Emerging Urban Leader


The Emerging Urban Leaders program addresses the growing demand for access to nature in urban spaces. Launching in 2021, this initiative will create a network that includes architects, urban planners, community organizers, policymakers and conservationists, who are matched with mentors to develop innovative solutions and quality cities of the future.     


Why do we need an Emerging Urban Leaders program?

Most people now live in cities and this trend is set to continue and accelerate. Unfortunately, many cities are neither good for their populations nor for the planet. The environment we live in affects how we live our lives and the quality of the lives we lead. However, rather than promoting nature, health, and equity our urban environments often do the reverse. Green space is frequently undervalued and, in many cases, remains a preserve of the wealthy. The design of towns and cities commonly encourages unhealthy behaviours and a lack of social cohesion. And public spaces can be unengaging or even unwelcoming. 

The power to shape urban spaces is too often held in the hands of a few and neglects the wants and needs of many urban residents. 
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many of these issues into the mainstream and a global conversation is beginning about rethinking the urban contract. 

The Emerging Urban Leaders program pushes that conversation forward and outward. It brings together a diverse, cross-sectoral, and international cohort of practitioners and changemakers who together will implement innovative, practical interventions to tackle the problems facing our urban environments and to help build the quality cities of the future.

Why a network? 

The experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic show that physical distance does not need to result in a decrease in social connectedness. More people in more places are more comfortable developing meaningful relationships with those they have never met in person than ever before. This is a great moment for online networks to support change in many different contexts.
One of the most powerful things about effective, purpose-driven networks are the ways in which members can draw energy from them; emotional (through connection), spiritual (through shared purpose), and mental (through stimulation and collaboration) energy levels can all be replenished and renewed though engagement and participation. This is a core part of the reason the network is at the heart of the Emerging Urban Leaders program.


The Emerging Urban Leaders program engages outstanding individuals, who have radical ideas that relate to how parks and nature can improve the quality of life of people who live in urban environments. We are interested in any ideas that meet this broad threshold. Ideas that relate to the nexus of urban design, health and well-being, climate change mitigation/adaptation, empowerment for marginalized groups, and inclusive and liveable communities are particularly encouraged.


What are the main goals of the Emerging Urban Leaders program?

  • Advance the role of nature in urban spaces by:
  • Raising the profile of urban parks work
  • Advancing innovative urban parks ideas
  • Build, support and sustain a network of diverse, excellent urban leaders
  • Create a portfolio of projects that demonstrate effectively how urban environments, in particular green space, can advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Create a forum for cutting-edge thinking on urban space and related issues
  • Support collaborative urban space projects, which:
  • Advance the specific indicators of the SDGs
  • Utilize the broader networks of Salzburg Global Seminar and World Urban Parlks
  • Advance new ideas that can support cohort Fellows’ organizations’ own agendas
  • Increase cross-cultural understanding throughout the Emerging Urban Leaders Fellowship

What does the Emerging Urban Leaders program hope to achieve through these goals? 

  • Reduce inequalities in urban areas, particularly relating to in health, well-being, and quality of life
  • Increase access to nature for everyone in urban environments
  • Increase the perceived value and connection to public, green and blue space within urban environments.


Two-Hour Monthly Meetings

  • One hour of discussion with an influential leader.
  • One hour of group discussion, peer-peer advice sharing, reflection, and project progress reports.

Project Development

  • Each Fellow undertakes a practical project over the course of their participation in the program. Project ideas were submitted as part of the application process.
  • Ongoing support to implement the projects is provided in the form of mentorship, peer advice, and regular goal-setting and feedback sessions.


  • Each Fellow is assigned a mentor-based (where possible) on their preferences to support them in implementing their project.
  • Mentor and mentee meet regularly over the course of the year-long program.

Thought Leadership

  • Fellows have the opportunity to submit articles to the ICLEI Cities with Nature Buzz monthly newsletter, Salzburg Global, World Urban Parks, and the Diplomatic Courier, as well as present their work on the Futures Cities Podcast and the World Urban Parks congress.

1st Cohort 2002 - 2021

Fellows in the first Emerging Urban Leaders cohort include:

  • Shamsa Birik, Program Officer, Embassy of Norway, Kenya
  • Elizaveta Fakirova, German Chancellor Fellow 2020/21, Humboldt Foundation, Germany
  • Alvera Feeny, Senior Program Specialist, Children & Nature, National League of Cities, United States
  • Renee Jagdeo, Student, University of Toronto, Canada
  • Benjamin Jonah, Secretariat Coordinator/Program Coordinator, World Urban Parks/Alberta Recreation and Parks Association, Canada
  • Sang-O Kim, Ph.D. Candidate, Cornell University, USA
  • Letica Lozano, Co-Founder & Director, MACIA Estudio, Mexico
  • Luis Roman, President & CEO/Funder & CEO, ANPR Mexico/Parks of Mexico, Mexico
  • Brittany Trilford, Research Consultant, Prague Institute of Planning and Development, New Zealand / Austria
  • Jordan van der Hagen, Founder & Vision Director, Duluth Waterfront Collective, United States
  • Nourhan Yehia, Graduate, October University of Modern Sciences and Arts, Egypt
  • Anupam Yog, Trainer & Researcher, Light On Life, Singapore
  • Zane Šime, Policy Analyst, Latvia
  • Mac Andre Arboleda, President, UP Internet Freedom Network, Philippines
  • Christopher Bass, Assistant Director, City of Douglasville Parks and Recreation, USA
  • Maria Gauto Gauto, Technical Assistant of “Asuncion Green City”, United Nations Development Programme, Paraguay
  • Namhee Joo, Senior Researcher, International Heritage Education Center, South Korea
  • Nella Lomotan, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Philippine Parks & Biodiversity, Philippines
  • Samuel Mayze, Director of Strategic Projects, UAP Company, Australia
  • Bishop Ngobeli, President, Institute of Environment and Recreation Management, South Africa
  • Jinsu Park, Master’s Candidate, London School of Economics, South Korea/England
  • Anjelica Sifuentes, Landscape Designer, Design Workshop, United States
  • Stephanie Stanov, Program Coordinator, Park People, Canada

2nd Cohort 2022-2023

Fellows in the second Emerging Urban Leaders cohort include:

    • Bianca Abud, Biologist, Park Manager, Urbia Gestao de Parques, Sao Paulo, Brazil
    • Suramya Bansal, Student, Rock Art Research Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
    • Matt Boyce, Ph.D. Candidate, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, United States of America
    • Lucia Caves, Landscape Architect and Parks Project Manager, Thrive Spaces and Places Ltd. Christchurch, New Zealand
    • Elizabeth Chege, Festival Director, Africa in Motion Film Festival Glasgow, United Kingdom
    • Gábor Csapó, Google Nest, Taiwan
    • Temuulen Enkhbat, Researcher, GerHub NGO, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
    • Anas Sanusi Gusau, CEO, Golden Star Development Initiative, Sokoto, Nigeria
    • Mayu Ferrufino, Executive Director, Cuscatlán Park Foundation (FUNDAPARC)
    • Catie Hastings, D.E.I (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) Coordinator, City of Coral Gables United States of America
    • Matias Honour, Project Director, Fundacion Mi Parque, Santiago, Chile
    • Christina Jang, Program Manager of Technical Assistance, 10-Minute Walk Program, Trust for Public Land, New York, United States of America
    • Zairah Khan, BlueO2, The Hague, The Netherlands
    • Venus Kashyap, Assistant Professor, Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women, New Delhi, India
    • Naim Keruwala, Program Director, CITIIS National Institute of Urban Affairs, New Delhi, India
    • Anna Mathis, Natural Resources Manager, City of Chattanooga, USA
    • Nalini Mohan, Parks Program Coordinator, City of Calgary, Canada
    • Paula Moreira, Project Management Office, Niterói City Hall, Brazil
    • Irene Nagudi, Team Lead, Kichini Gardeners Initiative, Wakiso, Uganda
    • Chúk Odenigbo, Directeur fondateur, Future Ancestors Services, McLennan, Canada
    • Emilia Oscilowicz, Research and Community Relations Coordinator, Barcelona Lab for Urban Environmental Justice and Sustainability Barcelona, Spain
    • Ayanda Roji, General Manager: Research and Knowledge Management, City of Johannesburg Parks Agency, Johannesburg, South Africa
    • Mateja Rot, CEO and Founder, City Says and Head of international relations SUUW, City Says / Slovene Union of University Women SUUW Ljubljana, Slovenia
    • Renelle Sarjeant, Urban Planner and Designer, Public Space Global, Earth Medic Foundation for Planetary Health, La Romain, Trinidad, and Tobago
    • Rasha Sayed, Professor in Architecture Engineering and Landscape Architecture, Birmingham City University
    • Treasure Sheppard, Analyst, Los Angeles County Development Authority Alhambra, United States
    • Christy Spier, Adaptive Communities Coordinator, Green Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
    • Masamichi Tamura, Co-Chair / Doctoral Student, World Urban Parks (Ageing, Well-being & Parks committee) / Tokyo Institute of Technology (architecture), Tokyo, Japan
    • Matthias Weber, It’s the Glue, Hamburg, Germany
    • Gavin White, Director of Planning and Projects, Riverlife, Pittsburgh, United States of America
    • Savit Willmott, Chief Executive, The Natural History Consortium, Bristol, United Kingdom
    • Alexander Wray, Project Coordinator, ParkSeek Canada, London, Canada