Lynn Ross: Equity in the Commons

people spending leisure time in a park

photo / Kaboompics from Pexels

Lynn M. Ross (M.R.P. '01) AICP is the founder and principal of Spirit for Change Consulting, LLC where she works for organizations both nationally and across different sectors on a mission to create and sustain equitable policies, practices, and places. Dedicated to serving mission-driven organizations, Ross has over 18 years of multi-sector experience including past senior leadership roles as vice president of and national initiatives at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; deputy assistant secretary for Policy Development in the Office of Policy Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and executive director of the Urban Land Institute's Terwilliger Center for Housing. She has also served as chief operating officer for the National Housing Conference and Center for Housing Policy, as well as manager of the Planning Advisory Service at the American Planning Association.

A frequent speaker and award-winning author, Ross has an M.R.P. degree from Cornell and a B.S. in community and regional planning from Iowa State University. Ross was honored with the 2009 Design Achievement Award from the Iowa State University College of Design and the 2016 Outstanding Young Alumni Award from the Iowa State University Alumni Association. In 2017, she became a fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar at Session 574, The Child in the City: Health, Parks, and Play. In 2019, Ross was named one of 50 "Women of Influence" by the Royal Town Planning Institute's The Planner magazine.


Nearly every trend line shows that the U.S. is in the grips of increased polarization, segregation, social isolation, and economic inequality. There is an urgent need to reverse these trends in pursuit of more equitable communities and public spaces — our civic commons — can play an essential role. Reimagining the civic commons is a national initiative that seeks to counter economic and social fragmentation in our cities by revitalizing and connecting public places such as parks, plazas, trails, and libraries to bring together people from different backgrounds. Join Ross for a discussion exploring the power of public spaces and strategies for creating an equitable civic commons. Learn how teams in Akron, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, and Philadelphia implemented Reimagining the Civic Commons by centering on residents to advance the goals of socioeconomic mixing, civic engagement, environmental sustainability, and value creation.

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