On Wednesday, Dec. 7, Venture Connectors featured an exciting panel of City Collaborative board members, who discussed the importance of community engagement and innovation. They provided a brief history of its ReSurfaced program and shared future plans for the initiative.
Panelists included Dave Durand, co-founder of City Collaborative and CEO of Forest Giant; Rebecca Matheny, executive director of the Louisville Downtown Partnership; and Patrick Piuma, co-founder and director of City Collaborative, director of the Urban Design Studio at the University of Louisville, and planning director for Louisville Downtown Partnership.
Louisville-based City Collaborative is a nonprofit urban research, planning and design research laboratory dedicated to advancing new ideas and developing actionable solutions for communities. Founded in 2013, it is made up of an experienced, cross-disciplinary board trained in urban planning, urban geography, spatial analysis, urban development and technology. The organization works with public sector institutions, private companies and grassroots organizations to turn spaces into places that improve the city of Louisville.
Launched in September 2014, City Collaborative’s ReSurfaced initiative activates underutilized urban spaces in order to enable economic growth and social interaction in Downtown Louisville. Through the ReSurfaced program, City Collaborative and its partners are transforming a three-quarter acre lot in the Phoenix Hill Neighborhood into a community activation space that fosters civic engagement and entrepreneurialism. The idea behind this project is to create a destination for residents from all areas of the community to come to engage, collaborate, create and celebrate.
Durand earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from Eastern Connecticut State University and a master’s in web design and photography from the University of Connecticut. After moving to San Diego in 2001 to pursue a career in web design, he founded Visual Office and Visual Scientists Inc. He relocated to Louisville in 2004, sold Visual Office and later rebranded Visual Scientists as Forest Giant, a strategy, design and development company that engineers software solutions for some of the largest companies in the world. Durand co-founded City Collaborative along with other local innovators as a means to bring community ideas to life. He earned an Emerging Entrepreneur Award from the Kentucky Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame and was named a Business First Forty Under 40 honoree in 2013. Forest Giant was named to Greater Louisville Inc.’s Fast Dozen in 2014.
A native of Louisville, Matheny came to the Louisville Downtown Partnership, then known as the Downtown Development Corp., in 2007. A graduate of Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, she completed her master’s degree in urban and environmental policy at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. Her career has focused on intergovernmental relations, deregulation and policy development, project planning and implementation and strategic and master planning. Matheny has a long history of civic engagement, including as board chair of YMCA Camp Piomingo, and membership on the YMCA Association board, Parking Authority of Louisville board, Greater Louisville Inc., Friends of the Waterfront, Gallopalooza, Cherokee Triangle Association, Highland Presbyterian Church Pre-Schools, NuLu Business Association and the Main Street Association. She is also a 2015 Bingham Fellow.
In his various roles, Piuma handles a wide array of community outreach and promotion of sustainable urban design principles locally and throughout the country, and is nationally recognized for his recent work in creative placemaking. In 2012, Piuma was selected by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer for an Urban Land Institute (ULI) Daniel Rose Fellowship to work with ULI on a yearlong study on land use and urban design in Louisville. He was also named a Business First as a Forty Under 40 honoree, is a Leadership Louisville Bingham Fellow, and received an Acorn Award for Green Leadership from the Green Building.