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Toni L. Griffin is the founder of Urban Planning and Design for the American City, based in New York.  Through the practice, Toni served as Project Director the long range planning initiative of the Detroit Work Project, and in 2013 completed and released Detroit Future City, a comprehensive citywide framework plan for urban transformation. Most recent clients include working with the cities of Memphis, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh.

Ms. Griffin was recently a Professor of Architecture and the founding Director of the J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just Cityat the Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York.  Founded in 2011, the Bond Center is dedicated to the advancement of design practice, education, research and advocacy in ways that build and sustain resilient and just communities, cities and regions. Currently the Center is focused on several design research initiatives including the Legacy City Design Initiative, that explores innovative design solutions for cities that have lost greater than 20% population lost since their peak;  “Just City Design Indicators Project” that seeks to define the core values of a just city and offer a performance measure tool to assist cities and communities with evaluating how design facilitates urban justice in the built environment; and “Inclusion in Architecture” that examines the participation of people of color in architecture and related design fields.

Prior to returning to private practice, Toni was the Director of Community Development for the City of Newark, New Jersey, where she was responsible for creating a centralized division of planning and urban design, launching the city’s complete overhaul of its comprehensive master plan and zoning ordinance.  Between 2000-2006, Ms. Griffin served as Vice President and Director of Design for the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation in Washington, DC, leading the planning for the Washington Nationals Ballpark District, and held the position of Deputy Director for Revitalization Planning and Neighborhood Planning in the D.C. Office of Planning, responsible for the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, the downtown City Center redevelopment, and numbers neighborhood revitalization plans.

Between 1998-2000, Ms. Griffin served as Vice President for Planning & Tourism Development for the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation in New York City.  She began her career as an architect with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP in Chicago, where she became an Associate Partner involved in architecture and urban design projects in London and Chicago.

Ms. Griffin received a Bachelors of Architecture from the University of Notre Dame and a Loeb Fellowship from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, where she also taught as an Adjunct Associate Professor between 2006-2011.  In 2014, Toni was the Visiting Associate Professor and Theodore B. and Doris Shoong Lee Chair in Real Estate Law and Urban Planning, in the Department of City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, and serves on the board of the New York Regional Plan Association.


Caroline Lauer is a second-year Master of Urban Planning student at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design, where she focuses on affordable housing policy, environmental justice and gentrification, and designing for just communities. In her free time, Caroline enjoys reading the New Yorker and spending time outside with her dog, Izzy. She received her Bachelor of Arts in History and Literature from Harvard College.

Natasha Hicks is a second year student at the GSD pursuing a concurrent degree in Urban Planning and Design Studies (Concentration: Risk and Resilience). Natasha received her Bachelors degree in Architecture and Art History from Stanford University. Prior to coming to the GSD, Natasha spent two years working in a diverse set of cultural institutions such as the the A+D Museum, the J Paul Getty Museum, and the Neue Galerie New York. She also spent two years working in New York City as a Junior Architect at Aurelie Paradiso Design. Passionate about dismantling the symptoms of racial inequity embedded within the built environment, Natasha is the Co-President of the African American Student Union, organizer of the Black in Design Conference, and the GSD student representative on the Presidential Task force for Inclusion and Belonging.