Joan Byron

Neighborhoods First Fund for Community Based Planning
Program Director

Key Topics: Social justice in the built environment of cities, including housing affordability and displacement, equity in transportation, open space, the Sheridan Expressway campaign and the reclamation of the Bronx River, Bus Rapid Transit as a transportation equity strategy, inclusion of marginalized groups in planning of urban infrastructure and development, and how philanthropy can support organizing for that inclusion.

Bio: Since 2015, Joan Byron has worked to design, launch, and lead Neighborhoods First, a philanthropic collaborative that supports the engagement of low-income communities in the planning processes that are reshaping their neighborhoods.

Previously, Joan was Director of Policy at the Pratt Center for Community Development, where her work included the Transportation Equity Atlas, mapping racial and economic disparities in transit access across New York City neighborhoods and advocating for a citywide Bus Rapid Transit network; support of the Bronx River Alliance’s work to restore the Bronx River and build an 8-mile greenway along its banks; and with the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance, the campaign to replace the Sheridan Expressway with waterfront housing and open space. From 1989 through 2003, Joan directed the Pratt Center’s nonprofit architectural practice in the design and construction of over 2,000 units of affordable housing, as well as community health, childcare, and cultural facilities.

Joan is a registered architect, holds a Master in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and in 2012, won a fellowship from the German Marshall Fund for research on equity in the public realm. She is a member and past chair of the board of the Bronx River Alliance. In 2013, Joan received the Paul Davidoff Award for Leadership in Housing and Equal Opportunity from the New York Metro Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Selected Speaking Experience

  • Panel on Equity and Resiliency, RAMP [Recovery, Adaptation, Mitigation and Planning], a post-Sandy initiative of Pratt Institute Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development.
  • Presentation of Transportation Equity and Equitable Transit-Oriented Development, The Funders Network for Smart Growth, Los Angeles.
  • Plenary presentation on the Sheridan Expressway Campaign and Environmental Justice at Toward Carfree Cities VI, Bogotá.

Selected Writing