1. Karen Blondel

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    Karen Dawn Blondel is a trusted and respected local community leader and longtime resident of public housing in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

    She has been widely recognized and honored at the community, city and state level for her grassroots community organizing efforts and unwavering commitment to social justice issues. These have included housing equity, climate change, Hurricane Sandy recovery, environmental health, and COVID-19 preparedness, all of which directly affect local community residents and NYCHA residents, in particular.

    Karen is an alumni member of the AmeriCorps Vista Program, the Red Hook Public Safety Corp, Friends of the Library, Red Hook NY Rising Committee, Red Hook Community Collaboration and the Red Hook West Tenant Association. Most recently, the Human Impacts Institute and NYC Department of Transportation declared her one of NYC’s Climate Heroes. When NY State went on PAUSE, Karen partnered with the Red Hook Container Terminal and spearheaded the weekly distribution of fresh produce to Red Hook and Gowanus residents. She possesses an unparalleled level of motivation and breadth and depth of knowledge of local issues. She utilizes solution-driven approaches and educates herself on any and all aspects of a given problem.


  2. Sebastian Mendez

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    Sebastian is a licensed architect with 16 years of architecture experience. Prior to founding Tankhouse, Sebastian was an Associate Partner at Foster + Partners New York where he lead the design and project management for a range of North and South American projects spanning residential, cultural and commercial design.

    Sebastian earned his Master of Science in Architecture from the University of Buenos Aires (2002) and has completed coursework at New York University’s Schack Institute for Real Estate Development. Sebastian previously held teaching positions at the University of Buenos Aires and the Boston Architectural College.


  3. Andrea Parker

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    As the Executive Director of Gowanus Canal Conservancy, Andrea works to empower a community of environmental stewards and advocates in the rapidly changing Gowanus Watershed. As an instructor at City College of New York, she engages landscape architecture students with the complex ecological, economic and cultural forces at play in New York’s dynamic urban ecology. Her previous work as a landscape designer and gardener provides a pragmatic understanding of how landscapes are designed, built and maintained. She received a BA from the University of Chicago, studied Landscape Horticulture at Merritt College, and received a MLA from the University of Virginia.

  4. Immanuel Oni

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    Immanuel Oni is a first-generation Nigerian-American artist and space doula living between New York City and hometown Houston, TX. He believes design is not about what he is making, but who he is making it for. As for art, it is religion. His work explores loss, memory, and its deep connection with space. He utilizes spatial justice design and visual storytelling to unearth narratives related to trauma, healing, and ritual. His canvas consists of repurposing existing public space infrastructure such as light posts, fencing, underutilized green areas or mobile spaces to prompt community dialogue and connection. His aim is to fuse the physical with the spiritual. He has led and participated in international art and urbanism workshops in Venice, Hong Kong, and Lagos. He has been a Fellow for the Design Trust for Public Space, Culture Push, New York for Culture and Arts, More Art Engaging Artist Commission NY, and received awards from Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts NY, Office of Neighborhood Safety, Architectural League of New York, the New York State Council of the Arts, and commissioned by Fourth Arts Block (FABnyc) as the artist for the Chrystie Street African Burial Ground Memorial Installation in the Lower East Side. He is a former Director of Community Design at the New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and Adjunct Professor at Parsons the New School for Design. He is the co-founder and Creative Director of Liminal, a non-profit that works at the intersection of art, unity, and space.

  5. Lynn Neuman

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    Lynn Neuman is a national leading eco-artist known for programs and performances layered with involvement and action. She has created 45 works for Artichoke Dance, been commissioned to create 22 works for other groups and directed nine operas. Her site specific work has been commissioned by The Soraya, connecting California State University with Los Angeles River restoration, Waterfront Alliance, reflecting on the effects of sea level rise, Texas A&M, engaging with water use and rights in the desert southwest, and National Gallery of Art, for Voices of the Ocean.


  6. Rodolfo Kusulas

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    Rodolfo Kusulas is a transdisciplinary creator with a deep passion for social innovation and sustainability who uses his work as a tool to help communities thrive. With experience working internationally, he has a background in industrial design, extensive experience in branding, product and retail. After winning a global competition for the 140th anniversary of Heineken, Kusulas joined VBAT as a creative in the Latin American office. Since 2018, he’s developed programmatic design and creative community development work with KOUS studio, which he co-founded in 2016, and in collaboration with artists and nonprofit organizations.

  7. Juanli Carrión

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    Juanli Carrión’s work has unfolded over the past decade in the research, development, and education of community-engaged design and artistic practices addressing social and environmental justice. He is the co-founder of OSS Project Inc. and his work has been exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, BRIC, ARTIUM, MUSAC, CentroCentro, MAC Lima, India’s National Gallery of Modern Art, and Serbia’s MOCA. Carrión is an Assistant Professor of Creative Community Development at Parsons, and his research has been presented at Columbia University, Carnegie Mellon, NYU, AIA New York, National Academy of Sciences, and Getty Institute, among others.

  8. Tony Ruiz

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    Tony is an active volunteer for the Gowanus Oversight Task Force and serves as co-chair of its Communications Committee and a member of its Public Infrastructure Committee. He has worked in advertising for 15 years and is entering his final year of graduate school at NYU to become a psychotherapist.

  9. New York State Council on the Arts

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    The New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature is dedicated to preserving and expanding the rich and diverse cultural resources that are and will become the heritage of New York’s citizens. 

  10. Tracey L. Pinkard

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    Tracey L. Pinkard is Vice President of the Gowanus Houses Resident Association and founder of the Gowanus Houses Arts Collective. GHAC reaches neighborhood teens through the arts and connects them with local artists. As a community leader, she currently serves as the vice President of Gowanus Houses Residents Association. She is also the Parent Coordinator at Brooklyn Collaborative School a public 6 -12 grade school located in Carroll Garden.