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Creative Change Coalition, Technical Assistance Workshop: The Long Game – Federal funding for equitable community impacts through creative cross-sector strategies


Date: May 8, 2024
Time: 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm CST
Location: Zoom Meeting
Price: Free
Category: Creative Change Coalition

This just in — Federal agencies are making historic investments to advance environmental justice and benefit disadvantaged communities. NOW is the time to renew and develop relationships between your local government staff, your elected officials, collaborating partners/organizations, and local artists to work together to tackle inequities, disparities, and systems change. 

But while the government provides technical assistance to help navigate the federal grant system to implement effective projects, the process can often feel complex, confusing, and too big to know where to start. 

In this Technical Assistance Workshop, you will hear from guest presenters from the U.S. Department of Transportation, National League of Cities, National Endowment for the Arts, Environmental Protection Network, Institute for Sustainable Communities, Art-Train (a program of Springboard for the Arts) and others who will offer insight on how to access federal support, navigate the grant system, and engage creative people in your community for this work.

At the end of the workshop, for participants interested in continuing to connect with colleagues across the country, we will host an optional Open Hangout time.

Guest Presenters:

Ayesha Mehrotra, National League of Cities. Ayesha Mehrotra is the Program Manager for Health and Environmental Justice at the National League of Cities. Through research and technical assistance, she supports cities, towns, and villages in improving the health and wellbeing of their residents. Previously, she served as Policy Advisor at the Climate Equity Policy Center, where she wrote policy recommendations to address climate change and its compounding impacts on health equity, housing, and social support networks. As Program Manager at WalkMassachusetts, Ayesha worked with state, municipal, and community leaders to make communities more walkable, healthy, and resilient through better programming, policy, and investment. Ayesha has a Master of Urban Planning degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a BA in Sociology and Sustainability from the University of Michigan.  

Rachelle Sanderson (she/her), Institute for Sustainable Communities. With more than seven years of experience as an award-winning climate adaptation professional, Rachelle Sanderson (she/her) has built her career by working with communities and local governments to build capacity to address the climate crisis. She is a change maker who sees our climate crisis as an opportunity to embrace our shared humanity while working towards a more just society.

Sierra Taliaferro, Environmental Protection Network. As a Community Outreach Associate with the Environmental Protection Network's pro bono capacity-building technical assistance program, Sierra Taliaferro concentrates on creating new and deeper connections between communities of color and low-income communities in EPA Region 4, EPA alumni with decades of expertise, and other allies to provide assistance to community identified projects. Sierra has nine years of strategic planning experience with various community organizations in Milwaukee and South Florida. She led, co-led, and implemented outdoor education and outreach ranging from county parks and green spaces to non-profit organizations and commons. In addition, she worked in project development and implementation of water and environmental conservation issues at the local level. Sierra is also the founder of The Green Obsidian, a social media platform designed to bring awareness to diversity within environmental conservation. As a professional millennial and climate change maker, she hopes to continue to make herself an advocate for diversity in conservation and to emphasize the importance of our natural resources surrounding our urban environments.

Dr. Monica Guerra, U.S. Department of Transportation. Dr. Monica Guerra is the Community Solutions Technical Assistance Lead at the USDOT Build America Bureau. She brings an extensive background leading technical assistance, research and planning efforts for diverse public, private, and non-profit partners. Prior to joining DOT, she worked in the private sector, advising local governments on opportunities to advance inclusive, community-based development strategies.

Faith Hall, Federal Highway Administration. Faith Hall is a Community Planner in the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty at USDOT. Her portfolio supports FHWA efforts to institutionalize equity and focuses on Environmental Justice, community impacts, and public involvement. Since joining the Department in 2009 as a Presidential Management Fellow at the Federal Transit Administration, Faith’s roles have included environmental review, transportation planning, and research management. In 2022, she completed a special assignment to stand up the Department’s flagship equity-supportive discretionary program, the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program.

Katherine Bray-Simons, National Endowment for the Arts. Katherine Bray-Simons is Special Assistant for Chair’s Initiatives at the National Endowment for the Arts. In this role, she works to develop long-term partnerships across agencies to integrate arts and culture into federal programs. She first joined the NEA in 2016, and was the Grants Management Specialist for the Our Town program for five years. During that time, she collaborated on a program evaluation of the Our Town program, helped launch the Creative Placemaking Technical Assistance Program, and managed the Mayors' Institute on City Design cooperative agreement. More recently, Katherine worked on policy for equity in urban parks and greenspace as Associate Director for Policy and Systems Change at the Trust for Public Land. Katherine holds Master's degrees in Public Art Curatorial Practice and in Urban Planning from the University of Southern California, where she has also taught a course in art and creative placemaking for policy students. Katherine is based in Los Angeles, CA, where she enjoys tending to her native plant garden, backpacking with her family, knitting clothes, and learning (still) to play guitar. 

Jen Hughes, National Endowment for the Arts. As senior advisor to the chair for partnerships, expansion, and innovation for the National Endowment for the Arts, Jen Hughes is responsible for supporting the chair’s strategic vision by advancing partnerships with federal agencies and philanthropy to extend the mission and reach of the NEA. Since 2011, Hughes has held multiple positions at the NEA, including serving as the director of design and creative placemaking. As director, she led the evolution of the agency’s Our Town grant program and launched the Creative Placemaking Technical Assistance Program to offer more expansive support for grantees in executing NEA-funded projects. She’s held prior agency positions as community solutions specialist and design specialist, playing a significant role in forging partnerships across federal and local government, and in helping to shape the agency’s design investments. Trained as an urban planner, Hughes previously worked for the District of Columbia government and is passionate about the role of arts and design in furthering community-led goals. 

Event Details:

  • - Wednesday, May 8, 2024
  • - 12-1:30PM PST / 2-3:30PM CST / 3-4:30PM EST (US & Canada)
  • - All are welcome, designed for place-based organizations
  • - Free, Zoom Meeting


  • - Online Platform: Zoom Meeting. Meetings are designed to be a collaborative event with all participants being able to turn on their video and audio, and see who else is in attendance.
  • - Breakout Rooms: Breakout rooms (smaller discussion groups that are separate from the main Zoom session) may be used during this event. Participation in breakout rooms is optional.
  • - Recording: This session will be recorded.
  • - Captioning: This event will be captioned using AI generated live transcription.
  • - Register: To register, click on the red "Register" button above. If you have questions, email