Instructors


Eric Gordon

Eric Gordon is a visiting professor in the Comparative Media Studies department at MIT. He is also a professor at Emerson College and the director of the Engagement Lab. His research focuses on the transformation of public life and governance in digital culture, specifically looking at the context of equitable and creative “smart cities.” For the last ten years, Professor Gordon has explored the role of play and creativity in civic life, looking at how game systems and playful processes can augment traditional modes of civic participation. He has served as an expert advisor for local and national governments, as well as NGOs around the world, designing responsive processes that help organizations transform to meet their stated values. He has created over a dozen games for public sector use and advised organizations on how to build their own inclusive and meaningful processes. He is the author of two books about media and cities (The Urban Spectator (2010) and Net Locality (2011)) and is the editor of Civic Media: Technology, Design, Practice (MIT Press, 2016) and the forthcoming Ludics: Play as Humanistic Inquiry (Palgrave, 2020). His most recent monograph, Meaningful Inefficiencies: Civic Design in an Age of Digital Expediency (Oxford University Press, 2020) examines practices in government, journalism and NGOs that reimagine innovation beyond efficiency.

Rachele Gardner

Rachele Gardner is an independent consultant working to bring about greater equity in Boston by equipping and empowering youth and adult residents as drivers of change in their own communities. Rachele provides consultation in areas of Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR), outcome-driven program design and development, civic engagement and empowerment, and resident leadership development. Rachele has consulted to numerous nonprofits, as well as to Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell. Rachele informed Campbell’s civic engagement strategy, centered in collaboration and resident empowerment, and was the lead organizer of Councilor Campbell’s 2019 Boston Civic Leaders Summit and Civic Empowerment Series. Before entering into consulting, Rachele was the founder and director of a community-based nonprofit, Youth Hub Boston. Rachele has also served as adjunct faculty in the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, where she obtained her Master’s Degree in Social Work. Rachele lives in Dorchester with her husband and their two young daughters.

Chris Coward

Chris Coward is Senior Principal Research Scientist at the University of Washington Information School, director of the Technology & Social Change Group, and co-founder of the Center for an Informed Public. Chris is one of the early voices in the information and communication technologies and development (ICTD) field where he has studied information access, digital inclusion, digital skills, and civic engagement, primarily in resource limited populations and countries. Much of his work has focused on these issues in the context of public libraries. His current work examines misinformation and civic discourse, with the aim of developing new library programs and services that respond to today’s more fractious information dynamics. He is interested in the integration of digital and physical spaces as a way of fostering more constructive engagements with information.
Chris directs the Technology & Social Change Group (TASCHA), a research center he co-founded in 1999 (then Center for Internet Studies) as a social science response to the technological euphoria of the era. Under his leadership, TASCHA has grown in size and stature with projects spanning more than 50 countries. Chris approaches research development as a collaborative endeavor, working with donors and partners to co-design projects that result in applied knowledge. His efforts have influenced Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential Program, the Gates Foundation’s Global Libraries Program, and the International Telecommunication Union’s Digital Inclusion program, among others. In 2019 he was one of five principal investigators to co-found the Center for an Informed Public (CIP), a new center with a mission of resisting strategic misinformation and strengthening democratic discourse.
Chris is the author of more than 50 articles and conference proceedings. He holds a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Arts in International Studies, both from the University of Washington.

Participants


Alicia Guo

MIT

Cheryl Antoine

Community Mentor
My name is Cheryl Antoine; I am a parent of current college student. I have been doing community activism for many years. I am a regional coordinator with a Social Justice group. I find this community engagement to be fulfilling and motivational. I look forward to the opportunity in sharing common goals and objects. I am a graduate of Northeastern University and have done peer mentoring for with incoming freshman. Listed are many of community engagement and support groups.
Area of Community Support. Local Community Supporter & Organizer: · Reclaim Roxbury Neighborhood Member -Community Organizer. Regional Coordinator: · Cooljc Social Justice Economic Racial Justice Equality Commission Community Activist (Policy Changes, Improvement, Environmental Protection Education Advocacy); Advocate for Families; Mass Vote; Ujuma; Food Panty (Shepard’s Kitchen); (HFA) Homes For All –City Life; Big Brothers Elderly Service.

Cheryl Harding

Community Mentor
Cheryl R. Harding has worked with City Councilor Andrea Campbell for the last four years as her Senior Advisor. This role is unique to Councilor Campbell's office, created by Cheryl and Councilor Campbell to ensure that the councilor and office consistently stayed connected to seniors in District 4, not just to respond to their needs and concerns but also to listen to seniors’ ideas and lived experiences to inform our work -- both at City Hall and in the community. Through her work, Cheryl seeks to build deeper connections and trust among residents and local government, and bridge perceived differences across demographics and generations so we can work together to make our City a better place for all of us to live. Cheryl is a long-time resident of Dorchester and continues to be a strong voice in the community for the underserved and underrepresented to ensure that everyone has equal access to information, services and opportunities.

CJ Jean-Louis

Community Mentor
CJ, is a long-time resident of District 4. Born and raised in Dorchester, he is very familiar with the cultures and demographics of the district, and has personal experiences with many of the issues facing the community, including displacement, poverty, and public safety. Despite all this, CJ understands and values the history and culture within his neighborhood that makes it the beauty it is today.  Motivated by his life experience and his passion for social equity and justice, CJ graduated from Bridgewater State University in 2017 with a major in Criminal Justice. In 2017, he became a fellow of the Howard Rye Institute, working on issues of social equity and justice, and in 2018, joined Council President Andrea Campbell's office as a neighborhood liaison.  Through his time at City Hall, he hopes to gain the knowledge and resources that will aid him in empowering the very communities that he comes from to create a better Boston.

Corey Thompson

Community Mentor
Corey recently relocated to Dorchester from Takoma Park MD, in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area where he received his B.A. in Architecture and Urban Planning from Howard University.  He also worked as Director of Operations for Mobius LLC, a sustainable design build firm. Coreys transition back to MA and into the Clean Energy Organizer position  was a welcomed change that built on his love for the environment.
Corey is working with community leaders in the City of Cambridge also to ensure that local renters and owners are getting the full benefits of the many instant saving measures in the Mass Save  program that reaches underserved residents, both renters and homeowners.

Henry Christopher

UW
Henry Christopher is a student in the Master of Library and Information Science program at the University of Washington, Seattle. He previously received a BA from the University of Denver with majors in English and Spanish, and a minor in Psychology. As a Puksta Scholar, Henry was trained in community organizing principles and developed a long-term project with community partners to foster intergenerational connections with members of the LGBT community in Denver, CO. He plans to become a Public Librarian, focusing on Children's Services. Henry is a big believer in play, levity, and exploration, and wants to always root his actions in the imaginative pursuit of better and more just ways of living together. Among many other things, Henry is deeply passionate about emotional resilience, restorative justice, prison abolition, and labor rights. Henry sees great potential in public libraries as institutions and infrastructures ready to meet emergent challenges and create renewal in US public life. Henry is interested in how development of mutual partnerships and exchange of non-monetary resources and skills can help communities to change how they view themselves and ensure their own resilience.

Jacob deBlascourt

Community Mentor
Jacob deBlecourt (he/they) currently serves as the Director of Public Policy and Communications for the Office of Boston City Councilor At-Large Julia Mejia. Raised in New Jersey, he moved to Boston to study political science at UMass Boston, where he would eventually go on to meet then-candidate Julia Mejia.
In his role, his primary function is to make policy and government operations more understandable, keeping in mind the fact that a city like Boston is resource-rich but often coordination-poor. In addition, the policy team has worked to flip the script when it comes to community engagement by creating pathways for people to dictate their own policies on topics ranging from police reform to sexual assault to language access. When not at the office, (and when not in the midst of a worldwide pandemic)  Jacob can be found at the movies, at an antique store stockpiling vintage campaign pins, or at home cooking with friends. He has happily called Allston Village home since 2017.

Julie Zhu

UW
Yuyue (Julie) Zhu is a Master Science of Information Management candidate with user experience and information architecture specializations at the University of Washington. She previously received a double degree in B.S Informatics and B.A Psychology at UW as well. She is interested in user interface design and user experience research. She has done UX design works for companies, such as Amazon, PATH, NewImpact, and the Seattle Foundation. Julie has spent time conducting research on how the pandemic has impacted the Seattle region in regards of mental health. She’s interviewed experts in the fields from the public, social, and private sectors. Currently, she’s working on a design solution for the mental health resources allocation problem that takes a tri-sector approach. In this class, she’s hoping to take a participatory design approach to bring municipal governments closer to local care networks.

Kat Wyly

UW
Kat Wyly is a Master of Library and Information Science candidate at University of Washington. She currently provides reference services and information literacy instruction at Suzzallo and Allen Libraries as a Research and Learning Services Specialist. Before starting at UW, she was an elementary educator in Seattle and has been involved in citywide initiatives, such as an evaluation panel that allocated levy funding to public schools. Her interests lie in how libraries and other community institutions can serve as informal learning spaces. She values neighborhood driven collaboration and participatory design as methods for reimaging how city institutions and communities can equitably reframe their partnerships.

Leslie Yan

MIT
Leslie is a third-year undergraduate at MIT studying Mechanical Engineering and Art & Design. She is interested in working to create and manufacture user-centric objects, systems, and interfaces. Born and raised in the Greater Boston area, she is the daughter of Chinese immigrants. Leslie has been involved in educational projects on both the K-12 and undergraduate level, organizing programs for and teaching students in Boston, Israel, and Hong Kong and representing the undergraduate voice in MIT education policy development.


Maita Navarro

Wellesley
Hi! I’m Maita Navarro, a junior majoring in Media Arts & Sciences at Wellesley College. I’m interested in using art and technology to support the goals of social movements. I was born in Manila, Philippines, but raised in New York, Beijing, and Phnom Penh. Familiar with what it means to live at the intersections, I strive to cross borders and bridge divides in my work.

Maridena Rojas

Community Mentor
Maridena Rojas -  Serves as the Community Engagement Manager for the Boston Project Ministries and holds a leadership seat on the  Talbot-Norfolk Triangle Neighbors United (TNT) Civic Association.  In that capacity, Maridena speaks to everyone in the neighborhood, believes that everyone has a voice and something to say, no one should be discounted. It is through these conversations that challenges and barriers to services can be addressed and the community served. Having received two awards for Hispanic Heritage Month,  LatinX Excellence in service to her community.  First-generation born in the U.S. to native Puerto Ricans, with a partner of ten years, a mother of two, and an avid big dog lover. Currently working on a master of science with a focus on organizational leadership.


Marilyn Forman

Community Mentor
Marilyn Forman born in Hybury, England UK to immigrant parents from the Island of Montserrat. When they immigrated to America they landed in Dorchester MA where they raised their children. Marilyn was raised and attended school in Dorchester.   Today She has been a community organizer/activist and leader for over 40 years in Boston. She learned that she was an organizer at the tender age of just eleven years old. Since then, she uses her talents as a community relations specialist to develop relations and builds on those relationships with residents and stakeholders in various neighborhoods. Her love and passion for people led her to also create and develop a Leadership Development Training series to empower others to mobilize, organize and make change in their communities. Currently, Marilyn is employed by The Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation and is the Lead Organizer and Community Relations person.  She also chairs The Four Corners Main Street Board of Directors as well as her own Neighborhood Association, she also chairs the Capital Campaign Committee at her local church, and serves on a few steering committees in the Dorchester area.   Marilyn is Married to her husband Michael for twenty-seven years, has three adult children and seven grandchildren.

Melissa Henry

UW

Michael Sugarman

MIT
Mike Sugarman is a writer, musician, and organizer in underground music interested in the technologic and interpersonal means that communities use to build and maintain themselves. He graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Film Studies and has spent the time since enmeshed in experimental and dance music scenes in New York and Chicago, fascinated by their ad hoc infrastructure and working to bolster community within them by way of running publications, booking shows, and exploring means for musicians and partiers alike to act as crucial members of both their music community and broader urban or social communities. Spurred by the tragic Ghost Ship fire in Oakland in 2016, Mike started the Groove Café project in Chicago to develop and disseminate safety protocols for DIY events. The project quickly expanded to build other resources that could support the structures and people participating in the wider underground, ranging from publishing mental health resources and releasing fundraiser albums on a digital record label to disseminating literature that could help music venues make their bathrooms accessible, pleasant spaces. Mike hopes to further pursue community-strengthening media practices during his graduate research in CMS and work in the Center for Civic Media.


Nancy Smith

Community Mentor
Nancy B. Smith, Program Manager for Community Resilience and Engagement at Office of Public Health Preparedness (OPHP), Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) located in Boston, Massachusetts. Ms. Smith is responsible for developing community relationships in support of emergency preparedness and community resilience in close coordination with other Public Health Departments and Boston Emergency Management Services (BEMS).  Nancy earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Northeastern University and has a Certificate in Maternal Child Health from the Boston University School of Public Health. Nancy completed Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health “Community  Health Leaders” Program. Nancy has worked in different departments of the Boston Public Health Commission, Substance Abuse Bureau, Homeless Commission, and the Child Adolescence and Family Health Bureau. Co-Developed “Healthy Relationships” curriculum” under the 3-city Community Healthy Marriage Initiative (CHMI) site report that includes Boston on the ACF website. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/news/press/2008/hmi_three_cities.html
Nancy is currently working on several special programming exploring (rising tides and heat island) Climate Change Adaption for the City of Boston.  Ms. Smith is lifetime member of Black Emergency Managers Association International, and member of Team Rubicon.  Ms. Smith is member of Massachusetts State Conference 2020 NAACP Transit Environment Climate Justice Committee.
Lead-Planner 2019 May and September Community Movie Series “Cooked: Survival by Zip Code” hosted in Boston and Cambridge.  Lead Planner 2020   Summer of Extremes: Racism, Health Inequity and Heat.



Neenah Estrella-Luna

Community Mentor
Dr. Neenah Estrella-Luna is an educator, advocate, and consultant focusing on issues related to social justice, social relations, and democratic governance. As an educator, she teaches courses related to race and social relations, Whiteness, law and society, and social inequality. As an advocate, she collaborates with grassroots organizations and policymakers to develop policies and practices that support social equity in law and the private sector. As a consultant, she works with a variety of communities to develop and implement learning opportunities aimed understanding the history, socialization processes, and contemporary experience of oppression and exclusion in the US in order to understand structures of inequity and the roots of socially conditioned biases. She also works with organizations to create policies and systems to support equity and inclusion. Dr. Estrella-Luna is also an active member of the Massachusetts Advisory Committee for the US Commission on Civil Rights.


Nicole Simone Kuhn

UW
Nicole S. Kuhn, Ph.D. Student, is a member of the Skidegate Band of the Haida Nation on Haida Gwaii, an archipelago off the northern coast of B.C., Canada. She is a second year PhD Student in the Information School (iSchool) at the University of Washington and her research focuses on the intersection of information, technology and Indigenous communities. Nicole has spent time conducting research on Indigenous knowledge systems and research ethics, digital youth, and Indigenous social media practices. As a graduate of the iSchool's Informatics program, she is also interested in the co-design of information systems and technology for and by Indigenous communities, particularly in the U.S. and Canada.


Nigel Jacob

Community Mentor
Nigel Jacob is the Co-founder of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, a civic innovation incubator and R&D Lab within Boston’s City Hall. Nigel’s work is about making urban life better via innovative, people-oriented applications of technology and design. Prior to joining the City of Boston in 2006, Nigel worked in a series of technology start-ups in the Boston area. He was also previously the Urban Technologist in Residence at Living Cities, a philanthropic collaboration of 22 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions, is currently a board member at organizations such as Code For America and coUrbanize, and is an Executive-in-Residence at Boston University. Nigel’s work has been written about extensively in magazines such as Wired, MIT Technology Review, Fast Company and books including The Responsive City, by Stephen Goldsmith and Susan Crawford and Smart Cities by Anthony Townsend.
This ground-breaking work has earned Nigel a number of awards including being named a Public Official of the year in 2011 by Governing Magazine, a Whitehouse Champion of Change and the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation award for 2012. Nigel is also a 12th level Wizard-Pirate with a special focus on causing chaos in large municipal bureaucracies via befuddlement spells.


Roya Moussapour

MIT
Roya Moussapour is a researcher and designer passionate about increasing educational equity and access for diverse populations of students. Her research focuses on the ethics of educational data collection through standardized testing and the predatory ways assessment organizations distribute student data.
Roya holds a Bachelor of Arts in Physics with a minor in Education from Bowdoin College. At Bowdoin, she conducted research in both experimental physics and education and spent time working with students in Maine public schools. Prior to attending MIT, Roya worked in economic consulting, providing data analysis and research for litigation and labor matters in the aviation and energy industries.
At MIT, Roya works in the Teaching Systems Lab, exploring and developing unique methods for teacher learning. Outside of her academic pursuits, Roya serves as concertmaster of the Boston chapter of the Me2/Orchestra, an ensemble with a mission to erase the stigma surrounding mental illness through performance and outreach.


Sara Kudra

Mentor
Sara Kudra is an architect and active community member, motivated to tackle complicated design problems in search of elegant and relevant solutions, and to contribute to and help shape the community in a socially and environmentally responsible way. She resides in Dorchester with her husband and cat, where she is a board member of Four Corners Main Streets, working to demystify the building and community engagement processes in the city of Boston.  As the Director of Design at DREAM Collaborative she constantly strives to elevate the quality and aesthetics of affordable housing.

Sara Rege

MIT
Sarah Rege was born in Nairobi, Kenya and raised in both Ethiopia and Kenya. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Virginia Tech and is currently pursuing a Master's in City Planning. She is a creative at heart and interested in effectively engaging social equity through multi-disciplinary design in the built environment specifically in the global south.

Tomás Guarna

MIT
Tomás Guarna is a graduate student at MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program. He is interested in critical infrastructure studies, digital governance, and the political effects of misinformation.
Tomás received his B.A. in Social Sciences from Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Following that, he worked for the Presidency of Argentina’s Digital Communications Team, collaborating on the Presidency’s digital strategy and creating content for its social media accounts. In addition to his work in technology and politics, Tomás has created several public digital media projects.

Yi-Ning (Nicole) Liu

MassArt