Mitchell Silver

November 13th, 2018

A renowned planner and urbanist, Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver has lead the New York City Parks Department since 2014. He oversees management, planning and operations of nearly 30,000 acres of parkland, including parks, playgrounds, beaches, marinas, recreation centers, wilderness areas and other assets. Mitchell is continually developing tools for local governance and 21st century urban planning on an international scale; this zealous dedication is reflected throughout his career in his publications and leading role in shaping the built environment

Mr. Silver’s insight is invaluable to Asheville. This visit will focus on the impact of planning and placemaking on physical and mental wellbeing.  He will also share learnings from a variety of projects during his role in New York, such as the Community Parks Equity Initiative, Parks without Borders, and Cool Pools and Creative Courts.

Before returning to his hometown of New York City, he served as Chief Planning and Development Officer and Planning Director for the City of Raleigh, North Carolina. He also holds the prestige of being president of the American Planning Association (APA) between 2011 and 2013, and was the first African American to hold the title.

In the past decade, Silver has been recognized across a multitude of platforms as an international thought leader: Planetizen’s “100 Most Influential Urbanists” (2017); in the Urban Times as a top international thought leader of the built environment (2012); and in UBM Future Cities’ “Top 100 City Innovators in the World” (2013).

“[Silver] is a visionary - He has a passion for fairness and equality, and he brings it to the work of government, and understands that we have to ensure that parks and open spaces are available in every community, and are well-maintained in every community in this city.” ~ Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYC 

Michelle Mapp

August 28, 2018

Michelle Mapp serves as the CEO of the South Carolina Community Loan Fund, a nonprofit, mission based lender that has facilitated the development of more than $246 million in community development projects throughout South Carolina.  A certified Housing Development Finance Professional, Michelle has been with SCCLF for 11 years and has served in her current capacity for the past 6 years.

dennis pieprz

May 9, 2018

Dennis plays a leading role in the planning and urban design practice of Sasaki. His 25 years of both national and international experience encompass diverse project types including urban districts, new communities, campus environments, waterfronts, and urban regeneration. 


Hunter Franks

April 3, 2018

Hunter hails from San Francisco and is doing extraordinary work around the country using art and culture as tools to transform cities and communities. He was recently hired as our national creative placekeeping/placemaking expert to consult on the Broadway Cultural Gateway planning project.


Ellen Dunham-Jones

March 7, 2018

Ellen Dunham-Jones is professor of architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she teaches urban design and contemporary theory. An expert on suburban redevelopment, she is co-author, with June Williamson, of Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs.


Tony garcia

November 30, 2017

Tony Garcia is a Principal of Street Plans Collaborative, and leads the firm’s Miami office. Tony is a nationally recognized architect, writer, speaker and advocate in the in the field of transit, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.