A list of the top urban thinkers and civic leaders in Los Angeles and from around the world who will be speaking at the 4th Annual New Urbanism Film Festival in Los Angeles October 6th – 9th

Mia Lehrer

Mia Lehrer NUFF2016.pngMia is the founder of Mia Lehrer + Associates – known for its design and development of a wide spectrum of ambitious public and private projects that include urban revitalization developments, large urban parks, and commercial projects. She is especially proud of her firm’s work in the public realm in such venues as parks, green belts, schools, waterways, and vibrant neighborhoods and streets. In 2007, she was inducted as a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Mia Lehrer will be participating in the ubanism filmmaking challenge.  Thursday Sept 29th at 7pm

Neal Payton

Neal PaytonNeal Payton is the west coast director of Torti Gallas Partners, the leading architecture and planning firm focused on New Urbanist design. Payton has won several awards for his design projects in and around South California.  Payton will add to his list of awards the Paul Crawford Award, an honor from the California Chapter of the New Urbanism.  The award presentation will take place at the festival.  Payton will offer remarks about West Coast urbanism after receiving the award prior to a screening of Designing Urbanism short films Saturday Oct 8th at 8pm 

Stefanos Polyzoides

Stefanos Polyzoides Architect

Stefanos Polyzoides grew up in Greece. He earned a BA and MFA in Architecture and Planning from Princeton University.  He was an Associate Professor of Architecture at USC from 1973 to 1996. He is a co founder of the Congress for the New Urbanism and a partner in Moule & Polyzoides, Architects & Urbanists, of Pasadena, California. Since 1982, the firm has completed over 500 projects throughout the US and abroad. His is the author of numerous books and articles. Stefanos will be leading the Playa Vista Walking Tour Saturday Oct 8th at 4pm

Rick Cole

Slide11Rick Cole is the city manager of Santa Monica.  Cole has also served as Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles, Mayor of Pasadena, City Manager of Azusa, City Manager of Ventura, and was named one of Governing Magazine‘s Public Officials of the Year. Cole will be leading a walking tour of Downtown Santa Monica highlighting the urbanism principles used in the design of the Colorado Esplanade. Sunday October 9th at 4pm

Karamagi Rujumba

karamagiheadshot-1Karamagi Rujumba is the director of communications for the Pitsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.  Karamagi will be speaking on a panel after the screening of Through The Place. Karamagi was also the producer of the film. 

Helen Leung

helen-leung_-headshotHelen is Co-Executive Director of LA-Más, an urban design non-profit based in Los Angeles. Helen provides leadership in creating projects at LA-Más that are grounded in community need and policy potential. She has a passion towards redefining the intersection of community development and social equity. Helen has led the Futuro de Frogtown and Elysian Valley Knowledge Hub projects which explore opportunities for inclusive development. A native Angelino and urban planner, Helen has extensive policy and community-based experience working for former Los Angeles Council President Eric Garcetti. Helen serves on the Police Commission’s Permit Review Permit Panel, the Community Advisory Board of Genesis LA, and the board of the Elysian Valley Arts Collective. Helen holds a master’s degree in Public Policy and Urban Planning from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Communications from the University of Pennsylvania.  Helen will speak on a panel about tactical urbanism after the screening of Art of Recovery  Thursday night at 8pm, October 6th.

Josef Bray-Ali

josef bray ali nuff2016.pngJosef Bray-Ali is the owner of Flying Pigeon LA and a candidate for Los Angeles City Council. Josef, an active bicycling spokesperson, devotes a significant amount of his time to researching, writing and advocating on behalf of bicycles and the benefits of a transportation plan for bicycles. His efforts have included support for narrowing streets in Highland Park’s business district in order to evoke an era when residents walked to nearby shops rather than flying past them in cars. Bray-Ali will help lead the Group Bike Ride to Playa Vista

Tafarai Bayne

profile-shot_knowyourcityTafarai is a Los Angeles native with extensive experience in the following areas: communications, promotion and outreach, constituency building, stakeholder education, project management, program development, marketing, and event production. He is considered a leader in strategic planning; community organizing issues and has worked on development and urban planning issues for over 15 years with an emphasis on the dynamics impacting urban working class communities. He has extensive organizational development experience having served on the board of Strategic Actions for a Just Economy during a critical executive transition and he recently served on the Board of CicLAvia, having helped spearhead expansion efforts into South Los Angeles. Having spent years as a cultural producer and tastemaker, he has extensive knowledge and relationships in the LA urban artistic community. In 2014 he was appointed as a commissioner to the City of Los Angeles Transportation Commission and currently serves as it’s Vice President. Tafarai is also the founder of EMH Creative Group, a consulting firm focused on strategic planning, communications and production. He is currently the Chief Strategist for CicLAvia.

Shane Swerdlow

swerdlow nuff2016.png

Shane is an urban planner and architectural historian who is passionate about the role that architecture, planning, and development can play in shaping a strong sense of place and community.  As a Land Use Consultant at Craig Lawson & Co., LLC, Shane manages the land use entitlement approval process for diverse development projects throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan area.  In his previous experience as a Historic Preservation Planner at Chattel, Inc., he consulted on rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of historic properties, including Mission Santa Barbara, The Neon Museum Las Vegas (housed within the Mid Century Modern La Concha Motel Lobby), and Torrance’s Pacific Electric Railway – El Prado Bridge, as well as the Maxfield, Garment Capitol, and Sears, Roebuck & Co. Mail Order buildings in Downtown Los Angeles.  He also helped cities, including Los Angeles, Orange, and Whittier, implement their historic preservation ordinances by conducting historical resource surveys and processing nearly 300 Mills Act Contracts, which provide property tax reduction to qualified owners of historic buildings.  Shane holds degrees in Public Policy, Management, & Planning and Business Administration, with concentrations in Urban Planning, Real Estate Development, and International Business, from the University of Southern California.  For the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, he serves as President of the Alumni Association, as well as a member of the School’s Board of Councilors and Athenian Society Leadership Council.  He recently served on the Board of Directors and Planning and Land Use Committee for Los Angeles’ Mid City West Community Council and is a member of the Accordion Federation of North America.  Shane Swerdlow will be on a panel discussing historic preservation following the screening of Through The Place Saturday Oct 8th at 4pm

Madeline Brozen

2016-08-05-16-10-56Madeline Brozen is the Associate Director for External Relations for the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies. She conducts research about transportation and livability issues, largely in partnership with faculty in the UCLA Department of Urban Planning. In Los Angeles, she’s analyzed how people arrive to CicLAvia events, evaluated the parklets on Spring Street in Downtown Los Angeles and created standard ways to count the number of people walking and cycling. Madeline lives in Mid-City West and is a board member for the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals.  Madeline will be speaking on the Active Transportation Panel after the short films presentation Friday October 7th 7:30pm

Valerie Watson

v_watsonValerie Watson works for the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) as an urban designer and transportation planner. Valerie, along with her colleagues in the LADOT Active Transportation Division, works to promote implementation of pedestrian- and bicycle-focused design, develop active transportation plans and policies, establish effective partnerships within the City and with advocacy and community organizations, and secure funding opportunities to enhance safety for people who walk, bike and access transit. Her work has created the foundation for the City’s first ever Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan, shoring up a Complete Streets Engineering Toolbox, infusing a data-driven approach into the department’s activities, and – in 2015 – launching Mayor Eric Garcetti’s citywide Vision Zero initiative to eliminate traffic deaths by 2025. She now serves as LADOT’s Great Streets Coordinator and focuses on managing signature street reconfiguration projects. From 2012-2015, Valerie led the inter-disciplinary team effort resulting in the formalization of People St, a city-wide application-based program that offers communities a process for installing plazas and parklets, low-cost and quickly installed design treatments that reallocate road space as public open space and demonstrate the benefits of investing in the public realm. peoplest.lacity.org  |  visionzero.lacity.org  Valerie

Jim Kermath

jim-kermathJim Kermath is a credentialed Life & Career Coach and Gallup Strengths Coach with offices in Pasadena and Santa Monica. He brings to his coaching work a varied background, including roles as an executive director, professor, and pastor. In addition, Jim is a certified kayak guide on the LA River. He has introduced numerous people to this unique, indigenous water experience through his work with a tour company and his own private trips. He also offers a workshop on river renewal, entitled “LA River Revitalization—the View from a Kayak.” He is married to the radiant Renee and they make their home in Eagle Rock. Jim will be speaking on the LA River panel discussion following the screening of Accidental Parkland Saturday at 12pm

Michael MacDonald

headshot-mmacdonaldBorn and raised in New York City, Michael MacDonald is an architect who brings a unique perspective to the necessary components of community and place-making of architectural and urban projects. His architectural practice, Studio MMD, specializes in projects oriented towards experience, and whose scales from workplace, bars and restaurants, housing, and work focused on the public realm. Studio MMD developed the concept and design for Street Beats, an event focused on the Hyde Park community of South L.A. that was funded through the Mayor’s Great Streets Challenge Grant program. Michael has been an adjunct architectural professor at Woodbury University and guest critic at Southern California universities. Michael’s work in urban advocacy includes organizing community outreach to secure approval of projects like My Figueroa, the Crenshaw Streetscape Plan, and bike lanes on King Blvd. Michael also founded Bike The Vote L.A., a group focused on Safe Streets political advocacy. Michael will be speaking on the Tactical Urbanism Panel following the opening night feature Art of Recovery on Thursday Oct 6th at 8pm

Jenna Chandler

JJenna Chandler nuff2016.pngenna Chandler is the editor of CurbedLA. She will be a judge for the comedy game show What’s the Worst Building in LA. Saturday night at 10pm

Howard Blackson


Howard Blackson is the President of the Board of the California Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism.  He was part of the San Diego Civic Innovation Lab and now works for Michael Baker International. Blackson will be presenting the CNU California awards on Saturday Oct 8th at 8pm.  Blackson will also serve as a Judge for What’s the Worst Building in Los Angeles game show Saturday night at 10pm.


Amalia Merino

Amalia is a Bureau of Engineering Planning Assistant on Mayor Eric Garcetti’s LARiverWorks team. She serves as the City lead for the LA River Cooperation Committee. She is team lead on the arts, public engagement, select planning-related issues and partnerships like Sister River Agreements. Previously she worked at Metro Art in LA Metro’s Countywide Planning and Development Department where she focused on activating Union Station through free cultural events and other systemwide public art projects. A 2013 graduate of UCLA’s MURP program with a Design & Development concentration, her passion is public space activation and cultural planning.  Her professional background includes performing arts sponsorship and development in Miami and advertising in Chicago. She graduated from Smith College in Northampton, MA with a BA in Economics.  A fifth generation Angeleno on her mother’s side, Amalia grew up between the U.S. and Latin America and enjoys exploring her Los Angeles roots via transit, bike and on foot.  She will be discussing the LA River after the screening of Accidental Parkland Saturday at 12pm. 

Sanjay Gupta

sanjay-2016-headshotSanjay is a car-free LA native who’s mission is to bring biking into the mainstream. He has worked in the Bay Area in bicycle advocacy and biking programs for youth, and more recently at home in LA with our bike share programs in both Santa Monica and Downtown LA. Sanjay’s style always has energy efficiency in mind as he melds sound physics and tasteful fashion into every bike that he builds. His fearless approach to cycling in LA is grounded in the philosophy that “fear is nothing more than false evidence appearing real”. Sanjay will be presenting about bike share programs at the NUFF Talks event on Thursday Sept 29th

Ann Bridges

ann-bridgesAnn Bridges is a Los Angeles painter. She graduated from California State University Long Beach with a Masters Degree in Fine Art in 1997 her graduate show was titled ‘Off the Coast of America’. It was a study of the natural landscape of Catalina Island as a memory of the landscape that she saw as she grew up in Los Angeles. Since that time the ever-changing landscape of California has been the focus of her work.  She is interested in capturing color and light in both urban and natural settings and frequently goes on site to gather inspiration.  She maintains an active studio in Koreatown where she works and teaches.  Ann will be speaking during our NUFF Talks event on Thursday Sept 29th. 

Joe Linton

img_4746Joe Linton is the editor of Streetsblog L.A. He has a long record of urban environmental activism with CicLAvia, the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition, C.I.C.L.E., Friends of the L.A. River, L.A. Eco-Village and other organizations. He is the author of Down by the Los Angeles River, a guidebook published in 2005.  Joe will be on a panel about the LA River following the screening of Accidental Parkland. 12pm Saturday October 8th.

Scott Schultz


Scott Schultz is the founder and host of the popular storytelling show “BUSted: True Tales of Getting Around Los Angeles told by people who don’t drive.”  Schultz hosts with humility and flare, invites performers and audience members to share their public transit story.  Every story has to begin with the bus number “So I was riding the ___” and the crowd goes wild, instantly recalling their own familiar crazy stories from whichever line is the subject.  Scott will be hosting BUSted Sunday at 5pm at the Helms Design Center.

Scott Epstein


Scott Epstein is the Community Engagement Director for the New Urbanism Film Festival. Scott serves as the Chair of the Mid City West Community Council and also leads the Midtown Los Angeles Homeless Coalition. A policy analyst by trade, Scott is a passionate advocate for safe and complete streets and building sustainable Los Angeles.

Max Podemski

image1Max Podemski is the Planning Director at Pacoima Beautiful. Mr. Podemski co-authored the Pacoima Wash Vision Plan which calls for the conversion of the channelized Pacoima Wash into a multi-modal greenway and park. This plan has been incorporated into official planning documents for the City of Los Angeles and the first park along the Wash is set to open in the coming year.  Mr. Podemski also serves on the cities Pedestrian Advisory Committee as the representative for Council District 6.  He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Urban and Environmental Policy from Occidental College and a Master of Science in Urban Planning from Columbia University.

Daniel Lovering

daniel-loveringLovering is the director of the film Through The Place screening on Saturday Oct 8th at 4pm. Lovering will join the panel on Historical Preservation following the film.

Adrian Scott Fine

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-9-44-26-pmFine is the director of communication for the LA Conservancy. He will be joining the panel on Historical Preservation following the screening of Through The Place Saturday Oct 8th at 4pm.

Eric Hahn

hahnEric Hahn is a stand up comic, writer, actor and producer living in Los Angeles. Eric is in his 7th year as a comic and recently completed a three state comedy tour on the east coast. Eric created a popular web series on Youtube called ‘Brick and Sizzle’ and runs a successful standup show every Friday at a Silverlake venue called ‘Malo.’  Hahn will be competing in What the Worst Building in Los Angeles? Saturday 10pm October 8th

Joel Epstein


Joel Epstein is a Los Angeles-based walker in the city and a senior advisor to companies, law firms, foundations and public initiatives on communications strategy, government affairs and corporate social responsibility.  Joel will be presenting a NUFF Talk on Thursday Sept 29th at 7pm.

Martin Torner


Martin Torner is an award-winning story teller who has performed all across the country.  He’s also a bicyclist and train fanatic. He will be performing in the game show What’s the Worst Building in Los Angeles Saturday Night at 10pm


For a list of previous guests and speakers at the festival click here.

We’ve been lucky and honored to have so many passionate and thoughtful urbanists and community leaders join us on stage at the festival to help audiences interpret films’ meanings for the city of Los Angeles.  Here’s a few photos…

Tamika Butler (LA Bicycle Coalition) and Nona Varnado (LA Bike Trains)