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Stacey Anderson


Stacey Anderson has built her career around her passion for fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, unlocking capacity, and effecting meaningful change in cities. Prior to joining Van Alen, Stacey served as Director of Programs at the leading civic advocacy organization, The Municipal Art Society (MAS). She is also co-founder of award-winning urban design project the Tanks at Bushwick Inlet Park (formerly Maker Park), which leverages the expertise of a pro-bono team including Arup, Ken Smith Workshop, and Pentagram Design, among others. Stacey was a participant in Coro Leadership New York (LNY29) and holds her Master’s degree in Urban Social Policy from the University of Amsterdam. Her thesis research examined the effects of gentrification in post-reunified Berlin, Germany.

Karen Zabarsky Blashek


Karen Zabarsky Blashek is the Founder of Ground Up, a multi-disciplinary creative studio for the built environment, and the Editor-in-Chief of Austin Home. Prior to founding Ground Up, Blashek cut her teeth on the business development team for SHoP Architects. and spent seven years as the Head of Design and Branding for Kushner, one of the largest real estate development and management firms in the country. She was recently published in Thesis Driven and Propmodo.


Blashek is on the steering committee for ULI Americas Young Leaders Group, serves on the ULI Austin Housing Innovations Council, and spearheads the growth of Brick & Wonder Austin. She was born in Tel Aviv and raised in Dallas, Texas, and received her BA in Architecture and Urban Design from NYU.

Jay Valgora

Head Architect

Jay Valgora is the founder of STUDIO V Architecture and internationally recognized for his extensive work transforming waterfronts, urban edges, and former industrial structures. Jay works closely with entrepreneurs to create innovative architecture and urbanism; collaborates with government agencies to address policy, infrastructure, environmental issues; and engages with communities through innovative public space and building designs. Jay was  appointed by the Mayor to NYC’s Waterfront Management Advisory Board and sits on the Advisory Board of the Urban Land Institute. A few of his most well-known projects include the Empire Stores in Brooklyn, Silo City in Buffalo, NY and over fourteen projects on the NYC waterfront that address resiliency, climate change, and affordable housing. He holds degrees from Cornell, Harvard, and is a Fulbright Fellow.

Ken Smith

Head Landscape Architect

Both a landscape designer and a public artist, Ken Smith produces designs that range in scale from small public installations to vast parks. He is known for inventive and imaginative gardens and landscapes, some of which use little or no natural plant material. His projects include public, commercial, and private work: urban parks, streetscapes, plazas, gardens, public art commissions, memorials, museums and institutions, urban development and multiuse projects, restoration of modern-era landscapes, waterfront planning and design, and residential projects. Among Smith’s best-known projects are the MoMA Roof Garden, the Elevated Acre in New York Harbor, and Orange County Great Park, California, a redevelopment of a Marine Corps air station.

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