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Whitney Young Jr.: Advocate for Afro-Centric / Local-Cultural Planning
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Whitney Young Jr.: Advocate for Afro-Centric / Local-Cultural Planning

When: Tuesday, June 25
6:30 - 9:00 PM
Where: AIA San Francisco
130 Sutter Street, Suite 600
San Francisco, California  94104
United States

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AIASF/SFNOMA Members: $10 | General Admission: $15 | Students: $5

Join us for this conversation as part of the month-long exhibition of "50 Years Later: Whitney M. Young Jr". Whitney Young, Jr. was an American civil rights leader who spent most of his career working to end employment discrimination in the United States and turning the National Urban League from a relatively passive civil rights organization into one that aggressively worked for equitable access to socioeconomic opportunity for the historically disenfranchised.

From his monumental speech at the 1968 AIA National Convention to the subsequent award that bears his name, Young’s legacy has reshaped the world of architecture for half a century, offering architects a new perspective on the built environment. The preceding decades witnessed monumental progress in America’s troubled road toward racial equality. But as he stood at the podium before the nation’s leading architectural organization, Young gazed upon a sea of almost entirely white, male faces. He saw an AIA that appeared unfazed by the changing world around it and seized the opportunity to start a conversation that carries on to this day.

AIA San Francisco partners with the San Francisco Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (SFNOMA), who will host this panel discussion on the impact of the lack and benefits of community voice in American planning and design. Guest presenters will include Bay Area architects, planners, health experts and community activists who will discuss Whitney Young, Jr's call for a hyper-cultural strategy for community improvement. Each panelist, with their individual expertise on “with and for community”, will bring their own take to what is sure to be a robust and enriching conversation.

June A. Grant, RA, NOMA, SFNOMA President
blink!LAB architecture is a research-based design practice with a focus on adaptive architecture and the emerging urban transformation of under-represented communities. The majority of our projects are independent initiatives which are later developed through strategic alliances. Staying Small / Thinking Big, we are a small practice supported by trusted consultants and expertise. Prior to forming blink!LAB, Ms. Grant was co-Principal at Steinberg-Hart San Francisco office – a world recognized multi-unit residential architecture firm. She was also Associate Principal at AECOM, one of the largest engineering-architecture firm in the world. June Grant is the current President of the San Francisco Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects.


William A. Gilchrist, FAIA | Director of Building and Planning, City of Oakland
Bill's career has spanned both public and private sectors, developing land-use policy, urban design and historic preservation programs, capital project delivery systems, and strategies for community engagement and regeneration. In his previous roles as director of Place-Based Planning in New Orleans, LA and director for the Department of Planning, Engineering & Permits in Birmingham, AL, he oversaw the coordination and merger of city-departments including engineering, public works, planning, urban design, and building and inspection services, as well as integrating permitting processes across all regulatory agencies to improve efficiency and customer service. His work has been recognized by the Urban Land Institute, the American Institute of Architects, the National League of Cities, the American Planning Association, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Bill has engaged academic centers of excellence in design and planning as effective resources for local and regional development and has served on advisory boards to MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, and Auburn University. Bill was a founding member of the Birmingham, Al. Chapter of the National Association of Minority Architects. He served as a spokesperson on urban issues through National Public Radio and PBS’s the News Hour with Jim Lehrer. He has contributed to professional publications and journals. He was an editor for the American Institute of Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice. He was a contributing editorial writer for the Birmingham News in 1990-1991, the year that paper’s editorial page won the Pulitzer Prize.

Ariel Ward | Transportation Engineer/Planner, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA)
A transportation engineer and planner at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency by day, and all things creative by night, Ariel Ward is passionate about planning from a place of authenticity and creating space for community ownership. In 1963, James Baldwin offered the following observation after his visit to San Francisco’s Black neighborhoods: “There is no moral distance between the facts of life in San Francisco and the facts of life in Birmingham.” Through her work on the Western Addition and Bayview Community Based Transportation Plans, Ariel seeks to understand how can urban planning be used to generate solutions in communities where it once furthered inequity, and is driven by the belief that connection can change lives. Her career goals are embedded in ensuring the connection of people to people, places, and opportunity through transportation – regardless of circumstance.  A proud HBCU alum, Ariel studied civil engineering at Howard University, and holds a master of city planning from UC Berkeley.

Desi Danganan | Executive Director, Kultivate Labs; Commissioner, City of San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure (OCII) (former Redevelopment Agency)
Desi is a serial entrepreneur.  As a dedicated community advocate, Desi is currently leading the strategy for the economic development of SOMA Pilipinas, a newly designated cultural district in San Francisco. He believes community consciousness and culture are the keys to developing today’s thriving commercial ecosystems. Desi pours his entrepreneurial heart, creative spirit, and business mind into every endeavor. His ability to develop ground-breaking concepts and unique brand experiences in the online and offline world is much sought after and well documented. He finds joy in using his wide breadth of experience to help people grow their businesses and live their dreams.

The exhibition is developed in part using the Architects Foundation’s "50 Years After Whitney Young Jr." exhibition. Copyright © 2019 Architects Foundation. Used with permission. All rights reserved.