Increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in the practice of architecture, urban planning, and design remains an urgent issue in these fields. Not only is it important to increase the number of people of color in these professions, especially Black professionals, but also to support the advancement and leadership of Black and other people of color in this work. Effective strategies for countering persistent anti-Black racism in architecture, planning and design include lifting up the excellent body of work that Black professionals have achieved, shining a spotlight on barriers that must be dismantled, and collectively committing to creating pathways of support for Black professionals at all stages of their careers.

On Wednesday, July 26 from 5:30-8:00 pm, join Hester StreetNext City, and the Graduate Center for Planning the Environment at Pratt Institute for a conversation that highlights and celebrates with joy the achievements of Black professionals in the fields of architecture, planning and design, calls out the anti-Black systemic racism that persists in our fields, and collectively offers up strategies for supporting a pipeline of Black talent to build greater representation and racial equity in our fields.

The panel will be moderated by Jerrod Delaine, CEO and Co-Founder, Legacy Real Estate, and Visiting Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture at Pratt Institute. Featured panelists will include:

RSVP today to let us know you will attend!

Following the panel discussion, attendees will be invited to participate in an interactive reception, with opportunities to meet and engage with the featured panelists and other leaders in these fields.

For those who are unable to attend in-person, Next City will be livestreaming the event and broadcasting it as part of their webinar series. Register here to join the event virtually or listen in on the conversation after the event.


Moderator + Panelist Bios



Jerrod Delaine (he, him), Chief Executive Officer, Legacy Real Estate Development

Jerrod Delaine, Chief Executive Officer of Legacy Real Estate Development, is a decorated scholar with a Bachelor’s Degree and Bachelor of Arts Degree in Architecture from Florida A & M University School of Architecture and Environmental Technology as well as a Master of Science degree from New York University Schack Institute of Real Estate. As a seasoned Real Estate Developer with over a decade of experience, Jerrod has amassed a uniquely diverse skill set that includes Design, Construction, Finance, Affordable Housing, and Asset Management.

Jerrod spent the first five years of his career at Forum Architecture and Interior Design where his efforts focused on project managing affordable housing projects in the southeast region of the United States. He then parlayed that experience into the role of Director of Development at Carthage Advisors, a black-owned, Harlem-based development firm. The Carthage business model concentrated on the preservation and development of affordable housing in the Metro New York Area, where the typical financing instrument was Low Income Housing Tax Credits and Tax-Exempt Bonds. In this position, Jerrod led crucial Asset Management for acquisition rehab deals, where acquiring existing properties and performing tenant-in-place renovations is both an art and a science when maintaining the quality of life during the rehabilitation phase is of the utmost importance. Jerrod led negotiations with tenant association leaders, community organizers, and general resident meetings.

After 8 years as Development Director at Carthage, Jerrod joined Donahue Peebles III to build Legacy, a value-based company committed to utilizing access to capital markets, improving communities through real estate finance and development, where he is now the CEO. Demonstrating his lifelong commitment to education, Jerrod continues to serve as an adjunct professor at both his alma mater, NYU, and Pratt Institute, educating both Graduate and Undergraduate students with an aptitude for development, public-private partnerships, urban economics, and portfolio management. In March 2023, Jerrod joined the Board of Directors of Hester Street.

Featured panelists

Leslie Finnie (she, her), Architectural Designer, Snøhetta

Leslie Finnie, Architectural Designer at Snøhetta, is a scholar and practitioner with five years of professional experience, creating captivating, sustainable, and inclusive spaces in her local NYC community and internationally. Leslie earned her Master of Architecture and Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). As a student in 2018 she won the first place prize in the Lyceum Fellowship Design Competition with her graduate capstone project on the “Guelph Living City Market.” Leslie spent all of her summers during her education at SCAD working as a design intern for various firms such as Gensler, G70, and Studio DB. Leslie continues to apply her cultural sensibilities and technical skills at Snøhetta with clients such as Ghetto Gastro, Kennedy Yanko, Prune Nourry, Jose Parla, Zimbaqua, and University of California San Francisco.

Prior to joining Snøhetta, Leslie was a Job Captain at Gensler, where she worked on various tech-workplace projects, including Google Headquarters NY and Hudson River Trading Company. During this experience she developed advanced skills in 3D modeling, rendering, and multiple digital design softwares. She also served as a program author and mentor for Gensler’s Architecture, Construction, and Engineering (ACE) Mentorship Program. Currently she serves as a mentor with Snøhetta’s NYC PENCIL Mentorship Program, where she helps implement hands-on, immersive design programs that open eyes, open minds, and open doors for the next generation of designers. As her journey continues, Leslie would like to evolve the industry and pave the way for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) architects and designers to follow.

Quardean Lewis-Allen (he/him), Founder and Executive Director of the Youth Design Center

Quardean Lewis-Allen is the Founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit youth creative agency and innovation hub, Youth Design Center, which provides a gateway for young people in NYC to access mentorship to tackle underrepresentation in STEAM professions, cyclical poverty, and to address the need for place-based community revitalization. He has over a decade of interdisciplinary design experience working across public and private sectors at the intersection of tactical urbanism and social activism through community-led design.

Lewis-Allen was an Adjunct Lecturer at City College of New York and NYU Tisch Interactive Telecommunications Program where he was also a Human-In-Residence Fellow. He serves on the Board of Brownsville Community Development Corporation and the Ocean Hill Brownsville Coalition of Young Professionals. He is an Emerging Leaders Fund recipient of Claneil Foundation, Crain’s Under 40, Forbes Under 30, and an Echoing Green Black Male Achievement Fellow. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from SUNY Buffalo and a Masters in Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Daphne Lundi (she/her), Moynihan Public Scholar, City College of New York

Daphne Lundi is an urban planner, policymaker, and artist. She is an inaugural Public Scholar at The Moynihan Center at City College where her work will explore the intersections between science fiction and city planning. Prior to that, she was the Deputy Director for Living Streets & Public Spaces at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice where she led a team focused on creating programs that strengthen and prepare NYC communities against climate change impacts with a focus on extreme heat and open space policy. She was also an urban planner for the NYC Department of City Planning where she worked on resilient land use and zoning policy for Brooklyn coastal communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

She is a founding member and board member of BlackSpace, a collective of Black urbanists that work to bridge the gaps between policy, people, and place to address inequality and injustice in the built environment. She also serves as an advisory board member and visiting teacher for the Octavia Project, a science-fiction summer program for teen girls and non-binary youth that uses the lens of science fiction to explore computer science, writing, and city-making. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Wellesley College, a M.S. in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Austin, and is a proud graduate of the NYC public school system.

Tiffany-Ann Taylor (she/her/hers), Vice President for Transportation, Regional Plan Association

Tiffany-Ann Taylor is the Vice President for Transportation at the Regional Plan Association (RPA). Prior to working at RPA, she served as Deputy Director of Freight Programs, Education and Research for the Freight Mobility unit at the New York City Department of Transportation and as an Assistant Vice President at the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

During her time in New York City Government, Tiffany led transformative passenger transportation projects, freight policy, and truck safety and compliance initiatives. Prior to her time with the City, Tiffany focused on suburban and regional planning efforts while working for the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development & Planning on Long Island, New York where her primary projects were centered on passenger transportation, open space, and economic development. She holds a B.A in Government from The College of William & Mary and a M.S in City & Regional Planning from Pratt Institute.

Tiffany is a first-generation American, the brainchild of the Hindsight Conference and former President of the New York Metro Chapter of the American Planning Association. Tiffany is an alum of the Coro Leadership New York Program, the Urban Design Forum’s Forefront Fellowship Program, the NYU Rudin Center Emerging Leaders in Transportation Fellowship program and is a former mentor of Transit Center’s Women Changing Transportation Mentorship program.


Ron Shiffman (he/him), Professor, Pratt Institute Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment

Ron Shiffman is a community-based planner who has worked with low-income residents to improve their neighborhoods since 1964, when he co-founded the nation’s oldest university-based public interest architectural and technical assistance center at Pratt Institute (the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development, also known as PICCED). He worked with the people of Bedford Stuyvesant, the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy to launch the nation’s first community development corporation in 1968. In the 1990s he was appointed by Mayor David Dinkins as a NYC planning commissioner. He also helped found and sits on the boards of two nonprofit organizations dedicated to racial and social justice: Race Forward/Center for Social Inclusion, an organization committed to uprooting racial injustice and white-supremacy, and Shared Interest, a South African loan guarantee fund with strong anti-apartheid roots that works to advance economic, racial and gender justice in South Africa by empowering Black owned small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Ron has received awards from Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), the Municipal Art Society and many community-based organizations. He is the recipient of two prestigious lifetime achievement awards: the Rockefeller Foundation’s Jane Jacobs Lifetime Achievement Award and the American Planning Association’s National Planning Pioneer Award. He was honored by Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation with their Franklin Thomas Award on the occasion of their 50th anniversary year. He is now Professor Emeritus at Pratt Institute School of Architecture’s Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment, where he continues to teach since retirement as the Founding Director of PICCED in 2004.