Adding a new feather in my cap! Selected for the 2014 Vanguard Class!

March 11, 2014 at 5:01 pm

I’m truly humbled and honored to be selected for the Vanguard Class of 2014 heading to Chattanooga, TN during April 2014. What makes it extra special is that I’m one of the 40 emerging young leaders selected from a pool of 300 super-qualified applicants.

Hosted by Next City, this fifth annual Vanguard conference in Chattanooga, Tenn. is a gathering of the best and brightest young urban leaders working to improve cities across sectors, including urban planning, community development, entrepreneurship, government, transportation, sustainability, design, art and media. The conference will engage these professionals from around the country on series of presentations, workshops, tours and other activities over a period of three days.

Looking at the names and designations of others in my 2014 cohort, it is just beginning to sink in that this is a seriously big deal. The selectors have put a lot of faith in my potential for impact (Questions they asked during the evaluation process: will this person have their life changed by the conference? what can this person teach someone else from across the country? and will this person be leading the urban affairs field forward in 10 years?). The selection make me realize the challenges ahead and I’m determined to validate their faith in my abilities to deliver. My home town folks in India won’t even know what this means but it all started from that dusty corner of Southern India and I owe this to them.

Can’t wait to meet fellow 2014 classmates and get started on this new quest to reshape and redefine urban America. Below is the announcement posted on the Next City website.

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Announcing the 2014 Vanguard Class

Chattanooga | 03/11/2014 7:00am | 0

Credit: Casey Yoshida, Cargo Collective

Next City has been hosting its annual Vanguard conference for five years and never before have we seen such a quantity of terrific candidates. (You can read more about the 300 applications we receivedhere.) Indeed, the growing demand for participation in Vanguard suggests that we need to find ways to expand future conferences beyond 40 attendees. As we begin thinking about the 2015 event, you can anticipate that we will broaden the participant pool.

We had to turn down so many young stars from around the country, and I can imagine many of them wondering why they weren’t picked. The selection process is more of an art than a science, but in a nutshell, our two guiding principles for choosing Vanguard participants are diversity (geography, ethnicity, profession, personal character) and potential for impact (will this person have their life changed by the conference? what can this person teach someone else from across the country? and will this person be leading the urban affairs field forward in 10 years?).

We have always sought to make Vanguard a conference for emerging leaders, and so even those applicants with enviable resumes weren’t necessarily our top picks. Likewise, we have been committed to linking cities across the U.S. While cities such as New York and San Francisco certainly boasted some of the highest-caliber candidates, we also recognize that there is talent from smaller cities that deserves to be connected with those coastal innovation hubs, too.

We’re proud to meet and connect with this outstanding group in Chattanooga in April. The 2014 Vanguard class, along with over a dozen Vanguard alumni, will meet for workshops, local tours and an “unconference” to collectively learn and think about how to improve our cities. The event is made possible with support from the Lyndhurst Foundation, the Benwood Foundation and the Footprint Foundation, and it is being curated with the help of a host committee made up of local civic innovators. Stay tuned to Next City (#Vanguard14) for live coverage from the conference and recaps afterward. And congrats to this year’s class!


Jamie Alderslade
Citi Community Development, Director of Policy, Research and Communications
Brooklyn, NY

Ian Beniston
Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, Deputy Director
Youngstown, OH

John Bilderback
Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department, Step ONE Program Manager
Chattanooga, TN

Nick Bowden
MindMixer, CEO
Omaha, NE

Marlon I. Brown
Michigan State Budget Office, Budget and Policy Analyst
Mason, MI

Noah Budnick
Transportation Alternatives, Deputy Director
Brooklyn, NY

Demion Clinco
Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, President
Tucson, AZ

Harmon L. Cooper
Sedgwick LLP, Associate
Bowie, MD

Rondell Crier
Rondell Crier Design, Owner
Chattanooga, TN

Melissa Dittmer
Rock Ventures, LLC, Architect
Detroit, MI

Amanda Eaken
Natural Resources Defense Council, Deputy Director of Sustainable Communities
San Francisco, CA

R. Denise Everson
DC Housing Authority, Redevelopment Project Specialist
Washington, DC

Lakweshia Ewing
Hamilton County Department of Education, District Coordinator Community Partnerships
Chattanooga, TN

Mike Field
JP Morgan Chase‎, Senior Analyst
Jacksonville, FL

Cristina Garmendia
OpportunitySpace, Co-founder
Allston, MA

Juan Gomez
California’s Boys and Men of Color Initiative, Statewide Advisor
Freedom, CA

Ashley Z. Hand
City of Kansas City, Chief Innovation Officer
Kansas City, MO

Brandon Holmes
Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Greater Peoria, Executive Director
Peoria, IL

Lisa Hook
The Asia Foundation, Senior Program Officer
San Francisco, CA

Christine Ingrassia
St. Louis City Board of Aldermen, 6th Ward Alderwoman
St. Louis, MO

Kiran Jain
City of Oakland, Senior Deputy City Attorney
Berkeley, CA

Milicent Johnson
Peers, Director of Partnerships and Community
San Francisco, CA

Maeghan Jones
Chattanooga Area Food Bank, President
Chattanooga, TN

Michael Kaufmann
Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, Director of Special Projects and Civic Investment
Indianapolis, IN

Stephen Larrick
City of Central Falls, RI, Director of Planning and Economic Development
Providence, RI

Vanessa Leon
Pinchina Consulting, Founder
New York, NY

Adrian Michelle Lipscombe
City of Austin, Bike Share Coordinator
San Antonio, TX

Andrew Londre
Couleecap, Business and Income Developer
La Crosse, WI

Manasvi Menon
Parsons Brinckerhoff, Associate Consultant
Brooklyn, NY

Justin Garrett Moore, AICP
NYC Department of City Planning, Senior Urban Designer & City Planner
New York, NY

David Thomas Moran
Geo-social Photographer
Orlando, FL

Carlos Moreno
CAP Tulsa, Graphic Designer
Tulsa, OK

Ananda Palanisamy
Citizant, Inc., Senior Transportation Management Specialist
Rockville, MD

Jenny Park
Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency, Senior Planner
Chattanooga, TN

Maria Poblet
Causa Justa :: Just Cause, Executive Director
Oakland, CA

Sarah Ray
McKinsey & Company, Associate
Washington, DC

Lindsey Scannapieco
Scout, Director and Founder
London, UK

Peter Smith
U.S. Social Security Administration, Policy Advisor
Baltimore, MD

Boris Suchkov
MTA New York City Transit, Principal Transportation Planner
Staten Island, NY

Kim Szeto
Boston Public Schools, Farm to School Coordinator
Boston, MA

William Christopher Tate
TateSpace LLC, Founder and President
Paterson, NJ

Julie Ulrich
The Nature Conservancy, Urban Strategies + Watershed Coordinator
Philadelphia, PA

Alissa Walker
Gizmodo, Urbanism Editor
Los Angeles, CA

Jase Wilson, CEO
Kansas City, MO

Katelyn Wright
Greater Syracuse Land Bank, Executive Director
Syracuse, NY

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