Susan is an accomplished city planner, urban designer, architect, author and MIT Lecturer.  She is sought after for her ability to identify savvy solutions for the complex challenges that face our cities, public spaces, and communities. Susan is the Founder and Managing Director of CivicMoxie, LLC, a planning, urban design, and strategic placemaking group with experience in serving municipalities, not for profits, foundations, and community groups. Susan has led planning projects ranging 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 advising the Foundation for Puerto Rico on ImagineSanturce, a long-term placemaking/revitalization initiative for a district of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Susan is also leading the CivicMoxie work on the Goody Clancy team for planBTV South End—a plan for the industrial, innovation and creative/arts district in Burlington, VT.

It takes both the public and private sectors to create places, businesses, and communities that thrive and that compel people to visit, work, live and play. Susan serves private clients as Co-founder and Director of Fairsted Advisors, LLC.  Her work prepares families, operating companies and their advisors for transitions and opportunities in real estate.  Susan has a keen sense of the leadership and collaboration necessary to align the sometimes disparate needs and goals of many interests. Susan understands that gaining trust and buy-in from all players is as important as the ideas and energy brought to the project. This distinctive quality allows her to craft win-win solutions and create exciting new possibilities for translating plans into actions.

All of Susan’s work is infused with the spirit of collaboration and her clients select her because they seek innovative, impactful results–plans and strategies that stay off the shelf and live long lives contributing to community, space and place, and the bottom line.  Susan has led two Boston waterfront planning efforts that identify the unique challenges faced by developers and propose creative solutions to provide opportunities for cultural and public uses along the Harborwalk. She has also created master plans for new arts districts and worked with community development corporations. Susan’s expertise in affordable artist space and arts organizations grows out of her four-year role as Associate Director of the MetLife Innovative Space Awards where she worked with over 150 arts and cultural organizations nationwide to identify best practices for creating affordable space, supporting artists and engaging with community to effect positive change.  She has extensive knowledge of the best practices and 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.

Susan has spent over ten years teaching at MIT where she co-teaches the “Revitalizing Urban Main Streets” practicum workshop where graduate students learn how to revitalize urban commercial districts by exploring the nexus between economic development and urban design for real projects and clients.  This award-winning class has produced professional planning strategies for seven Boston “Main Streets” districts and two New Orleans commercial corridors. Susan’s planning research and academic endeavors at MIT have been supported by national foundations and competitive research grants.

Most recently, Susan was lead author of “Places in the Making: how placemaking builds places and communities.” (link to placemaking publication ISSUU page (or to MIT link?  Not sure how to be consistent here)  This 2013 MIT publication reveals the widening emphasis of placemaking beyond the design and use of physical place to include the importance of the “making” process in benefiting people and relationships. The research was conducted with the generous support of Southwest Airlines.

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 in the context of private and public sector pressures and motivations. Her most recent publication is “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).  Her research on this work was supported by a Research in Architecture grant from the Boston Society of Architects.

Susan’s professional work, coupled with her academic experience and ongoing research in arts and culture, public space and placemaking have contributed to one of her core strengths –melding theory  and practice to ensure that cities, communities, private clients, and non-profits benefit from cutting edge ideas in planning and design to promote the best possible outcomes.  Her teaching at MIT immerses her in the most current and innovative research and ideas.  At MIT, Susan served as Associate Director of the Northeast Mayors’ Institute on City Design where she worked with seven Northeast Mayors to identify urban problems and bring them to the Institute for discussion.

Susan speaks around the world about placemaking, liveable cities, and arts and cultural development. Her presentation of Places in the Making kicked off the ImagineSanturce initiative in Puerto Rico in November 2013.  She spoke about placemaking in Stockholm in June of 2013 and participated in a panel on cultural innovation at Boston ArtWeek 2014. Her 2014 Chicago Ideas Week presentation focused on transforming locations to places and she will present a TEDxBeaconStreet talk in November 2014. Susan has been invited to present to the UN Council on Economic Development in Geneva, Switzerland in December 2014.

Susan has a Master in City Planning from MIT and a Bachelor of Architecture from Pratt Institute.  She serves on the Board of Directors of Historic Boston, Inc., a non-profit developer of endangered historic properties, and The Joshua Bates Art Center in the South End of Boston. She is very serious about her teaching, professional work and research but 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.