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Meet the Panelists: Civic Activism in the Spirit of Jane Jacobs

summit nyc 2010 mini collage

Since 2007, the Rockefeller Foundation has awarded the annual Jane Jacobs Medal to outstanding New Yorkers whose activism emulates the principles of urban design and planning advocated by Jane Jacobs. 

On October 21, past and present Jane Jacobs Medalists will participate in the MAS Summit for New York City to share the tools and strategies they have used to effect change.

The panel, “Civic Activism in the Spirit of Jane Jacobs,” will be moderated by Eugenie Birch, co-director of the Penn Institute for Urban Research at the University of Pennsylvania
Read more about the panelists below.

Joshua David and Robert Hammond2010 Jane Jacobs Medalists

They met at a community board meeting in 1999. At the time, the High Line was a derelict 1.5-mile-long railroad viaduct elevated above the streets on the west side of Manhattan which the city had proposed to tear down. But Mr. David and Mr. Hammond saw the potential to make a great neighborhood amenity out of this icon of New York’s industrial past, and quickly joined forces.

By 2006, Friends of the High Line had successfully gained the support of the City Council, Mayor Bloomberg, and the City Planning Commission. The High Line was able to receive parks designation and is now part of a revised urban-planning framework for all of West Chelsea.

Elizabeth Barlow Rogers2010 Jane Jacobs Medalist

Ms. Rogers’ tireless efforts to preserve and improve New York’s parkland have spanned the past four decades. From her civic participation in park revitalization as longtime and founding President of Central Park Conservancy and the Cityscape Institute, Rogers has had a remarkable impact on the physical and social landscape of New York City. Since completing her Masters in city planning in the early 1970’s, Ms. Rogers has dedicated her life to the beautification of our city.

She now serves as president of the Foundation for Landscape Studies, an organization whose mission is to promote an active understanding of place.

Richard Kahan2009 Jane Jacobs Medalist

After years in both the public and private sector, Mr. Kahan realized that innovative partnerships between the public and private sectors had the potential to confront and to solve serious urban problems. In the mid-1990’s, he founded the Urban Assembly, which began to create model high schools in reaction to the lack of high-quality local secondary schools in New York City.

The Urban Assembly now runs 22 small, specialized schools that emphasize students’ eventual completion of college. Today, 78% of UA students graduate from high school (significantly higher than the citywide percentage), and 90% of UA graduates are admitted to a college.