Class of 2017-19

The class represents over 15 different countries and 20 sectors

  • All
  • 2017-2018
  • Nouf AlFalasi
    Nouf AlFalasi
    Innovation and Creativity Department Manager, Department of Economic Development, Dubai
  • Sisto Andama
    Sisto Andama
    CEO, Sub Sahara Solutions, Washington DC
  • Christine Armitage
    Christine Armitage
    Social Innovation Advisor to the Mayor of Cali
  • Ian Armstrong
    Ian Armstrong
    Director, DesignInc, Sydney
  • Yerlan Aukenov
    Yerlan Aukenov
    Deputy Mayor, City of Almaty
  • Ben Boateng
    Ben Boateng
    Deputy Metropolitan Director of Town and Country Planning, Kumasi
  • Barry Cassidy
    Barry Cassidy
    Consultant, Barry Cassidy Planning and Development, Downingtown
  • Pauline Chan
    Pauline Chan
    Urban Designer, City of Sydney
  • Ciarán Cuffe
    Ciarán Cuffe
    Member of the European Parliament, Brussels
  • Mahmoud El-Burai
    Mahmoud El-Burai
  • Mai-Ling Garcia
    Mai-Ling Garcia
    Online Engagement Officer, City of Oakland
  • Rana Hajjar
    Rana Hajjar
    Senior Project Manager, Beirut
  • Anupma Jain
    Anupma Jain
    Senior Urban Development Specialist, Asian Development Bank, Manila
  • Sharon Lewis
    Sharon Lewis
    Partnerships and Infrastructure Specialist, UNOPS Bangladesh Country Office
  • Ute Meyer
    Ute Meyer
    Professor, University of Applied Sciences, Biberach
  • Roope Mokka
    Roope Mokka
    Founder, Demos Helsinki
  • Patrick Musoke
    Patrick Musoke
    Deputy Director for Strategy and Business Development, Kampala Capital City Authority
  • Paul Okunlola
    Paul Okunlola
    National Programme Officer, UN-Habitat, Abuja
  • Yondela Silimela
    Yondela Silimela
    Executive Director of Planning, City of Johhanesburg
  • Lukas Sokol
    Lukas Sokol
    Urban Design Manager, Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council
  • Santiago Uribe Rocha
    Santiago Uribe Rocha
    Chief Resilience Officer, City of Medellín
  • Maria Vassilakou
    Maria Vassilakou
  • Kevin Woods
    Kevin Woods
    City Manager, City of Thornton
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Nouf AlFalasi
Innovation and Creativity Department Manager, Department of Economic Development, Dubai

Nouf works for the Department of Economic Development in Dubai as the Innovation and Creativity Department Manager. She is responsible for transforming the organization from a regulatory and service provider to an innovative agency able to shape the future using futuristic analysis and strategic foresight. As such, she manages key projects under the Dubai Future Accelerator initiative to turn ideas into unique innovations that will contribute to society. She also speaks at local and international conferences about innovation, employees’ happiness and productivity focusing on ways to improve work environment, culture and capabilities.

Nouf has previously worked for a number of government entities, including a role in the Prime Minister’s Office analysing competitiveness and innovation reports. She is also an active board member in committees and think-tank groups. She is a graduate from Kingston University in London with a Master’s Degree in business administration and a Bachelor’s degree in pharmacy.

Sisto Andama
CEO, Sub Sahara Solutions, Washington DC

Sisto is the Chief Executive Officer of Sub Sahara Solutions LLC, a provider of
professional technical and Management Support Services. Sisto is a multifaceted
individual, with specialities including mining and mineral exploration,
renewable energy technologies, civil engineering, green design and built industry,
construction project management, energy and minerals policy, energy efficiency,
security management and administration, and African government relations.
Currently pursuing an Executive MSc in Cities at LSE, Sisto has a BSc in Construction
Management and a BSc in Building and Civil Engineering Construction. Sisto is also
an LEED Green Associate and a building analyst professional. He is a member of
several professional bodies including the Construction Management Association
of America, the Project Management Institute, the United States Green Building
Council, the Building Performance Institute, the OSHE, the National Fire Protection
Association, the Association of Professional Estimators of America, the Sierra
Leone Institute of Professional Engineers, and the Value Engineering Association

Christine Armitage
Social Innovation Advisor to the Mayor of Cali

Christine is the social development and social innovation advisor to the Mayor of
Cali, Colombia. During the last two years she has been leading the city’s placebased,
social inclusion strategy. The strategy aims to fight poverty, exclusion
and violence in the eleven most vulnerable communes of the city by focusing,
articulating and coordinating the social investments of all branches of the
local government. Its main goals are to reduce poverty, contribute to peace
building, renew a sense of solidarity and responsibility (both among and within
communities), design and implement social ties and build civil society´s capacity
to synchronize efforts and articulate social investment.
Before joining the public sector, Christine was the force behind the work carried
out by Fundación Sidoc in Siloe, one of Cali´s most underprivileged districts. As
a result of her efforts, high-risk youth were brought into productive projects and
cultural activities with the aim of strengthening community and individual identity.
Christine has a degree from London School of Economics and holds an NGO
Management certificate from Georgetown University

Ian Armstrong
Director, DesignInc, Sydney

Ian is a director at DesignInc Sydney and has qualifications in Town Planning,
Architecture and Urban Design. He has over twenty years international experience
specialising in the design of large scale master plans with projects in Australia, the
UK, China and the Middle East.
In Australia, Ian is experienced in all aspects of urban planning and architecture,
including the delivery of large scale mixed use communities and transport
orientated development.
Aside from his professional work, Ian has also been involved with teaching on the
University of Sydney’s Masters of Urban Design Course and has
been a final year design judge in the architecture faculties at UTS and UNSW.

Yerlan Aukenov
Deputy Mayor, City of Almaty

Yerlan is the Deputy Mayor of Almaty city. In this position, he is responsible for the
coordination of the energy complex, public utilities, industry, business, trade, small
business, agriculture, and sanitary-epidemiological well-being of the city. He is
also responsible for implementation of the state program on industrial-innovative
development for 2015-2019 years and attraction of investment to Almaty city.
Most recently, he served as the Deputy Mayor of Kazakhstan Province from 2014
to 2015, where he was responsible for the coordination of industry, business,
trade, entrepreneurship, tourism, natural resources, innovations and investments.
Prior to that, he was a State Inspector of the Department of State Control and
Organization of Territorials Operation at the Administration of the President of
the Republic of Kazakhstan from 2011 to 2014. In this role he was in charge of
external relations, protocol, information communications and interaction with the
Regional Election Commission.
Yerlan holds an MSc in Public Policy and Programme Management from the
University of Bradford, UK and an MBA in Corporate Management from the
International Academy Of Business.

Ben Boateng
Deputy Metropolitan Director of Town and Country Planning, Kumasi

Ben is the Deputy Metropolitan Director of Town and Country Planning
Department of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly in Ghana. He has worked with
the Metropolitan Authority for the past thirteen years as a Town Planner and is
currently leading a team to redevelop the city centre of Kumasi where he hails
from. He has also started his own company, Dreams and Schemes Ltd., focusing
on providing consultancy services in the areas of planning, architecture, surveying
and real estate development.
Ben holds academic qualifications in planning (Kwame Nkrumah University of
Science & Technology), MBA Strategic & Project Management (Paris Graduate
School of Management), and is a member of the Ghana Institute of Planners

Barry Cassidy
Consultant, Barry Cassidy Planning and Development, Downingtown

Barry is currently working in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with projects in transit
oriented development, FEMA Flood Map revisions, low-income refugee housing
and architecturally sensitive infill projects. He has worked in commercial district
marketing and development for over 40 years. In some of the urban districts he
has had a combined responsibility, including housing. Most of the areas where he
has worked have classic urban problems, such as disinvestment, social problems
and physical issues.
Barry has worked in rural areas, as well as in the cities of Philadelphia, Baltimore,
Washington DC, and Memphis Tennessee in a variety of positions. In Philadelphia
he has managed the South Street Headhouse District, the city’s main entertainment
district, as well as Kensington Avenue (‘The Avenue’) which presented all of the
worst social ills the city had to offer. Early in his career, he was a union organizer
in the Deep South, organizing predominantly minority industrial workers in the
furniture industry. Subsequently, he became an expert grant writer and has secured
millions of dollars for clients in the areas of adaptive reuse, transportation, the arts
and brownfield redevelopment. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has awarded
him Laureate status as an ‘Agent of Change’.

Pauline Chan
Urban Designer, City of Sydney

Pauline is an urban designer with experience in master-planning, urban design,
architecture, and community and stakeholder engagement in the private and
public sectors. She is currently employed by the City of Sydney Council, working
across council and state agencies to achieve good urban design outcomes for
the city. Her role includes the development of public domain plans and public
domain design codes, and co-ordination of the City of Sydney’s Design Advisory
Panel. She manages multidisciplinary teams, consulting and engaging with key
stakeholders to plan for the future and deliver improvements for city precincts,
notably for Sydney’s Chinatown precinct, which won the 2012 Australian Institute
of Landscape Architect’s National Award for Urban Design. The latter led to the
revitalisation of neglected laneways to include new public artworks, lighting
projects and the rationalisation of a complicated traffic intersection to create a
new well-loved public space for Chinatown.
Pauline is also involved in the application of research and data to affect positive
change in cities. Since 2007, she has worked collaboratively with eminent urban
experts Gehl Architects to develop Sydney’s Public Spaces Public Life Study and
George Street Benchmarking Study, which has helped shape strategic directions
for public spaces and streets across the city.

Ciarán Cuffe
Member of the European Parliament, Brussels

Ciarán Cuffe is a Member of the European Parliament. Until recently, he served as a city councillor in Dublin’s North Inner City, and chairs Dublin City
Council’s Transport Committee. He has served as a member of parliament, and as
Minister of State with responsibility for climate change, planning and sustainable
transport. In government, he reformed the Irish planning system to focus on
evidence led decision-making and published legislation to tackle climate change.
He chairs a Master’s Programme in Urban Regeneration and Development at the
Dublin Institute of Technology, and is a visiting lecturer at the Gengdan Institute
of Beijing University of Technology, China.
He holds degrees in architecture and urban planning from University College

Mahmoud El-Burai

Mahmoud is currently serving as the CEO of Dubai Real Estate Institute. He is also the Vice President of International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI, UK) and sits on the board of the International Real Estate Society (IRES). Mahmoud has been selected to be FIABCI representative at the United Nations Economic Commission for West Asia (UNESCWA), and also represents the UN Global Compact in the MENA region and the Lead Affordability Working Group at the World Economic Forum.

Prior to his position at the Dubai Real estate Institute, Mahmoud worked for three years as Senior Director of the Real Estate Sector Development at the Real Estate Regulatory Authority of Dubai and spent several years as a Development Associate Manager at Dubai Holding. Mahmoud completed his bachelor’s degree in engineering at the American University before continuing on to earn his Master’s in Real Estate from the National University of Singapore. Mahmoud completed his MBA in Finance from his alma mater, American University of Dubai in 2010. He is now pursuing his DBA at Grenoble École de Management in France.

Mai-Ling Garcia
Online Engagement Officer, City of Oakland

Mai-Ling has worked over the past decade to untangle complex government
processes and support community innovation. She is currently the City of Oakland’s
Online Engagement Manager where she works to transform government processes
and experience for Oaklanders. She is a co-founder of Oakland’s Civic Design Lab,
a collaboration space for government staff and the Oakland community.
Mai-Ling began her career working at Swords to Plowshares, a forty-year-old San
Francisco-based service organization. As the agency’s first policy analyst, she
worked in the heart of San Francisco to identify and communicate the struggles
of at-risk and chronically homeless military veterans. She has presented to the
California State Senate, the U.S. Veterans Administration and other key decision
makers on enhancing government processes. Later she joined the US Department
of Labor to manage grants to hundreds of non-profit employment programs that
included over one hundred community partners in eight western US States and
In 2012, she was named an Executive Management Fellow by the Federal
Executive Board of San Francisco and New Leaders Council Fellow. In 2017, she
was named one of America’s top 100 local government officials by Emerging
Local Government Leaders, a professional association for city government.

Rana Hajjar
Senior Project Manager, Beirut

Rana is a Project Manager who has been managing and delivering construction
and development projects for the past twelve years across various cities in the
Middle East region; mainly in Beirut, Dubai, and Doha. Her experience to date
has been predominantly with the multinational consultancy firm AECOM (and
previously Davis Langdon), and her most recent tenure was at their Qatar office
working on projects for clients in leading oil and gas companies. Rana has
recently decided to relocate back to her homeland Lebanon and will be focusing
on pursuing an Executive Masters in Cities at LSE while potentially exploring new
career opportunities.
In her own time, Rana has worked extensively in the non-profit sustainability field.
In the past few years she has been an active member of the interest groups created
by the Qatar Green Building Council, where she worked with local universities
on raising the new generation’s awareness about the environmental aspect of
sustainability in new buildings and development projects.
Rana holds academic qualifications in Civil Engineering (American University of
Beirut, Lebanon), Project Management (American University of Beirut, Lebanon),
and Sustainable Development (SOAS, London).

Anupma Jain
Senior Urban Development Specialist, Asian Development Bank, Manila

Anupma is the Senior Urban Development Specialist in the Pacific Department of
the Asian Development Bank in Manila, Philippines, where she has worked for the
past thirteen years leading design and administration teams that deliver inclusive
and resilient urban and water projects. Anupma has extensive experience in health
and social development and strives to ensure projects are equitable, inclusive,
and demand-driven. She has also conducted due diligence on more than fifty
urban infrastructure projects, where she provided support on resettlement and
indigenous peoples issues. To date, Anupma has nearly twenty years’ experience
in international development and has worked across different sectors and regions,
including the Greater Mekong Sub-region, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and East
Asia. Previously, she was the Practice Lead and Senior Director for Gender and
Social Inclusion at the Millennium Challenge Corporation in Washington, DC.
Anupma holds a PhD in Social Policy and an MSc in Development Studies
(Social Policy and Administration) from LSE, and a double BA in Economics and
Anthropology (High Honours) from Brandeis University (Waltham, MA, USA).

Sharon Lewis
Partnerships and Infrastructure Specialist, UNOPS Bangladesh Country Office

Sharon is a Partnerships and Infrastructure Specialist in the Bangladesh Country Office of UNOPS where she works to build coordinated and effective humanitarian and development programmes for UNOPS to implement on behalf of the UN group and other partners in Bangladesh. After becoming interested in the development and management of big cities as a student of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg, she worked in the public sector in South Africa for over 20 years. She has worked in National and Local Government in South Africa; and for intergovernmental programmes including South African Cities Network, Western Cape Economic Development Partnership, and Cities Support Programme. Her work experience includes urban policy, public finance, and city management; and her professional interests revolve around local government’s role in urban development and management; infrastructure and property investments to achieve inclusivity and sustainability; placemaking; and development partnerships.

Ute Meyer
Professor, University of Applied Sciences, Biberach

Ute is Dean of the Faculty of Architecture and Climate-Engineering and is Professor
of Urban Design at the University of Applied Sciences Biberach, Germany. As a
member of the university’s strategic board she is responsible for planning the
school’s interdisciplinary programme of resilience studies and conceiving an
institutional network of trans-disciplinary science. Before taking the position of
Dean, she was Director of the Institute of Architecture and Urban Development at
the university and initiated research projects about the potential of resilient urban
development in non-metropolitan areas.
Ute is one of two Principals of the urban design and consultancy practice
bueroschneidermeyer in Stuttgart and Cologne, which she co-founded in 2003.
The office has advised numerous municipalities in strategic planning and has
conducted research for the Federal Institute for Building Research Urban Affairs
and Spatial Development (BBSR) and the Wüstenrot Foundation.
Ute is a member of the German Academy for Urban Development and Regional
Planning (DASL) and the Association of German Architects (BDA). She studied in
Germany, Italy and the United States and has a Diploma in Architecture and Urban
Design from Stuttgart University and an MSc in Advanced Architectural Design
from Columbia University

Roope Mokka
Founder, Demos Helsinki

Roope co-founded Demos Helsinki in 2005 a hybrid consultancy and think tank
that is best known for its work on government innovation. Past projects include
setting up the experimentation model for the Finnish Prime Minister’s Office and
similar work with other countries and cities’ executive governance functions.
As an expert of societal change and innovation, Roope has fifteen years of
experience working internationally with cities, governments, corporations and
NGOs as a strategic-level advisor on future technologies, markets, and societies.
He specialises in helping organisations weather transformations in the world
around them and his work often involves cross-sector changes that influence the
daily lives of individuals.
In the context of cities, Roope has experience in activism, art, strategic visions
and in planning and developing neighbourhoods. He has worked with city
organisations, developers, transportation providers, start-ups, festivals, property
owners and operators in developing urban areas and services. He has also
authored and co-authored foresight publications from Finland’s country brand
(2010) to the world’s first report on mobile games (2001).

Patrick Musoke
Deputy Director for Strategy and Business Development, Kampala Capital City Authority

Patrick is the Deputy Director Strategy and Business Development at Kampala
Capital City Authority. He began his career in Uganda Revenue Authority as a
Tax Auditor in 1993 and rose to Strategy Manager in 2007. In 2011, Patrick left to
join the Kampala Capital City Authority Restructuring Team and was appointed
Deputy Director in Charge of Strategy Management and Business Development
in 2012.
Patrick Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Statistics and Applied Economics and a
Postgraduate Diploma in Income Tax Administration. He is a chartered accountant,
a certified strategic planner under the Balance Card Institute, and a certified
Balanced Scorecard Professional with the Palladium Kaplan and Norton Balance
Scorecard Programme.

Paul Okunlola
National Programme Officer, UN-Habitat, Abuja

Paul is National Programme Officer at the UN-Habitat Programme Support Office in Abuja. He works to advance a sustainable, policy-oriented urban agenda in Nigeria by promoting inclusive planning, improved access to housing and basic services as well as slum upgrading, in line with the Habitat Agenda. In this role, he was among others, Project Coordinator for the State of Osun Structure Plans Project which involved the development and adoption of Structure Plans to guide inclusive and sustainable growth in the state’s nine largest cities over a 20-year horizon.

In his earlier media career at The Guardian Newspaper (Nigeria), Paul was responsible for developing coverage and local/global analyses of human settlements and environment issues. He has carried out advocacy on sustainable urbanization though contributions to several local and international publications, including the UN-Habitat’s State of the World’s Cities Report 2004/2005 and, the International Real Estate Federation’s THE HOMELESS: Perspectives by Sixteen International Journalists. Paul participated in the Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) Fellowship Programme and has served on the National Steering Committee of the GEF/UNDP Small Grants Project (SGP) in Nigeria. He holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Architecture and obtained professional training in Environmental Journalism.

Yondela Silimela
Executive Director of Planning, City of Johhanesburg

Yondela is the Executive Director: Development Planning for the City of
Johannesburg. She is responsible for the successful development
of urban policy, and the conceptualisation and implementation of programmes,
weaving together economic, social and sustainability objectives. Yondela also
oversees operational responsibilities, including processing land use and building plan
Yondela has over twenty years’ experience in cities having led the National Urban
Renewal Programme under President Mbeki. She also has extensive real estate
experience from her tenure with the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), the largest
asset manager in South Africa. She has a strong appreciation for strategic partnerships
and has worked with the Global Environment Facility and the World Bank to advance
some of the innovations she is pioneering for the City of Johannesburg.

Lukas Sokol
Urban Design Manager, Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council

Lukas is the Urban Design Manager at the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council
(UPC). He is responsible for advising the Abu Dhabi Government on matters
regarding urban design, masterplanning, and strategic development. He heads
the UPC’s Urban Design Studio, which serves as an internal think tank and project
design and development consultancy responsible for exploring, developing, and
testing government initiatives.
Lukas also teaches the Urbanism module at the Paris-Sorbonne University Abu
Dhabi as well as coordinating Learning and Development Projects between UAE
Universities and the UPC.
Lukas studied architecture and landscape architecture at the University of Arizona,
Danish International Study Program and Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile.
He worked on planning and urban design projects in Panama, Japan, Korea, China
and the US before joining the Urban Planning Council ten years ago

Santiago Uribe Rocha
Chief Resilience Officer, City of Medellín

Santiago is the Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) for the City of Medellín, a city
member of the 100 Resilient Cities Network, pioneered by the Rockefeller
Foundation. Prior to becoming CRO, Santiago worked for three years as Executive
Director of Social Innovation at Pigmalion Consulting. There he coordinated a
number of research programs on topics ranging from disaster risk management
to local youth’s reproductive and mental health.
From 2007-2010, Santiago served as Administrative Assistant of Cultural
and Economic Affairs at the Embassy of Colombia to the Republic of South
Africa, where he coordinated official visits to Bogotá and Medellín to exchange
experiences and expertise for the implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit
Systems in cities including Cape Town, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela’s Bay.
In his appointment at the Embassy in Pretoria, Santiago was also actively involved
in the organization of systematic exchanges between Colombia and South Africa
in issues related to the peace process in Colombia, including organizing an official
visit of former President F.W. De Klerk.
He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the Universidad de
Antioquia and was a visiting student at the University of the Witwatersrand in

Maria Vassilakou

Maria was until recently serving as the Deputy Mayor of Vienna. She has been a member
of the city government since 2010, responsible for several agendas including
urban development and planning, energy planning, climate protection, mobility
and transport, participation, and Vienna’s smart city agenda. Maria has been
engaged in city politics since 1996, first serving as a City Counsellor and Green
Party speaker for immigration, human rights and diversity affairs. She later served
as a member of government without portfolio and, from 2004 to 2010, as the
head of the Green Party of Vienna and the Green Parliamentary Group. During her
time in city politics she has been highly active in exchange and cooperation with
cities all over the world and is currently responsible for the implementation of the
cooperation memorandum between Vienna and Athens.
Maria’s first steps in politics took her to the Austrian Students Union where she
served as the elected representative of all foreign Students in Austrian Universities
and later as the Secretary General of the Students Union. She holds a Master’s
degree in Linguistics and Psychology from the University of Vienna and has
worked as a Research Assistant at the Department of Linguistics.

Kevin Woods
City Manager, City of Thornton

Kevin is currently the City Manager for the City of Thornton, located at the base of
the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and has a rapidly growing population of 140,000.
As City Manager, he oversees a workforce of 950 personnel with responsibilities
that include all aspects of municipal management. Prior to Thornton, Kevin was
the Town Manager of Stalling, NC for three years.
Before beginning municipal work, Kevin spent three years as Vice President for
Versar Inc., overseeing major US construction programs throughout Afghanistan.
Kevin’s professional background includes twenty-six years as a US Army officer.
He was branched and served in the US Army Corps of Engineers and had multiple
command and staff assignments throughout the US and abroad. His final military
assignment was as Deputy Commander for US Army South in San Antonio, Texas.