Speaker Biographies

Kofi Boone, ASLA

Associate Professor and University Faculty Scholar | North Carolina State University, College of Design

Kofi Boone, ASLA is an Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at NC State University, College of Design. He teaches in the areas of environmental justice, site analysis and planning, community engagement, and media. Kofi focuses on participatory design and tools for engaging communities in the design and planning process. Kofi serves as the academic liaison to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network. His work has been published widely and won state and national awards in communications, analysis and planning, and community service. Kofi is a University Faculty Scholar, and a Board member of the Landscape Architecture Foundation. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and a Detroit native.

Zena Howard, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C

Managing Director, North Carolina Practice | Perkins + Will

Zena has more than 25 years of experience with private and public institutions, museum and cultural facilities, libraries, and higher education facilities. Her experience focuses on clients with specialized and/or unique design goals such as environmentally sensitive artifact exhibit areas, environmentally and spatially sensitive spaces for autistic children, historically and culturally significant buildings and locations, and sustainable design in pursuit of LEED® certification and other high performance building goals. Ms. Howard is working to establish a model for cities across North America to reconcile the results of poorly-conceived urban renewal and development policies which often decimated established African American and other minority communities. This “remembrance” work brings historical and cultural relevance to struggling downtowns, reignites connections between people, and resolves decades-old divides within communities.

Zena earned her Bachelor of Science degree in architecture from the University of Virginia. She is a LEED Accredited Professional, a member of the American Institute of Architects, and the National Organization of Minority Architects.

Dr. Diane Jones Allen, ASLA, PLA

Principal Landscape Architect | DesignJones LLC

Diane Jones Allen, ASLA, PLA has a Doctorate in Transportation Civil Engineering, a Master of Landscape Architecture, 27-years of diverse experience in private and public practice focused on the areas of land use planning, transportation planning, and large-scale residential and park design projects. In professional practice, she has focused on projects that affected the quality of life of community residents, whether it was strategic planning for county/parish development, site planning for public housing, urban design for a new transportation corridor, or design of a community playground. The purpose of her work has been to have positive effect on the physical environment in which people live their lives, and bring equity, access and enhancement to the quality of life of communities of various scales.

She is currently Principal Landscape Architect with DesignJones LLC in New Orleans, Louisiana. The framework of emphasis that guides aspects of Ms. Jones Allen’s research and practice is environmental justice, especially as it affects minority and urban communities. Recent scholarship examines the intersection of cultural identity and environmental sustainability in African- American cultural landscapes, as well as “Nomadic” responses to the problem of “Transit Desert” which are places of increasing transportation demand and limited access.

R. Steven Lewis, FAIA

Design Director, Central Region | City of Detroit Planning and Development

Steven Lewis is an architect and a tireless advocate for social justice and diversity within the field of architecture. Recently appointed by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Steven currently serves as Urban Design Director for the City’s Central Region, helping to shape the vision of present and future development. Steven is the AIA 2016 Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award recipient, and was elevated to the AIA College of Fellows in December of 2015. In January of 2008, he returned to Southern California to join Parsons as a Design Manager after serving four years with the U.S. General Services Administration’s Office of the Chief Architect in Washington, DC. Steven was a Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design for the 2006-07 academic year. He was a founding partner of the Los Angeles-based firm of RAW International in 1984, and for the next twenty years, was an essential part of the firm’s growth and success. In December of 2010, he concluded a two-year term as President of the National Organization of Minority Architects, traveling around the country advocating for architects-of-color, while cultivating the next generation of diverse architects and designers. Steven recently launched a consulting practice – “Thinking Leadership – What we Do…Who we Are” – aimed at assisting clients attain superior outcomes through his engagement. More than anything, Steven is a facilitator of partnerships and alliances between groups and individuals who seek to use architecture and design to effect positive change to our world.

Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, Hon. ASLA

Commissioner | New York City Department of Parks

Mitchell Silver became Commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks in May 2014. Commissioner Silver is also the immediate past president of the American Planning Association (APA). Mitchell is an award-winning planner with over 30 years of experience. He is internationally recognized for his leadership in the planning profession and his contributions to contemporary planning issues. As Parks Commissioner, Mitchell oversees management, planning and operations of 30,000 acres of parkland, which includes parks, playgrounds, beaches, marinas, recreation centers, wilderness areas and other assets. As Parks Commissioner, Silver developed the Community Parks Initiative to build a more equitable parks system, Parks Without Borders to create a more seamless public realm and Anchor Parks program to make old parks new again.

Prior to returning to his native New York City, he served as the Chief Planning & Development Officer and Planning Director for Raleigh, NC. In Raleigh, he led the comprehensive plan update process and a rewriting of the development code to create a vibrant 21st century city. In 2014 he was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Planning Association and in 2017 he was made an honorary member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). One of the nation’s most celebrated urban thinkers, Commissioner Silver was elected to Planetizen’s list of the 100 Most Influential Urbanists.

Commissioner Silver received a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from Hunter College in NYC.

Jackie Turner, AICP, LEED AP

Associate Manager of Planning | STEWART

With over 25 years of planning, urban design, and landscape architecture experience in both public and private practice, Jackie brings a passion for creating vibrant, authentic, and sustainable communities. As a project director, she responds to a client’s needs while educating and exhibiting a creative flair and environmental sensitivity, reflecting modern design theories. Jackie strongly believes that the most successful projects involve meaningful public engagement providing all in a community the opportunity to have their voice heard. She is skilled in meeting facilitation and has led hundreds of public workshops, charettes, steering/ advisory committees, and client meetings, moderated panels, and presented before commissions, boards and councils.

Jackie, a certified planner, has a BA from the University of Virginia and a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of California Berkeley. Her greatest work is raising her sons, Matt and Adam.