CLASS OF 2022
A native New Hampshirite, Mike received his undergraduate degree in International Relations and Philosophy from The College of William and Mary in Virginia and an MBA from Northern Arizona University. He has worked in business research, Federal government consulting, and directly for the Federal government, most recently developing and implementing international exchange programs on international trade standards with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service. Mike served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia for 2.5 years where he worked with teachers of English as well as started and coordinated an Afro-Colombian drumming and dance group, and six months in the Republic of Georgia working with an NGO. In his spare time, Mike plays the guitar and enjoys trail running, although COVID-19 has eliminated most of his races this year. After many years outside of New England, he is glad to be back in the area to spend more time with family, including his three nieces.
Slide is currently a candidate for the Master in Design Studies Program, with a concentration in Risk and Resilience.
Khalil is currently pursuing a Master’s in Design Studies at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design within the Risk & Resilience concentration. He earned his B.S. in Communications and Public Relations and has a professional background in natural resource protection and public records management. Being raised in Malden as a Kenyan-American, Khalil joined the Malden River Works to question how participatory design can enrich the intentions of any design, planning, or architecture project. He focuses on enhancing the public’s relationship to community engagement by understanding how local residents relate to and redefine the shared values of equity and resilience. In addition to his work in Malden, he is the Vice Chair for the Community Preservation Committee.
Khalil chose to attend the GSD for two main reasons. One, to expand on his practice in natural resource management and investigate the outcomes of sustainable infrastructure for rural communities that face hardships in accessing essential natural resources. And two, to formulate models of community development that integrate holistic systems of harmony and resilience into the day to day lives of communities and the natural environment.
Wilbert Sanchez Montes de Oca
Wilbert is currently pursuing a Master’s in Design Studies at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design within the Risk & Resilience concentration. He aims to research and explore private initiatives in education as a long-term resilience strategy to vulnerable populations where governments potentially cannot deliver. In 2019, as part of his long-life interest in education, he received his Master’sMaster’s in Education from HGSE.
Wilbert started his career at Merrill Lynch and occupied various executive roles over eight year in New York, Hong Kong, and India. In 2008, he moved to Brazil to be the CEO of a portfolio company of Merrill Lynch – Grupo Porcao and subsequently, founded TCP Partners to focus on managing and turning around distressed assets. Since then, he has occupied various CEO positions, in industries involving manufacturing, retail, and agribusiness. Today, TCP Partners has grown to 25 people and is BTGGA’s Latin America partner; further, Wilbert is currently the Chairman of Electroplastic.
Wilbert has a long-life interest in education for underserved populations. In 2000 he founded AZLera, a social entrepreneurship organization with two projects in Africa and Mexico. In 2016, after attending the initial TIP Programme in Israel, he co-founded Talklet, a children’s wearable device that records & analyzes speech, and offers metrics to parents & language professionals via a mobile app.
He graduated with honors in Mathematics and Economics from UCLA and is an alumnus of the TIP Program at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Born in Mexico City and raised in Jiutepec, Morelos, Diego received his bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from CENTRO de Diseño, Cine y Televisión. His work experience expands to many creative practices, such as furniture and interior design, BTL marketing, brand strategy, public relations and creative direction. He has collaborated with global companies such as Google, Casa Cuervo, Nestlé, Santander and PepsiCo, creating experiential marketing strategies and live entertainment events. Diego’s interests range from LGBTQ+ rights, gender & race equality, and the abolition of patriarchal practices. He wishes to use his time at the GSD to research the use of mass & social media, and pop culture as possible tools to create equitable societies and communities, through the creation of socially relevant and responsible content and communication.
Born and raised in Santa Juanita, Bayamón, Kenismael Santiago-Pagán is a first-generation graduate student currently pursuing a Master’s in Design Studies at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design with a concentration in Risk & Resilience. His interest is to examine the intersection between the politics of urbanization developments and governance arrangements, framed under the socio-political reality of Puerto Rico as a US territory, and how this has impacted its local architecture. Specifically, to understand the effects design implementations had over the housing strategies that emerged throughout Puerto Rico under the USA’s colonial dominance. Furthermore, to question the local architecture’s responsiveness concerning risk and resilience issues related to natural disasters, and how this reflects in the discourse of a Puerto Rican identity often confronted with either staying, fighting and building back or deciding to migrate. The locus of his intentions resides in the constant questioning of state produced risk and trying to understand the implications of decolonial methodologies.
Prior to the GSD, Santiago-Pagán worked for four years in Architecture firms and in 2020 he earned his MArch degree with distinction at Universidad de Puerto Rico, where he also had the opportunity of teaching. His dissertation “Without Architects” focused on studying modern urban residences and how they have been transformed, without architects, to the mixed-use commercial properties we find in avenues that were not originally conceived or zoned for this type of social interaction. Through his research he tried to understand a trajectory of “informalities”, of a community that doesn’t have the resources to hire Architectural services. Santiago-Pagán has kept trying to comprehend methods of agency and involvement in which non-pedigreed practices can inform the Design discipline.
Shannon is a graduate student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design pursuing a Master’s in Design Studies in Risk and Resilience. Shannon received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from Washington University in Saint Louis, where she co-led the Women in Architecture and Design 1974|2014 Symposium. Prior to attending the GSD, Shannon worked for five years at Gensler Los Angeles as an Architectural Designer in the Mixed-Use/Retail Design studio. While at Gensler, she completed a research project entitled Resilience Hub: A Just-In-Case Study. This proposal investigated and tested the viability of the idea of the Resilience Hub—the outfitting and design of buildings across the City where, at a moment of crisis such as a natural or man-made disaster, displaced civilians might find temporary relief in the form of refuge and support services.
Shannon is passionate about the future of the built environment and the development of resilient cities. Over the course of the R&R program, she hopes to study earthquake and flood resiliency and to combat the factors that put cities at increased risk of failure such as environmental hazards, global conflict and social inequity.
Laier-Rayshon Smith is a dual degree Master in Urban Planning and Master in Design Studies with a concentration in Risk and Resilience student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Laier earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Point Park University. He completed the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs in Pittsburgh, during which he also worked in the city’s technology department, the Department of Innovation and Performance. After the fellowship, Laier worked at community development non-profit organizations.
At the GSD, Laier was Co-President of the African American Student Union and a Research Assistant at the Just City Lab. While working at the Just City Lab, he was an editor and designer of Patterned Justice: Design Languages for a Just Pittsburgh, a studio book that interrogates socio-spatial injustice embedded in the built environment. Laier is interested in investigating the intersections of racial injustice and environmental injustice, focusing on how disinvestment exacerbates inequity and the ways in which urban planning and design can be harnessed to eradicate these injustices.