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Next Steps for Kayla Gilbert

It is wiDown To Businessth both mournfulness and excitement that I write this announcement: I have taken a new position with the City and County of Denver’s Department of Environmental Health and am concluding my work at PlaceMatters. I have sincerely enjoyed and appreciated my time here–my amazing colleagues, our inspiring partners, and our great clients.

Through three years of working with PlaceMatters, I have learned a lot about community engagement, technology, and different initiatives we believe in, such as active living, mobility, and capacity building. Having initially been hired as an Office Manager, I took on the role of office control and helping to make sure everything ran smoothly at PlaceMatters, from invoicing clients to paying health insurance. PlaceMatters has set up a work environment that makes it easy to learn new things and take on new responsibilities, and I was encouraged to pursue new ideas, such as my passion for active transportation and community events. PlaceMatters provided me with valuable training and peer support to advance toward leadership positions.

Never one to shy from a challenge, I jumped in wholeheartedly to new projects, roles, and experiences. In my time at PlaceMatters, I have had the pleasure to take part in a number of exciting projects our team has worked on. To name a few of my highlights:

– Planning community engagement and a Street Festival last summer in Yonkers, NY, to gather community input on a brownfields redevelopment site for a multi-use trail, which will help community members have better multi-modal connections through the city and to better housing, jobs, and services.

– Helping with this past January’s training on Scenario Planning and Smart Growth for Superstorm Sandy Resiliency Planning in Long Island, to help build capacity for city staff to be able to locate and use the right tools to engage communities in sustainability and resiliency planning;

-Implementing parklets and tech fairs at New Partners for Smart Growth 2013-2015, and a presentation on tactical urbanism during our Community Engagement workshop at the 2015 conference; and

-Most recently, researching for and writing additional chapters for a Best Practices for Neighborhood Improvements to the Built Environment on tactical urbanism, walkshops, and parklets.

My time at PlaceMatters has been an incredible learning experience, and I know that I will continue to apply this knowledge, as well as learn more, in my new position with the City and County of Denver’s Department of Environmental Health. The primary emphasis of my future work will be to engage a wide range of community members through an Active Living Community Coalition, conducting built environment assessments around schools and recreation centers (using WALKscope, the tool we at PlaceMatters developed with our local implementation partner WalkDenver), and other projects. I will be advocating for a Health in All Policies approach to examining systems and policy level changes to improve the health of Denver, including policies around housing, transportation, health, environmental sustainability, health and social equity, and more.

I will be starting my new position in August and am greatly looking forward to this new opportunity. I will continue to stay a part of the PlaceMatters team in spirit, and look forward to the possibility of working with PlaceMatters and our other great local partners in my future position.