Staff, Fellows and Interns

Nashville Civic Design Center Staff

Staff

Gary Gaston

Gary Gaston

Gary Gaston is the CEO of the Nashville Civic Design Center, and serves as Assistant Professor of Practice at the University of Tennessee Knoxville College of Architecture + Design. He received his Bachelor of Architecture from UTK, and a M.Ed. in Community Development and Action from Vanderbilt University.

Gaston helped lead numerous planning and design efforts for NCDC, including its visionary The Plan of Nashville: Avenues to a Great City, published in 2005. Gaston served as executive producer of the National Endowment for the Arts funded documentary film Design Your Neighborhood, and co-authored two books, Moving Tennessee Forward: Models for Connecting Communities (2012), and Shaping the Healthy Community: The Nashville Plan, published by Vanderbilt University Press in 2016.

Gaston is a TEDx Nashville Fellow, his talk on “Improving Public Health Through Community Design” can be viewed here. He received the Tau Sigma Delta Honor Society Silver Medal “for extraordinary efforts to advance the field of design in the region” in 2016, and was recognized as a “Next American Vanguard” by Next City Magazine in 2010. Gaston serves on the board of directors of The District and Nashville Health steering committee. He lives in Germantown with his dog Lotti.

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 bachelor's 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 website for Lake Forest Landmark Development, a residential architecture firm. Eric worked in medical design for a company called Clean Rooms West where he drew construction documents and built 3D models for hospital cleanrooms. He was also commissioned by Leeder Furniture to build a website and design dorm room furniture.

Eric joined the Civic Design Center in 2012 as a design fellow and is now the Design Manager. He manages visual graphics production, and leads design and styling of the marketing, programming, and publications for the organization. He also helps oversee 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.

Mike Thompson

Mike Thompson

Originally from Minneapolis, Mike has worked in local community development efforts across roughly 20 cities in the US and Canada; from dense urban neighborhoods to Native American reservations. Through that work he witnessed the diverse ways in which communities approach design and development, and the impact those approaches have on a community. Mike holds a B.A. in Political Science, and a M.Ed. in Community Development and Action from Vanderbilt University. Mike joined the Nashville Civic Design Center in 2016 and now works as the Project and Evaluation Manager, with an emphasis on health and built environment research, training, and implementation. Mike is also the Built Environment Project Manager for the Tennessee Department of Health, and co-coordinator of Nashville’s tactical urbanism initiative - TURBO Nashville.

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. 

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. 

Taylan Tekeli

Taylan Tekeli

Taylan moved to Nashville from Istanbul in 2017 after completing his bachelor degree from Istanbul Technical University, Faculty of Architecture. During his college education, he participated in exchange programs at The University of Edinburgh, College of Art in 2015 and Auburn University, School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape Architecture in 2016. Years of international experience contributes to his creative process and design.

Before he joined Nashville Civic Design Center in 2018, he worked on construction documents and the visualization of projects at Pfeffer Torode Architecture, which helped him to become a Nashville local in a short time, and to understand the city's needs. In addition to his passion of creating more beautiful and functional city for all with NCDC, he is highly interested in affordable and sustainable housing projects.

Fellows

Elizabeth Crimmins

Elizabeth Crimmins

Elizabeth, a Chattanooga, TN native, graduated from the College of Charleston in May 2018 where she majored in Historic Preservation and Community Planning with minors in Urban Studies and Art History. She spent time in college working as an intern for the Historic Charleston Foundation and the City of Charleston’s Design Division. It was during these internships that she found a passion in looking for opportunities to improve the interaction between humans and the built environment through design and public engagement. Elizabeth is looking forward to applying her background in preservation and planning to urban revitalization or suburban retrofit projects to create sustainable, functional places for people to live and work. During her time in Nashville, Elizabeth hopes to use her experiences as a foundation to work with the community to construct meaningful public space before attending graduate school in the Fall of 2019 to pursue a masters in Landscape Architecture.

Edian Mece

Edian Mece

Edian is a young architect, urban planner and urban enthusiast who earned a Bachelor and Master Degree in Architecture at the Milan Polytechnic University, Faculty of Architecture. Before joining the Civic Design Center in January 2019, he used to work at the Urban Planning Department at the Municipality of Tirana, Albania. His professional experiences include working as an architect in Milan, Italy and Tirana, Albania before starting working in the public sector. A strong advocate of public space, he is also an invited professor at the Faculty of Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Tirana.  Edian has been dealing with planning and design at different scales, having worked in the Tirana General Local Plan, Tirana 030, and various urban design projects.

 

Katy Morgan

Katy Morgan

Originally from Jackson, Mississippi, Katy graduated from Millsaps College in 2014 with a B.A. in English Education. She went on to teach high school English for three years through Teach for America before moving to Nashville to obtain an M.Ed. in Community Development and Action from Vanderbilt University. Given her background in education, Katy’s research interests center exploring community-based efforts to increase leadership, empowerment, and active citizenship among youth. While in Nashville, she has worked with several youth-centered nonprofit organizations to build program capacity through research and evaluation. This work brought Katy to NCDC’s Design Your Neighborhood (DYN) initiative. She has been an engaged researcher with NCDC since May 2017, conducting a pilot study to help the organization better understand the impact of DYN on Metro Nashville’s students. Katy looks forward to continuing her partnership with NCDC as she pursues a Ph.D. in Community Research and Action at Vanderbilt.

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 is a licensed architect and Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow with NCDC and Urban Housing Solutions. As a Rose Fellow, Kelsey strives to find innovative ways to meet the growing need for quality affordable housing and great places for people. After earning her Bachelor of Architecture from Virginia Tech, she spent three years working on mixed-use and multi-family projects in Washington, DC, and in 2016 she biked across the United States to raise funds and awareness for affordable housing. Kelsey currently serves as the chair of the AIA Middle Tennessee Emerging Professionals Committee, and is an active member of the Urban Land Institute. Originally from New Jersey, Kelsey maintains high standards for bagels and pizza, but has fallen in love with Nashville since moving to Tennessee in 2016. She loves coffee, dog parks, and triathlons, and never leaves home without a good pen.

 

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 the Civic Design Center in February 2018 as a research fellow, and is working on the collaborative “Better Cities for Pets” program with Mars Petcare US.  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 daughter, Vera, and their dog Walker.

Interns

Kayla Anderson

Kayla is originally from Everett, Washington, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Whitworth University. Kayla spent the past five years living in South Carolina teaching through Teach for America and working for Big Brothers Big Sisters. During her time in South Carolina, Kayla became cognizant of inequities within the built in environment, and observed how they affected the communities in which she worked. Kayla moved to Nashville in August 2018 to pursue a Master’s in Community Development and Action from Vanderbilt University. Her research focuses on exploring how the built environment affects communities (physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally) and how to implement public policy and culturally conscious development in order to increase justice and equity. Kayla is excited to be working as a Research Intern with NCDC, and looks forward to exploring how to improve connectivity between spaces and increase equity within the built environment. She is currently working on the University Connections project, exploring the physical connections between Trevecca and Vanderbilt universities.

Chuck Layne

Chuck Layne is a senior at Trevecca Nazarene University planning to graduate this spring with a double major in Community Development and Behavioral Science. His background as both a first-generation and alternative student combined with his valuation for a holistic approach to the learning environment has led to a keen interest in project-based learning initiatives. Further, he recognizes that the integration of service learning components into these initiatives are likely to cultivate and facilitate a generation of civically engaged youth, which has been shaped by his research that analyzed the capacity of universities to foster civic engagement through the construction of quality learning environments. However, in recognizing a decline in traditional forms of civic engagement, Charles has decided to join NCDC to provide program support and research assistance for the Design Your Neighborhood initiative, which he believes might offer a more constructive dialogue than delaying civic education until college. Charles hopes to take this experience forward next fall as he anticipates studying in the Master of City and Regional Planning Program at the University of Memphis, where he would work on developing a youth neighborhood council.

Interested in becoming an NCDC Intern?

Find out more information HERE.