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Friends Like Us

A Podcast featuring women of color with different views on hot topics. 

Apr 14, 2021

Toni L. Griffin is a Professor in Practice of Urban Planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and leads The Just City Lab, a research platform for developing values-based planning methodologies and tools, including the 2017 Just City Index and a framework of indicators and metrics for evaluating social justice in public space. The 2015 Public Life and Urban Justice in NYC's Plazas study developed an elaborate framework of indicators and metrics to assess how the conditions of civic life and social justice in several New York City Public plazas. Toni is also co-editor of and contributor to The Just City Essays: Volume One, a collection of 26 essays by thought leaders representing 22 different cities and 5 countries, offering their propositions for ways to acknowledge injustice and promote greater justice in cities. Toni is also the founder of UrbanAC, based in New York, specializing in leading complex, trans-disciplinary planning and urban design projects for multi-sector clients in cities with long histories of spatial and social injustice. Recent urban planning projects that showcase how the practice transforms legacy issues of population and economic decline into innovative places for inclusion, prosperity and equity include Detroit Future City and MKE United:  A Greater Downtown Action Agenda.  The practice has also served as a strategic advisor to mayors and civic leaders in Washington, DC., Memphis, and St. Louis looking to design comprehensive urban planning frameworks through inclusive engagement. Additionally, Toni has served as program advisor and facilitator to the Kresge Foundation, Surdna Foundation and Heinz Endowments for integrating policies that promote social and spatial justice into their program areas and investments.  Most recently, Ms. Griffin was a Professor of Architecture and the founding Director of the J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City at the Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York. Toni has also held several public sector positions including, Director of Community Development for Newark, New Jersey; Vice President and Director of Design for the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation in Washington, DC; and Deputy Director for Revitalization and Neighborhood Planning for the DC Office of Planning. She began her career as an architect with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP in Chicago, where she became an Associate Partner. Ms. Griffin received a Bachelors of Architecture from the University of Notre Dame and a Loeb Fellowship from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. In 2014, Toni was the Visiting Associate Professor and Theodore B. and Doris Shoong Lee Chair in Real Estate Law and Urban Planning, in the Department of City and Regional Planning at University of California, Berkeley. Toni has published several articles  and book chapters on the just city, legacy cities, and urban planning and design and her work has been featured in publications including Metropolis and Next City. She has lectured extensively in the United States, Europe, Africa, and South America and has a 2015 TED Talk on Detroit. In 2016, President Barack Obama appointed Toni to the United States Commission of Fine Arts. 

Nonye Brown-West is a Nigerian-American comedian and writer. She has been featured in the Boston Globe's Rise column as a Comic to Watch, NPR, PBS, ABC, Sway In The Morning, and the New York Comedy Festival. In 2019, Nonye made her acting debut in The Sympathy Card. Look out for her two new web series, Fairytales with Nonye and Gayby Jesus, coming in winter 2020.  

Dawn Boatman “Dawn B” is a comedian, host, actress, and radio personality. Hailing from Chicago Il., Dawn B began her career over 20 years ago performing at local comedy clubs and bars around the country and internationally. She joined an improvisational group called "The Forgotten City".  Dawn B honed her comedic career when she decided to move to the east coast while working for the clothing company Sean John as a district merchandiser. She later moved to New York City and performed at clubs like Caroline’s and The Improv. Dawn B started travelling internationally and performing for the military.  She has told jokes in Japan, the United Kingdom, and Haiti. Dawn B’s raw talent and quick wit for comedy, has always been in her soul. 

Always hosted by Marina Franklin - One Hour Comedy Special: Single Black Female ( Amazon Prime, CW Network), Hysterical at FX on Hulu,  Trainwreck, Louie Season V, The Jim Gaffigan Show, Conan O'Brien, Stephen Colbert, HBO's Crashing, and The Breaks with Michelle Wolf