Together we

strive to make collective impact

Sasaki Foundation Board of Directors

Incubator at Sasaki | Watertown, Massachusetts

our leadership

The Sasaki Foundation is governed by a board of trustees who provide strategic direction and oversight and bring a wide range of expertise in the fields of architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture, youth engagement, and financial management. Sasaki Foundation staff are responsible for managing and supporting the Sasaki Foundation’s day-to-day work and programs, including program administration, fundraising and financial management, community engagement, and marketing and communications.

the board of trustees

Mary Anne Ocampo

Chair

Global Community Design & Social Justice

Mary Anne Ocampo practices as an urban design principal at Sasaki and lectures at MIT on subjects of urban resilience in socio-economically and environmentally vulnerable contexts. As chair of the Sasaki Foundation Board of Trustees, Mary Anne shapes the Sasaki Foundation’s strategic direction alongside Executive Director Jennifer Lawrence. In addition, she focuses on advocating for social justice through design for communities around the world, while simultaneously expanding the design profession to welcome more diverse perspectives.

Mary Anne’s professional practice spans the globe, from Afghanistan to the Philippines. In both design practice and academia she works to improve urban conditions by creating more liveable, sustainable, and equitable environments with the partnership of local communities, academia, government, private industry, and the broader design community. She published an in-depth article in The Plan on her Philippines work with the World Bank and MIT.

Mary Anne holds a master of architecture in urban design from Harvard University, a master of architecture from Cornell University, and a bachelor of architecture from the University of Kentucky. She has previously held teaching appointments at Syracuse University and Cornell University. Mary Anne previously served as Associate AIA Director and board member for the Boston Society for Architecture.

Meredith McCarthy

Vice Chair

Design Education & Social Justice

Meredith McCarthy is a licensed architect and associate principal at Sasaki with 15 years of professional experience. Working in both commercial and higher education practice groups, she excels at taking projects from initial programming through design and construction. Having had great mentors herself, Meredith is also passionate about opening doors and creating opportunities for people to grow and learn. As secretary of the Sasaki Foundation Board of Trustees, Meredith also leads the various youth design education programs offered throughout the year. She understands the benefits and strengths that diverse voices bring to design and is focused on making more equitable and inclusive pathways to help those voices be heard.

Meredith enjoys the problem-solving challenges that design presents, as well as the client relationships that emerge from meeting those challenges together. She’s a storyteller at heart, and seeks to find the narrative and vision in every project she takes on. Meredith often pushes ideas forward, working to develop concepts into implementable strategies and designs, always staying true to the overarching goals of the client and the project. She thrives in collaborative and creative environments, guiding teams through the design process while always looking to learn from her experiences and her teammates.

 

John Cinkala

Treasurer

Non-Profit Management

John Cinkala has been involved in non-profit financial oversight for more than 15 years. As treasurer of the Sasaki Foundation Board of Trustees, John brings his experience in financial management and review from his previous roles as chair and Treasurer of both the Arlington Center for the Arts and Boston by Foot. He currently serves as a trustee for Boston by Foot and is a current member of the Boston Society of Architects’ audit committee.

John spent 20 years as a tax attorney for State Street Corporation and is currently working for the Department of Treasury. John has always worked to utilize his professional skill set for the benefit of non-profit organizations.

Ben Zunkeler

Secretary

collaboration & communication

Ben Zunkeler is a senior planner at the Boston Planning & Development Agency. As a community-based urban planner, Ben explores how the built environment can positively impact people’s experience and foster their relationships.

Focused on coupling rigorous investigation with collaborative ideation, Ben pursues a nuanced approach to each engagement. Understanding that communication is at the heart of every design challenge, he believes that actively listening to communities imbues design solutions with meaning and substance. Whether he is in the fabrication shop welding together a prototype, on-site working closely with a community to define how their built environment can reflect their vision, or interviewing high schoolers about how they learn and build confidence, he is motivated by the belief that design has the potential to solve profound problems in beautiful ways.

Julia Carlton MacKay

Trustee

Community Engagement

Julia Carlton MacKay is Director of Community Resilience at the Conservation Law Foundation. Julia’s portfolio of planning work spans many scales, and includes regional and city-wide plans for climate resilience, university master plans, park master plans, and development guidelines for places of significant cultural interest.

Recognizing the critical role that community members have in shaping the future of their communities, she draws on her experience in marketing and communications to facilitate positive and informative engagement and outreach with constituents.

With a belief in fostering a place’s unique identity, the common thread in all of Julia’s work is her commitment to enhancing cherished places in a sustainable and resilient way. She brings an economics background to her dedication to environmental conservation and social and cultural responsibility. This helps guide difficult decision-making towards feasible and sustainable outcomes. Julia is a creative problem solver who persistently seeks — and finds — innovative solutions.

Timothy Gale

Trustee

data & strategic thinking

Timothy Gale is a product manager and experienced designer within Sasaki Strategies—a team of analysts, statisticians, software developers, and planners seeking to bolster planning and design through creative technical solutions.

Timothy specializes in managing projects and processes related to Sasaki’s in-house tools and platforms that visualize data, ensuring that the final products enhance comprehension of datasets and elevates the communication of complex information, wrapped up in engaging platforms. He uses the understanding of human centered design and technology to enhance workflow and decision making processes — providing stakeholders with immediate feedback and metrics on the impact of strategic decisions.

Felicia Jiang

Trustee

Felicia is an urban planner and project manager in Sasaki’s campus and civic practices. She is an advocate for community-led planning and design processes that address systemic inequities, center underrepresented voices and empower community members through shared decision-making and co-creation of solutions. Since 2022, Felicia has volunteered with the Sasaki Foundation, serving as a mentor in our SEED program and providing support to Design Grants teams.

Felicia received a master’s in city planning with a concentration in urban design from the University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor of science in civil engineering from Princeton University. She joined the Sasaki Foundation Board of Trustees in January 2024.

Gabriel Ramos

Trustee

Gabriel Ramos is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and has experience consulting universities and municipalities on their long-range planning efforts. As a planner, Gabriel began their professional journey working for a minority-owned, non-profit affordable housing developer in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood and is now a planner at Sasaki where he works on a variety of projects from campus master planning to city redevelopment initiatives. While in college as a QuestBridge Scholar, Gabriel was part of a mentorship program for first-generation, low income, and/or undocumented college students, this involvement connects him to the outreach that the Hideo Sasaki Foundation does to students in metro Boston and beyond.

Gabriel joined the Sasaki Foundation Board of Trustees in January 2024.

Chris Sgarzi

Trustee

meaningful collaboration & responsible design

Chris Sgarzi is a principal and leader in Sasaki’s sports practice. He is highly regarded for programming, planning, and designing athletics, recreation, and student life facilities. Chris builds enduring relationships with clients through careful listening, creative planning, and attention to detail.

Chris believes that excellent sports design improves community, invigorates visitors, and inspires and improves the lives of regular users. His research interests include studying the impact of facility improvements on recruitment and performance. He often visits campuses — camera in tow — to learn from the social environs, traditions, and nuances that shape an institution’s image and culture. Chris enjoys the partnership that is fostered at Sasaki and all that it offers his clients, especially the comprehensive approach to integrating site and building planning with architecture.

Chris has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in architecture from Tulane University and studied for a year at the Architectural Association in London. He is a member of the Tulane University School of Architecture Advisory Board, a LEED AP, an active member of SCUP, and a licensed architect in multiple states.

Danyson Tavares

Trustee

youth engagement & design education

Danyson Tavares is a designer, educator, and executive director at YouthBuild Boston. He has vast experience leading architectural projects at various scales through public discussion and municipal review. His work relies on engaging communities through the lens of architectural design and advocating for access to design for all.

Deeply rooted in both his academic and professional experience, Danyson has been passionate in the role that design plays in the reconstruction of communities. Through his experience in working and teaching in various communities in and around Boston, he continues to explore the intersections between identity and placemaking in marginalized communities.

Danyson holds a bachelor of science in architecture and a master of architecture from Wentworth Institute of Technology. He currently teaches various courses at Wentworth Institute of Technology ranging from foundation studios, undergraduate seminars, and graduate level courses. Danyson is a member of BosNOMA (the Boston chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects), AIA, and the Boston Society for Architecture, where he dedicates his efforts to addressing the lack of diversity in the AEC industry.

Tao Zhang

Trustee

Urban Ecology & Global Perspective

Tao Zhang practices as a landscape architecture and ecology principal at Sasaki. Trained as an ecologist and landscape architect, Tao is active in the arena of ecological design, striving to bridge the gap between practice and science. As well as being mindful and invested in creative expression, he seeks inspiration from a deep understanding of the project’s socioecological context.

Tao is an integral part of Sasaki’s strong global practice and has led a number of award winning projects and research initiatives. He is a strong advocate for critical thinking and independent research to invigorate the profession. Tao has been published in peer-reviewed journals and speaks frequently at conferences around the world.

Besides practice, Tao has taught landscape architecture at Rhode Island School of Design and has been a visiting studio critic at Harvard Graduate School of Design, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, and Boston Architectural College. Tao is a LEED AP ND and a SITES AP. He holds a master of landscape architecture and a master of science in sustainable systems from the University of Michigan, and degrees in landscape ecology and natural resources from Fudan University in Shanghai.

staff

Jennifer Lawrence

Executive Director

Jennifer Lawrence is an experienced leader in nonprofit management, community development, and youth engagement who brings a deep understanding of urban planning, community engagement, and design thinking to the role of Executive Director for the Sasaki Foundation. Jennifer guides the Sasaki Foundation in expanding upon a robust agenda and program offerings and hopes to build further collaborations in the community.

Jennifer previously served as Sustainability Planner at the City of Cambridge, Executive Director of Groundwork Somerville, and co-facilitator of various collaborations in the City of Cambridge, including the Community Health Improvement Plan, Food and Fitness Policy Council, and Making Connections Training Program of the Community Engagement Team.

 
An active community leader, Jennifer has previously served in roles with the City of Somerville on the Somerville Climate Forward Steering Committee, the Smart Growth America Union Square LOCUS committee, and Board President of Somerville Local First and Groundwork Somerville. Jennifer currently serves on the Board of Directors for Naveo Credit Union, the Tufts University Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning Advisory Board, as well as a senior fellow at the Environmental Leaders Program. Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Music from William Smith College and a Master of Arts from Tufts University Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning. She continues her own creative practice as a member of Tongue in Cheek, a vocal group based in Somerville.

Anna Scherling

Program Manager

Design Grants, Communications & Operations

Anna Scherling serves as program manager for the Sasaki Foundation. She provides day-to-day management for the Sasaki Foundation’s Design Grants program, communications efforts, and operations. Anna specializes in organization and editing, with more than a decade of experience.

Anna also serves as studio assistant at Sasaki. She holds a bachelor of arts in English from Kansas State University and a professional certificate in copyediting from Emerson College.

Estefany Benitez

Program Manager

Design Education & Public Programming

Estefany Benitez is an enthusiastic program manager experienced in youth engagement, educational programs, and event management.

​Estefany led the National Park Service’s Branching Out program as the Field Team Coordinator. The program introduces high school students to the field of landscape management through hands-on projects in the national parks. She also worked as Program and Event Coordinator with the City of Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada, and developed and facilitated educational experiences based on museum exhibits and managed its annual cultural events. At her last appointment she was a Spanish Seminar Instructor and worked at the University of the Fraser Valley with students at a wide range of Spanish levels.

Estefany is passionate about youth engagement and education. Having been a part of the youth employment pipeline in the City of Boston, she recognizes the powerful influence it had on her educational and career choices. Estefany holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Boston University and enjoys passing down her knowledge of ecology, botany, and the Spanish language to youth.

Folajimi Bademosi

Program Associate

Folajimi Bademosi serves as program associate for the Sasaki Foundation.

Jimi was previously 2023 SEED youth manager. He is a recent graduate of Clark University with experience in youth program design, management, and execution, notably at the FAME Foundation, a youth-run and youth-serving nonprofit in Nigeria.