Experts will share their views on the most critical issues plaguing our cities and the impact on minority residents. These same panelists will also offer innovative ideas around planning for improved urban centers.
Welcome remarks by Mayor Ras J. Baraka.
A native of Newark, whose family has lived in the City for more than 80 years, Mayor Baraka’s progressive approach to governing has won him accolades from grassroots organizations to the White House. With a forward-thinking agenda that reduced crime to its lowest levels in five decades, addressed affordability while maintaining steady growth, lowered unemployment, and returned local control of schools after more than two decades, Baraka has defied expectations since taking office in 2014.
Mayor Baraka’s futurist agenda includes the implementation of a groundbreaking partnership called Hire. Buy. Live. Newark, a program that marks the first time that any US city has sought to transform its economy by combining employment, procurement, and residential strategies.
As part of his commitment to strengthen Newark’s position in the expanded technology space, the City launched LinkNWK (pronounced Link Newark). This communications network of sidewalk kiosks provides Newark residents and visitors with free, gigabit Wi-Fi, mobile device charging, phone calls to anywhere in the U.S., access to municipal services, maps and directions, and real-time local information on city streets at no cost to taxpayers or users.
Mayor Baraka is also recognized nationally as a thought leader in the space of urban revitalization and his defiance of a hostile Presidential directive targeting the immigrant community with an executive order designating Newark as a sanctuary city solidified his status as one of the country’s most progressive elected officials.
Mayor Baraka was educated in the Newark Public Schools. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and History from Howard University in Washington, D.C. and a Master’s Degree in Education Supervision from St. Peter’s University in Jersey City. His father, the late Amiri Baraka, was a legendary poet and playwright. His mother, Amina Baraka, is herself a renowned poet. Doting husband, and father of three daughters and a son, Mayor Baraka is a published author and is well-regarded in the entertainment industry for his appearance on the Grammy-award winning album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” in his authentic role as an educator, and for his EP “What We Want.”
Founding Director of Creative Urban Alchemy: Urban Design+Strategy
Adjunct Professor at Syracuse and Columbia GSAPP
Ifeoma is an experienced Urban Designer & Strategist with a proven track record in transforming urban spaces into platforms for equity and design excellence. Through leadership roles in urban design & development initiatives funded by the United Nations, FIFA and the NYC Mayor’s Office she has excelled in managing multidisciplinary teams towards the planning and implementation of projects supporting racial, social and cultural equity.
She is currently an Adjunct Professor at Syracuse University and Columbia University where she teaches on the intersection of urban design and equity. As the founding Director of Creative Urban Alchemy LLC, she is a highly sought-after consultant on equitable urban design and sustainable development strategy for city governments and civic institutions internationally. Ifeoma holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University and a Master in City Design and Development from MIT.
Co-Founder and CEO of ioby “In Our Backyards”
Erin Barnes is co-founder and CEO of ioby, which mobilizes neighbors who have good ideas to become powerful civic leaders who plan, fund, and make positive change in their own neighborhoods. In 2018, Erin was accepted into the inaugural class of Obama Foundation Fellows for ioby’s contribution to civic innovation. In 2012, the Rockefeller Foundation awarded Erin and her co-founders at ioby the Jane Jacobs Medal for New Technology and Innovation.
Before ioby, Erin Barnes was an editor at Men’s Journal magazine, freelance writer, consultant to the United Nations Development Programme, and contributor to Al Gore’s book Our Choice. She conducted field research on water and fisheries markets in Latin America, and was a community organizer at Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition. She has served on the boards of the Bronx and Manhattan Land Trusts, EcoDistricts, and Resource Media. She has a B.A. in English and American Studies from the University of Virginia and an M.E.M. from Yale University. Erin lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Bryan Lee is the Design Principal of Colloqate, a nonprofit design justice practice focused on racial, social and cultural equity in the built environment. Colloqate holds design justice at its core, believing that we should dismantle the privilege and power structures that use architecture, planning, and design as a tool to perpetuate injustice and oppression in our world. He is a national Design Justice Advocate with twelve years of experience in the field of architecture and is the founding organizer of the Design Justice Platform. He organized the Design As Protest National Day of Action and has led two award-winning architecture and design programs for high school students through the Arts Council of New Orleans and the National Organization of Minority Architects.
As a “military brat,” Lee lived in 22 houses, six states and two countries, which influenced his perspectives on education, health care, politics, social justice, and how important the physical environment is in our daily lives. Bryan has given talks at BND Design Conference, The National Trust for Historic Preservation at PastForward, The Madison College Lecture Series: Displacing Supremacy, The Media Architecture Design Edmonton or MADE Speaker’s Series, Design Justice, Tedx, and more.
Senior Research Associate
Michael Neal is a senior research associate in the Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute. His work focuses on the intersection of racial equity and homeownership. He has authored reports on the implications of pandemic recession for BIPOC homeownership, the role of Black banks in boosting Black homeownership, and key ways to diversify the appraisal profession. Through a generous grant by the Prudential Foundation, Michael has produced research on the key barriers to homeownership in Newark, New Jersey and has illustrated why trends in Newark are key to understanding the challenges faced specifically by BIPOC households nationwide.
Previously, he worked at Fannie Mae where he was a director of economics in the Economic and Strategic Research division. Before his service at Fannie, Neal was the assistant vice president at the National Association of Home Builder's Economic and Housing Policy department. As a housing economist, Neal has an in-depth knowledge of housing market trends and has provided expert analysis and commentary on housing to media outlets around the country.
Michael currently lives in Washington DC with his wife and two daughters.
“The Newark Museum of Art thanks the New Jersey Council for the Humanities for its organizational support, and its longstanding partnership to promote public engagement with the humanities through programs such as The Moral Pandemic”