AARP International

Equity by Design Global Dialogue Series

Virtual Dialogue 1: Enable By Design and Drive Informed Demand

Dr. Mariela Alfonzo
Founder and CEO, State of Place

Bridging the worlds of academia and practice, Dr. Mariela Alfonzo is the Founder and CEO of State of Place, an AI-driven, urban design data and predictive analytics software that helps citymakers make more effective, cost-efficient, bottom-up, transparent, and accountable decisions to create livable, equitable, sustainable places people love. An expert on the value of urban design, Dr. Alfonzo focuses on quantifying how the micro-scale aspects of the built environment affect our behaviors, perceptions, and decisions and, in turn, how these impact health, broadly defined to include physical, social, environmental, and fiscal health.

Henry Cisneros
Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Co-Chief Investment Officer and Chairman,
American Triple I Partners

Currently, Mr. Cisneros is Co-Chief Investment Officer and Chairman of American Triple I Partners and is a Principal of an investment banking firm, Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co., L.L.C., and Chairman of the Executive Committee based in New York City. Mr. Cisneros is also the Founder and Chairman of the CityView companies, which is a partner in building more than 90 communities in 13 states, building more than 7,000 homes with a total value of over $5 billion. In 1981, Mr. Cisneros became the first Hispanic-American mayor of a major U.S. city, San Antonio, Texas. During his four terms as Mayor, he helped rebuild the city’s economic base and spurred the creation of jobs through massive infrastructure and downtown improvements. In 1992, President Clinton appointed Mr. Cisneros to be Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Ifeoma Ebo
Urban Designer, Strategist and Founding Director of Creative Urban Alchemy
Ifeoma Ebo is an experienced Urban Designer, Strategist, and Founding Director of Creative Urban Alchemy where she consults on equitable design and sustainable development strategy for city governments and civic institutions internationally. The diversity of her 20-year career emphasizes a commitment to social justice and design excellence. She currently leads urban design and predevelopment initiatives for the Office of Neighborhood Strategies at HPD and previously led interagency design and built environment initiatives exploring the use of public space design to address community safety and social justice in marginalized communities across NYC for the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. She serves on Advisory Boards for the Mayor of Helsingborg, Sweden H22 Smart City Initiative, Association for Community Design, and the BlackSpace Urbanist Collective.

Virtual Dialogue 2: Alleviate Disparities

Dr. Antwi Akom, Professor and Founding Director of the Social Innovation and Urban Opportunity Lab (SOUL), University of California San Francisco;
CEO and Cofounder, Streetwyze
Dr. Akom is one of the leading Health and Racial Equity, Structural Determinants of Health, Health technologists in the World whose work focuses on making livable communities for people of all ages. Named one of the world’s top innovators by President Obama - what makes Dr. Akom’s work unique is his extensive background in building collaborative, community-facing technology projects, designing for the public good, and developing new models of health innovation that make hospitals, health care providers, neighborhoods, and communities, more equitable, just, smart, and sustainable. Dr. Akom is also a University Professor and Founding Director of the Social Innovation and Urban Opportunity Lab (SOUL) - the first digital health research lab between the University of California, San Francisco (Medical School), and San Francisco State University's College of Ethnic Studies (

Paul WiliamsPaul Williams
President and CEO of Project for Pride in Living
Paul Williams is President and CEO of Project for Pride in Living, Inc., one of Minnesota’s premier multi-service community development organizations. A St. Paul native, Paul brings an extensive background in affordable housing, economic development, education, and diversity, equity, and inclusion to PPL. PPL provides affordable housing to over 3,500 individuals and families on a nightly basis and delivers employment training and education to close to 8,000 individuals annually. Prior to coming to PPL, Paul served as St. Paul’s Deputy Mayor, where he led a wide range of community initiatives as well as directing day-to-day operations of the City. Paul also spearheaded community development investments for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), first as Twin Cities LISC’s Executive Director, and then for five years as LISC’s national Senior Vice President for Field Strategies, directing LISC’s operations in 30 cities across the country.

Virtual Dialogue 3: Create Appropriate Finance Products

Jennifer Ho
Commissioner, Minnesota Housing
Jennifer Leimaile Ho is the 7th Commissioner of Minnesota Housing, appointed by Governor Tim Walz in December 2018. She has been working to end homelessness since 1999, first as executive director of Hearth Connection and later as deputy director at the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. Her roles have focused on the intersection of health and housing, particularly health care financing and improving outcomes associated with supportive housing. Jennifer served as the Senior Advisor for Housing and Services at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama Administration and worked with First Lady Michelle Obama to launch the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. She currently serves on the board of the National Council of State Housing Agencies. She has served on the boards of the Corporation for Supportive Housing, the Melville Charitable Trust, and West Side Community Health Services in St. Paul.

Feras QumseyaFeras Qumseya
Vice President of Development, Foulger-Pratt
As Vice President of Development, Feras Qumseya oversees the management of several project teams advancing multi-faceted projects through the entitlement, design, financing, and construction life-cycle. In addition, Mr. Qumseya leads Foulger-Pratt’s affordable housing platform; he also works closely with Asset Management to execute marketing and leasing plans that maximize value for our stakeholders. Mr. Qumseya joined Foulger-Pratt in 2017 after fifteen years of experience in real estate development focused on affordable housing and public-private urban developments. As part of his career, Mr. Qumseya served a total of three years in the public sector working under Washington’s DC’ Mayor Fenty and then under Mayor Gray administrations. Mayor Fenty awarded him the District’s Meritorious Public Service Award in 2010 and was the founding Executive Director for the Saint Elizabeths Redevelopment Initiative.

Raquel RolnikRaquel Rolnik
Professor, Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of the University of São Paul
Ms. Rolnik is a professor, architect and urban planner, with over 35 years of scholarship, activism and practical experience in planning, urban land policy and housing issues. Based in São Paulo, she is a professor at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of the University of São Paulo. In her career, she has held various government positions including Director of the Planning Department of the city of São Paulo (1989-1992) and National Secretary for Urban Programs of the Brazilian Ministry of Cities (2003-2007) as well as NGO activities, such as Urban Policy Coordinator of the Polis Institute (1997-2002). From May 2008, Ms. Raquel Rolnik was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing for a six years mandate, ending June 2014. She is author of several books, including “Urban warfare : housing and cities in the age of finance” by  VERSO UK  and “A cidade e a lei” among others.

Virtual Dialogue 4: Prioritize Connectivity

Dr. Joseph CoughlinDr. Joseph Coughlin
Founder and Director, Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab
Joe Coughlin, PhD, is the founder and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab. Based in MIT’s Center for Transportation & Logistics, he teaches in MIT’s Sloan School of Management’s Advanced Management Program and in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Author of over 150 publications, Coughlin’s research explores how demographic change, technology and social trends converge to drive future innovations in business and government. He is a Behavioral Sciences Fellow at the Gerontological Society of America and a Fellow of Switzerland’s World Demographics and Ageing Forum. Coughlin is a Senior Contributor to Forbes and often writes for the Wall Street Journal and MarketWatch. Coughlin’s recent book, The Longevity Economy: Unlocking the World’s Fastest-Growing, Most Misunderstood Market (Public Affairs, 2017) is one of CEO READ's Business Best Sellers. He is a graduate of the State University of New York at Oswego, Brown University and Boston University.

Justin Garrett MooreJustin Garrett Moore
Executive Director, New York City Public Design Commission
Justin Garrett Moore is an urban designer and the executive director of the New York City Public Design Commission. He has extensive experience in urban design and city planning—from large-scale urban systems, policies, and projects to grassroots and community-focused planning, design, and arts initiatives. At the Public Design Commission, his work is focused on prioritizing the quality and excellence of the public realm, and fostering accessibility, diversity, and inclusion in the City’s public buildings, spaces, and art. Justin is a former Senior Urban Designer for the NYC Department of City Planning where, for over a decade, he was responsible for conducting complex urban design plans and studies of the physical design and utilization of sites including infrastructure, public spaces, land use patterns, and neighborhood character. His projects included the Greenpoint and Williamsburg Waterfront, Hunter’s Point South, the Coney Island Plan, and the Brooklyn Cultural District.

Dr. Victor Santiago PinedaDr. Victor Santiago Pineda
President of World Enabled, President of the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES); Lecturer, College of Environmental Design, University of California Berkeley
Dr. Victor Santiago Pineda is a Lecturer at the College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley. His research projects explore disability in the built environment through history, medical anthropology, policy, planning, and regional development. He teaches courses on Urban Theory, Policy Evaluation, and Community Development. He was previously the UC Berkeley Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of City and Regional Planning and has advised international agencies such as the World Bank and United Nations, as well as state and federal governments in the development and implementation of programs and policies that include people with disabilities. In 2009, he joined the Dubai School of Government as a Visiting Fellow to study the implementation of the UAE Disability Act of 2006 across nine dimensions: health, rehabilitation, education, employment, accessibility, political and public participation, awareness-raising, community and independent living, and mobility.

Virtual Dialogue 5: Facilitate Intergenerational Engagement

Donna ButtsDonna Butts 

Executive Director, Generations United
Donna Butts is the Executive Director of Generations United, a position she has held since 1997. Generations United’s mission is to improve the lives of children, youth, and older adults through intergenerational collaboration, public policies, and programs for the enduring benefit of all. Previously she served in leadership positions at several youth-serving organizations including the YWCA, National 4-H Council, and Covenant House. An internationally known speaker, author, and advocate, Butts frequently addresses intergenerational connections, grandparents raising grandchildren, and policies effective across the lifespan. She has served on five United Nations expert panels on intergenerational and family issues. She served as an at-large delegate to the 2005 White House Conference on Aging and attended the 2015 conference.

Emi KiyotaDr. Emi Kiyota
Founder and Director, Ibasho
Dr. Emi Kiyota is an internationally-recognized thought leader on issues relating to healthy aging. She is an environmental gerontologist and organizational culture change specialist. Dr. Kiyota is currently considering how the work she did to empower elders in Japan as they recovered from the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 could provide lessons for empowering elders in the U.S. as we recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and better prepare for future events. She is the founder and director of Ibasho, an organization that facilitates the co-creation with elders of socially integrated, sustainable communities that value their elders. She is a consultant with over 20 years of experience in designing and implementing person-centered care in long-term care facilities and hospitals globally. Her current focus is on creating socially integrated and resilient cities where elders are engaged and able to actively participate in their communities.

Indra NooyiIndra Nooyi
Former Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo
Indra Nooyi is the former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo (2006-2019). She was the chief architect of Performance with Purpose, PepsiCo’s pledge to do what’s right for the business by being responsive to the needs of the world around us. Currently, Mrs. Nooyi is a member of the board of Amazon and sits on the Audit Committee. She serves on the Global Leadership Board at edX, the world’s leading nonprofit online education platform. She is a member of the International Advisory Council of Temasek, an independent director of the International Cricket Council and is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She is also a Dean’s Advisory Council member at MIT’s School of Engineering and a member of the MIT Corporation. Additionally, she is the Class of 1951 Chair for the Study of Leadership at West Point where she helps enhance the ability of both the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership and the U.S Military Academy to fulfill the mission of developing leader.

Virtual Dialogue 6: Include Age-Friendliness in Other Priorities and Lead Cross-Sector Collaboration

Jennifer MolinskyDr. Jennifer Molinsky 
Senior Research Associate, Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies
Jennifer Molinsky is a Senior Research Associate at the Center and a Lecturer at the Graduate School of Design. Jennifer manages the Center’s work on housing for older adults and was lead author on the Center’s publications on older adults, including The State of the Nation’s Housing for Older Adults 2018 and 2019; Older Households 2015-2035: Projections and Implications for Housing a Growing Population (2016); and Housing America’s Older Adults: Meeting the Needs of an Aging Population (2014).  She speaks widely on the importance of suitable and affordable housing for America’s older adults and has written about the role of housing in wellbeing and health in older age. Jennifer’s work has also touched on housing affordability. She was a co-editor of the 2018 book A Shared Future: Fostering Communities of Inclusion in an Era of Inequality and the 2014 book Homeownership Built to Last: Balancing Access, Affordability, and Risk After the Housing Crisis.

Gaetan SiewGaetan Siew
Founder of the Global Creative Leadership Initiative;
Past President of the International Union of Architects;
Past Secretary-General of the African Union of Architects

Having served as Past President of the International Union of Architects, and Past Secretary-General of the African Union of Architects, Mr. Siew is an avid world traveler, experiencing over 500 cities across 105 countries including most of Africa. He has worked on national projects for various governments on the African continent, namely Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Senegal, Seychelles, and Swaziland. For his contributions to the Architectural and Urban world, he was awarded several honorary memberships and fellowships and elevated to the rank of Grand Officer of the Order of the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean by the Government of Mauritius, and elevated to the ranks of Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite, and de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Republic.


Stephanie FirestoneStephanie Firestone
Senior Strategic Policy Advisor, Health & Age-friendly Communities
Stephanie Firestone is a global thought leader advancing livable communities for all people of all ages and abilities. She leads AARP International’s global initiatives to promote enabling, equitable, and multigenerational housing and communities, and collaborates with international institutions such as the World Health Organization—leading efforts such as AARP’s engagement in the Decade of Healthy Ageing. As a 2015-2016 Health & Aging Policy Fellow, Stephanie worked with the American Planning Association and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, helping local leaders think regionally about how to create more inclusive communities and expand affordable housing opportunities for vulnerable residents. Stephanie has led international social and environmental justice efforts, founding Israel’s first Jewish-Arab environmental nonprofit organization and coordinating that country’s sustainability agenda, including representing the country’s efforts toward the World Summit on Sustainable Development at the United Nations General Assembly. Stephanie holds a Master of Urban & Environmental Planning degree from the University of Virginia.

Introductory Remarks (Dialogues 1, 3, & 5) 

Esther GreenhouseEsther Greenhouse
Built Environment Strategist and Environmental Gerontologist;
and Strategic Director, TC Age Friendly Center for Excellence

A catalyst for positive change through design, Esther Greenhouse is a built environment strategist and environmental gerontologist.  People, places, communities, and organizations benefit from her expertise in the impact of the built environment on all types of people, especially older adults. Considered a visionary for her unique and beneficial perspective, Ms. Greenhouse is the creator of the concept “Enabling Design”--a powerful approach to design and planning which harnesses the features of the built environment to enable all people to thrive. 

As a consultant for AARP International, she is creating a quantum leap in age-friendly housing and multigenerational communities through her facilitation and initiative development work. Ms. Greenhouse also serves as the Strategic Director for one of the first Age Friendly Centers for Excellence.  At Cornell University, she is shaping the field as an industry scholar for the Cornell Institute for Healthy Futures and an adjunct lecturer in the department of Design & Environmental Analysis.  She contributes to successful community planning with workshops and consulting nationwide, and co-authored the American Planning Association’s Aging in Community Policy Guide.  Her expertise was requested for such projects as the book Independent for Life, for two PBS series on design for aging, and for the design of the nation’s first senior-focused emergency department. In the building industry, she has been recognized as an award-winning instructor and leader in Universal Design and aging in place by the National Association of Home Builders.


Dr. Bill ThomasDr. Bill Thomas
Dr. Bill Thomas is a physician, professor, entrepreneur, playwright, and performer whose wide-ranging work explores the terrain of human aging. His dedication to culture change and innovations for well-being led the Wall Street Journal to highlight Dr. Thomas as one of the nation’s “top 10 innovators” changing the future of retirement in America and US News and World Report named him to its list of “America’s best leaders.”

He began his career in the field in the early 1990s when he co-founded The Eden Alternative (with Jude Meyers). This model humanized nursing homes using Care Partner teams that work to enhance the well-being of staff and residents by eliminating the three plagues: loneliness, helplessness, and boredom. In the early 2000’s he launched The Green House Project which Provider Magazine called the “pinnacle of culture change.” In 2007, Dr. Thomas developed the Senior ER model of care in partnership with the Trinity Health system.

Also in 2007, Dr. Thomas co-founded (with journalist Kavan Peterson) a live/digital platform designed to address the endemic ageism within American culture. In 2012 his one-act play “Play What’s Not There” premiered at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. The play using magical realism to explore the life challenges physicians confront while juggling practice, self-fulfillment and family. In 2013, he starred in the award-winning documentary Alive Inside. The film’s “joyous cinematic exploration of music’s capacity to reawaken our souls” won the 2014 “People’s Choice Award” at Sundance.

In 2014, Dr. Thomas collaborated with Kavan Peterson, to create the ChangingAging Tour. The ChangingAging Tour directly addressed damaging myths about aging and featured two non-fiction theater performances in a “pro-aging festival” over the next four years this tour performed in over 130 cities across North America.

Hundreds of conversations held during the ChangingAging Tour had a profound impact on the path Dr. Thomas’ career as he learned that an overwhelming number of people, living all over the country, shared a primary concern; housing. This discovery led to his latest mission: research and improve housing that builds resilience and independence so that people of all ages and abilities can live their best lives on their own terms.