Our Team

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Donna J. Carney, R.A., LEED AP

CITIZENS PLANNING INSTITUTE DIRECTOR

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 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.

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Verónica M. Ayala Flores

PROGRAM MANAGER

Verónica firmly believes in everyone's ability to participate in a greater conversation; one that affects the way we live, and the pursuit to improve it. For years, in both volunteer and professional capacities, she has been facilitating collaborations, organizing, and developing strategies, leading creative initiatives, and building the skills of leaders to advance social transformation.

While studying architecture at Temple University, Verónica honed her passion for urban affairs into the creation of Building Relationships in Communities [BRIC]; a collective that creates stronger neighborhoods through inclusive projects and fostering relationships between traditionally separate communities. Previously to CPI, Verónica worked at Philadelphia LISC, where she facilitated the Community Connectors program and the co-facilitated the Experience Eastern North tour program.

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Nicole Simonsen

COMMUNITY INITIATIVES SPECIALIST

Nicole brings her experience with direct service programs and passion for community engagement to this role. She finds building relationships to be the most impactful and rewarding part of life.

Nicole studied Geography and Sustainability at UNC and moved to Philadelphia in 2014. She previously worked for PowerCorpsPHL and TreePhilly, in addition to a re-entry organization in NC.

Savannah Winston

SPRING 2024 INTERN

Savannah is a current student at Temple University pursuing her Master’s Degree in Africology and African American Studies. Originally from Louisville, KY, she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Pan-African Studies with a minor in Political Science from the University of Louisville. Savannah is passionate about issues surrounding housing access and economic justice. In her free time, she enjoys film photography and has recently taken up watercolor painting.

Since 2013, CPI Advisory Board members have contributed their diverse experiences and expertise to help advance the goals of the CPI. They promote CPI throughout the private, nonprofit and public sectors that they represent. Board members contributed during the planning process to produce the “2017 Strategic Vision “, and work behind the scenes for the continued sustainability of the CPI program.

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Advisory Board

  • Philippa Campbell

    CITIZEN PLANNER, CENTER CITY RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION, PRESERVATION ALLIANCE MEMBER, PROFESSOR

  • Emma Erwin

    PAST CPI INTERN, PROJECT MANAGER, INSYTE CONSULTING

  • Rana Fayez

    CITIZEN PLANNER, BOARD MEMBER, SPRUCE HILL COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION

  • Leroy Fisher

    CITIZEN PLANNER, CITIZENS TOOLKIT CONTRIBUTOR, IMPACT SERVICE ORGANIZER, CO-FOUNDER, PRESIDENT, HUNTING PARK UNITED

  • Michelle Freeman

    PUBLISHER, WITTY GRITTY

  • Donna Griffin

    CPI INSTRUCTOR, COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CONSULTANT, COMMUNITY CAPACITY BUILDERS

  • Christine Knapp

    CPI INSTRUCTOR, DIRECTOR, CITY OF PHILADELPHIA OFFICE OF SUSTAINABILITY

  • Michael Moody

    CITIZEN PLANNER; OPERATIONS MANAGER, BUILDING WEALTH & HEALTH NETWORK, DREXEL CENTER FOR HUNGER-FREE COMMUNITIES

  • Scott Page

    CPI INSTRUCTOR, PRINCIPAL, INTERFACE STUDIO

  • Heidi Segall Levy, AIA, SEED

    CPI INSTRUCTOR, FORMERLY: DIRECTOR OF DESIGN SERVICES, COMMUNITY DESIGN COLLABORATIVE

  • Laura M. Spina

    CPI INSTRUCTOR, DIRECTOR, COMMUNITY PLANNING DIVISION, PHILADELPHIA CITY PLANNING COMMISSION

  • Eleanor Sharpe, AICP, LEED AP

    EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PHILADELPHIA CITY PLANNING COMMISSION

  • Joyce Smith

    CITIZEN PLANNER, CPI INSTRUCTOR, CITIZENS TOOLKIT CONTRIBUTOR, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT OFFICER, VIOLA STREET RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION

  • Venise Whitaker

    CITIZEN PLANNER, CONSTITUENT SERVICES REPRESENTATIVE, COUNCILMAN DARRELL CLARKE, FISHTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION ZONING COMMITTEE, RIVER WARDS L&I COALITION

  • Stewart Scott

    ASSISTANT PROJECT MANAGER, DIAMOND AND ASSOCIATES

  • Nic Esposito

    DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, GRID MAGAZINE