2012 Mel King Community Fellows


The Mel King Community Fellows Program (MKCFP) is dedicated to the legacy of Mel King, a still-active champion of activist planning in cities. Mel King initiated the Community Fellows Program in 1970 as an adjunct professor at MIT. Originally, the program offered Fellows a yearlong sabbatical at MIT, where they could reflect, conduct research, acquire skills, and build new relationships.

The current MKCFP builds upon this 40-year tradition of bridging practice-based knowledge and academic research. However, current Fellows continue working in their home communities on carefully-defined projects and make quarterly visits to MIT to interact with students and faculty, share lessons, access technical knowledge relevant to their projects, and deepen their connections with each other. CoLab staff, students, and faculty affiliates support the Fellows as they undertake self-directed mutual learning projects.

Class of 2012

The 2012 Mel King Community Fellows Program is devoted to convening leading economic development and community development practitioners from across the United States to engage in a collaborative process to define the critical issues faced in transforming the economic development field and the key research, new knowledge and tools and professional development needed to achieve this goal. The program will draw on Fellows’ experiences in their states, cities and communities along with a process of collaborative learning, reflection and discussion to inform answers to these questions and other questions posed by the Fellows. We believe new solutions to current environmental and economic sustainability challenges can emerge through engagement with local practitioners and leaders rather than by deploying what we already know through existing institutional channels. Collaborative innovation, which uses team-based, reflection-centered problem-solving processes to address problems in real time as they emerge from practice, may be more effective, and underlies the design of the 2012 Mel King Community Felllows Program. The 2012 cohort includes:

  • Rob Bennet, Portland Sustainability Institute, Portland, Oregon
  • Keith Bisson, Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), Wiscasset, Maine
  • Adam Freed, Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, New York, New York
  • Bob Gough, Intertribal Council on Utility Policy (COUP), Rosebud, South Dakota
  • Andrew Kellar, Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR), The Green Launching Pad, Durham, New Hampshire
  • Eric Nakajima, Senior Innovation Advisor, Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Yorman Nunez, Field Organizer, Red Horse Strategies, New York, New York
  • Sara Dillon Pennington, New Power Campaign Organizer, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, London, Kentucky
  • Andre Pettigrew, Executive Director, Climate Prosperity Project, Inc., Washington D.C.
  • Cathy Polasky, Director of Economic Policy and Development, City of Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Shanna Ratner, Principal, Yellow Wood Associates, Inc., St. Albans, Vermont
  • Wilnelia Rivera, Policy and Political Director, Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts, Massachusetts
  • Desiree Sideroff, Vice President, Consumer Lending Products, Enterprise Cascadia, Seattle, Washington
  • Elizabeth Thorstensen, Vice President, Knowledge Management & Economic Development Practice, Washington D.C.

Information about the 2010-2011 Mel King Community Fellows Program can be found here.

Class of 2012 Contact:

Karl Seidman

General Project Contact:

Dayna Cunningham