Read about past instructors here.
Martine Decamp, AICP, Senior Planner, Philadelphia City Planning Commission
Martine 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.
Amelia Price, Commercial Corridor Manager, Called to Serve, 201
Amelia Price works for Called To Serve CDC. She serves as the Corridor Manager for the Broad, Germantown & Erie Commercial Corridor and is an organizer and compassionate community activist. She believes it takes TEAM WORK to make the dream work! “There is no I in the word team. We have extraordinary power when we work together - hand in hand for the good of the community. No matter how hard it seems don’t give up or give in, GIVE IT ALL YOU GOT”.
Amelia is a proud graduate and benefactor of the Citizen’s Planning Institute and 21st Century SafeGrowth CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) training.
Donna J. Carney, Citizens Planning Institute Director, Philadelphia City Planning Commission
Donna 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 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.
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.
Unit One: The Development Process- the Private Side
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 30 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 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 Mayors Nutter and Kenney as President of the Board of the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation.
Ken’s mission is to revitalize neighborhoods by renovating vacant, deteriorated properties along Philadelphia’s commercial corridors. He believes that you can do well by doing good. His newest initiative, Jumpstart Germantown, has already trained 235 aspiring developers and provided more than $7 million in loans to get them started, over the past 3 years.
Maria N. Gonzalez , President, HACE
As President for HACE, Maria Nixa Gonzalez heads HACE’s development team managing over $100M of commercial and housing development projects that have contributed to the stabilization and revitalization of the Fairhill and St. Hugh Neighborhoods. Since 1996, she has been responsible for raising development capital from a broad base of private and public foundations and governmental bodies. Mrs. Gonzalez’ most notable achievement is the creation of a supportive community for elders through the development of affordable rental housing and the construction of a Life Center that provides frail elders with social and health services so that they can remain living at home for as long as possible.
Mrs. Gonzalez serves on the Philadelphia Planning Commission, is Chair of the Community Trust Board for the American Street Empowerment Zone, is Chair of the Oversight Board of the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, serves in the Philadelphia Housing Trust Fund and is President of the Board of the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations.
Tiffany W. Thurman, Chief of Staff, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Citizen Planner
Tiffany W. Thurman serves as the Chief of Staff of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (Parks & Rec), where she assists Commissioner Ott Lovell in the daily management and strategic direction for the department. Tiffany leads new projects initiated by Mayor Jim Kenney that fulfill the department’s mission and policy goals. She also oversees the Commission on Parks and Recreation. Before joining Parks & Rec, Thurman served as Executive Director of the Philadelphia Delegation to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, the largest bipartisan delegation in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Tiffany is an honors graduate of Temple University with a dual Bachelors in economics and political science. Thurman also holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Pennsylvania with a concentration in economic development and growth. She is a member of the Urban Land Institute’s Women’s Leadership Council, serves on the board of directors for East Mt. Airy Neighbors and the executive board for the National Adoption Center.
Naomi Roberson Reid, Community Preparedness Program Manager, Office of Emergency Management, Citizen Planner
Naomi Roberson Reid is a community engagement and community development professional. In her former role as Coordinator of Community Programs for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Naomi was charged with building long term relationships and community arts strategies for three neighborhoods, Brewerytown, Fairmount and Mantua in West Philadelphia. In her former role as the Program Manager at Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse, Naomi used her passion for advocating and community organizing to advocate for the importance of unstructured play for children.
Melissa Long, Director of Programs, Division of Housing & Community Development, Philadelphia Department of Planning & Development
Melissa came to the City of Philadelphia’s Division of Housing and Community Development in 2010 with over 25 years in policy, planning and fund development experience. At DHCD, Melissa serves as a Director of Programs, overseeing initiatives to strengthen Philadelphia’s neighborhoods, empower community members, and serve low- and moderate-income residents.
Prior to her role at DHCD, Melissa served as a consultant for NeighborhoodsNow where she directed policy, planning, and fundraising activities for a Transit-Oriented Development Initiative. As the Director of the People’s Emergency Center Community Development Corporation (PECDC), Melissa grew the annual operating budget from $200,000 to over $3 million and leveraged over $30 million in investment to the community. To promote long-term neighborhood vitality, she added commercial development and moderate-income and market-rate housing to the agency portfolio. Melissa facilitated a large-scale neighborhood planning process and development of a comprehensive neighborhood plan for PECDC’s West Philadelphia community.
Melissa previously served in planning and development roles at the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, served as a consultant for The Community Builders and has held various fundraising positions. She has a Masters of City and Regional Planning from Rutgers University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Colorado.
Kevin Hunter, Senior Policy Analyst, Division of Development Services, Philadelphia Department of Planning & Development
Kevin writes and carries out planning, zoning, and permitting policies, and helps development projects. Kevin has directed the Department’s internal zoning code updates to improve standards and promote better development. Kevin also co-updated the industrial residential mixed-use (IRMX) zoning standards and determined how to administer the mixed-income housing zoning bonus. Before his current role, Kevin served as Senior Planner for the Redevelopment Authority of Malden, Massachusetts, a city in Boston’s inner core. He also served for four years as a legislative aide to U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, advising the Senator on environmental, transportation, and housing policy. Kevin holds a Master’s in City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor’s in Government from Clark University.
Christi Clark, Organizing Director, Women’s Community Revitalization Project
The Women's Community Revitalization Project (WCRP) is a Philadelphia-based grassroots community development corporation committed to social and economic equity for low-income women and their families. Christi oversees WCRP's policy and community engagement work. She staffs the Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities, a coalition of faith, labor, disability, community and urban agriculture organizations that is working to win more resources for affordable, accessible housing and green space. Christi also supports WCRP’s community land trust, dedicated to creating permanently affordable housing. She has an 18 year history as a labor and community organizer and oversees WCRP’s organizing and outreach staff who implements both neighborhood and city-wide campaigns.
Pastor Richard Harris, Senior Pastor, Firm Hope Baptist Church
Firm Hope Baptist Church is a church that has been meeting the spiritual and social needs of the Kensington/Port Richmond area for over 90 years. Pastor Harris has been married to Ruthie Harris for 34 years. Together they have three children and two grandchildren. He is active in various community groups in Port Richmond and Kensington. He works closely with the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) and serves as a board member of the Somerset Neighbors for Better Living-SNBL.
Pastor Harris is also a Citizen Planner (Spring 2014). In 2011 Pastor Harris worked with the Women’s Community Revitalization Project (WCRP) to bring affordable housing to an abandoned lot that was once home to an old yarn and dye plant. In September 2016, Firm Hope Baptist and WCRP celebrated the Grand Opening of the GRACE TOWNHOMES, 32 units of affordable housing which are now in a Community Justice Land Trust.
Along with other community members Pastor Harris was instrumental in bringing Councilman Mark Squilla into the community to address the needs of their community playground. And as a result they are very excited that the playground is on the Mayor's Rebuild sites list.
Pastor Harris is a strong advocate for Recovery and support for those that are battling drug addiction. He served on the Mayors Opioid drug task force along with Dr. Jeffery Hom. He also serves on the board of First Stop Drug recovery program where he facilitates biweekly meetings. Pastor Harris has a strong compassion for people and his life motto is THERE GO I BUT BY THE GRACE OF GOD...
Andrew Ciampa, Tenant, Life Center Association
Andrew is a life-long resident of the Philadelphia area and has lived in West Philadelphia for eight years. They have been part of numerous housing co-operatives and joined the Life Center Association (LCA) community land trust in 2017. Andrew currently does repair work with Habitat for Humanity and helps staff Neighborhood Bike Works’ Bike Church program.
Ariel Diliberto, Program Manager, Citizens Planning Institute, Philadelphia Department of Planning & Development
Ariel helps run the Citizens Planning Institute (CPI) course every spring and fall, and is a Citizen Planner herself (Fall 2012). In addition to the course, she coordinates outreach for the Department of Planning & Development and CPI. Before working for the City, Ariel worked as a Neighborhood Advisory Committee Manager, first at New Kensington Community Development Corporation and then at People’s Emergency Center Community Development Corporation. In her free time, she DJs vinyl at Johnny Brenda’s in Fishtown and advocates for tenants’ rights.
Margaret Nersten, Deputy Campaign Director, Good Cause eviction, Philadelphia Tenants Union
Margaret is an architectural designer at Ballinger, a Philadelphia based firm that specializes in healthcare and higher education. Her passion for using design to improve equity and opportunity in neighborhoods started during her time at the University of Virginia, where she was an active volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, and contributed to her pursuit of a minor in Global Sustainability. In practice, she has participated in Community Design Collaborative projects as well as mentored through Spark, a program that provides professional network and skill building opportunities to eighth graders. When she's not at work, she community organizes with the Philadelphia Tenants Union, where she is Deputy Campaign Director for the Good Cause Bill introduced in October 2017.
Jarrett Smith, Campaign Director, Philadelphia Tenants Union
Jarrett is a political activist and organizer based in Philadelphia. As campaign director with the Philadelphia Tenants Union, Jarrett currently leads the citywide effort for Good Cause Eviction legislation. Jarrett also works to mobilize young voters across Pennsylvania as the State Director for NextGen America PAC.
Jacqueline Wiggins (Citizen Planner), Stadium Stompers
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): 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.
Ruth I. Birchett (Citizen Planner), Stadium Stompers
A native North Philadelphian, Ruth has devoted more than forty years of her life to political action, social and community services. Experienced in non-profit management and strategic planning, she founded Heritage Community Development Corporation nearly 30 years ago during which her volunteer leadership helped facilitate the building of 152 newly constructed townhouses. She has worked for the Senate of Pennsylvania, House of Representatives, Mayor’s Office of Community Services and President Obama’s Inaugural Committee, having served as Administrative Aide to Senator Roxanne Jones and Chief of Staff to State Representative Curtis Thomas. Promoting violence prevention and intervention, in 1998, Ruth helped launch the effort to stop celebratory gunfire on New Year’s Eve, in Philadelphia. She is a vocal community activist, who challenges injustices, and combats inequities that further the disenfranchisement of marginalized needy people and communities in North Philadelphia, the USA and globally. Committed to training up new generations of no-sayers, in defense of vulnerable communities, Ruth seizes opportunities to transfer skills and forging strategic mobility within movements.
Ruth’s 2018 efforts are targeted to halt Temple University’s football stadium plans with the creation of a homeowners association; establishment of a registered community organization; as strategic member of Stadium Stompers and NO STADIUM NO DEAL COALITION; preservation of Strawberry Mansion High School and community enterprise development for job creation.
Ebony H. Griffin, Staff Attorney for Environmental Justice, Public Interest Law Center
Ebony joined the Public Interest Law Center in June of 2017 as the staff attorney for environmental justice. Ms. Griffin focuses on projects that support low-income, historically disinvested communities and communities of color in advocating effectively for sustainable and equitable neighborhoods.
Ms. Griffin has extensive experience in the field of environmental law. In law school she worked as a summer law clerk for the White House Council on Environmental Quality and also spent five months clerking for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance at the Environmental Protection Agency. After law school Ms. Griffin clerked for the Honorable Judge Zoe Bush of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for one year. After clerking for Judge Bush, Ms. Griffin spent several years working as an environmental and safety regulatory associate at Enhesa Inc. in Washington DC.
Ms. Griffin is a 2012 graduate of Howard University School of Law where she served as a senior articles editor on the Howard Law Journal and the education chair of “Girls To Women Mentoring Program”. She received her Bachelor of the Arts degree in Spanish from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Currently, Ms. Griffin serves as the Vice-Chair of Region III, National Bar Association; an appointed member of the Mayor’s Food Policy Advisory Council (FPAC); and co-chair of FPAC’s Urban Agriculture subcommittee. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated.
Randy LoBasso, Communications Manager, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
Randy is responsible for publications like the Bicycle Coalition’s blog, the Cyclegram, and the Bicycle Coalition podcast. His efforts have received professional acknowledgment, and in 2016 he was even nominated by the Pen & Pencil Club for an award as a “Non-traditional” news source, in recognition for his blog posts. Before working at the Bicycle Coalition, Randy spent four years working as a reporter for a local alternative newsweekly. While there, he won several awards for his work, including first place from the Society of Professional Journalists for his 2013 feature, “The Naked Truth About Bikes,” which analyzed the relationship between cyclists and drivers in Philadelphia.