Next City Announces the 2016 Vanguard Class

David McGhee, youth development program officer for the Skillman Foundation, has been selected as a 2016 Next City Vanguard.

Press Release from Next City:

The news is out: We’ve picked our 2016 Vanguard class, and it’s a truly fantastic group.

The Next City Vanguard Conference is a gathering of the top urban innovators, 40 and younger, working to make change in cities. Designed to bring together professionals working across disciplines and sectors, each Vanguard class includes policymakers and politicians, architects and urban planners, artists and advocates, all selected through a competitive application process.

This year we received 450 applications from across the U.S., as well as Canada, Australia, Spain, Germany and Brazil. With 45 participants and a large alumni group in attendance, the 2016 Vanguard will be one of our largest conferences yet. Attendees draw from the private sector and all levels of government, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, mayoral offices and municipal agencies of major cities including Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

This year’s conference will bring together urban designers and planners working for influential organizations including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, UN-Habitat and the Ford Foundation. We will welcome civic technology entrepreneurs as well as innovators making change through cutting-edge projects in community development, the arts and the nonprofit sector. View the entire Vanguard group here.

The Vanguards will convene in Houston for a four-day series of presentations, workshops and neighborhood tours organized around the theme “Equitable Growth.”

On the first day of the conference, through our new “Embedded Vanguard” program, teams of fellows will visit Houston communities served by cooperating organizations such as Neighborhood Centers Inc. (NCI) and Project Row Houses. Vanguards will spend a half-day on site with partners assisting with specific challenges the organization faces. This will allow them to see firsthand some of the challenges facing Houston and learn from leaders who are shaping the future of the city. The second day of the conference will be spent in panel discussions and tours throughout the city.

The third day of the conference will be dedicated to the “Big Idea Challenge,” a design competition wherein groups of Vanguards will compete to come up with low-cost interventions to address a challenge facing the city as it grows. The competition will end with a panel of local judges selecting one winning project that Vanguards will bring to fruition in hopes of leaving a lasting mark on the city and creating a long-term bond between the Vanguard network and the Houston community.

The Vanguard host committee is led by Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, a “think and do” tank that advances understanding of the challenges facing Houston and other urban centers through research, policy analysis and public outreach. By collaborating with civic and political leaders, the Kinder Institute aims to help Houston and other cities. Through two of its program areas — “Urban Disparity and Opportunity” and “Urban Development, Transportation and Placemaking” — the Institute is committed to working with all Houstonians to identify and resolve the city’s pressing problems.