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 grew up in the Chicago area but now calls Nashville home. He earned a bachelor's degree in Interior Architecture from Ohio University and specialized in graphics and 3D models. His thesis, a high-speed rail hub that would be located in the Chicago Central Carrier Annex post office building, was designed to connect the Midwest by efficient train travel. Since then he has worked for several design related organizations. He has worked in residential architecture, medical design, designed dorm room furniture, and does graphic design.

Eric joined the Civic Design Center in 2012 as a Design Fellow and is now the Design Director. He manages visual graphic production, and helps with design and style of the organization. He also oversees the Civic Design Center's projects and manages the Design Studio team, as well as TURBO Nashville (Tactical URBanism Organizers).

Jolie Ayn Yockey

Jolie Ayn Yockey

Jolie Ayn Yockey has spent over fifteen years managing and consulting with organizations of all sizes. Ms. Yockey comes to us after a lengthy 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, community relations, donation and sponsorship programs, events and demonstrations. Ms. Yockey holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, 32 hours in Masters of Business Administration from Indiana University, and over 500 hours of continuing education.

Veronica Foster

Veronica Foster is a published co-author, a co-founder of an action-oriented startup, and a natural connector. She strives to increase human interaction in public spaces in order to work towards engaged, happy communities. Veronica has lived in cities all over the globe. She grew up in Chicago and most recently lived in Seattle. It was living in Copenhagen for a stint that drew parallels between the study of humans and urban design and triggered the epiphany for her long term career journey. Veronica’s passions solidified through completing her Bachelor of Science at Tufts University where she connected the unique study of psychology, cognitive science and all things urban. Having met her own business partner in a coworking space, Veronica knew the value of facilitating community engagement within the private sector of coworking. At a Seattle coworking space, she cultivated a community of professionals using public process techniques that are regularly used in urban design projects. Now in Nashville, she is excited to use her skills in business to engage the greater Nashville community through communications at the Civic Design Center.

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 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.

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.

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.

Fellows

Kayla Anderson

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 Fellow 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, as well as assisting with Design Your Neighborhood.

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.

Remi Lynch

Remi Lynch

Growing up in the close-knit village of Phoenix New York, Remi learned the importance of civic engagement and building a strong sense of community. He spent four years with Oswego County Americorps engaging with the youth of Phoenix to encourage them to be advocates for themselves and their community. For education, he received an associate's degree in architecture from SUNY OCC and continued his education at SUNY ESF for his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture. His areas of interests are in community engagement/education, pedestrian transportation systems, and climate change.
Remi made the move to Nashville in 2019 and joined the Nashville Civic Design Center as a design fellow and works on the following initiatives: Reclaiming Public Space, Moving Tennessee Forward, Design Your Neighborhood, The Plan of Nashville, and TURBO.
 

Interns

Megan Bennett

Megan Bennett

Born and raised in Florida, Megan earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Florida International University. During her time there, she fostered a passion for community projects through volunteering with Alternative Breaks, an organization dedicated to creating active citizens and supporting community-led programs. Since graduating, Megan went on to teach English abroad, lead operations at a volunteer camp, and serve an AmeriCorps year with Public Allies Miami. During her service year, she piloted a co-working space and tech training program in a low wealth Miami neighborhood. Her academic and professional experiences to date have all been motivated by a desire to better understand communities and work alongside them to create better places to live, work, and play. Currently, Megan supports community development projects across seven cities to promote positive development and sustainability. Megan is excited to be a part of the NCDC team to explore how the conscious design of the built environment can improve social conditions and create thriving cities. 

Interested in becoming an NCDC Intern?

Find out more information HERE.