Skip to main navigation Skip to content

Stephany Lin, Senior Associate, accepted into the Urban Design Forum’s Forefront Fellowship

  • Announcements

At U3 Advisors, we love to see our team members invest in themselves, particularly in ways that help them evolve professionally. Stephany Lin is a Senior Associate at U3 who was recently accepted into the Urban Design Forum’s Forefront Fellowship.

Now in its eighth year, the fellowship will pair Stephany and 32 fellow New Yorkers with staff at city departments to develop and launch place-based strategies focused on helping the city’s kids spend more time outdoors after school in ways that are healthy, fun, and inclusive.

What are you looking forward to getting out of the Forefront Fellowship?

The fellowship is offered through the Urban Design Forum, which is a nonprofit that is the central forum for civic design and related conversations in New York City. My involvement in the fellowship will be related to outdoor space, schools, and youth. This is the eighth year of the Forefront Fellowship, which partners every year with a city agency on a topic to explore in New York City; in the past, the topics have been on things like building retrofits for energy efficiency, food systems, and waste management, among other things. This year, the topic is outdoor public spaces for kids, which is something that I’ve always been really passionate about, but rarely have the opportunity  to dive into as much as I would like. 

Do you have a sense right now of what you’ll be focusing on specifically? 

The fellowship lasts for a full year. During the first half, we’ll be working with the city and several schools to develop products and ideas on outdoor space and outdoor learning. The second half, in the spring, is more open ended where we pitch and develop our own projects a little more independently. 

I’m really interested in the idea of schools as part of our urban, civic, public space, such as how they can be an intentional resource during after-school hours and weekends. There’s been a lot of great work on this by Trust For Public Land, for example,  to help design school yards to be more festive, more learning-oriented, and more interactive – things that we don’t do very well in the U.S. 

It can be really hard to design park space for outdoor space for adolescents, middle school and high school-aged girls in particular. For a lot of  boys, you can put up a skateboard ramp or a basketball hoop; for teenage girls, traditionally, it’s a bit harder to have a safe space that’s still in public. Young people now are also so much more open and expressive about gender identity and how to express that in public. I think that also makes for some interesting possibilities.

How does this connect to your work for U3 Advisors? 

The Forefront Fellows definitely work at the intersection of community partnerships and urban design. Also, the interdisciplinary aspect of working in a creative, open-ended capacity  with the local government agencies is really valuable; in this case, we’re working directly with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Education.  

As we think about urban design being truly public, how can we think about being accessible to the people that we’re usually not thinking of – especially in a lot of places that might not engage much with families or young kids at the moment. It’s really exciting to have an explicit goal of urban design that is centered on youth – we seldom get that opportunity. We have to be deliberate about that.