Equitable Cities Through Civic Engagement and Innovation
Time & Location
While tech-driven innovation has fueled tremendous economic growth in select cities, it’s also led to dramatic increases in inequality. But cities such as Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, and others are now prioritizing inclusive growth by addressing the question: “Can we foster equity, access, and inclusion by encouraging civic engagement and solution-based innovation?" Improving a city’s quality of life in equitable and creative ways while deepening access and removing obstacles for residents requires systemic collaboration and a commitment amongst all stakeholders to co-create solutions and make decisions together. This panel will explore how regional institutions ranging from major universities, tech companies, foundations, and municipalities are collaborating to deepen civic engagement and pursue civic innovation designed for greater equity.
Stéphanie Jecrois, International Affairs Advisor, City of Montréal
Stéphanie Jecrois is International Affairs Advisor with the City of Montreal, helping develop projects leading to agreements, cooperation and relations between cities, and maintaining consultation with diplomatic circles and international partners. Her involvement has included sitting on the board of directors of Connexion internationale de Montréal and serving as chair of the Young Haitian Chamber of Commerce. In 2014, she co-founded the Montreal chapter of the Technovation Girls program, an international competition for creating mobile applications aimed at developing technological and entrepreneurial skills among girls from ages 10 to 18.
Youngmoo Kim, Drexel University ExCITe Center, Director - MODERATOR
Youngmoo Kim is Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of the ExCITe Center, an institute for transdisicplinary research and discovery connecting technology and communities, at Drexel University. He has served as Resident Technologist for Opera Philadelphia and is a technology advisor to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
His research group, the Music & Entertainment Technology Laboratory (MET-lab) focuses on the machine understanding of audio, particularly for music information retrieval. Other areas of active research at MET-lab include human-machine interfaces and robotics for expressive interaction, real-time analysis, synthesis, and visualization of sound, and K-12 outreach for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Design, and Mathematics) education.
Youngmoo received his Ph.D. from the MIT Media Lab and holds Master's degrees in Electrical Engineering and Music (Vocal Performance Practice) from Stanford University as well as Engineering and Music degrees from Swarthmore College. He has extensive experience in music performance, including 8 years as a member of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and as a cast member in productions with American Musical Theater of San Jose and SpeakEasy Stage Company (Boston).
Kira Strong, City of Philadelphia, Deputy Director of Design and Construction for the City of Philadelphia’s Rebuilding Community Infrastructure
Kira Strong is the Executive Director for the City of Philadelphia’s Rebuilding Community Infrastructure initiative (Rebuild). Prior to leading the program, she served as Rebuild’s Deputy Director of Design and Construction, responsible for activating over $126 million of projects across 61 facilities in the last year while ensuring Rebuild met its ambitious diversity and inclusion goals.
Before coming to the City, Kira served as Vice President of Community and Economic Development of People’s Emergency Center (PEC) where she was responsible for overseeing PEC’s efforts to transform West Philadelphia neighborhoods into a healthy, vibrant community through real estate and economic development and quality of life initiatives.
She was named one of the region’s 40 Under 40 by the Philadelphia Business Journal and received the Rising Star Award from the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations. Kira has served on the board of directors of the Community Design Collaborative, the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations, and the Slought Foundation.
James Johnson-Piett, Principal & CEO, Urbane Development
James is Principal and CEO of Urbane, a community development firm with offices in NYC and Philadelphia; his work focuses on strengthening small businesses and community anchor institutions operating in urban communities through an integrated approach that includes research, consulting, and place-based investing. James has worked in 50+ communities across North America and the Caribbean, with over 1,000 small businesses, representing over 1.1 million SF of commercial and community facility space. James helped raise over $60 million for small business and community development initiatives in low-income areas with the goal of promoting community wealth generation.
Currently, James spearheads Urbane’s co-development platform, which includes Caton Flats, the $135M mixed-use development project featuring the redevelopment of Flatbush Caton Market, a historic Caribbean vendor marketplace, and 256 units of affordable housing in Brooklyn. James is also a cohort member of the Boston Impact Initiative's blended capital fund accelerator targeting place-based investments solutions to close the racial wealth gap in 12 US communities; James will lead the Philadelphia and Brooklyn fund development, respectively.
Currently, James serves as a board director of The Merchants Fund in Philadelphia and Community Solutions, Inc. in NYC.. James was named an Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar in 2019, 40 under 40 Rising Star by Hunter College Food Policy Center in 2017 and one of the 100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture by Brooklyn Magazine in Spring 2016. James is an alumnus of Swarthmore College and MIT’s Center for Real Estate, Professional Development Institute.