Systems Stewardship: A Path for Cities
How do we support the authentic development of place and ensure economic ambitions are stewarded by thicker cultural values?
What types of network building efforts at a city and regional level are we engaged in to promote radical collaboration and enduring change?
How can we embed the new found spirit of creative crisis response into city recovery plans, systemic solutions and long-term strategic policy making?
In this session we will hear from a range of practitioners working to promote a regenerative recovery in their regions.
Alexa leads the RSA US – overseeing research, Fellowship, and thought leadership development across key U.S. cities on topics related to inclusive growth, universal basic income, economic democracy, and creativity and education. She is helping to accelerate cross-city collaboration and the scaling of social innovation. An economic historian turned ethnographer, Alexa is a leading speaker and expert on subculture and innovation from unlikely places. She is the co-author of the Misfit Economy (Simon & Schuster 2015), a book that explores underground and informal innovation. Previously, Alexa co-founded Wisdom Hackers, an incubator for philosophical inquiry and the Co-Founder of the League of Intrapreneurs, a movement to create change from within incumbent systems and big organizations. Alexa has previously held positions heading up research and learning Ashoka and as a consultant at SustainAbility Ltd. Alexa has written and appeared in Fast Company, Forbes, Wired, Dazed and Confused, VICE, Harvard Business Review, The New York Times and MTV. She is a regular commentator on topics related to economic transition, misfit subculture, social innovation and technology angst. She received her BA from Brown University and a MSc. from Oxford University. Alexa is based in Philadelphia, PA. She has a love of hermits and Walden Pond.
President & CEO, Forbes Fund
Grant Ervin serves as the Chief Resilience Officer and Assistant Director for the Department of City
Planning for the City of Pittsburgh. Grant oversees the integration of sustainability and resilience into City
services, programs and policy. He works to make the City of Pittsburgh a smart, sustainable and resilient
city by fostering partnerships, leveraging assets and finding creative ways to solve civic problems. Prior to
joining the City of Pittsburgh, Grant served as the Regional Director for 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, a
statewide sustainable development policy organization; and as Public Policy Manager for Pittsburgh
Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG) – a community based organization serving Pittsburgh’s 90
Grant serves as an integrator of city activities by working across departments, agencies and sectors to
form public policy and market based solutions. He brings deep experience, intersecting the worlds of
environmental, community & economic development and infrastructure policy to create innovative and
sustainable solutions for local governments, community development organizations and state
agencies. In his role with the City of Pittsburgh, he oversees the development of the City’s energy
transition strategy, climate policy, environmental social and governance (ESG) analysis, district scale
sustainability and circularity.
Grant has helped lead the development of a variety of innovative programs and decision support activities
including: Pittsburgh’s participation with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),
creation of the ONEPGH Resilience Strategy, Pittsburgh Equity Indicators, Pittsburgh Climate Plan,
Pittsburgh’s inclusion in the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Initiative; the United States
Department of Transportation’s Smart Cities Challenge, the creation of the Uptown Eco-Innovation
District, District Energy Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh and Neighborhood Community Information System,
participation in the Urban Transitions Alliance and the Pennsylvania Community Transportation Initiative.
Grant serves on the board of directors of Eco Districts, Pittsburgh Allegheny County Thermal (PACT)
District Heating Company, American Institute for Architects (AIA) Pittsburgh Chapter and is a Fellow of
the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). He is a member of the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN).
Grant resides in the Morningside neighborhood of Pittsburgh with his wife and two daughters.
Economist & Energy Systems Strategist, SmithGroup
1st lady Anchorage + Lead, Municipality of Anchorage Welcoming and Resilience Initiatives and Board member, Welcoming America and the Alaska Institute for Justice. Mara has a long career in Alaskan public policy focused on rights and justice in northern communities. She has been on faculty at the Seattle University School of Law, the University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University and served as a Senior Research Fellow at the Anchorage Museum. In addition to teaching and research, Mara has worked as an immigration attorney and as an advocate for tribal subsistence rights.
Since 2015, Mara has been involved with several city initiatives focused on equity, resilience and combatting human trafficking. She currently leads the Welcoming and Resilience initiatives at the Municipality of Anchorage and chairs the national board of directors for Welcoming America, serves on the regional advisory board for the Anti-Defamation League, and is board president and co-founder of the Alaska Institute for Justice. Mara was a member of the State of Alaska’s Climate Action Leadership Team and chaired the Advisory Committee for the 2019 Municipality of Anchorage’s Climate Action Planning process. Mara has a PhD from Central European University, a JD from the University of Minnesota School of Law, a Masters’ degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a Bachelors’ degree from the University of California Berkeley.