Toni L. Griffin, founder
Toni L. Griffin is the founder of Urban Planning for the American City, based in New York, specializing in leading complex, trans-disciplinary planning and urban design projects for multi-sector clients in cities with long histories of spatial and social injustice. Through the practice, Toni served as Project Director for the Detroit Work Project Long Term Planning initiative, and released Detroit Future City, a comprehensive citywide framework for urban transformation. Recent and current clients include the cities of Memphis, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis where she has lead the scoping, management and development of citywide and center city urban planning framework plans.
Toni is also Professor in Practice of Urban Planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where she teaches both planning studios and seminars on gentrification and design’s impact on social justice. She also leads The Just City Lab, a research platform for developing values-based planning methodologies and tools, including the Just City Index and a framework of indicators and metrics for evaluating public life and urban justice in public plazas.
Most recently, Ms. Griffin was a Professor of Architecture and the founding Director of the J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City at the Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York. Founded in 2011, the Center’s work focused on Legacy City Design Initiative; Just City Design Indicators Project; and Inclusion in Architecture, examining the participation of people of color in architecture and related design fields.
Toni has held several public sector positions including, Director of Community Development for Newark, New Jersey; Vice President and Director of Design for the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation in Washington, DC; and Deputy Director for Revitalization and Neighborhood Planning for the DC Office of Planning. She began her career as an architect with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP in Chicago, where she became an Associate Partner.
Ms. Griffin received a Bachelors of Architecture from the University of Notre Dame and a Loeb Fellowship from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. In 2014, Toni was the Visiting Associate Professor and Theodore B. and Doris Shoong Lee Chair in Real Estate Law and Urban Planning, in the Department of City and Regional Planning at University of California, Berkeley.
Toni has several articles on urban planning and has lectured extensively in the United States, Europe and South America and has published several articles on design, urban justice, legacy cities and Detroit. In 2016, President Barack Obama appointed Toni to the US Commission on Fine Arts.