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Jonathan Sury
 Project Director, Communications & Field Operations
National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Earth Institute, Columbia University

Jonathan Sury is the Project Director for Communications and Field Operations. He holds a master’s degree in public health in Environmental Health Sciences with a concentration in Environment and Molecular Epidemiology from the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. He has a keen interest in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and their use in disaster preparedness and recovery. Presently, he contributes to a variety of disaster-related research at NCDP, including evaluating the unanticipated consequences of pandemic flu, determining racially and ethnically appropriate emergency messaging, analyzing the long-term disaster resiliency and recovery issues in the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina, and the measurement and mapping of social vulnerability and the role of place and space in disaster recovery.

Maureen Abi Ghanem
Fellow of the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization (CSU)

Maureen Abi Ghanem is an architect and urban strategist. As a consultant for the Center for Active Design (CfAD) in New York City, she promotes healthy communities through Fitwel design strategies. In 2016, her role at UN-Habitat NY supported the Urban October events, where partners met to discuss the Post 2015 Development Agenda and the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development (Habitat III). Previously, she was a Shelter Coordinator at UNHCR-Lebanon (2014-16), ensuring Syrian refugees gain access to affordable urban housing and safe schooling structures in one of the most densely populated governorates in the country. Her role included managing the adaptive reuse of sub-standard buildings as well as coordinating neighborhood and water infrastructure development in vulnerable communities affected by displacement. Between 2010 and 2014, she was a member of one of the largest real estate developing firms in the Middle East, Solidere, and worked on conceptualizing large-scale master plans of mixed-use projects intended for the regeneration of city quarters in the Gulf region. She is currently building an Instagram account entitled “@cities.and.me”, an online photographic investigation of successful public spaces. She received a B.Arch and a M.UD from the American University of Beirut, and the German Academic Exchange Service Scholarship (DAAD, 2012-13) for urban design and regional planning in Berlin.

Jens Aerts
Urban Planning Specialist, Division of Data Research and Policy, New York Office
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

Jens Aerts is an urban planning and policy expert, currently assisting the Division Data, Research and Policy at UNICEF HQ to develop a Global Urban Strategic Framework. He works on the cross-section of practice, policy, and research, with 18 years of experience in the Benelux, Spain and New York. He trained as civil engineer and architect at the University of Leuven (Belgium) and later as an urban planner at Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya in Barcelona (Spain). His professional experience focuses urban policy advice in resilient city development planning and assistance in implementation through stakeholder-management, capacity building, concrete strategic public space interventions, and community-based neighborhood planning. His work includes the renewal of the Place Flagey in Brussels (2004-2008), the technical draft of the Sustainable Regional Development Plan for the Brussels Capital Region (2011-2013) and capacity building for urban planning administrations and young planners in Brussels, Halle, Waregem, Shanghai and Mitrovica (2009-2016).

Prior to joining UNICEF, he was a partner at BUUR – Bureau for Urbanism, in charge of several resiliency plans for the sustainable transformation of the capital and several secondary cities in Belgium. Before that he assisted both Governments of the Flemish and the Brussels Region as an urban policy expert, to build urban design capacity in public agencies and to direct key strategic public space and mobility interventions. Jens Aerts is the author of many articles and publication, such as Genk, Network City (2015). He is also guest Professor at the Master in Urbanism and Spatial Planning, in The Cosmopolis Centre for Urban Research at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB).

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