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Current Instructors

 Core Session 1: The BIG Picture- Planning in the City - April 12
  • martine decamp

Martine Decamp, AICP, Community Planner, Philadelphia City Planning Commission

Martine Decamp, AICP, is a senior planner at the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and a co-manager for the Lower South­west District Plan. Martine is team leader for West, Central and South and the community planner for University Southwest and Lower Southwest. During her 11 years of service at PCPC, Martine has managed the transportation and utilities section of the City’s Phila2035 Comprehensive Plan, written grant proposals to advance planning and implement plan recommendations, acted as the environmental review officer for publicly funded projects, served on the Mayor’s 21st Century Review Forum, Gaming Task Force, and Budgeting for Outcomes Task Forces, and worked in the fields of strategic planning, development planning, and community planning. She received a BS from University of Arizona in 1995 and an MCP from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003.

  • donna griffin

Donna Griffin, Proprietor, Community Capacity Builders

Donna Griffin is a community economic development professional committed to empowering communities for social and economic change in their work to bring about sustainable and equitable neighborhood revitalization. She is the owner of Community Capacity Builders (CCB) a professional consulting company whose focus is to improve the ability of individuals, organizations, businesses and government in their efforts to learn, acknowledge a community’s present conditions and develop strategies and relationships to carry out decisions for a healthy future. Donna passionately subscribes to the power of collaboration, communication and coordination to create vibrant and sustainable communities.

From 2003 - 2010 Donna served as the Director of the City of Philadelphia’s Weed and Seed Project, an initiative designed to stimulate synergistic rela­tionships among community and faith-based organizations, government agencies, businesses, and residents to improve the safety, housing, economic, and social environment.  In 2008 she earned a Community Economic Development (CED) Master’s Degree from Southern New Hampshire University. Her clients currently include the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Philadelphia Commerce Department, Bittenbender Construction and numerous community development corporations (CDC). She also volunteers her time as an Advisory Committee Member and Instructor for the Philadelphia City Planning Commission’s Citizen Planning Institute. 

  • michael thorpe

Michael Thorpe, Sr., Executive Director, Mount Vernon Manor CDC, Citizen Planner (Fall 2011)

Michael A. Thorpe, Sr. has been the Executive Director for Mt. Vernon Manor CDC (MVM) since May 2015. Mt. Vernon Manor was established in 1977 to address the need for quality, affordable housing in the West Philadelphia neighborhood of Mantua, where Mr. Thorpe was raised and where he now passionately serves his community. In his capacity as Executive Director, Michael Thorpe has successfully rehabilitated 75 MVM affordable apartment units and is currently renovating an additional 48 affordable units. He also oversees the day-to-day operations of MVM’s community engagement and resident leadership initiatives, including a collaborative public safety program and the Neighborhood Advisory Committee. Mr. Thorpe had previously served as Chairman of the Board for MVM during the 2010 HUD Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) planning process, which led to the creation of a community driven neighborhood plan for Mantua.  Michael’s work coordinating the HUD CNI grant and the 2013 Department of Justice Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Grant led to the White House’s recognition of the West Philadelphia Promise Zone in 2014, one of only five communities in the nation selected in the launch of the federal economic development program.

Prior to joining Mt. Vernon Manor, Michael Thorpe was a full-time real estate investor and partner in Thorpe & Thorpe Investors. He has decades of experience buying, rehabilitating, managing, and selling homes. Michael Thorpe earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Dakota State College. He is a licensed realtor and elder at The Resurrection Center Church in Delaware, where he currently lives with his wife, Jocelyn, and his children, Tanisha and Michael, Jr.   


Core Session 2: The Development Process - April 19

Unit 1: The Development Process- the Private Side

  • kenweinstein

Ken Weinstein, President, Philly Office Retail

Ken is an active entrepreneur and real estate developer in the Philadelphia area. He serves as President of Philly Office Retail, which has renovated and restored more than 250 vacant and deteriorated commercial and residential units in the Philadelphia region during the past 28 years.  Philly Office Retail currently owns and manages more than 800,000 square feet of commercial space in the Philadelphia region.
Ken founded and operated Cresheim Cottage Cafe from 1996 until 2004 and now owns Trolley Car Diner, Deli and Ice Cream Shoppe in Mt. Airy since 2000 and Trolley Car Cafe in East Falls since 2010.  Ken's third restaurant, Trolley Car Station, will open at 40th and Baltimore in University City later this year.

Previously, Ken served as Chief of Staff for Philadelphia City Councilwoman Happy Fernandez from 1991-1995 and as Organizer/Board Member of Valley Green Bank from 2007-2015. Ken founded the Mt. Airy Business Improvement District, the Trolley Car Teachers' Fund and the Trolley Car Table Tennis Club and continues to oversee all three. 

In 2007-2008, Ken headed Mayor Michael Nutter’s economic development transition team and was appointed by the Mayors Nutter and Kenney as President of the Board of the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation.

In 2004, Ken was awarded the Business Leader of the Year Award by West Mt. Airy Neighbors, in 2005 was given the Community Service Award by the Center City Proprietors Association, in 2006 was named one of Philadelphia’s 101 Connectors by Leadership Philadelphia, in 2009 received the Distinguished Leadership Award by Community College of Philadelphia, in 2010 received the My Block, My Business Award by the Empowerment Group, in 2011 was awarded the Edgar Baker Community Service Award by East Mt. Airy Neighbors, the 2012 Retailer of the Year Award by the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, in 2013 was honored by the Philadelphia Parks Alliance, and was awarded the 2015 Philadelphia Business Journal’s Heavy Hitters of Real Estate Award in the Do-Gooder category.

Ken’s mission is to revitalize neighborhoods by renovating vacant, deteriorated properties in Philadelphia’s commercial corridors. He believes that you can do well by doing good.

Unit 2: The Development Process- the Non-Profit View 

  • stephanie wall

 Stephanie Wall, Deputy Director of Community & Economic Development, People's Emergency Center

Stephanie Wall is the deputy director of community and economic development at People’s Emergency Center, a nonprofit in West Philadelphia with a mission to revitalize its surrounding neighborhoods, provide comprehensive services to homeless women and their children, and advocate for social change. PEC’s community development work focuses on transforming its section of West Philadelphia into a healthy, vibrant community through real estate development, commercial corridor revitalization, and quality of life programs. After receiving her Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from the University of Toronto, Ms. Wall moved to Philadelphia in 2006 to join PEC as its community development grants manager and later becoming the real estate project manager where she guided PEC’s residential developments from conception to construction completion. She serves on the board of Scenic Philadelphia and a mentor in the University of Toronto’s Planning Alumni Committee’s mentorship/mentee program.

Core Session 3: Zoning and Land Use - April 26

Unit 1: The Zoning Code and You

  • djcheadshot2016

Donna J. Carney, Citizens Planning Institute Director, Philadelphia City Planning Commission

Donna J. Carney is the founding Director of the Philadelphia Citizens Planning Institute, the education and outreach arm of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission.  She brings to this role years of project management and design experience as an architect specializing in historic preservation and sustainable design. Her goal is to guide the development of educational tools to empower communities of people within Philadelphia to learn, grow, and improve the quality of their neighborhoods.

Donna is inspired to meet so many life-long learners who love where they live all across Philadelphia!  She is a strategy designer and facilitator, aiming to engage all community stakeholders in creating a shared vision. She has developed educational and interpretive materials for municipalities (downtown façade programs), arts & historical non-profits and the National Park Service. 

Donna is a graduate of Fielding University’s Organization Management & Development program (MA), Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation (MS Historic Preservation), New Jersey Institute of Technology College of Architecture & Design (MArch) and Iowa State University's College of Design (BA). She is a Certified Charrette Planner (National Charrette Institute, 2006) and a registered architect in the state of Pennsylvania. She was recognized by the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA) with its 2014 “Planning Leadership Award for Professional Planner”. Her position as Director became institutionalized within the City Planning Commission in 2015.

  • andy

 Andy Meloney, AICP, Senior Planner for Implementation, Philadelphia City Planning Commission

Andrew Meloney is the Senior Planner for Implementation at the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. Andrew joined the Planning Commission in 2008. While at PCPC he has managed plans for Walnut Hill, North 52nd Street, South 58th Street, and Station Square & 30th St Vicinity as well as the West Park and University Southwest District Plans as part of the comprehensive plan, Philadelphia 2035. He currently supervises a team of planners working to implement the recommendations of the comprehensive plan with policy, legislation, and grant writing. Prior to coming to the Planning Commission Andrew worked as a Planner and Real Estate Development Analyst at The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) and as the Mapping Unit Supervisor for the Philadelphia Department of Records.

Unit 2: Zoning and Citizen Involvement  

  • judy landis

Judy Walterson, Member, West Powelton Saunders Park RCO, Spring CPI grad 

Judy Walterson has been a resident of West Powelton for the past 27 years.  She originally moved into the neighborhood to be near the faith-based community outreach work in which she was involved for 25 years, specifically children and youth programming for residents of public housing and other local neighborhoods throughout West Philadelphia.  However, Judy also discovered that she moved onto the best block in all of West Philadelphia and greatly appreciates both the long-time and newer neighbors who look out for each other and who all pitch in whenever there is an issue (or a snowstorm).  Her neighborhood is changing due to an influx of student housing and so now Judy also has experience with RCOs, zoning, and all that those entail and she is a somewhat regular attender of West Powelton/Saunders Park RCO and West Powelton Concerned Community Council neighborhood meetings.  

Judy currently works in administration at Drexel University, but her passion lies in facilitating empowering partnerships between diverse communities, most notably between urban communities and suburban volunteers, and in developing student understanding of and commitment to urban social justice issues with an emphasis on integrity and dignity in building cross-cultural relationships.  Judy has been privileged to travel to Ecuador, India, Liberia and Nigeria to participate in faith-based NGO work and has been getting to know the African diaspora community in Philadelphia through her marriage to her Nigerian husband, Ray, and their involvement in their church, Winner's Chapel International Philadelphia.  In her free time Judy enjoys walking all over Philadelphia with her husband, Ray, reading historical novels, eating dark chocolate, and playing with the laser pen with her City Kitties rescue, Teddy B.

Elective #1: Community Organizing + Asset Mapping - May 3
  • mary morton

Mary Morton, AICP, Urban Designer + Planner, WRT

Mary Morton is an urban designer and planner with a background in architecture. She has Bachelors of Architecture from the University of Miami and a Master of City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania. Her work focuses on the nexus between the built environment and communities. She is passionate about designing public and private spaces and developing plans and strategies that enhance the environment and serve the community. She seeks to empower residents and build capacity in communities by organizing interactive workshops, charrettes, and meetings. She currently works at the multidisciplinary firm WRT.

  • salima suswell

Salima Suswell, CEO Evolve Solutions, LLC; National Diversity Director, Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals 

Salima Suswell founded Evolve Solutions, LLC., in 2010, which is a management consulting firm specializing in Project Management, Government Relations, Public Relations, Community Engagement, and Event Production.  Prior to establishing her own company, Salima worked as a Senior Litigation Specialist with the United States Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania and as a Senior Litigation Paralegal for several prestigious national law firms. 

Salima currently serves as an Executive Committee member for the Council on American Islamic Relations - Philadelphia Chapter, with a focus upon Government Relations and Community Outreach. 

Salima remains actively involved in the political process within the Philadelphia – Delaware Valley region, contributing her expertise and talents to local political organizations and campaigns.  Among Salima’s noteworthy contributions are the leadership and production of the Annual Philadelphia City Hall Iftar Dinner, held at the Mayor’s Reception Hall at City Hall; her efforts with the leadership team of the Philadelphia Eid Coalition, who worked successfully to obtain the recognition of the two Eid Holidays in Philadelphia Public Schools and various Charter schools; and her role as Chair of the Muslim American Host Committee of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. 

Salima also serves as the National Diversity Director for the Council for Advancement of Muslim Professionals.  Salima started her work with CAMP in 2007, serving as an Advisory Board Member for the CAMP Philadelphia Chapter, in 2007 through 2010.  Thereafter, Salima served as President of the CAMP Philadelphia Chapter, in 2010 through 2012.

Salima holds a degree from combined studies at Pierce College and Drexel University's Lebow College of Business.  Salima is currently studying Organizational Leadership and Development, at Saint Joseph’s University.

  • jackie wiggins

Jacqueline J. Wiggins, Committee person, 32nd Ward, Citizen Planner (Spring 2016)

Jacqueline is a long-term resident of North Central Philadelphia and currently is a semi-retired educator. She has over forty years experience as a teacher in public, parochial, and charter schools and is an adjunct instructor of English for Community College of Philadelphia. She has been an administrator at two HBCUs-Historically Black Universities and Colleges, namely, Florida A& M University and Bennett College in institutional advancement. At the University of Massachusetts and Mt. Holyoke College, she worked in residential housing and education. Jacqueline has resource development experience working with many non-profit organizations. In 2014, Jackie became an elected committee person for the 32nd Ward-11th Division in North Central Philadelphia. She is active with a group called Stadium Stompers that is focused on preventing a 35,000 seat sports stadium from being built in a residential neighborhood by Temple University.  As a docent/tour guide, she gives tours of the Johnson House Historic Site and is the founder of her business Wiggins Tours and More.

Elective #2:  Clean & Green! - May 10 
  • freeh headshot

Rich Freeh, City Energy Project Manager, Philadelphia Office of Sustainability

Rich Freeh is the City Energy Project Manager for the Office of Sustainability in the City of Philadelphia. In this capacity, he is responsible for leading Philadelphia's initiatives as part of the City Energy Project, which is designed to improve performance in the city’s largest privately-owned buildings. He also supports Philadelphia's climate adaptation planning efforts and co-authors the city's Greenworks ​sustainability plan updates. Prior to taking on this role, Rich administered the city's energy benchmarking program for commercial buildings.

Before working for the City, Rich worked in the public policy consulting and publishing sectors. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master’s in City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania.

  • dan schupsky


Dan Schupsky, Outreach Specialist, Philadelphia Water Department

Dan is the outreach specialist for green stormwater infrastructure projects to west Philadelphia for the Philadelphia Water Department. His secondary roles there include lead manager for the Soak It Up Adoption and the Cobbs Creek Watershed Stewards programs. Dan, and other members of the Public Affairs division, just presented PWD’s outreach process at the AWWA Sustainable Water Management Conference in New Orleans in March 2017. Dan obtained his Master of Environmental Studies degree from Penn in 2014, and prior careers include a college swim coach and high school science teacher. Dan has lived in the city for 8 years, has a 2 year old daughter, and enjoys swimming, gardening, and going on family bike rides. 


  • nic esposito

Nic Esposito, Zero Waste & Litter Director, Philadelphia Managing Director's Office

Nic Esposito is the Zero Waste and Litter Director for the City of Philadelphia. After serving Philadelphia Parks and Recreation (PPR) for 4 years as the PowerCorpsPHL Project Manager and then PPR's Sustainability Manager, he was brought on by the Managing Director's Office to take on this challenge of creating a coordinated public and private sector plan to address Philadelphia's litter problem while setting Philadelphia on a path to Zero Waste by 2035. Nic is also a writer and founder of the non-profit independent publisher and writer's workshop The Head & The Hand. And he serves his community as the President of the East Kensington Neighbors Association and co-manager of Emerald Street Community Farm.

  • erica smith fichman

Erica Smith Fichman, TreePhilly Program Manager, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation 

Erica joined Philadelphia Parks & Recreation in 2011 to develop an urban forestry outreach and education program. Working with Joan Blaustein, they launched the highly successful TreePhilly Program in 2012, which includes the Yard Tree Giveaway Program, as well as other programs to encourage street tree planting and volunteer tree plantings in parks and recreation centers. Erica has a BS in Biology from Haverford College and an MS in Environmental Horticulture from the University of California, Davis, and she is an ISA Certified Arborist. She also serves on the board of University City Green in West Philadelphia

Elective #3: Walkable Neighborhoods - May 17
  • heather strassberger

Heather Strassberger, AICP, Healthy Communities Planner, Philadelphia City Planning Commission

Heather Strassberger, AICP is the Planning Commission’s Healthy Communities Planner. Her work focuses on incorporating health considerations – particularly active transportation and healthy food access – into planning for the built environment in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. She coordinates with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and other agencies to advocate for implementation of recommendations from completed plans that will have demonstrated health benefits. Heather’s background is in transportation planning with emphasis on pedestrian and bicyclist safety, accessibility for persons with disabilities, equity, and environmental justice. She previously worked for the Metropolitan Planning Organizations in Baltimore, MD and Asheville, NC, and in environmental and pedestrian advocacy. Heather holds a Master of City and Regional Planning degree from Rutgers University.


  • kelli mcintyre

Kelli McIntyre, MA,  Physical Activity Coordinator, Get Healthy Philly, PDPH (Phila Dept of Public Health)

Kelli McIntyre has been the Physical Activity Coordinator for Get Healthy Philly, the Chronic Disease Prevention Division of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health since 2015. In this role, she oversees the department’s efforts to make an active lifestyle the easy choice for Philadelphians wherever they live, work, learn, shop, play and worship.  Some current projects to increase physical activity in Philadelphians include walkability engagement, workplace stair promotion, and promotion of Philly Powered- the department’s recent physical activity media campaign.

Public Health is Kelli’s 3rd field of work after spending 10 years coaching individuals through the stages of behavior change as a workplace Wellness Coach. She transitioned into corporate wellness from athletic training after spending 3 years working as a Certified Athletic Trainer for the Big East Champion Villanova Women’s Basketball Team. Prior to working at Villanova, Kelli was a Graduate assistant Athletic Trainer with the University of North Carolina Women’s Basketball and football teams. Kelli has also taught Health Promotion and Strength Training as an Adjunct Professor in the Biokinetics Department at Eastern University (2003-2005), is a Freedom from Smoking® Facilitator, and has taught group exercise and worked as a personal trainer.

Kelli earned a BS in Athletic Training from Boston University in 2000 and MA in Exercise and Sport Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2002. 

Read about past instructors here.