Jens Aerts is the author of UNICEF’s recent publication ‘Shaping Urbanization for Children: A Handbook on Child-responsive Urban Planning’. As an urban planning specialist he currently supports the Division Data, Research and Policy at UNICEF HQ in the development and implementation of the Global Urban Strategy. He is a partner at BUUR - Bureau for Urbanism. Before that he assisted both Governments of the Flemish and the Brussels Region to build urban planning capacity in public agencies and to direct community led neighborhood plans, urban mobility programs and key public space interventions. He has been trained as civil engineer and architect at the University of Leuven in Belgium and later as urban planner at Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya in Barcelona.


Yiğit Aksakoğlu is the Turkish country representative at the Bernard Van Leer Foundation, focusing on strengthening capacities of district municipalities in Istanbul to provide technical and financial support the creation of a child-friendly city. Aksakoğlu has consulted on civil society related issues across several institutions, including universities, NGOs, governments and businesses. He has his BSc degree in Civil Engineering from Yıldız Teknik University in Istanbul, MSc degree in NGO Management as a Chevening fellow from the London School of Economics, and MA degree in International Cooperation and Development from the University of Barcelona.


Bahar Aksel Enşici is an academic researcher and lecturer, currently working as an assistant professor at Mimar Sinan University focusing on urban design, urban space communication, behavioral environments, spatial analysis and image and branding. She graduated from Istanbul Technical University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Urban and Regional Planning and received a Master's degree in Urban Design from Mimar Sinan University and completed her PhD at the same university.


Simon Battisti is an architect and educator based in Tirana, Albania. He was curator of the Albanian Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, with Leah Whitman-Salkin and Åbäke. He is director of Atelier Albania Academy, an architecture research platform based within the National Territorial Planning Agency of Albania (AKPT). There, Battisti leads short- and long-term critical research on the intersection of planning, international development, tourism, cultural heritage, and identity. He holds a B.Arch with distinction from the Southern California Insitute of Architecture, and an M.Arch from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.


Elger Blitz is the founder and senior designer at Carve, a design and engineering bureau that focuses on the planning and development of public space, particularly for children and young people. He accidentally got involved in designing playgrounds in the early nineties and has more than fifteen years of experience in relevant projects in public space. Blitz’s work is characterized as cross-disciplinary and fresh, incorporating several different scales and disciplines to anticipate demands and trends of children and youth. He is a guest lecturer at various universities in the Netherlands and abroad, teaching unconventional approaches to designing for youth.


Orlandi is an academic researcher and lecturer, currently working assistant professor at Kadir Has University, researching industrial product design in Istanbul. Upon receiving her BA in Industrial Product Design from Marmara University, Faculty of Fine Arts, and her MA in Design from the Domus Academy in Milan, Orlandi worked in corporate identity design projects for various firms in Istanbul. She received her PhD in Industrial Product Design from the Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts, and has recently conducted a scientific research project measuring the innovation potential of the Kapalicarsi jewelry cluster and their value as part of UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.


Yasemin Çakırer Özservet is director of Urban Issues and Local Governments Research Center. She is interested in urban sociology and deals specifically with international migration, poverty, spatial segregation, and child and city relationships. After graduating from Gazi University in Urban and Regional Planning in 2000, she started to work as an academician at Selçuk University in Urban and Regional Planning. There she completed her master's degree in 2004. She did her PhD at Istanbul Technical University and worked at Selçuk University and Fatih Sultan Mehmet University for a short time.


Sibel Çetingöz is the founding and managing partner of Informal Education- cocukistanbul. Çetingöz’s time in the Department of Educational Sciences and graduate degree from the Department of Developmental Neurology at Istanbul University have led her to a professional career in education. She has occupied a variety of roles, including researcher, education coordinator, founder and manager in some private school and institutions. Çetingöz is a member of European Children's University Network and Hands-on International and does her Phd. In Management and Organization at Istanbul University.


Arzu Erdem is the dean of the Faculty of Art and Design at the Kadir Has University in Istanbul. She received her BArch, MArch, specialising in Design Theory, and PhD in Architecture from Istanbul Technical University. Before her position as dean Erdem worked as a professor at Abdullah Gül University and Istanbul Technical University.


Arzu Erturan is an Urban Planner and Research Assistant graduated from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, City and Regional Planning Department. She received a master’s degree at the same university’s urban planning program and became a specialist on ‘urban public spaces’. She sustains her works in Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, City and Regional Planning Department as a research assistant. Her fields of interest are public spaces, sustainable transportation, pedestrian and bicycle transportation systems and quality of urban life. She is also one of the co-founders of Sokak Bizim Derneği - Street Belongs To Us Association since 2010.


Tim Gill is an independent scholar and consultant based in London. His work focuses on the changing nature of children’s play and free time, cutting across several disciplines from public policy to transport, and engaging several actors, from academics to the media and the wider public. The New York Times described his 2007 book No Fear: Growing up in a risk-averse society as “a handbook for the movement for freer, riskier play”. He is the former director of the Children’s Play Council (now Play England), current owner of Rethinking Childhood, and in 2017 became the recipient of a Churchill Fellowship to study child-friendly urban planning.


Architect. She started her architecture education in Istanbul Technical University and graduated with honors from Southern California Institute of Architecture. After her employment at Office for Metropolitan Architecture, she initiated Superpool in 2006 together with Gregers Tang Thomsen. Since 2013, she is also directing Studio-X Istanbul, an urban laboratory of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.


Avşar Gürpinar is an Istanbul-based scholar, design and engineer, who most recently curated the exhibition The New Domesticity: Furniture Issue featured in the Dutch Design Week 2016 in Eindhoven. His works and collaborative projects have been exhibited across the world in the Istanbul Design Biennial, Istanbul Modern Museum, Milano Design Week and Designmai Berlin. Currently Gürpinar teaches as a member of the Faculty of Architecture at the Istanbul Bilgi University, his research focusing primarily on critical design, cultural studies and the history of art and design. Gürpinar has a BSc in Electrical Engineering, an MA in Design Media, and an MSc and PhD in Industrial Product Design.


Erdoğan Kahyaoğlu is the founding and managing partner of Informal Education- cocukistanbul. After his time at the Department of International Relations at Ankara University Kahyaoğlu worked in managerial roles in the financial sector for 12 years. In 2006, he co-founded garajistanbul, an initiative and venue for contemporary performing arts and worked there as a active board member until 2011. Kahyaoğlu also directed the project "Istanpoli", the biggest international arts show project sponsored by the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency. Erdogan Kahyaoğlu was teaching arts and project management in different universities. Kahyaoğlu has four books published in the field of children's literature.


Ardan Kockelkoren is a research analyst at the Bernard van Leer Foundation providing research, analysis and advisory support to internal and external clients, focusing on how urban planning can support healthy child development. He has worked on several operational projects involving the foundation’s grant management processes, and has a background in the philanthropy industry. Kockelkoren graduated with a BS in Geography from Rijksuniversiteit Groningen and an MA in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution from Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen.


Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, currently writing for Curbed, and author, her most recent book The Design of Childhood: How the Material World Shapes Independent Kids published by Bloomsbury USA in June, 2018. Her essays, reviews, and profiles have appeared in numerous design publications including Architect, Domus, Dwell and Metropolis, as well as in New York Magazine, the New Yorker, and the New York Times. Her interest in the creation of modern domestic life has been a theme throughout her various publications. She has lectured widely at universities, museums and design conferences, on topics ranging from the history of women architecture critics to the opulent modernism of Alexander Girard to the proper use of social media by architects. Lange was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard from 2013-14 and has a BA in Architecture and Literature from Yale University, as well as a PhD in Architecture History from New York University.


Economic governance expert. Elvanda Myshketa has had an extensive experience public affairs in Brussels and in managing international projects in the South East European region. Her main areas of expertise lie in economic governance, enterprise, energy, environment, innovation, and EU enlargement. For the past six years, Elvanda has managed regional development cooperation projects in the South East Europe and provided policy advice to government institutions in Albania. Prior to that, she worked in Brussels with a number of key industry and business representations in facilitating and driving policy dialogue with the European Parliament.


Neslihan Öztürk is a support officer in the Turkey programme at the Bernard Van Leer Foundation, helping to build a child-friendly urban future. Since 2003 Öztürk has focused on issues related to civil society, media, youth work and non-formal training, both as a youth worker, trainer and project coordinator for NGOs, youth centers and universities. Öztürk has a degree in Performing Arts Management and is studying for a masters degree in Cultural Management from Istanbul Bilgi University.


Gil Penalosa is the founder and chair of the Canadian non-profit organization 8 80 Cities which is committed to creating more vibrant, healthy and equitable communities. Penalosa is also the chair of the board of World Urban Parks. Gil has been a strong supporter and advocate for improving city parks, first making his mark in the late 1990s, when he led the design and development of over 200 parks in Bogotá including Simon Bolivar, a 113-hectare park in the heart of the city. He also initiated the "New Ciclovia"/ Open Streets program with his team, a program that sees over 1.7 million people walk, run, skate and bike along 121 kilometres of Bogotá's city roads every Sunday, and today is internationally recognized and emulated.


Abhimanyu Prakash is the program manager for the Global Designing Cities Initiative, a multi-year program that will develop a Global Street Design Guide and work with cities on street and public space design around the world through Bloomberg’s Initiative for Global Road Safety(BIGRS). He leads the projects and activities in the African and Asian cities under the BIGRS program. As an urban designer and architect, Prakash has gained global expertise in these fields through his past engagements in India, Germany and New York City.


Damon Rich is a designer, visual artist, and partner at Hector, an urban design, planning and civic arts studio. He previously served as planning director and chief urban designer for the City of Newark and is the founder of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), an internationally recognized nonprofit organization that uses art and design to increase meaningful civic engagement. His work has been recognized by the American Planning Association National Planning Award, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award, the MacDowell Colony and the United States Pavilion at the 11th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice. Rich is also a recipient of the Loeb Fellowship in Advanced Environmental Studies at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.


Pedro Rivera is an architect, urbanist, and director of Studio-X Rio, a multi-disciplinary, urban laboratory run by Columbia University, that brings together academics, professionals, students, decision makers and the general public to confront pressing urban challenges. He has a MS in Urban Design and a BA in Architecture and Urbanism from Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. Rivera also has experience teaching at a studio at PUC-Rio and has been a guest speaker and critic at several institutions including Columbia University, Princeton and ETH Zurich.


Jae Shin is a partner at Hector whose work combines architecture, urban design, and exhibitions. She recently served as an Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), where she facilitated efforts to define and implement design principles for preserving and rehabilitating New York City’s public housing. Her projects have received support from the MacDowell Colony and the National Endowment for the Arts. Shin has led design studios at New Jersey Institute of Technology and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and holds degrees from Rhode Island School of Design and Princeton University.


Architect and design projects director at Superpool. He co-founded Superpool in 2006 in Istanbul together with Selva Gürdoğan after working at Office for Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam and New York. Since 2017, Gregers Tang Thomsen is also directing Superpool’s Copenhagen practice. He graduated from Aarhus School of Architecture in Denmark.


Advisor of the Bernard van Leer Foundation and TESEV. He received his BA at Ankara University, Faculty of Political Science. He completed Public Administration Master Program at TODAİE before receiving his MA at Manchester University in local governments. Between 1978-1980, he was the undersecretary of the Ministry of Local Government. During this post, he represented Turkey at the OECD Urban Management Unit committee. He later started to work in civil society. He served as the principal advisor for the International Union of Local Authorities, and as Secretary General of the Union of the Municipalities of the Marmara Region. He has several publications on good governance and local governments.


Cecilia Vaca Jones is the program director at the Bernard van Leer Foundation with 15 years of experience in managing social development policies and programs. She was also the Coordinating Minister of Social Development of Ecuador for 3 years. Additionally, she worked for a number of civil society and international organizations, including CESTAS, Fundación Esquel, the Organization of American States and UNDP. She also served as a part-time professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador in Quito, and as a language scholar at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, USA. She holds a masters degree in Social Policies for Sustainable Development from the University of Bologna, Italy, and a BA in International Relations from the Pontifical Catholic University in Ecuador.