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Urban Innovation Fellowship

Announcing the 2017-2018 Cohort of Urban Innovation Fellows

Lindy Institute Urban Innovation Summit workshop view of Innovation Fellow Michael O'Bryan

The Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation at Drexel University is proud to present the inaugural class of Lindy Urban Innovation Fellows. The Lindy Urban Innovation Fellowship enables the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation to recognize the extraordinary work that Philadelphians are doing to solve critical urban challenges.  By pairing emerging leaders with the intellectual resources from Drexel’s 15 schools and colleges, the fellowship demonstrates the institute’s commitment to forging solutions to equitably advance our cities. We received over 100 applications for this new fellowship program, highlighting the crucial work being done city-wide to address the defining urban challenges of our time. 

  • Priya Mammen is the Director of Public Health Programs and Clinical Associate Professor in the
    Department of Emergency Medicine at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson
    University. Priya will address how urban emergency departments can better position themselves to be a true community center, acting not only as part of a community  health system, but as a tool for social justice and strengthening community fabric. Developing a model for community engagement, and initially focusing on the opioid crisis, this project will identify ways to decrease health disparities and redress inequities through the fulcrum of the emergency department. 
  • Michael O’Bryan currently serves as Director of Youth and Young Adult Programs at The Village of Arts and Humanities. Michael’s project will reimagine workforce development practices and tools for marginalized youth, using a co-design process informed by leaders in the clinical and business sectors, as well as the lived expertise of these young people. His work focuses on the psycho-social or ‘soft’ skills increasingly valued in the labor market (e.g. creativity, adaptive thinking, and emotional intelligence). Understanding that early traumatic experiences can dramatically distort one’s skill development and long-term life trajectory, the project looks at how workforce development can internalize this, and create a new model that better serves populations dealing with trauma.
  • Christopher Spahr is the Executive Director of the Centennial Parkside CDC. Chris will continue his work on the development of an energy investment district in the East Parkside neighborhood of Philadelphia, which will ultimately generate solar energy for cultural institutions such as the Please Touch Museum and the Philadelphia Zoo, as well as create a sustainable revenue stream for the community. Both institutions are supportive of the project, as it aids them in meeting their strategic goals around energy sustainability, and the community supports the project, aware that such an innovative approach to energy will also create job opportunities in the long run. While initially focused in Parkside, the intention is to create a model that is scalable and replicable nation-wide. 

The inaugural Urban Innovation Fellows will gather at Drexel on October 30 & 31 for the first Urban Innovation Summit. These first two days of the Summit are comprised of internal work sessions at Drexel with teams of international experts, community members, Drexel faculty, local experts, and Drexel students supporting the Fellows as they develop a research agenda and a strategic project plan for the ensuing 3 - 6 months. The Fellows will present the results of their fellowships publicly in spring 2018.

The Urban Innovation Summit will culminate with the Drexel Dialogues: Urban Innovation in the Age of Trump, a public event on November 1 at 6pm at the Academy of Natural Sciences, with guests such as Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution, Lindy Institute Distinguished Fellows Jeremy Nowak and Alan Greenberger, and Shannon Marquez, Vice Provost for International Development at Drexel and Clinical Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at Drexel, sharing innovations in Philadelphia, nationally and abroad as we place Philadelphia in the context of urban innovation worldwide. The Fellows and their specific local urban challenges will be introduced publicly at the Drexel Dialogues.

You can RSVP for the Dialogues here, and follow the Fellows work here. 

The Lindy Urban Innovation Summit, the Lindy Urban Innovation Fellowship program and the Drexel Dialogues are generously underwritten with grants from the William Penn Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation and the and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.