Susan is an accomplished city planner, urban designer, architect, author, and educator.  She is sought after for her ability to identify inspirational and collaborative solutions for the complex challenges that face our cities, public spaces, and communities. Susan is the Founder and Principal of CivicMoxie, LLC, a planning, arts and cultural, and urban design group with experience in serving municipalities, community groups, private enterprise, foundations, and nonprofits. She was Lecturer in Urban Design and Planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT for thirteen years and is the lead researcher and author of Places in the Making, the MIT publication on placemaking, and Common Thread, in the RSA Journal (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) that highlights the importance of local knowledge and authenticity in placemaking and challenges with the practice. Susan has a Master in City Planning degree from MIT and a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Pratt Institute.

Susan has led arts and cultural planning efforts, comprehensive and economic development planning, organizational strategic planning, and public space and commercial district activation projects that range in scope from one or two professionals working over a few months to multi-disciplinary planning teams of real estate development experts, transportation planners, economic development professionals, landscape architects, urban designers and zoning/permitting specialists focusing on city-wide multi-year endeavors. She is currently completing the Arts + Cultural Strategic Plan for Brookhaven, GA and the Chepachet Village Revitalization Plan for Glocester, RI.  Susan has led two City of Boston waterfront planning efforts and The Waterfront Master Plan for Bridgeport, CT. Other work includes the Mariner’s Way Discovery + Action Plan for the Route 1 corridor of Old Saybrook, CT and the Ground Floor and Downtown Activation Plan for Worcester, MA for the MassDevelopment TDI program.

Susan’s arts and cultural work is informed by the deep knowledge of arts and cultural organizations she has gained through her role as Associate Director of the MetLife Innovative Space Awards; she worked with over 150 arts and cultural organizations nationwide to identify best practices for affordable artist space development, arts district planning, and community engagement.  She has extensive knowledge of the struggles of developers and artists to create and maintain affordable space ranging from artist studios to performance venues to new media studios and literary centers.  In her planning practice, Susan has led arts and cultural planning for a new arts district in New Rochelle, cultural master plans for Dunwoody, GA and North Hempstead, Long Island, NY, and the Art + Culture Strategic Implementation Plan for the Atlanta BeltLine in Atlanta, GA. Other recent work includes the Arts and Culture Master Plan for Truman Waterfront Park in Key West, FL, funded by an National Endowment for the Humanities Our Town Grant.

At MIT, Susan taught a variety of practicum classes that served real clients with tangible projects. In “Revitalizing Urban Main Streets,” graduate students learned how to revitalize urban commercial districts by exploring the nexus between economic development and urban design. Boston’s Allston Main Streets, Brighton Main Streets, and Egleston Square Main Streets, as well as two New Orleans commercial corridors are some of the districts served by the workshop. Susan’s planning research and academic endeavors at MIT have been supported by national foundations and competitive research grants.

Susan’s research in security and public space has led to an extensive understanding of how counterterrorism concerns post 9/11 have shaped our public realm. Her initial security research was supported by a Research in Architecture grant from the Boston Society of Architects. Her publication “Pretext securitization of Boston’s public realm after 9/11: Motives, actors and a role for planners” in Policing Cities: Securitization and Regulation in a 21st Century World (Routledge, 2013) explores the context of private and public sector pressures and motivations for security interventions in our public realm. She most recently spoke at “Open to the Public,” a forum on public space and security hosted by the National Capital Planning Commission and ASLA at the Navy Memorial in Washington, DC in September 2019.

Susan speaks around the world about public spaces and community and economic development. She has spoken at TEDx Beacon Street and at The UN Economic Development Council in Geneva, Switzerland on the economic and social power of placemaking, as well as at The Royal Technical Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

Susan serves on the Board of Advisors for Urban Umbrella, the first design alternative to the sidewalk bridge and scaffolding in 50 years that is transforming public space in New York City. She has served as the Associate Director of the Northeast Mayors’ Institute on City Design. She serves on the Board of The Joshua Bates Art Center in the South End of Boston.

While Susan is very serious about her professional work, research, and teaching, she doesn’t think that precludes joy and laughter. The constant building and care of cities, urban spaces, and communities can be a messy business that involves much more than showing up with the right technical expertise in hand. It’s about HOW you do things. Susan loves working collaboratively with people of diverse interests and backgrounds to make great things happen in the public and private sectors.