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Jess Zimbabwe

avatar for Jess Zimbabwe

Exec Dir
ULI Daniel Rose Center For Public Leadership in Land Use
Jess Zimbabwe, AIA, AICP, LEED-AP, was named Executive Director of the Daniel Rose Center for Public Leadership in Land Use in February 2009. The mission of the Daniel Rose Center is to achieve and support excellence in land use decision making. The Center’s flagship program is the Daniel Rose Fellowship for public leaders, which brings the mayors and senior leadership teams of 4 cities together for a year-long program of learning from land use experts, technical assistance, study tours, leadership development, and peer-to-peer exchange. The Rose Center also holds forums on topics of public/private interest and workshops to educate public officials. Jess serves as the Rose Center’s first Executive Director. Before joining ULI, Jess was the Director of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, a 25-year old program that is run as a partnership of the American Architectural Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. In that capacity she worked with over 125 American mayors and cities to help local leaders better understand issues of urban design so that they could advocate for better built environments in their own communities. During her time at the Mayors’ Institute, she also served as Vice President for Programs at the American Architectural Foundation, overseeing that organization’s Great Schools by Design program, which brings design and planning expertise to local appointed and elected school district leaders, and developing the Sustainable Cities Design Academy, a program to provide technical assistance to local community leaders who are engaged in planning a sustainable building project in their community. Before joining the Mayors’ Institute and American Architectural Foundation in 2006, Jess served as the Community Design Director at Urban Ecology in San Francisco, California, providing pro bono community planning and design assistance to low-income neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her primary project was the design and development of a community cultural center in the San Antonio district of East Oakland. The position at Urban Ecology was made possible by the Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship. Her previous work experience includes architecture, housing, and community development work in New York and Baltimore. Jess earned a Master of Architecture and Master of City Planning from UC Berkeley and a B.A. in Architecture from Columbia University. During her graduate work, Jess was awarded Berkeley’s Branner Traveling Fellowship, and visited 27 national capitals, researching public use of space in and around parliament buildings. She also received the Architecture Department’s Graduate Instructor of the Year Award. Jess received a 2008-2009 Comparative Domestic Policy Fellowship from the German Marshall Fund, and was a 2004-2005 Fellow of the Women’s Policy Institute of the Women’s Foundation of California. She serves on the Board of Directors of Next American City. She is a licensed architect, certified city planner, and a LEED-Accredited professional.


Speaking Schedule




  • Band
  • Party
  • AC Select
  • SXSW Interactive Conference
  • SXSW Film Conference + Screenings
  • SXSW Music Conference
  • Venue
  • Free Stuff
  • Theme
  • Level

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