Engagement Strategies That Empower Change

Innovation Round

Between the COVID pandemic and widespread advocacy for racial justice, 2020 increased the commitment of many communities and organizations to identify and pursue equity for the people and places they serve. This innovation round will share examples of strategies for meaningful engagement across language, culture, and income differences. Presenters will share learning lessons, challenges, and key takeaways for developing partnerships that empower neighborhood groups and youth to shape their environment, reflective of community needs.


  • Learn about new techniques and technology for engaging youth, and tracking metrics of engagement
  • Learn how to successfully build trusting relationships with community residents that lead to collaboration, including innovative engagement strategies to ensure an inclusive design process that reflects the needs and ideas of a diverse group of residents based on race, income and age
  • Discover ways to use greening to increase fellowship and a culture of belonging in urban neighborhoods
  • Learn about elements of design that contribute to waterfront parks that are heat-resilient, mitigate coastal and stormwater flooding and serve the needs of an environmental justice neighborhood
  • Understand how the process of including public art as a design consideration within public outreach efforts can expand notions of what’s possible for the community


Veronica Hahni

Executive Director, Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative

Emily Proudfoot

Principal Landscape Architect, City of Eugene, Oregon

Melanie Gárate

Climate Resiliency Manager, Mystic River Watershed Association

Cristina Bejarano

Planner and Urban Designer, WRT

Samir Dalal

Planning Manager | Philadelphia LandCare Program, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society