Meet the Loebs Week Seminar: “Community Power and Leadership”: Gisli Marteinn Baldursson, Jamie Blosser, LaShawn Hoffman, and Marc Norman

Former city councilor and television talk show host Gísli Marteinn Baldursson has been a key figure in putting sustainable urban planning on the political agenda in Reykjavík and Iceland. Concerned with increasing urban sprawl, air and water pollution, traffic congestion and public health issues, he has devoted himself to the improvement of his city by writing, speaking and building consensus for re-densification and smart planning. He looks forward to the Fellowship to gain technical and theoretical expertise that will make him more effective in communicating about urban issues and mobilizing public support for difficult or controversial measures.

Through her built work and advocacy, Santa Fe architect Jamie Blosser has used design, facilitation and research to increase Native American communities’ involvement in the critical decisions that affect them. She has designed community engagement processes informed by traditional practices with 18 tribes throughout the western US to remove barriers to self-determination and sovereignty, winning numerous national awards. Blosser’s Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative offers technical assistance for culturally and environmentally sustainable affordable tribal housing and has highlighted an exciting paradigm shift in tribal housing toward long-term sustainability. She’ll use the Fellowship to develop a cohesive framework for her practice through research on sustainable community development models and resiliency planning principles in other marginalized communities around the world.

As CEO of Pittsburgh Community Improvement Association in Atlanta, LaShawn Hoffman has helped vulnerable homeowners navigate the foreclosure crisis and recession and has spearheaded community improvement efforts in a state with no public policy to protect affordable housing. He has facilitated community-based planning to achieve conservation and growth that ensures neighborhood preservation and diversity. The Loeb year will give him a chance to narrow his formal training gap for greater understanding of community economic development and his own region so he can work toward sound public policy. 

As a real estate developer and mortgage banker and now as director of UPSTATE, a Center for Design Research and Real Estate at Syracuse University School of Architecture, Marc Norman has dedicated his career to reducing inequality and promoting economic development and social justice. He has engaged financial, community planning and design professionals to create innovative strategies for everything from prison re-entry to storm water mitigation in order to reduce housing costs, expand access to education and employment and promote healthy communities. Norman will use his Loeb year to launch a Design Innovation Fund that supports smart, progressive, holistic approaches to a more equitable urban world. 

Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the Public Programs Office at (617) 496-2414 or [email protected].