Applying to Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design

Follow the discussion online at #ruraldesign

Tuesday, June 11, 2019 - 2:00 PM Eastern Time


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Omar Hakeem
Omar Hakeem, AIA, LEED AP is Design Director at buildingcommunityWORKSHOP. He is based in Washington, DC working to bring greater social and environmental equality through thoughtful design and planning. From 2013-2015, Omar lead the Rio Grande Valley office focusing on a geographical, social cultural frontier by addressing the systemic poverty, health and resilience issue that plague the region. Through these efforts he has completed award winning affordable housing, rapid response disaster housing prototypes, urban bike and pedestrian infrastructure, regional drainage improvements and community based rural planning initiatives. Omar’s passion for design has taken him from the cloud forests of Costa Rica to the ravaged communities of the Gulf Coast and many places in between. His professional practice has also included supporting large arts and cultural projects at Skidmore Owings & Merrill in DC, and prefabricated modular buildings at Alchemy Architects in Minnesota. Originally from Washington, DC, he received his B.S. of Architecture from SUNY Buffalo as well as a Master of Architecture and a Master of Science in Sustainability Design from the University of Minnesota in 2009.
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Jen Hughes
Jen Hughes was appointed director of Design and Creative Placemaking for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in April 2018, having served as acting director since June 2017. In this position, she oversees grant portfolios that support the design and creative placemaking fields, as well as leadership initiatives that include the Mayors’ Institute on City Design and the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design. Since 2011, Hughes has served in multiple roles as design specialist and community solutions specialist at the NEA, playing a significant role in shaping the agency’s creative placemaking and social impact design investments. At the NEA, she has managed federal, philanthropic and local relationships to strategically integrate arts, culture, and design into comprehensive community development plans. Prior to her work at the NEA, she was an urban planner for the District of Columbia and has held communications and business consulting positions in the private sector. A Philadelphia native, she has a bachelors in management from the University of Pennsylvania and a masters in city planning from University of California, Berkeley with a focus on community development and design.
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Evelyn Immonen
Evelyn Immonen is a Research and Policy Associate at the Housing Assistance Council, where she works with the Research and Information team to prepare research reports on rural housing and bridge the gap to real-world policy issues. She also represents HAC as part of the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, a program that brings creative placemaking and design to rural areas. She recently graduated from the University of Virginia where she earned a Bachelors in English and a Master of Public Policy degree. During her time in graduate school she served as the Teaching Assistant for a graduate-level policy writing course and wrote her Applied Policy Project on the opioid crisis in Indian Country. Evelyn is particularly interested in Native American communities due to her heritage with the Turtle Mountain Tribe and connection to many tribes in North and South Dakota.
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Courtney Spearman
Courtney Spearman manages the Design program for the National Endowment for the Arts, overseeing the NEA’s relationship with and support for the design field across the country and managing the Art Works Design grant program. Trained as a landscape architect and architectural historian, Courtney came to the NEA after working for The Cultural Landscape Foundation, a DC-based, non-profit focused on raising awareness about designed landscapes. She has also worked in landscape practice at EDAW/AECOM in Alexandria, Virginia. Before returning to graduate school, Courtney worked for a small tech start-up in Houston and London doing project management and product development, and for several Houston museums and art galleries. She has masters degrees in landscape architecture and architectural history from the University of Virginia, and bachelors degrees in history and art and art history from Rice University.