Catherine Betances (she/they pronouns) joined Design Trust in September 2021 as one of the Equitable Public Space Fellows, supporting in program management and development. Catherine was born and raised in the unceded lands of the Delaware Tribe/Lenape people (aka the NY/NJ metro area) and holds a B.A. from Smith College ‘13. Prior to moving back to the area, she lived for several years on the lands of the re-established Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the descendants of the Greenwood Race Massacre (aka Tulsa, Oklahoma), working as a community-based sexuality educator for a public health non-profit and volunteering with several groups dedicated to the built environment. Prior to that, Catherine was a public school educator in 2 different cities of Oklahoma. Catherine is drawn to public space because of her dedication to racial, disability, and environmental justice. She is so grateful for the incredible access to urban planning that Design Trust offers, and she hopes to contribute to growing meaningful relationships with New Yorkers.
Matthew Clarke joined the Design Trust in May 2020 as Executive Director, where he advocates for the power of public space to build vibrant, equitable communities. As an architect, planner, and writer, he has advanced complex architectural and urban design projects; developed public-space policies; and developed national partnerships and initiatives. Prior to leading the Design Trust, Matthew was the National Director of Creative Placemaking at The Trust for Public Land, where he authored The Field Guide for Creative Placemaking and Parks. He has also held positions at SHoP Architects, NYC’s Department of Cultural Affairs, and LTL Architects. He was a German Marshall Fund Urban Policy Fellow, member of Next City’s Urban Vanguard, and winner of the international KPF Prize. Matthew serves as a Trustee of Bennington College and as Vice-President of the Lucille Lortel Foundation. He studied at Princeton University and the University of Kentucky.
Elana Ehrenberg joined the Design Trust in October 2019. Previously, Elana was the Community Relations Manager at NYC Ferry Operated by Hornblower, where she managed the ferry’s government relations and community outreach since its launch in 2017. Elana worked to create strategic partnerships with local businesses, civic groups and non-profits in all of the neighborhoods surrounding NYC Ferry landings. Before joining the ferry, she worked in the New York City Council where she was the Director of Special Projects for Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, managing the Participatory Budgeting process. Elana received her B.A. from New York University studying music, but after college she became interested in access to public space and transportation while working for a local music festival. She is the recipient of City & State’s Responsible 100 award (2018) and was a member of Coro’s Leadership New York program (2019). Elana believes in designing for spatial equity in mind, especially on our streets. Email Elana.
Journee Harris joined the Design Trust in September 2021 as an Equitable Public Space Fellow. Her love for public spaces began in Jacksonville, FL and grew in Washington, DC – the two cities she calls home. Prior to joining the Design Trust, Journee served as the Interpretative Development Assistant Intern for the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park and as the We Design Program Coordinator for Design Museum Everywhere. She is also the founder and host of At Home the Podcast, a podcast that explores the concept of "home" though a collection of interviews and stories.
As a writer, researcher and experienced podcaster, Journee centers honest narratives in all of her work. She believes the hearing and telling of stories can be a tool for community engagement, connecting generations and preserving cultural heritage.
Journee holds a B.S. in Psychology from Howard University and will be pursuing a Master’s in Urban Planning after her fellowship year.
Alexa Mauzy-Lewis (She/They) joined the Design Trust in January 2022 as Communications Manager, advocating to protect and increase the accessibility of New York City's public spaces through storytelling and thoughtful outreach. She believes public spaces are an important vehicle for disrupting inequality and empowering communities. Prior to joining the Design Trust, Alexa worked as a public relations specialist at the intersection of many social justice spaces, leading media advocacy and communications strategy for a variety of New York City institutions, including labor advocates, public health organizations, climate activists, educational nonprofits, LGBTQ+ rights groups, and more.
She received a Master’s in Creative Publishing and Critical Journalism from the New School for Social Research, with a minor in Design Studies from Parsons School of Design, where she worked as a teaching assistant and student advisor. She also holds a B.A. in Communication Studies from Pace University in New York City. Alexa currently lives in Brooklyn with her cat, Goat, where they both love to birdwatch. Email Alexa.
Claire Kai-Li Mondry (she/her) joined the Design Trust in September 2020, after graduating summa cum laude from Fordham University with a B.A. in American Studies and Political Science. Claire has worked extensively in the arts in New York City, previously holding development and programs positions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Chinese in America, and Kundiman. Inspired by her time spent in museums, she is dedicated to repossessing archival techniques as a means of accessing and preserving personal-collective histories. Outside of her job at the Design Trust, Claire currently serves as a mentor to Asian American youth, teaching about the importance of community leadership and civic engagement. She is originally from San José, California. Email Claire.
Akemi joined Design Trust in March 2021 as Senior Planner and Designer for the Open Streets Coalition.
Prior to joining the Design Trust, Akemi led public space and disaster recovery projects in various cities throughout Latin America and the US, specifically community-based projects that integrate local knowledge, technical expertise, and public-private investment. Her work includes a flood management park with Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) in Ciudad Juárez, México; ravine protection policies for fire risk reduction in Valparaíso, Chile; and the downtown revitalization plan for San Salvador, El Salvador.
Akemi is co-founder of a non-profit called Sustrato and a street furniture company called M+Urbano, both based in Mexico City. Through these ventures, Akemi has coordinated public space projects at various scales, from the restoration of a 74-acre ravine ecosystem to the construction of a 1,600-square feet community park.
Akemi holds a Master in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Bachelor in Architecture degree from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City. Email Akemi.
Alisa Schierman recently joined the Design Trust staff in August 2017. She has over two decades of non-profit management and fundraising experience. Most recently she had a consulting practice working with small performing arts organizations. Alisa was also the Director of Development at New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW) from 2008 until 2015 where in partnership with NYTW’s leadership was able to turn a $1 million deficit into a $2 million cash reserve.
Her areas of expertise include: board development, major gift and individual giving strategy, as well as a deep knowledge of foundation fundraising. Alisa holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Affairs from Hunter College. She is also a classically trained singer and a member of the New York Community Chorus. Email Alisa.
Karyn Williams joined the Design Trust in October 2020 as Program Director. Karyn is an experienced urban planner and landscape architect and has worked in the private, public, and non-profit sectors. She is dedicated to designing, planning, and advocating for public spaces that place people's needs and the environment at the forefront. Before joining the Design Trust, Karyn was the Assistant Director of Planning and Programs at GreenThumb, an NYC Parks division. At GreenThumb, Karyn managed the strategic planning process and the team responsible for public engagement, planning, and design. Karyn has advanced degrees in Urban Planning from McGill University and Landscape Architecture from the University of Toronto. Email Karyn