Cities and metropolitan areas around the world face immense challenges today. In a new posthumous book, renowned urban planner Hank Dittmar makes the case for individual initiatives and interventions rather than grand plans, which he contends are often the problem. The lessons in the book come directly from Hank’s experiences throughout the course of his storied career—as transportation planner, airport executive, and visionary leader and advocate—and how those lessons can, and should, be replicated to create places where people can flourish. This webinar features Hank’s longtime friends and collaborators, Don Chen (Surdna Foundation) and Shelley Poticha (Natural Resources Defense Council) to discuss Hank’s legacy and the importance of engaging communities as cities and states realign their goals and programs post-COVID and beyond.
Don Chen, President, Surdna Foundation
Shelley Poticha, Managing Director of Healthy People & Thriving Communities Program, Natural Resources Defense Council
Robert Puentes, President and CEO, Eno Center for Transportation
Watch the Recording:
Don Chen is the President of the Surdna Foundation where he leads the 100-year old foundation’s efforts to strengthen and further leverage its commitment to social justice. Prior to his appointment, Don was the Director of the Cities & States program at the Ford Foundation, where his work supported urban development initiatives to make housing more affordable, promote more equitable land use practices, and empower communities to have a powerful decision-making voice in American cities and in developing countries. He also led a multi-program team to support the strengthening of social justice organizations and networks in targeted U.S. states. Previously, Don was the Founder and CEO of Smart Growth America, where he led efforts to create the National Vacant Properties Campaign (which later became the Center for Community Progress) and Transportation for America, and managed a merger with the Growth Management Leadership Alliance. He has authored many pieces on land use, transportation, social equity, and environmental policy. Don currently serves on the boards of Living Cities, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, and Philanthropy New York. He holds a master’s degree from the Yale School of the Environment and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Yale University.
Shelley Poticha leads NRDC’s Healthy People & Thriving Communities program, which advances strategies that create strong, just, and resilient communities. She works with local, national, and global leaders to make cities part of the answer to climate change while ensuring that all people can lead healthy, thriving lives. Previously Poticha was a senior political appointee in the Obama administration, where she led the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities and launched the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. She also served as president and CEO of Reconnecting America and as executive director of the Congress for the New Urbanism following 10 years as an urban planner. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a master’s in urban and regional planning from the University of California, Berkeley. She is based in Washington, D.C.