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Thursday, September 23 | 8:30AM-5:00PM  -  Friday, September 249:30AM-3:00PM 


Event Overview

Design Impact Vol. 5: Following the Sun: Design Futures at the Intersection of Health, Equity and Climate Change is a global virtual summit sponsored by the Harvard Graduate School of Design Alumni Council. Launching Thursday, September 23rd, the summit brings together an outstanding roster of global leaders to share their work and vision at the intersection of health, climate change and equity. This inspiring, two-day virtual summit transcends regional and national boundaries to unite our global community of practice, challenging us to use design as a tool for actionable, transformative change, and healing.

This ongoing series is free and open to all.

Event Organizers

Adriana Rojas MAUD '01, Architect, Urban Designer, Consultant, Mexico City, Mexico

Amika Malhotra MAUD '20, Urban Designer, Architect & Consultant, Delhi, India

Ana Pinto Da Silva MDes ’05, Design Impact Chair, Designer Leader, Technologist and Community Servant, based in Seattle, WA

Cathy Deino Blake, Director of Campus Planning and Design, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Francisco Brown MDes '20, Research Affiliate at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Florence DiJohnson, Director of Strategy, GSD.

Natasha Harkison MLAUD '22,

Jaya Kader MArch ’88, Event Curator, Architect, Sustainable Design, based in Miami, FL and Costa Rica

Lindsey Grant LaGrasse, Assistant Director of Events and Special Projects, GSD

Melissa Ponce MDes Real Estate and the Built Environment '21, Ecuadorian, based in NYC.

Naksha Staish MAUD '22, Architect and Urban Practitioner.

Natasha Hicks MUP '19, Senior Associate at Insight Center for Community Economic Development

Peter Coombe March '88, AIA LEED AP is a founding partner of Sage and Coombe Architects and the chair of the GSD Alumni Council.

Riki Nishimura MAUD '03, AIA, Principal, Populous

Sameh Wahba MUP'97, PHD'02, KSGEE'13, Global Director, World Bank Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land Global Practice.

Walter Meyer MLAUD '03, Landscape and Urban Designer, Educator and Community Organizer

Session 1

Event Launch

8:30AM - 9:00AM EST

Design Impact Welcome :

Ana Pinto da Silva, Co-founder, GSD Design Impact, CEO, Minka, Seattle, WA


Harvard Graduate School of Design Welcome:


Opening Day Keynote Speaker:

Walter Hood, Landscape designer and Public Artist, Oakland, CA

Session 3

Designing Climate Change: Tough Talk. Ground Truths. Future-Forward Strategies

10:30AM - 11:15AM EST

Featuring a keynote by world-renowned designer and change agent, Professor. Martha Schwartz, Designing Climate Change will center the intrinsic relationship between climate change and the built environment, challenging designers, innovators and leaders in the built environment to deploy leading-edge strategies to radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reverse climate change.

Session Lead:
Cathy Deino Blake, Director of Campus Planning and Design, Stanford University, Stanford, CA





Featured Speaker:

Professor Martha Schwartz, Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design

Session 2

Disability is Certain, Inclusivity is Not: Rethinking Cities + Design through Policy, Practice, and Innovation

9:00AM - 10:30AM EST

Disability affects more people than is often perceived. Today, over 15% of the world’s population suffers from one or more disabilities, and as global life expectancy lengthens, the experience of disability is not a question of if, but when. The prevailing tendency to conflate an extremely heterogeneous landscape of disability - from mobility to hearing, sightedness to cognitive function - into a single group of “disabled people'' irrespective of their varying needs, results in a world where appropriate accommodations are too easily omitted, superficially added, or simply overlooked. Design Impact’s first session takes these challenges head on at two different scales of body and society by. allowing for the due complexity and dignity that nuance affords, when facing challenges from poverty alleviation to global social justice.

Session Leads:

​​​​Sameh Wahba, Global Director, World Bank Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land Global Practice; Washington, DC

Ambika Malhotra, Urban Designer, Architect & Consultant, Delhi, India

Shaina Yang, Architectural Designer, Los Angeles, CA



Panel 1 - Ambika Malhotra, Urban Designer, Architect & Consultant, Delhi, India

Panel 2 - TBD

Keynote Speaker:

Sinead Burke, Disability Activity and CEO, Tilting the Lens

Panel 1 - Inclusive Cities:

Victor Pineda, President, World Enabled; Founder, Cities4All, Berkeley, CA

Moeena Das

Karen Braitmayer, Principal, Studio Pacifica, Seattle, WA


Panel 2 - Inclusive Design:

Sinead BurkeDisability Activity and CEO, Tilting the Lens

Shaina Yang, Architectural Designer, Los Angeles, CA

Moeena Das, Chief of Staff, National Organization on Disability

Session 4

Regenerative Design: An Ecosystemic Approach to Transformative Development

11:15AM - 12:15PM EST

Regenerative Design: Natural Ecosystems and Integrative Approaches for Transformative Development explores policies and design strategies informed by natural ecosystems to remediate and heal our built environment. Our guests will explore how policymakers, designers and custodians of the land can work together to foster development that endorses a more harmonious inter-relational coexistence between humans and nature. The challenges posed by climate change and health pandemics have also brought about a renewed urgency to explore nature base solutions through integrative approaches. These delve deeply into local ecosystems, are driven by clean and renewable technologies and find guidance in nature and indigenous wisdom for a more holistic approach to development. 

Session Leads:

​​​​Sameh Wahba, Global Director, World Bank Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land Global Practice, Washington, D.C.

Jaya Kader, Founding Principal, KZ Architecture and Regen Design Lab, Miami and Costa Rica

Walter Meyer, co-founder of Local Office for Landscape and Urban Design, educator, community organizer. New York




Featured Speakers:

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CEO & Chairperson, Global Environmental Facility

Amanda Sturgeon, Regenerative Design Champion. Former CEO of the international Living Building Future. 

Sylvanie Burton, permanent minister of Tribal Affairs for the government of Dominica

Session 5

Global Gardens: Re-imaging Infrastructures Towards a Regenerative and Equitable Future

12:30PM - 2:00PM EST

The vast natural resources of Latin America​​ have served as the environmental underpinning of our global economic engine since the advent of colonialism. The tension between infrastructure and community has framed a centuries-long battle between global, national, regional and community interests and has been exacerbated by the twin challenges presented by climate change and the devastating Coronavirus Pandemic. Global Gardens invites us to reconsider the intersection of community and infrastructure - both how it is conceived and how it is implemented - and its power to deliver a new future for Latin America and the broader world. Drawing from recent historical events and political frameworks, session speakers will present new opportunities for designers to transform infrastructure design through innovative, community-based strategies and cultural adaptation.


Session Lead:

Adriana Rojas, Architect, Urban Designer, Consultant, GSD Alumni Council, Design Impact Co-chair. Mexico City, Mexico




Featured Speakers:

Keynote TBD

                                                                                                                                                                                Rafael MarengoniUrban Designer at Sasaki. São Paulo, Brazil.

Soledad Patiño, Architect and Urban Designer, Consultant at IADB. Córdoba, Argentina.

Barbara Schmidt Rahmer, President, Rede Vencer Juntos, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. 

Carolina Zambrano-Barragan, Climate Justice Global Lead at Hivos. Quito, Ecuador. 

Felix Jaime VacaDirector of Land Management and Urban Planning at the Portoviejo Municipality. Portoviejo, Ecuador. 

Keith PezzoliDirector director of field research and a lecturer in urban studies and planning at UC San Diego

Session 6

New Futures: Design & The Future of Childhood

2:00PM - 3:30PM EST

Inspired by the collaboration between Dr. Jonathan Salk and his father, Dr. Jonas Salk on their book, "A New Reality: Human Evolution for a Sustainable Future", New Futures: Design & The Future of Childhood will explore the importance of centering the "quality of care of children, the quality of each child’s experience, and the overall quality of human life" as the central driver of transformational change as we seek to imagine and bring forth a more just, more equitable and healthier world.


Session Leads:

Dr. Jonathan Salk, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council, Board of Advisors, Population Media Center.

Ana Pinto da Silva, Co-founder, GSD Design Impact, CEO, Minka, Seattle, WA




Featured Speakers:

Louis Thomas, Postdoctoral Scholar in the Urbanism Lab at the University of Chicago

Sara Candiracci, UKIMEA International Development Leader
Cecilia Vaca Jones, Executive Director of the Bernard van Leer Foundation

Shanna Kohn, Senior Education Manager of Humanitarian Programs at Sesame Workshop, Brooklyn, NY USA

Ninari Chimba, Activist and Role Model

Dr. Zuparee Karutjaiva

Session 2

Regenerative Design: Systems, Technologies

and Strategies

11:30AM - 12:55PM EDT

This panel brings together different practitioners who will share tools and applications of regenerative design, including: planning, preservation, biomimicry, indigenous activism, regenerative agriculture, and permaculture.

  • Session Moderator: Adriana Pablos, MDes ’21, Architect and Urbanist, based in Cambridge | Madrid 


Speakers Include:

  • Walter Meyer, MLAUD '03, Landscape and Urban Designer, Educator and Community Organizer

  • Atossa Soltani, Indigenous Rights and Rainforest Campaigner

  • Tom Newmark, Co-founder and Chair of The Carbon Underground

  • Victoria Kindred Keziah, Biomimicry Specialist and General Manager for Client Engagement at Biomimicry 3.8

  • Eva Leung, MArch ‘12, Architect, co-founder and CEO of non-profit Terra Cura Inc.

Session 7

Power, Equity, Memory, Erasure: Memorials and the Making of Historic Narrative

3:30PM - 5:00PM EST

Recent debates on such political and cultural phenomena as Confederate monuments or the erasure of cultural artifacts have put into high relief the role of memorials as a statement of hegemony, raising questions as: Who controls the historic narrative? What is the purpose of commemoration: to mourn, to celebrate, to inspire, to subjugate? Are traditional forms of commemorative inspiration latently coercive? Central to the discussion is the definition of identity at the individual, social group, and national level, and how is this identity reinforced or challenged by a memorial? Are certain memorial typologies or design languages inherently inclusive or hegemonic? And are there new forms of commemoration—digital, ephemeral, changeable—that speak more equitably to a collective experience?  Power, Equity, Memory & Erasure: Memorials and the Making of Historical Narratives addresses the possibilities of a more equitable statement of collective consciousness, involving a multiplicity of responses that encourage dialogue rather than fixed statements about the past.

Session Leads: 

David A. Rubin, FASLA, FAAR, Founding Principal, DAVID RUBIN Land Collective
Thomas Luebke, FAIA, Secretary, U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, Washington DC

Kristina Yu, Architect, Educator, McClain+Yu Architecture and Design, University of New Mexico 

Peter Coombe, AIA, Principal, Sage and Coombe Architects, GSD Alumni Council Chair 


Research Assistant: Miranda Coombe 


Moderator: Alaa Hamid MDes 2022


Featured Speakers:
C. Brian Rose, James B. Pritchard Professor of Archaeology, Professor of Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania
Justin Garrett Moore, Program Officer, Humanities in Place at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; and Dell Upton, Professor Emeritus of Architecture, UC Berkeley and Professor and Chair of Art History at UCLA

Friday 24

Design Impact Welcome:

Ana Pinto da Silva, Co-founder, GSD Design Impact, CEO, Minka, Seattle, WA


Harvard Graduate School of Design Welcome:


Day 2 Opening Keynote:

Everett Fly, Harvard GSD MLA ’77, San Antonio, TX

Session 8

Day 2 Event Intro 

9:30AM - 10:30AM EST

Session 9

Hard City - Soft City: A South Asian perspective on the dichotomy of physical and operational urban technologies. 

10:30AM - 12:00PM EST

This two-panel session aims to discuss more inclusive and integrative ways to update existing infrastructure and technologies, beyond optimizing its performance for efficiency, to create more resilient, equitable, and sustainable neighborhoods and improve their governing systems. The Hard City panel unpacks the discourse of physical infrastructure beyond the top-down modernist visions of efficient engineering solutions. The Soft city panel examines the operational UrbanTech that animates the city with entrepreneurial and civic innovations. The two panels, though set up as antithetical in scope, draw out the dialectic relationship between physical and operational infrastructure that compose and configure the South Asian cities.

Session Leads:

Naksha Satish, Architect, Urban Designer, Urban Practitioner


Featured Speakers - Panel 1: Hard City


Anthony Acciavatti, Architect, Co-founder, Somatic Collaborative, Daniel Rose Visiting Assistant Professor in Urban Studies at Yale University. 



Anthony Acciavatti, Architect, Co-founder and Principal, Somatic Collaborative, New York

Kotchakorn Voraakhom, Landscape Architect, Founder and CEO at Landprocess and Porous City Network, Thailand


Featured Speakers - Panel 2: Soft City



Rohit Aggarwala, Senior Fellow at the Urban Tech Hub at the Jacobs Cornell-Technion Institute at Cornell Tech, New York



Naksha Satish, Architect, Urban Designer, Urban Practitioner, Cambridge


Featured Speakers: Panel 2: Soft City 

Roshan Shankar,

Dulith Herath, a serial entrepreneur, Founder of, Sri Lanka

Kalpana Vishwanath, Founder, Safetipin, New Delhi, India  

Homelessness is a solvable problem. In fact, several individuals and organizations have already implemented effective strategies that are making significant, measurable progress in assuring that everyone has a dignified place to live - a home that can help provide access to education and jobs, and overall, that enables the full lives all humans deserve, regardless of race, gender, or economic background. The challenge now is to accelerate that progress through broad recognition that: systemic injustices within our culture are at the root of homelessness; that these can be neutralized and reversed if we agree that everyone who is unhoused is deserving of help; that we allocate the necessary funds and resources for effective strategies; and that ultimately, everyone benefits when homelessness as we know it is considered an unacceptable social failure that must be eradicated.

Session Leads:

John Friedman, FAIA, M.Arch.I ‘90, Principal, John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects, Board Chair, Open Source Homelessness Initiative (OSHI), Los Angeles, CA

Alice Kimm, FAIA, M.Arch.I ’90, Principal, John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects, Director, Open Source Homelessness Initiative (OSHI), Los Angeles, CA





Featured Speakers

Rosanne Haggerty, President and CEO of Community Solutions, New York, NY, 

Neil Munslow, Housing Services Manager at Newcastle City Council, Newcastle, United Kingdom,

Shawn Pleasants, Independent advocate for the unhoused in Los Angeles County, 

Dr. Richard Cho, Senior Advisor for Housing and Services at US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Washington D.C.

Session 10

Future Forward: Accelerating the End of Homelessness

12:00PM - 1:30PM EST

Session 11

Mapping Equity: The Golden Path to Opportunity

1:30PM - 3:00PM EST

Session 12

Design Impact Closing Keynote - Climate Change: Ed Mazria, Founder & CEO, Architecture 2030: If We Act Together Now, We Change The World!

3:00PM - 4:00PM EST

The time for half measures and outdated targets is over if we are to stop the irreparable destruction of our cities, towns, and natural environments. How difficult is designing to zero carbon? Not difficult at all. I will outline the three steps to a zero-carbon built environment, and call on our industry to take a leadership role.


Session Leads:

Ana Pinto da Silva, Co-founder, GSD Design Impact, CEO, Minka, Seattle, WA



Keynote Speaker:

Ed Mazria, Founder and CEO Architecture 2030 

Mapping Equity reviews the evolution and impact of mapping. The accessibility of mapping tools and processes has provided community mapping opportunities to introduce once voiceless communities to advanced technologies and real-time data gathering.  The accessibility of these tools and platforms has uncovered problematic political and societal issues, opening up new avenues for the social justice fight globally.

Session Leads:

Riki Nishimura, AIA, Principal, Populous

Francisco Brown, Sage and Coombe Architects 





Featured Speakers:

Edward Charles Anderson, Science, Technology and Development, The World Bank

Felipe Correa, Vincent and Eleanor Shea Professor and the chair of Architecture at UVA School of Architecture


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