Whitney D.W. Smith, Founder and Board Chair
Whitney’s interest in continued social analysis and inquiry led him to complete two research projects deconstructing and analyzing the social and economic response to gentrification in the context of land, infrastructural and cultural development. He has completed field research and extensive writing on issues of economic and infrastructural growth and is passionate about sustainability and scalable models of sustainable community growth. Currently, he sits on the Executive Board for StartingBloc a fellowship program focused on training leaders on social entrepreneurship.
He holds a Bachelors Degree (BA) in Sociology with a minor in African and African American Studies and Masters Degree (MA) in Urban Sociology from Dartmouth College.
Ade Baptista, Board Member
Ade has been interested in urban planning since he was a child growing up in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York. As a child, he was fascinated with urban transportation and at age 8 began to draw urban maps with roads, bridges, tunnels and subways. His passion for problem solving continues in his professional career and in his community involvement. In 2008, Ade served as director for a non-profit organization in Virginia, working with community organizers encourage civic engagement. He is now a manager of Information Technology for a company in Massachusetts. Ade currently resides in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is active with grassroots organizations and campaigns. Ade obtained his Bachelors of Science in Business Management from Boston University in 2007 and is currently pursing a Masters of Science in Engineering Management from Tufts University.
Val A. Henry, Board Member
Val A. Henry has more than twenty-five years of professional experience in providing services to business, community and political organizations. First, as a legal practitioner, then as Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Special Projects to Brooklyn Democratic Chairman, Clarence Norman, Jr. and most recently as Chief of Staff to Brooklyn Congressman Edolphus ‘Ed’ Towns, Mr. Henry has developed extensive expertise in the areas of business development and management, non-profit development and political campaign management.
Mr. Henry did his undergraduate work at Bucknell University and obtained his law degree from Fordham University School of Law. Mr. Henry has chaired the University Hospital of Brooklyn Community Advisory Board and has served on the boards of many community organizations including NYC Community Board 9, NYC Neighborhood Advisory Board 16, Ifetayo Cultural Arts, Brooklyn Urban League, Bedford Stuyvesant Legal Services Corporation as well as various professional organizations. Mr. Henry has been recognized in the United States Congressional Record and various New York organizations for his accomplishments and leadership. Mr. Henry has taught economics and International Labor and Trade History at the Harry Van Arsdale School of Labor Studies, SUNY and the Taylor Business Institute.
Courtland O.K. Smith, Board Member
Courtland holds an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College where he majored in Psychological and Brain Sciences and minored in Studio Art. He also holds a graduate degree in Psychology from New York University where his research focused on Perception. Courtland’s graduate research (Effects of Categorical Perception of Target Stimulus and Context on Visual Search Tasks) demanded an intricate understanding of the cognitive mechanisms that dictate and control both the predetermined and malleable methods we use to interpret and perceive specific well-learned stimuli (i.e. letters and numbers). His work lends to the research on the neural pathways that allow for rapid cognitive processing. Courtland’s findings suggest that we have the ability to train the brain to more effectively and efficiently place information into memory and retrieve information from memory.
After writing three novels (www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HJXIF62) about the science and real-world practice of psychology through the eyes of a troubled modern-day psychologist, Courtland returned to his research roots and to NYU. There, he coordinates research projects which are funded by grants from international and national governments and which focus on education systems, their implementation, and the potential methods of improvement to create equality among citizens through education.
Courtland also manages a small group fund which provides angel investment to start-ups and focuses on domestic technology equities, but holds varying positions to anticipate and stay ahead of the trends in the ever-changing market.
Nicole E. Townsend, Board Member
Nicole holds a Bachelors Degree (BA) in Economics with a minor in Chemistry from Mount Holyoke College, a Masters Degree in Public Health (MPH) from Columbia University and a Jurist Doctorate (JD) from Rutgers University School of Law.
Martin Gottlieb, Vice President, High Caliper Growing