Urban Design Forum Is Thrilled to Announce Five New Members to the Board of Directors

Earlier this year, Urban Design Forum welcomed five new members to serve on the Board of Directors. Bringing diverse areas of expertise and global leadership in architecture, landscape architecture, public health research, and cultural organizing, these new board members will ensure the Forum can continue to connect and inspire New Yorkers to design, build and care for a better city. 

Please join us in giving our newest board members a warm welcome.

Joe Brancato is Managing Principal for Gensler’s Northeast region. A previous Chair of the firm’s Board of Directors, he currently chairs the firm’s Executive Committee and oversees offices in New York; Boston; Morristown, New Jersey; and Toronto, and advises the firm’s Latin America region offices. 

With vision and focus, Joe has led Gensler into new markets, providing leadership to the architecture, urban planning, and design studios. He is a thought leader and regularly speaks on topics such as the future of cities, the urbanization of suburbia, and the evolution of office buildings. In addition to the Urban Design Forum, Joe is an active member of the AIA, ULI, CoreNet Global, the NY Chapter of NAIOP, and sits on the design advisory council for the University of Miami School of Architecture. He is a registered architect in 23 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. Joe holds Bachelor’s degrees in Architecture and Urban Studies from the University of Maryland.

Earle Chambers, Ph.D., M.P.H. currently serves as the Director of the Division of Research and Professor of Family and Social Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine-Montefiore Health System. Driven by a commitment to social justice, Dr. Chambers researches the factors related to your environment—from the infrastructure in your zip code to how your apartment is laid out—that impact health and wellbeing. His research seeks to inform health scientists and urban practitioners on what those factors are, and how we might change them for the better. 

Dr. Chambers completed his B.S. in Biology at Duke University, his MPH at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and his doctoral degree at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, receiving his Ph.D. in epidemiology in 2003. Dr. Chambers completed his post-doctoral training at the New York Obesity and Nutrition Research Center at Columbia University. He currently holds leadership positions at the Einstein-Montefiore Institute for Clinical and Translational Research and the New York Regional Center for Diabetes Translation Research. Above all, he is a devoted partner and the father of two teenage boys.

Yin Kong (邝海音) is a community-based designer and curator living and working in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Together with an intergenerational group of volunteers, she built Think!Chinatown, a non-profit focusing on neighborhood engagement fostered by storytelling and the arts. Through projects like Chinatown Arts Week, The Art of Storytelling, & Everyday Chinatown, T!C honors, explores, and presents the culture and history of the community that have long made NYC’s Chinatown a vibrant immigrant neighborhood. 

Previously an Urban Curator of the Dashilar Project, she consulted for a municipal agency in Beijing on urban revitalization strategies within the city’s historic hutong core. Her work has been presented at the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2016 and the Shenzhen Biennale of Architecture 2007 & 2009. She also loves sharing Thomas Jefferson facts which she picked up during her time working at Monticello. Yin holds a Masters of Architecture, Urban Design from the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London and a Bachelor’s in Urban Studies from Columbia University.

Yadiel Rivera-Diaz leads Marvel’s landscape architecture practice as a Partner, where he manages the firm’s open space, master plans and landscape projects. He has over 13 years of experience as a landscape architect and three as an architect, designing open public spaces in the United States, Puerto Rico and abroad. Through his experience as a multidisciplinary designer, he has negotiated the intersection between landscape architecture, architecture and urban design. 

He currently manages Bronx Point, the ninth WEDG-verified project in NYC, a waterfront promenade project along the Harlem River in the Bronx that extends Mill Pond Park, creating a new nature walk framed by renewed native ecosystems as well as open access and views to the water. Yadiel is also leading the improvement of Norris Square Park, a multipurpose site in North Philadelphia. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Yadiel received his Bachelor of Environmental Design from the University of Puerto Rico and Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania.

Siqi Zhu focuses on building resilient and equitable cities with a unique mix of backgrounds in urban planning, strategic design, and urban technology. He is Associate Principal and Director of Planning and Urban Technology at Sasaki’s NYC office, and heads Sasaki Strategies, the firm’s product, data science, and research and prototyping team.

Siqi has led complex city-wide strategic plans, innovative district-scale developments, and public realm transformations, including at Sidewalk Toronto, Alphabet’s demonstration urban development project. As a technologist, he focuses on prototyping purposeful, value-aligned urban technology applications that contribute to more resilient, equitable, and livable cities, including “streets of the future” pilots and urban environmental sensing networks. He also teaches at Harvard’s Masters of Design Engineering program, working with students to develop speculative, mission-driven technology concepts.