Aditya Kumar is the Executive Director at Development Action Group. Previously, Adi worked as the Deputy Director at Community Organisation Resource Centre. Over the last fifteen years, he has worked on post disaster, post conflict and informal settlement upgrading across the world. His practice focuses on intersectoral partnerships, strengthening community action and housing policy.
Diana Sanchez-Betancourt, co-founder
Diana Sanchez-Betancourt is a Colombian senior researcher with the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa. Her areas of expertise and interest include urban governance, south-south comparative research, social cohesion, community safety. She is passionate about community based research methodologies and collaborations to increase research use and impact through qualitative and phenomenological approaches and the emerging field of contemplative social sciences. She has lectured Applied Community Based Research with Stanford University, Cape Town Centre and since 2012 she is an International Social Science Council (ISSC) fellow on sustainable urbanisation. She holds a MA in social sciences from the Department of Peace and Conflict at the University of Uppsala in Sweden, BA in Government, Finances and International Relations from Universidad Externado de Colombia and Political Science studies at the University of Calgary, Canada.
Nina is a seeker, storyteller and recovering co-dependent. Seeking better questions, confounded and frustrated by current answers and practices in education, in development, politics and family-making and being together on this mysterious and transitory planet.
This seeking and dis-ease has propelled her into becoming a scholar again, having last been in an academic environment in 1997. She is enrolled at Stellenbosch University, where she is studying towards her Master’s in Sustainable Development. Her interests in sustainability are around governance, ethics, development practice and socio-ecological systems. For work, she is a researcher at the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition. It is a research centre that enquires into the nature of transitions and the science of taking appropriate action during urgent and disruptive times.
Before this, she was Associate Director for the Children’s Radio Foundation, an NGO that partnered with community radio, communities and young people to amplify their voices. Over eight years she, in turns, sweated and relished the executive stuff of board, donor and staff management, politicised fundraising, endured proposal and report writing, delighted in programme design and earnestly applied herself to curriculum development. Her mostest bestest thing was to train young people and adults in the craft of storytelling, the power of broadcast and to see them grab hold of their agency – to think, to speak and to enact.
Before the NGO she was a TV journalist at ENCA for eight years. And before that, a theatre performer, a life she still dabbles in from time to time.
Nina serves as a board member for Open Streets, an organization that challenges the cultural narrative of urban spaces dominated by traffic. Theirs is a challenge to reimagine a city and how we relate to each other and the environment. She is also board chair for the Children’s Radio Foundation, and on the advisory council of the Mothertongue Project, an arts organization for and by women and youth.
Roan Wilkins, treasurer
Roan is a chartered accountant (CA) by profession with experience across a wide range of activities and industries in companies ranging from small to large scale, both local and international.
He has both accounting and IT qualifications and currently works for Old Mutual. Roan tends to take a big picture view while keeping in mind the processes and details required to keep an operation running efficiently and in accordance with organizational policies and procedures. This is complemented by his combination of auditing, accounting and information risk management qualifications and experience.
Rory Williams, co-founder and chairperson
Rory is a professional engineer with over 25 years of experience in transport planning and traffic engineering, doing work for public and private sector clients. He has a particular interest in the relationship between transport systems and the ways in which people gain access to the opportunities that cities provide, with recognition that transport planning as a discipline has a responsibility to bear in shaping equitable and just cities. He has worked on projects that explore new approaches to design as a way to create more functional cities, considering not just technical but also behavioural issues that affect how people respond to the public realm. As a Cape Times newspaper columnist for six years he wrote on wide ranging topics related to urban systems, public space, active citizenship, design, sustainability, energy and transport.
Tristan Görgens is the acting director for human development in the Policy and Strategy Unit, Department of the Premier, Western Cape Government. He is responsible for driving crossdepartmental policy making, such as the recently completed Food and Nutrition Security Strategic Framework, and the facilitation of strategic, transversal planning and decision-making structures across the province. The focus of this work is to improve collaborations between departments and other stakeholders so that responses to the many wicked problems in the Western Cape are multidimensional, coherent and learning-orientated. Tristan was previously the urban land researcher for the Isandla Institute, a public-interest think tank which builds communities of practice between communities, academics and government officials to drive urban transformation. Their focus was on working with communities and NGOs to understand the potential of the right to the city in a South African context and to build a body of practice and an advocacy agenda to influence the approach to informal settlement upgrading in the country. This culminated in a co-edited book, Upgrading Informal Settlements in South Africa: A partnership-based approach, published recently by UCT Press. He has also lectured at the University of Cape Town and has been involved with a number of NGOs working on community-driven development and disability rights. Tristan is a Mandela Rhodes Scholar and a Steven Bantu Biko Leadership Fellow.