Cultural organizing as reclamation and resistance

Learn from cultural organizing groups from community-based organizations across the country working to preserve commercial corridors and community centers through arts and culture outside of historic urban ethnic enclaves. BIPOC/immigrant community members will find effective cultural community organizing strategies to build power and renegotiate exclusionary, top-down, community planning processes. Panelists will also discuss national initiatives to support local groups fighting to ensure greater representation and responsiveness toward the needs of growing population groups.


Check out the full Equity Summit agenda


Meet the panelists

Marian Liou

Marian Liou is the Director of Arts and Culture at Smart Growth America. As the founder and executive director of We Love BuHi, Marian established efforts to preserve and strengthen the multicultural Buford Highway community in metro Atlanta through storytelling, creative place-keeping, and design. Prior to Smart Growth America, Marian led the arts and culture and creative placemaking program at the Atlanta Regional Commission, metro Atlanta’s regional planning agency and MPO. At ARC, she guided the transformation of the agency’s community engagement practices and initiated an arts and culture-led, cross-sector approach to planning by centering artists and community-based arts and culture organizations as co-designers of social change.

Willow Lung-Amam

Willow S. Lung-Amam is an Associate Professor in the Urban Studies and Planning Program at the University of Maryland, College Park. At UMD, Willow also serves as Director of the Small Business Anti-Displacement Network, Director of the Urban Equity Collaborative, and Director of Community Development at the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education. Her scholarship focuses on how urban and suburban policies and plans contribute to and can address social inequality, particularly in neighborhoods undergoing rapid racial and economic change.

Manuel Ochoa

Manuel T. Ochoa is Principal and Founder of the Ochoa Urban Collaborative, a planning, community, and economic development firm with an equity lens that provides strategy, policy, and implementation services to help people, neighborhoods, and communities revitalize and thrive. Manuel has worked around the country on issues of gentrification and displacement, disaster recovery, and housing policy. With 30 years of experience, Manuel brings a unique mix of experience in both the non-profit and government sectors. Manuel served as a senior official at the US HUD for seven years. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Lily Pabian

Lily Pabian joined We Love Buford Highway in 2019 as the agency’s executive director, bringing her over 30 years experiences of developing a portfolio of skills within nonprofit, consultancy, and corporate sectors (B2B, B2C). Pabian fulfills a broad range of leadership and strategic efforts; those that encompass the 50,000-foot view down to experiential mobilization and community outreach through programmatic, marketing, and development initiatives, to ensure that strategies are in lockstep with community assets and mission-driven goals and values.

Jenn Tran

Jenn Tran is an architecture & planning professional and community organizer with Viet Place Collective. Jenn works in the Vietnamese diaspora community of Falls Church, VA to advocate for immigrant businesses and combat gentrification and cultural erasure. She is committed to addressing inequity in the built environment and re-envisioning how land development distributes wealth in communities. She believes in building agency within post-war communities and celebrating the resilience of a people who have thrived against direct and systemic violence. Viet Place Collective is supporting the immigrant businesses of the Eden Center in Falls Church through impending development. We hope to minimize commercial displacement and maintain the strong cultural and communal nature of Eden Center.


The Equity Summit gathers housing, transportation, and community development advocates and leaders to learn from one another and identify tools to advance racial equity through smart growth. The dynamic two-day program will be held in person for the first time on March 27-28, 2024, in Washington, DC, at the iconic Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.

The Equity Summit will uplift strategies to advance racial equity in smart growth amidst growing political uncertainty in 2024 and beyond, as well as a shift away from explicit equity initiatives by elected officials, state agencies, and the private sector.


Learn more about the Equity Summit
Advancing Racial Equity Events