Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Director, is a sociologist and an ethnographer interested in questions of politics and culture, critical social theory, and cities. He has written about and continues to research instances of civic life both in his native Brazil and in the US. He is a leading social science expert on participatory democracy who has for the last decade engaged public officials, voluntary organizations, and policy makers on the practice and implementation of participatory processes. His books and academic articles on citizen engagement on budgetary matters (“participatory budgeting”) are among the most cited in the scholarly literature and have been published and translated in several languages. As one of the founders of the Participatory Budgeting Project, he has worked with city officials in several US cities, and has presented his work to the World Bank, to the UNDP, HUD, and to both the World and US Social Forums. His work has appeared in specialist and general-audience publications from The American Sociological Review and American Journal of Sociology to The Boston Review and Le Monde Diplomatique. 

His most recent ethnographic research, The Civic Imagination (Paradigm, 2014), which he co-authored with Elizabeth Bennett, Alissa Cordner, Stephanie Savell, and Peter Klein, examines the contours and limits of the democratic conversation in the US today and argues for a reparative, but critical, intervention in that discussion.

Rebecca Amato, Associate Director, is a historian whose work focuses on the intersections between cities, space, place, and memory. She holds a PhD in United States History from The Graduate Center of the City University of New York and is adapting her dissertation research into a manuscript that examines the layered relationships between heritage preservation and neighborhood change. She has been a staff member and consultant at a variety of history institutions in New York, including the Brooklyn Historical Society, the American Social History Project, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. Her writing has appeared in Radical History Review, City Courant, Cineaste, and New York magazine.

Jason Laning, Administrative Aide, is an artist, writer, and political activist. He holds an MA in Studio Art from NYU, and has exhibited widely in both New York and California. His writing has appeared in Z Magazine, Waging Nonviolence, Gothamist and numerous blogs, and his political activism includes organizing with the War Resisters League, the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, Witness Against Torture, and others. He also sometimes finds time to surf, when the wind and swell conditions are aligned just so.