Senior Associate, Urban Strategies Inc.
Magic Moment: The adoption of the Northeast False Creek Area Plan by Vancouver City Council in 2018. This was the culmination of 2 years of intense and ground-breaking community engagement and cultural policy development work. This process engaged the general public and multiple stakeholder groups over two years and included deep engagement with the Hogan’s Alley Working Group and representatives from the region’s Black community ultimately leading to a co-developed design for the Hogan’s Alley block and the inclusion of a Reconciliation and Cultural Redress chapter in the final Area Plan, a first for the City of Vancouver.
Key Influence: Every community that has trusted me to be a part of their process.
Key Lesson: Everything I know and use in my practice has been fundamentally shaped by the people and communities I have worked with. From learning how to listen deeply, how to own my mistakes and apologize in the moment, how meaningful engagement is not transactional and doesn’t end when the ‘project’ is over. And most importantly- that relationships you make when working in community should transcend projects, timelines, and geographies.
Next Big Challenge As An Industry: For me, the two big challenges are: rethinking how and when we do engagement – and how in order to ensure equity in cities we need to de-centralize decision-making power. As for specific solutions: we need to rethink the system that affords a small group of angry letter writers/meeting attendees the power to dictate where affordable housing or other critical civic and/or social infrastructure is built – and we need to value, prioritize, and give true power to people and organizations who have intrinsic community knowledge and lived experience rather than relying solely on hard data, technical expertise and political direction.
On Championing Others… One of the biggest perks of having lived and worked all over North America is that I have had the opportunity to work with super smart and amazing people from across the continent. I work hard to leverage my networks across both geographies and disciplines to connect people who I think will benefit from working together or knowing each other – particularly emerging professionals or folks working hard to address equity and accessibility in their practice.
One word that captures you: Determined. I’ve always been someone unafraid to challenge the status quo.
Secret Talent: Convener. I like to bring rad people together – for fun, capacity building and good (and hopefully challenging) conversations.