City, State and Federal mandates, and more importantly, to allow the public (families with children) have a good experience and service when need the City help in difficult family times, never losing sight of the main mission to promote safety and well-being of young people, families, and communities.

Natalie Dabney is a Vice President at ideas42, a nonprofit design lab that uses insights from behavioral science to design low-cost solutions to complex social problems. She focuses on economic justice issues as well as international sexual and reproductive health. As part of her economic justice work, Natalie leads the New York City Behavioral Design Team (NYC BDT), a partnership with the New York City Mayor’s Office of Operations that has completed over 20 projects aimed at improving outcomes for low-income New Yorkers. Her academic and work background is in rigorous evaluation, and she worked at Mathematica Policy Research for several years evaluating interventions in the fields of health, education, and labor. Natalie receive her BA from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and her MPA from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service.

Yoni Kallai is a founding board member and the head playworker of play:groundNYC. Yoni carries with him a wide range of experience from being a military bomb squad officer who became a peace activist, a computer engineering graduate that went to work in construction before joining the circus and through his work with all ages focused on making the world a better place for it’s inhabitants.

In January, Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Will Yang as the Executive Director of the NYC Children’s Cabinet. Will joined the Children’s Cabinet from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where in 2012 he founded the federal government’s first internal innovation accelerator, the HHS Idea Lab’s HHS Ignite. In this role, his clients included federal and local leaders driving efforts to better serve and ensure the success of children through adulthood, including the Office of Head Start and Child Care, the Office of Family Assistance, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the Office of Adolescent Health, as well as the National Institutes of Health. Will and his team also developed the strategy for ACF’s flagship initiative, the Office of Economic Independence, which will help human services agencies mitigate intergenerational poverty.

Lawanna Kimbro serves as the Chief Diversity and Equity Officer for the NYC Department of Social Services. She has more than 18 years of leadership experience within social service agencies and nonprofit organizations aimed at improving the lives of the most vulnerable in our communities. Prior to her current role, she served as Chief Program Delivery Officer for the Department of Homeless Services, Deputy Commissioner for Outreach, Rehousing and Landlord Management at the Human Resources Administration and Chief Program Officer at the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.

Before these roles in New York City government, Lawanna worked for the federal government in the Administration for Children and Families as the budget administrator for Family Violence Prevention Services and the Compassion Capital Fund. As a staff attorney at the Equal Justice Initiative, she focused on anti-poverty and anti-discrimination initiatives that challenge the legacy of racial inequality in our country, including major projects to educate communities about slavery, lynching and racial segregation. Lawanna has a Master of Public Administration in public policy and nonprofit management and a Master of Arts in mental health counseling from New York University as well as a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center.

Philip Winn is a Vice President at Project for Public Spaces and core team member for the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community program. He has helped develop, design, manage, and implement multiple “Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper” projects at PPS including Belle Isle Summer Saturdays (Detroit, MI), the Imagination Center (Providence, RI), The Spot 4MKE (Milwaukee, WI), and Parque Mexico (Mexico City, Mexico). As a core team member for Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community he contributes to all aspects of the program from managing individual projects to strategic planning, thought leadership, and volunteerism efforts.

Philip has brought his skills as a facilitator, project manager, and advisor to Placemaking projects both domestic and international, from Baltimore and San Diego to Kuala Lumpur and Jerusalem. As a public speaker and session leader he has facilitated workshops and presented at conferences for the Placemaking Leadership Council, Net Impact, New Partners for Smart Growth, Future Cities Collaborative, and multiple municipal governments and community groups. Philip also contributes to PPS education and advocacy projects as a writer, editor, photographer, and film producer.

Tiffany works in partnership with school communities to foster stewardship and park activation in student-designed Trust for Public Land playgrounds. Her role includes leading stewardship and gardening programs, helping teachers connect curriculum to their playgrounds, supporting participatory design, and fostering park activation with community and programmatic partnerships. Before coming to TPL, Tiffany taught at The Brooklyn Urban Garden School and served as an educator at a variety of New York institutions including The Science Barge, The High Line, NYBG, BBG, and The Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Tiffany holds an M.A. in Bioethics from NYU where she explored social and moral matters at the intersection of health and the environment.

Moira O’Neill is an Associate Research Scholar at Columbia University’s Urban Community Health Equity Lab and Columbia Law’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. She holds additional academic appointments as a Senior Research Fellow at BerkeleyLaw’s Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment and in the Institute of Urban and Regional Development at UC Berkeley. Moira’s research is at the intersection of city planning and local government law. Her current projects explore the local regulation of land to increase public benefits, broadly. She is the Principal Investigator of a study that explores how local and state land use regulations interact to slow or accelerate equitable infill development and of another study that explores sustainable school meal reform. Her research and teaching build on more than a decade of professional experience in legal practice and consulting for public entities.

Jonathan Grajeda joined KaBOOM! in 2016 as a member of our Community Outreach team after working in various community engagement roles in the nonprofit field. Jonathan’s work is focused on providing equitable play opportunities for children living in poverty in the United States and Mexico. He is currently a member of the Strategic Partnerships team at KaBOOM! working alongside community partners to identify the play infrastructure needs of communities and provide program design and fundraising support. He works primarily with partners in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Puerto Rico & Mexico. Jonathan has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Studies from Queens University of Charlotte and a Masters of Business Administration in Non-Profit Management from Concordia University. He serves as a play advocate for many communities, helping bring play to children throughout the United States and beyond. Jonathan has also recently founded a nonprofit that provides sports and recreational opportunities to communities in Mexico through an asset-based community development model.

Susan Magsamen is the founder and Executive Director of the International Arts + Mind Lab, a pioneering neuroaesthetics initiative from the Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her body of work lies at the intersection of brain sciences and the arts—and how our unique response to aesthetic experiences can amplify human potential. Magsamen is the author of the Impact Thinking model, an evidence-based research approach to accelerate how we use the arts to solve problems in health, well-being, and learning. She also serves as Senior Advisor to the Science of Learning Institute at Johns Hopkins University. An award-winning author, Magsamen has published seven books including The Classic Treasury of Childhood Wonder, The 10 Best of Everything Families, and Family Stories.

Erick Gregory is the Deputy Director of Urban Design at the Department of City Planning where he plays a key role in public realm planning, policy and design on mixed-use transit oriented development. The Urban Design Office helps shape the future of New York City through citywide and neighborhood studies, design research and review, and creatively engaging with communities. The Department strives to continually improve the livability of New York City’s neighborhoods and quality of the urban design that shapes them. Erick holds a Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and a Bachelors of Architecture from the University of Oklahoma. He is a Robert Bosch Fellow and LEED accredited professional.

Coryn Kempster is a Canadian designer, artist and educator based in Buffalo, New York. In collaboration with Julia Jamrozik, he endeavors to create spaces, objects and situations that interrupt the ordinary in critically engaging and playful ways. Their multi-disciplinary practice operates at a variety of scales, from temporary installations to permanent public artworks and architectural projects. Their academic research focuses on the role of play in the built environment and alternative methods of documentation as a form of historic preservation. In 2018 the Architectural League of New York honored their work with the League Prize for Young Architects and Designers. Coryn received his BA(Hons) from the University of Toronto and earned his Master of Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a concentration in Visual Arts. Coryn is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture at the University at Buffalo SUNY.

Brenna Hassinger-Das, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at Pace University. Her research examines children’s play and learning in home, school, and community contexts, particularly for children experiencing poverty. Her areas of expertise encompass executive functioning, early number sense, and vocabulary acquisition. She is particularly interested in investigating the role of play and games for learning. She is committed to translating her research for use by the public through community-based research projects as well as blog posts and commentaries featured in outlets such as The Huffington Post, The Brookings Institution, and as well as additional local outlets.

An expert in early childhood and creativity development, Dr. Hadani designs and evaluates products and environments that promote children’s curiosity and love of learning. As a fellow at the Brookings Institution, she leads the Playful Learning Landscapes project—an initiative that brings together the research and practice of two fields: developmental science and placemaking. Helen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Cognitive Science from the University of Rochester and a Doctorate in Psychology from Stanford University. She has more than 20 years of experience in research and education settings and has worked with toy, media and technology companies, including Disney, Sesame Workshop, Apple, LEGO, Fisher-Price and Mattel.

Amanda A. Ebokosia is Founder & CEO of The Gem Project, Inc., a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that boosts high school and college student engagement, through youth organizing and service-learning initiatives, which take on a social justice approach. Since inception in 2006, The Gem Project has directly impacted the lives of 2000 youth and young adults. Through a peer-based fellowship between high school and college students, youth have various opportunities to impact their communities and try to influence policy, through various forms of direct action. Honored by The White House, The City of Newark and making the annual FORBES Magazine 30 under 30 list, Ebokosia and her team have demonstrated a great ability to engage communities and young people in ways that develop their leadership skills, which has the capacity to change their lives. The Gem Project and Ebokosia have been featured in National Journal, The Atlantic Media, News 12 New Jersey, Black, Forbes Magazine,, GOOD magazine,, Rutgers Magazine and others.

Janelle Farris became CEO of Brooklyn Community Services in 2018. Responsible for the growth and stability of this 154 year-old human service agency, Janelle provides vision and guidance for the Board and staff of over 500 employees who serve over 20,000 people each year. Janelle’s extensive non-profit management experience was gained as Associate Director responsible for Operations at the Pratt Center for Community Development for nine years, and in January 2013, she received a Post Master’s Certificate in Organization Development from The New School for Social Engagement. Prior to joining Pratt Center in 2004, Janelle worked for Common Ground, where she was Director of the largest single-occupancy supportive housing facility in the country, The Times Square. She has also worked for The Times Square Business Improvement District and New York City’s 1989 Charter Revision Commission.

Anna works on the Streets for Kids program, creating a supplement to the Global Street Design Guide. She is an urban planner by day, mother by night, and a tireless public space observer in between. Prior to joining NACTO, Anna worked at Project for Public Spaces in New York, where she contributed to Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community Program to improve underutilized public spaces throughout the United States.

Anna has been a presenter and trainer at numerous national and international conferences, seminars and workshops, most recently in Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Russia, and South Korea. She spent two years in Norman, Oklahoma as a Fulbright scholar conducting research on minority communities and assisting the Institute for Quality Communities, a non-profit dedicated to helping people reshape their towns and cities in ways that improve social ties, environment, and economy.