Carol Coletta

"Reimagining the Civic Commons" — Carol Coletta, a senior fellow with the Kresge Foundation’s American Cities Practice, joins the Kinder Institute to talk about revitalizing and connecting public places to form more creative, inclusive cities.

Due to underinvestment and apathy, our civic assets — publicly shared places such as parks, plazas, trails and libraries — are no longer connecting residents and anchoring neighborhoods. Research shows that Americans are spending less time together in social settings, trust each other less and interact less with others whose experiences are different. Houstonians in particular, according to the 2018 Houston Civic Health Index, have higher levels of mistrust than the national average, and one-fifth of Greater Houston residents report that they never talk to their neighbors.

Carol Coletta will discuss transforming expectations about these public assets and managing them in ways that foster civic engagement, socioeconomic mixing, environmental sustainability and value creation for cities and neighborhoods.

About Carol Coletta

Carol Coletta is president and CEO of the Memphis River Parks Partnership. She is leading the relaunch of a nonprofit to develop, manage and program six miles of riverfront and five park districts along the Mississippi River.

She is on loan from The Kresge Foundation where she is a senior fellow in the foundation’s American Cities Practice. She leads a $50+ million collaboration of national and local foundations, local nonprofits and governments to Reimagine the Civic Commons in five cities. It is planned as the first comprehensive demonstration of how a connected set of civic assets — a civic commons — can yield increased and more widely share prosperity for cities and neighborhoods. 

She was formerly vice president of Community and National Initiatives for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation where she managed a portfolio of more than $60 million annually in grants and a team of 18 in 26 communities to drive success in cities.

Coletta led the two-year start-up of ArtPlace, a unique public-private collaboration to accelerate creative placemaking in communities across the U.S. and was president and CEO of CEOs for Cities for seven years.

Previously, she served as executive director of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, U.S. Conference of Mayors and American Architectural Foundation. She also ran a Memphis-based public affairs consulting firm, Coletta & Company, where she served business, foundations, nonprofits and government on the broadest range of civic issues. 

For nine years, she was host and producer of the nationally syndicated weekly public radio show "Smart City," where she interviewed more than 900 international leaders in business, the arts and cities. She continues producing conversations with urban leaders as a regular podcast, "Talking about Cities."


CenterPoint Energy is the title sponsor of the Kinder Institute Forum series. This program is eligible for 1.5 CM credits from the American Planning Association.