Smart Growth America’s Equity Summit

The 2024 Equity Summit was a huge success! We’re so thankful to have spent two days with thought leaders, advocates, and practitioners learning more about how they’re working to create more equitable transportation, housing, and land use outcomes in their communities. Read more about this year’s Summit in our recap >>

Meeting the Moment: Advancing smart growth in the face of resistance

Smart growth practitioners must proactively integrate strategies to advance racial equity into their planning, transportation, and land use work, especially at the current moment. Over the last several years there has been increased attention and investment targeted at overcoming inequitable planning systems, but to date, these efforts have fallen short of our stated goals. In the face of capacity concerns, surface-level interventions to systemic challenges, and the recent Supreme Court decision effectively ending affirmative action, our movement is at a critical inflection moment.

What to expect

The Equity Summit aims to connect movement leaders, identify key needs within the field, and build a community of mutual support and encouragement among practitioners who may be discouraged by resistance to meaningful progress. At the Equity Summit, we’ll present keynotes, panel discussions, small group sessions, and local organization “field trips.” These activities will allow participants to gain insights into the successes and challenges of racial equity projects in the smart growth space, emphasizing cultural organizing, lived experience integration, and inclusive wealth building.

Graphic with the Equity Summit Schedule: The Lineup Wednesday, March 27, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. 2:00 p.m. Welcome & keynote Keynote Speaker: April De Simone 2:50 p.m. Mainstage panel: Moving within this moment: Strategies for overcoming structural barriers 4:00 p.m. Workshops and networking: a) Racial equity work in municipalities: REMAP and REACH initiatives b) Addressing challenges in equitable planning and implementation with actionable solutions c) Putting equity in action through land reuse 5:00 p.m. Day 1 concludes 5:30 p.m. Event happy hour Thursday, March 28, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. 9:00 a.m. Welcome and keynote Day 2 Keynote: Charles Brown 9:50 a.m. Mainstage panel Building momentum: Lessons from frontline advocates & government leaders 10:50 a.m. Concurrent panels 1a: Cultural organizing as reclamation and resistance 12:00 p.m. Lunch 1:00 p.m. Concurrent panels a: Harnessing data and lived experiences for safe streets b: Collective care for moving through this moment c: Equitable infrastructure to bridge divides 1:50 p.m. Closing remarks 2:25 p.m. Off-site tours begin 4:30 p.m. Tours end Stay tuned for more programming updates in the coming days.

Read the panel descriptions and meet the panelists

Meet our 2024 Keynote Speakers

Event Keynote: April De Simone

At the intersection of social dynamics and spatial design, Ms. De Simone is a socio-spatial practitioner who navigates and investigates the intricate relationship between individuals and their built environment. Her interdisciplinary approach incorporates architectural phenomenology, a philosophical framework that delves into the lived experiences and perceptions of architectural spaces.

Learn more about April here


Day 2 Keynote: Charles Brown


Charles T. Brown, MPA, CPD, LCI, is more than a transportation expert—he is a catalyst for transformative change at the crossroads of mobility, equity, health, and the environment. As the dynamic force behind Equitable Cities LLC, a minority and veteran-owned consulting firm, Charles exemplifies leadership in action, shaping urban futures that thrive on inclusivity and innovation.

Learn more about Charles here


Thank you to our 2024 Equity Summit sponsorsLogo block featuring the following sponsors: Innovation leader - AARP; Community Buildings - ARUP, CityHealth, Liif, National Association of Realtors, Pacific Gas and Electric; Equity Advocates - Center for Planning Excellence, Greater Greater Washington Opticos

Want to sponsor the Equity Summit? Learn more here and reach out to us at [email protected]

Learn more about our past Equity programming

At Smart Growth America, we deeply believe that advancing racial equity is at the core of a smart growth approach. But what does that mean? How does it work in practice? And how can smart growth advocates do it better?

The Equity Summit—SGA’s largest event of the year—is a gathering of thought leaders and practitioners who work to ensure that racial equity is a key priority in any smart growth approach. Since the Equity Summit’s inception in 2021, our annual event has brought together an amazing lineup of speakers to discuss the intersections of racial equity and the smart growth movement,  making the case that smart growth without a focus on equity isn’t smart growth at all.  Learn more about our past Equity programming: