PhD Student Brittney Drakeford Named to Next City’s Vanguard Class of 2020

By Maggie Haslam / Jul 16, 2020

Brittney Drakeford

PhD student Brittney Drakeford has been selected by Next City for its class of 2020 Vanguards, an elite group of practitioners from around the world dedicated to making more resilient, equitable and vibrant cities. Drakeford will join 42 other “urban innovators” this fall for the 11th annual Vanguard Conference in Greensboro, North Carolina.

“This honor is further emblematic that Brittney is not only in pursuit of rewriting the narrative around planning and the built environment, but engaged in the active practice and implementation as well,” said Assistant Professor of Urban Studies and Planning Marccus Hendricks, Drakeford’s doctoral advisor. “I can’t think of a person more deserving and Brittney is and will be a force to be reckoned with in the field for years to come.” 

Since 2009, Next City’s Vanguard conference has assembled accomplished, emerging urban changemakers across disciplines and sectors—from artists and planners to policy and media makers—to share strategies for creating better urban environments. Highly competitive, the Vanguard selects just a few dozen individuals each year out of an international pool of candidates. Alumni of the program have gone on to shape policy, enhance communities and advocate for change within the built and social urban environments.

A sixth-generation native of Prince George’s County, Drakeford is currently pursuing a PhD in Urban and Regional Planning and Design at the University of Maryland and is a planner with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (Prince George’s). She in an accomplished leader and public servant and a fierce advocate for social, environmental and racial justice. In 2013, she joined her sister in launching Project Inspiration, a project-driven stewardship organization to benefit local communities. Wakeford is a senior fellow for the Environmental Leadership Program and a Master Watershed Steward, and was a 2017 Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health Leader. She is currently researching the legacy of stormwater flooding in North Brentwood, Maryland, and its historic link to racial injustice with Hendricks, as part of UMD’s Stormwater Infrastructure Resilience and Justice Lab (SIRJ).

“Brittney is one of our star PhD students,” said Urban Studies and Planning Director Casey Dawkins. “She applies principles of justice to her professional practice and scholarship and is a model of the type of student that our program strives to produce.  Brittney richly deserves this honor.”

As a 2020 Vanguard, Drakeford follows in the footsteps of two other MAPP alums: Eli Pousson, a 2012 Vanguard (Graduate Certificate, Historic Preservation ‘12); and Jake Day (B.S. Architecture ’04), who was part of the class of 2013. Learn more about the Vanguards through Next City’s website.

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