Research Affiliates

KC Hardin

Keyes Christopher "KC" Hardin is co-founder of Conservatorio SA, a company leading the revitalization of a seafront UNESCO World Heritage Site in Panama City. Conservatorio was winner of Travel & Leisure Magazine's Global Vision Award for its holistic approach to urban revitalization, which includes developing hotels, condominiums, affordable housing and social projects.

KC will be working with Co-Lab, MIT’s Center for Real Estate and Sloan School of Management’s Sustainability Initiative to validate a business model for sustainable urban revitalization, particularly in the developing world context.

Prior to moving to Panama, KC was a corporate lawyer in New York and Tokyo with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison where he focused primarily on mergers and acquisitions and private equity. He holds a JD from Fordham University School of Law and a B.S. in Communications from the University of Miami. He is a Fellow of the Aspen Institute’s Central America Leadership Initiative.  KC is a member of the board of directors of Fundacion Calicanto and founder of Esperanza San Felipe, a gang intervention and integration program in the historic district. 

Emily Hass

Emily Hass is a Cambridge-born visual artist who lives in New York City.  Her artwork uses the archival architectural records of Berlin buildings where Jews and persecuted artists and intellectuals lived and worked in the 1930s. She began this series with her father's childhood home where he lived until 1938, when he and his immediate family escaped to London. With an emphasis on the Bauhaus Group, this series includes the former homes of Josef and Anni Albers; Johannes Itten; Otto Dix; Else Ury; Kurt Weill; Walter Benjamin; and Lyonel Feininger. The work is concerned with identity, place - and a culture's loss both of individual citizens and of a creative tradition.

Her collaboration with CoLab centers around a public art project she is developing with curator Beth Kantrowitz, a series of memorial murals of exiles who fled Germany to escape Nazi persecution. These murals, painted from her drawings based on blueprints that document staircases in the houses of displaced people, will be installed on the exterior walls of buildings in Berlin and the United States. The first mural, showing the stairs of Walter Gropius’ Berlin home, is to be installed in in Cambridge where he taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. 

Emily has been awarded grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the McCloy Fellowship in Art, and residencies at the Dora Maar House, the MacDowell Colony, and the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. Selections from her series Altonaer Strasse were included in the 2011 Heimatkunde exhibition at the Jewish Museum Berlin and are now part of the museum’s permanent collection.  Her work has been reviewed in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, seen in the New York Times and featured in Der Tagesspiegel. Emily has graduate degrees in psychology and design from Harvard University.

Alethia Jones

Alethia Jones is the Director of Education and Leadership Development at 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest healthcare union local in the United States, representing 400,000 members in 5 states (NY, NJ, MA, FL, MD) and Washington, DC. 

At CoLab, Alethia’s project will explore how ordinary health care workers can be incorporated as leaders and partners in the pending transformation in the healthcare delivery system as new laws, regulations and incentives are forcing a field-wide shift. Currnetly the US healthcare system must transform from being the most expensive in the industrial world with the worst health outcomes for its population to one that delivers effective healthcare at a lower cost. To accomplish this, long entrenched systems that center on the sickest patients receiving expensive in-patient and emergency care while charging for every procedure (the fee for service system) must be replaced by a system of primary, community based, and preventive care that rewards providers for obtaining and maintaining health (value based payments). How can ordinary healthcare workers shape the emerging system as critical partners? Unique among healthcare unions, 1199 members range from professionals (RNs, laboratory technicians, social workers) to administrative and service workers (clerical, billing, culinary, engineering and custodial) who work in a variety of medical settings (hospitals, nursing homes, home care, community clinics, public hospitals). How can the journey towards a “culture of health” genuinely incorporate the wisdom and knowledge of these workers, patients and community members?

Prior to joining 1199SEIU UHE, Alethia spent 20 years as a scholar-practitioner of urban and immigrant politics and policy. She earned her BA in Urban Studies/Anthropology at Columbia University and her PhD at Yale University in Political Science. Her research examines how laws and policies affect immigrant integration into US, identifying the political and cultural dynamics that generate inclusion and exclusion. During her academic career she cultivated a deep interest in facilitation for social change and social justice. Upon leaving academia, she taught comparative urban studies in Brazil, South Africa and Vietnam. She has consulted with unions on immigration and co-edited a book (2014) with Barbara Smith and Virginia Eubanks on the origins and legacy of intersectional movement building.

Alexa Mills

Alexa Mills, former Director of Media Projects at CoLab, is working on a media and planning project at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece via a Fulbright Specialist grant for the months March and April of 2015. She is collaborating with CoLab’s media program while abroad. 

Alexa – equal parts urban planner and journalist – will be working with a Greek magazine, Parallaxi, because the publication has taken an urban planning role in the City of Thessaloniki. In collaboration with this magazine, Alexa plans to host a biographies workshop and public space planning workshop with the residents of Xiladika – a diverse immigrant neighborhood. At Aristotle University, in the Department of Literature, Alexa will lecture on memory and the American landscape as represented in classic works of fiction. She will also offer workshops in the Department of Journalism. In addition, she helped produce a series of articles for CoLab Radio on creative building reuse in preparation for a public panel discussion in the City of Thessaloniki. This city has done innovative work in building reuse.   

Alexa has taught at MIT, Emerson College, and Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá. She is also a freelance journalist with the Boston Globe. From 2008-2013, she worked at the MIT Community Innovators Lab, where she founded CoLab Radio, an online publication in which people who are committed to improving their communities can share their projects and express their ideas. She earned her BA in English from Cornell University in 2003, and her Master's in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2008. Before attending MIT, Alexa was a victim advocate in the Domestic Violence Intake Center of the Washington D.C. city courthouse.

Katherine Shozawa

Katherine Shozawa is a Canadian interdisciplinary artist and educator whose socially engaged art process begins with intimate examinations of stories and qualities of memory embedded in marginalized communities in the U.S. and Canada.  Her community-based art practice and community advocacy work began 20 years ago with Memory Boxes: Stories from New Denver.  Supported by a post-Redress Community Development Grant from the National Association of Japanese Canadians Endowment Fund, and a fellowship from Yale University, she lived and worked among a community of Japanese Canadian elders, including her own relatives, for 7 months in a former internment camp site.  The resulting collaborative work traveled to schools and community centers across Canada and to the Southern Poverty Law Center in the U.S.  The project is housed in the permanent collection at the Nikkei National Museum (formerly Japanese Canadian National Museum and Archive), Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre, and Simon Fraser University Archive.

Katherine’s current work examines intersectionalities with a particular focus on First Nations communities, reparations and economic displacement in Canada.  Previously, she has partnered with human rights advocates to foster cross-cultural dialogue between Holocaust survivors and descendants of World War II incarceration at the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, and created Camera Project, utilizing 35mm cameras to explore cultural and historical intersubjectivities of First Nations communities and Japanese Canadians in Vancouver’s former Japantown and impoverished Downtown Eastside.  In the U.S., her work includes creating a semi-permanent installation Higo Ten Cent Store in a pre-war five-and-dime store in Seattle’s historic Japantown and Chinatown International District, and curating Corner Store: Takeout Stories, Amber Art & Design, exploring cross-cultural tensions and food deserts in North Philadelphia.

Katherine participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art's Independent Study Program after completing her MFA in Art Practice at the University of California, Berkeley.  She has BA in American Studies from Yale University and has exhibited widely in New York, Philadelphia, Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., and received generous support from muraLab at the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, the Lannan Foundation, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the National Association of Japanese Canadians Endowment Fund, and the Charles P. Howland Fellowship, Yale University.  She teaches in the new MFA Program in Community Practice at Moore College of Art & Design, Philadelphia, PA.

Ernst Valery

Ernst is the founder and president of Ernst Valery Investments Corp. (EVI).  EVI invests in select underserved and undervalued key emerging domestic real estate markets, defined as urban transitional areas with high residential and retail demand. He has extensive experience in affordable and market rate housing development and investment, including providing due diligence capabilities and extensive skills in budget planning, design development, marketing, and the supervision and guidance of contractors, architects and engineers. He is responsible for the securing and structuring of financing, including expertise in securing Historic and New Markets tax credits. EVI focuses on a triple bottom line of solid financial returns, supporting communities, and environmental sustainability.

Since formation, EVI has expanded its focus to include investing in small businesses and innovative strategies for inclusive economic development. Mr. Valery collaborates with MIT’s Community Innovators Laboratory (Co-Lab) to formulate strategies for equitable and inclusive economic development. He is currently developing prototypes to assess real estate developer community engagement practices, to tighten local economies through innovative procurement and financing, and to attract investors committed to socially responsible development.  Ernst is dedicated to working with communities and implementing development strategies that prevent displacement, protect community legacy and generate community wealth.

Ernst Valery is also President of SA+A Development and shares overall responsibility for the day-to-day operation, underwriting, and execution of SA+A’s affordable and market rate, mixed-use and residential development projects and leads SA+A’s community relationship and benefits division. Ernst has successfully invested in and developed real estate in Maryland; Washington, D.C.; Pennsylvania; and New York. For the past 15+ years, he has been involved with development projects ranging from multi-tenant rental properties to the renovation and repurposing of historical real estate assets.  

Ernst is a graduate of Columbia University's Master of Science program in Real Estate.  He also obtained a Master's Degree in Public Administration and a Bachelor of Science degree in Urban and Regional Planning, both from Cornell University.