Staff, Fellows and Interns

Nashville Civic Design Center Staff

Staff

Gary Gaston

Gary Gaston

Gary Gaston is a native of rural West Tennessee, making his way to Nashville after receiving a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Tennessee College of Architecture and Design, and spending time abroad living in London. He recently completed a Masters of Education in Community Development and Action from Vanderbilt University.

Gary joined NCDC in 2002, and has led numerous planning and design efforts for the organization. He was a contributor to The Plan of Nashville: Avenues to a Great City, published by Vanderbilt University Press in 2005, and co-authored Moving Tennessee Forward: Models for Connecting Communities, published in 2012. Gary served as the project director and executive producer of the National Endowment for the Arts funded documentary film Design Your Neighborhood, and is co-author of Shaping the Healthy Community: The Nashville Plan, released by Vanderbilt University Press in April 2016.

In 2016, Gary received the prestigious Tau Sigma Delta Honor Society Silver Medal “for extraordinary efforts to advance the field of design in the region.” Next City Magazine named him a “Next American Vanguard” in 2010; he was a member of the 2010-2011 Leadership Nashville class; he currently serves on the board of The District and has served on the Board of Directors of Nashville CARES, Artrageous, LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Historic Nashville Inc., and advisory boards for Transit Now Nashville and Urban Green Lab. 

Ron Yearwood

Ron Yearwood

Ron is a Nashville native, urban designer with degrees in both architecture + urban design. He is the Assistant Director of the Nashville Civic Design Center and coordinates the NCDC's Young Urbanists group, PARK(ing) Day Nashville, PechaKucha Night Nashville, and enjoys urban farming in his community garden. He has a passion for creating and envisioning a more livable, better connected and healthier city. Ron joined the NCDC February 2010 as a design fellow and soon after took on the lead coordinator for Envisioning Nashville 2035, made possible by a grant provided by TDOT and the MPO. This project consists of a series of reports dealing with transportation, public spaces, development and bridge design considerations. Ron co-authored the Center's recent publication Moving Tennessee Forward: Models for Connecting Communities. Ron also actively participates in the ACE mentoring program with Glencliff High school students, as a representative from the NCDC, Vice President of Transit Now Nashville and helps organize TURBO Nashville (Tactical Urbanism Organizers). Ron holds a Bachelors of Architecture from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. As a graduate, he worked as an associate AIA with Gresham Smith & Partners in Nashville, TN. In 2008 he returned to graduate school where he earned his Masters in Urban Design from the ETH, Zurich, Switzerland. Emphasis was placed on the role of urban design as a key discipline in the formation of sustainably built environments.

Melody Gibson

Melody Gibson

Melody is a 2009 graduate from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where she completed a Bachelor of Architecture.  After graduating from UT, she moved to Denver, CO, to teach high school math with Teach For America.  While in Denver, she earned a Masters of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Colorado – Denver.  In 2012, she moved to Nashville where she continued to teach math until coming to NCDC in 2015.  At NCDC, Melody is combining her architecture and education background to lead the Design Your Neighborhood education initiative, which engages youth in design as a means of problem solving in their communities.

Eric Hoke

Eric Hoke

Eric was raised in the Chicago area but now calls Nashville home. He earned a bachelors degree in Interior Architecture from Ohio University and specializes in graphics and 3D models. His thesis, a high-speed rail hub that would be located in Chicago, was designed to connect the Midwest by efficient train travel. Since then he has worked for several design related organizations. He drew construction documents and built a web site for Lake Forest Landmark Development, a residential architecture firm north of Chicago. Eric has also worked in medical design for a company called Clean Rooms West where he drew construction documents and built 3D models for hospital cleanrooms. Leeder Furniture commissioned Eric to design dorm room furniture. 

Eric Manages NCDC’s visual graphics production, and leads design and styling of the marketing, programming, and publications for the organization. He also oversees NCDC's Reclaiming Public Space Initiative and TURBO Nashville

Joe Mayes

Joe Mayes

Joe moved to Nashville from Redmond, Washington in December of 2013 and joined the design center the following March.  Joe earned a B.A. in Economics from York College of Pennsylvania and enjoyed participating in the music department throughout his time in college.  At the design center, Joe researched for the Shaping the Healthy Community: The Nashville Plan publication and helped create the Bankers Alley booklet.  As the program manager, Joe organizes NCDC’s Urban Design Forum’s, CityThink’s, PechaKucha Nights, Urban Tours and more. Joe also manages NCDC memberships and fundraising events.

Jolie Ayn Yockey

Jolie Ayn Yockey

Jolie Ayn Yockey has spent over fifteen years managing, marketing and consulting with organizations of all sizes. Ms. Yockey comes to us most recently from a tenure with Nashville Farmers’ Market in which she developed and executed event, communication and marketing programming. In her previous work with Whole Foods Market Ms. Yockey served as Marketing Team Leader overseeing creative design, donation and sponsorship programs, events and demonstration. Ms. Yockey holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, 32 hours in Masters of Business Administration from Indiana University, and over 500 hours in continuing education programming.  Jolie also currently serves on the advisory boards of Tennessee Organic Growers Association. 

Melissa Cornejo

Born and raised in Los Angeles County, Melissa received her B.A. in Feminist Media Studies and French Culture from the University of Redlands’ Johnston Center for Integrative Studies. Upon graduation, she moved to rural Oregon and served as an AmeriCorps State National Member at an alternative credit-recovery high school. Her experience working with opportunity youth lead her to realize her passion for education and its connection to social justice issues.

In 2018 Melissa received her M.Ed in Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies from Vanderbilt University. Her plan of study focused on college access and success for first-generation students as well as humanizing and culturally responsive pedagogy. In addition, Melissa has a strong interest in curriculum design and incorporating student empowerment, positive ethnic identity development, critical consciousness, and praxis into her work. At NCDC, Melissa is blending her commitment to promoting social justice and education through supporting the Design Your Neighborhood (DYN) initiative and cultivating community engagement.   

 

Jules Shainberg

Jules Shainberg

Jules Shainberg has over thirty years experience in business management and finance.  Her background includes business ownership in real estate and property management, mortgage finance, and accounting.  Ms. Shainberg holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the UALR.  Originally from Nashville, Ms. Shainberg moved back in 2006 and now calls Nashville home forever.  She began working with NCDC in August 2016 and says she finds working with an organization that serves the community so purposefully a wonderful experience.  She looks forward to learning more about urban design and becoming more involved in the community. 

Michael Thompson

Michael Thompson

Originally from Minneapolis, Mike received his B.A. in Political Science before spending several years working for an international nonprofit. His time there involved regular travel to roughly 20 different cities across the country, including large urban communities and Native American reservations. Through that work he witnessed the diverse ways in which cities approach design and development, specifically from a grassroots and faith based context.

In 2016 Mike received his M.Ed. in Community Development & Action from Vanderbilt University. His emphasis there revolved around housing, public spaces, and the emergence of social capital and spatial identity. Mike joined NCDC in January 2016 and created the Neighborhood Assessment Toolkit, and the Active Building Guidelines. In addition to these, Mike has helped create a series of publications and resources around health and community design, while working alongside the Tennessee Department of Health towards statewide implementation of this work.

Fellows

Edgar Bolivar

Edgar Bolivar

Edgar was born in Los Angeles, California where he spent most of his time at Griffith Park and the Glendale area.  His family moved to Nashville in July of 2005, and attended various metro public schools in Davidson county.  While in High School he was involved in ACE Mentors, and had the opportunity to meet professionals from design and engineering backgrounds.  Being inspired by his mentors, Edgar earned a bachelor of architecture from the University of Tennessee.  He is passionate about city development and residential design.  When not designing he stays active by biking at parks and walking his dog. 

Hanna Naum-Stoian

Hanna Naum-Stoian is a research fellow for NCDC, working to integrate a community research and analysis component into sTURBO projects. Hanna is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, received her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Education at the University of California, Santa Cruz and is currently in her second year of the Community Development and Action Master of Education program at Vanderbilt.

Kelsey Oesmann

Kelsey Oesmann

Kelsey earned her Bachelors of Architecture from Virginia Tech in 2014, and spent three years working on mixed-use and multifamily projects in the Washington DC area. She was a member of the 2016 Class of AIA Virginia’s Emerging Leaders in Architecture, and served as the communications coordinator for the 2016 AIA Leadership Institute. After cycling across the country with the nonprofit Bike & Build this summer to raise funds and awareness for affordable housing, Kelsey was selected as an Enterprise Rose Fellow for 2017-2019 and made the move to Nashville. She is jointly hosted by Urban Housing Solutions and is committed to finding innovative ways to meet the growing need for quality affordable housing and great places for people.

Billy White

Billy White

Billy moved to Nashville in 2003, and while working downtown, bore witness to how projects like the Public Square, Schermerhorn, Viridian, and removal of the thermal plant transformed Nashville’s core, sparking an interest in urban renewal. Later, Billy fell in love with his first home and neighborhood in Wedgewood-Houston where he became involved with the South Nashville Action People (SNAP). There he worked with the Civic Design Center on a neighborhood study that would lead to a decade of admiration for their leadership and work. Since 2006, Billy has worked at Sitemason, an internet company where he’s a partner, web developer, and product manager. At the Civic Design Center, he works as a technologist and develops original and community features for the website. Billy and his wife Katie spend their free time rehabbing a 1930’s arts and crafts bungalow in the Richland-West End neighborhood.

Taylor Young

Taylor Young

Taylor Young graduated in May 2018 from the University of Tennessee with a Master of Public Health in Veterinary Public Health. She is a 2015 graduate of Austin Peay State University with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. Taylor has always had a love for animals and their interactions with humans. She is passionate about how companion animals factor into public health and the built environment. Taylor joined NCDC in February 2018 as a research fellow, and is working on the collaborative “Better Cities for Pets” program with MARS Petcare.  Her research focuses on where public health and pet ownership intersects to create more pet-friendly cities. Taylor, a native of Jackson, TN, and her husband, Murry, enjoy exploring all that Nashville has to offer with their one-year-old daughter, Vera, and their two dogs, Walker and June.

Interns

Natalia Burnagiel

Natalia Burnagiel

Natalia is a 3rd year architecture student at University of Technology in Cracow. She received the opportunity to further her architectural studies at University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as an exchange student. She’s most passionate about architecture, urban planning and exploring different places of the world. By studying a variety of designs, she wants to expand her knowledge and appreciation of the fields that she is most interested in. She finds traveling very important part of life as well as her future architecture career. She has visited 26 countries and each of those made her discover not only architecture but also people's needs and expectations. On her 5th semester of studying, she has participated in studio with exchange students from Guangzhou University in China. That experience taught her working in group and solving problems as part of large projects. She is convinced that architecture and its design can improve visual perception of the city and quality of living for all people in community.

Aleksandra Borowska

Aleksandra started architecture studies at University of Technology in Cracow in 2015. On her fifth semester she had the opportunity to participate in studio with exchange students from Guangzhou University in China. She's always been fascinated with Asian culture and architecture, so I enjoyed that experience a lot. From her Chinese friends she learned different approach to thinking and designing, it was very exotic, even though still in Poland. For the next semester she decided to go abroad, to have even more direct contact with different cultures. This is how it started and she arrived to University of Tennessee in Knoxville in January. She liked it so much, that after 4 months she didn’t want to end it and she wanted to get even more experience by living abroad. Then she applied to the NCDC, where she has already been earlier, thanks to participating in TK Davis studio during the spring semester in UT. After her summer internship she's going back to Poland, where she finish her Bachelor Degree and see what next.

Colby Long

Colby Long is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School with a previous Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Florida State University. With a concentration in human interaction and relationship, Colby will be focusing on how the rethinking of public spaces can better cultivate community relationships. After studying the implications of digital medias on physical space and relationship, much can be done to invite people back into the public sphere. While respecting the lived experiences of established communities in Nashville, Colby seeks to understand how we can better craft neighborhoods that center priority on individual’s experiences.

Madison Ryon

Madison Ryon, a New Jersey native, is currently in her final year at Vanderbilt University studying Human and Organizational Development with a concentration in Community and Leadership Development as well as Child Development. With a strong passion for creating communities for people, Madison is particularly interested in how urban developments can benefit citizens overall health and wellbeing. Whether through the creation of outdoor green spaces, or designated walking and biking lanes throughout the city, she believes it is imperative that cities are designed for the benefit of its inhabitants. 
After spending a semester in Copenhagen in the Spring of 2018, she brings a unique perspective to NCDC and hopes to have the opportunity to apply her experience over the course of the semester. Madison will be graduating in May 2019 and aims to pursue a career in sustainable urban and community development. 
 

Chaleah Ward

Chaleah is a senior at Tennessee State University where she majors in Urban Studies with a focus in Urban Planning. A native Detroiter, she spent summer 2018 interning with Building the Engine of Community Development in Detroit, an organization that brings community members, community developers and planners, and community stakeholders together in revitalization efforts for the city. There she co-led a project that conducted focus groups with Detroit youth in effort to market community development as a viable career field, and gather data for the development of a youth-centered community development curriculum. Chaleah is passionate about centering the ideas and voices of community residents in urban planning, and looks forward to a working with the Nashville Civic Design Center to engage Nashville residents in upcoming projects and community plans.

Interested in becoming an NCDC Intern?

Find out more information HERE.