Meet 45 Young People Who Hope to Make an Impact on Houston

INSIGHTS :  Mar. 23, 2016

Architects, policy experts, programmers and more will attend the May event.

Blue lights under the bayou bridges in Houston with the skyline in the background

Ryan Holeywell |March 24, 2016 Architects, policy experts, programmers and more will attend the May event.

Downtown Houston, as seen from Buffalo Bayou Park. Image via flickr/telwink. Downtown Houston, as seen from Buffalo Bayou Park. Image via flickr/telwink.

Some of the sharpest young minds in urban planning, architecture, design and public policy will converge on Houston May 10 to 14 at the 2016 Next City Vanguard Conference.

The attendees -- 45 emerging leaders younger than 40 who have a passion for cities -- aim to do more than just attend lectures and workshops. They'll try to learn everything they can about Houston -- and contribute solutions to some of its most pressing challenges as well.

The fellows will meet in Houston for four days of presentations, workshops and tours organized around the theme “Equitable Growth.” The prestigious conference is run by the online news magazine Next City, in conjunction with Rice University's Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

They'll visit with communities served by organizations such as Neighborhood Centers Inc. and Project Row Houses and work with partner organizations throughout Houston's communications to help address specific challenges those organizations face.

The event culminates in a design competition, in which fellows are tasked with developing low-cost interventions designed to address a specific challenge the city is facing as it grows. The goal is for the fellows to learn about the challenges facing Houston and help find ways to address them.

Among the Next City fellows who will attend the event are officials with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the City of Los Angeles, the City of Philadelphia, and the United Nations.

The group also includes officials from nonprofits and charitable organizations, advocates, entrepreneurs and programmers. Though their backgrounds are diverse, they all have something in common: a desire to improve cities. The group was selected from a pool of 450 applicants.

Though the group includes fellows from across the U.S. as well as Canada and Brazil, the event also welcomes five Houstonians who won't have to travel far. Read below to see Houston's five rising urban stars who will represent their city at the Next City Vanguard Conference. And click here to see the full list of attendees.

Images and descriptions via Next City.

adeleAdele Houghton
Biositu, LLC
Adele leverages her interdisciplinary background as architect, green building consultant, and public health professional to bring a health-based approach to green building design and climate change policy. Her consulting company, Biositu, LLC, uses spatial analysis of community health data to develop actionable recommendations tailored to their social and physical context.

jamesJames Llamas
Traffic Engineers, Inc.
James Llamas is a transportation planner and engineer-in-training at Traffic Engineers, Inc. (TEI) in Houston where he works primarily on the firm’s transit, street, sidewalk, and bike planning and engineering projects. James also serves on the board of directors of Houston Bike Share.

rajRaj Mankad
Rice Design Alliance
Raj Mankad is Editor of Cite: The Architecture + Design Review of Houston. His writing helped bring about the launch of Sunday Streets HTX and the planned integration of commuter bus systems from Houston to Galveston. He completed a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston.

chriChrishelle Palay
Texas Low Income Housing Information Service
Chrishelle Palay is the Houston Co-Director at Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, where she provides fair housing policy expertise to local community organizations. She facilitates dialogue between various interests to address ongoing concerns in historically underserved communities. Chrishelle holds a Bachelors of Architecture from Prairie View A&M University and practiced architecture for 10 years prior to becoming a housing advocate.

valdezChris Valdez
Primer Grey
Chris Valdez leads strategy and creative at Houston brand consultancy, Primer Grey where he and a team develop work with a people-first approach, helping to make words and Design solve human problems. Chris has most recently contributed work to campaigns for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance and First Lady Michelle Obama, and works daily with entrepreneurs and leaders across a variety of industries and sectors. Chris is a Court-appointed Special Advocate working with youth in the care of the state of Texas.

Ryan Holeywell


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