About Rebuild by Design

Working Together to Build a More Resilient Region

What began as a new kind of design competition in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, has transformed into an innovative process that places local communities and civic leaders at the heart of a robust, interdisciplinary, creative process to generate implementable solutions for a more resilient region. Its inclusive process has since provoked a paradigm shift in the way that planners and governments approach both disaster response and emergency preparedness.

Placing substantive collaboration between designers, researchers, community members, and government officials at the heart of an iterative creative process, the Hurricane Sandy Competition resulted in ten visionary design proposals that address the intersection of physical, social, and ecological resiliency.  Seven of those designs are in the process of being implemented in the Northeast United States.

Based on its success, Rebuild by Design has been used as a model for other processes.  In the United States, President Obama launched the National Disaster Resilience Competition in June 2014, “inspired by the success of Rebuild by Design.” In the international sphere, the Global Resilience Partnerships launched a multi-phase resilience design competition in 2014 modeled after Rebuild by Design.

In addition to as helping other regions rethink resilience before disaster strikes, Rebuild by Design keeps communities connected to the implementation of the funded designs; explores changes needed in policy, regulation, and operations; and researches the best practices in developing resilience.

Meet Our Team

Henk Ovink, Principal of Rebuild by Design

Henk Ovink was recently appointed by the Dutch Cabinet as the first Special Envoy for International Water Affairs for the Kingdom of the Netherlands. “Worldwide, water is the connecting issue, the number one global risk and the opportunity for comprehensive cultural change.” Ovink is Principal of 'Rebuild by Design’ and was Senior Advisor to the former US Presidential Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task. He was both Acting Director General of Spatial Planning and Water Affairs and Director National Spatial Planning for the Netherlands.

Ovink is member of the International Advisory Board for the City of Rotterdam. He was Curator for the 5th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam 2012 ‘Making City’ and initiated the research program Design and Politics, the connecting chair at the TU Delft and initiated and is chief editor for the series of publications with nai010 Publishers, called ‘Design and Politics’.

Amy Chester, Managing Director

Amy Chester is responsible for Rebuild by Design’s day to day operations, management, fundraising, and strategy. She brings considerable experience from numerous arenas of urban affairs, including community engagement, policy, communications, and real estate development.

In her previous work under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as Chief of Staff to the Deputy Mayor for Legislative Affairs and as a Senior Policy Advisor, she was responsible for the public engagement strategy of PlaNYC, the Mayor’s sustainability agenda, which included initiatives such as the Million Trees Campaign, congestion pricing, and the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan. Other experiences in New York City government have included positions at the New York City Council, where she successfully ensured the inclusion of affordable housing in large-scale neighborhood rezonings, and at the New York City Housing Authority, where she developed affordable housing and a charter school for Harlem Children’s Zone.

Outside of government, Amy has also consulted for numerous nonprofit organizations and on many electoral campaigns. At the Freelancers Union, she was responsible for the design and construction of two medical practices. As the lead organizer for Listening to the City, she led the way for a democratic process to help plan the World Trade Center site redevelopment.

Amy was raised and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Lynn Englum, Policy Manager

Lynn Englum is Rebuild by Design’s policy manager. Her work focuses on identifying and addressing policy barriers to resiliency implementation and working to promote governance structures and regional coordination that allow communities to better prepare for a changing climate.

Previously, Lynn worked at the World Wildlife Fund, focusing on climate change, renewable energy, resiliency, and cities. Lynn's commentary has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Huffington Post, Climate Progress, and Sustainable Cities Collective. Lynn started her climate career at the Center for American Progress, researching climate and energy. She received her MA in Global Environmental Politics from American University and her BS in Public Affairs & Environmental Management from Indiana University.

Lynn is a cycling enthusiast who enjoys long bike rides and not getting hit by NYC drivers.

Tara Eisenberg, Research Manager

Tara Eisenberg coordinates Rebuild by Design’s ongoing research projects, facilitating a longitudinal survey of coastal unbuilding, the formation of an international resiliency network, and more. Tara joined Rebuild by Design in 2013 through NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge to support and develop the competition’s research stage.

Tara is a lifelong New Yorker and studied at NYU for both her BS and MA degrees. Formally, her studies have spanned the course of art, mathematics, and environmental education; informally, she is an expert at connecting people, places, talents, and research. Tara is passionate about environmental design, having worked in the green building sector prior to joining Rebuild by Design. She believes collective action and education are key components to responding to our changing climate. You can usually find Tara riding her bike around Brooklyn or chopping vegetables.

Raka Sen, Researcher

Raka Sen is a Researcher at Rebuild By Design. She began working at RBD as an undergraduate on the study of managed retreat in the Sandy region. She joined the team full-time after graduating from NYU in May 2015. Her research interests include the sociology of climate change, urban design, the relationship of infrastructure and climate change and managed retreat.

Raka's background includes sociology, graphic design, urban design marketing, education, and research. Before coming to RBD, she worked at the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation on Forestry and Preservation in the urban forest. She also worked as the Coordinator for the Youth in Planning program run by the American Planning Association.

A Colorado native, you can usually find Raka climbing mountains, planting trees or finding new ways to bring a little bit of Colorado to the big city.

Idan Sasson, Project Assistant

Idan Sasson is the project assistant at Rebuild By Design. He first entered the world of coastal resiliency when studying RBD and social resiliency for his capstone seminar at NYU. A Gallatin alumna, Idan concentrated in Sustainable Development and was a yearlong fellow at the Gallatin Urban Democracy Lab where he researched the underlying elements of a contested public green space in Berlin called Tempelhof Field.

Idan comes to RBD after serving as a Conservation Corps fellow at the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation where he was placed at GreenThumb, the community gardening division of the agency. His previous work has led him to youth-led educational programming, global social movement building, rural agricultural development in East Africa and most recently, urban agriculture and community gardening in NYC. Outside of work Idan is an avid traveler and community gardener where he takes time to tend to his veggies. He currently lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn in a communal home.

Allen Kratz, Project Manager

Allen Kratz brings experience in economic development, project management and historic preservation. Allen worked in real estate and economic development for NJ Transit, the statewide transit agency. He was a gubernatorial appointee to the New Jersey Historic Trust, which funds historic preservation. Allen obtained National Register of Historic Places designation for two buildings in Hoboken, his hometown. A lawyer, he redrafted the city’s historic preservation ordinance. As president of the Hoboken Public Library’s board of trustees, Allen is overseeing a $3.2M rehabilitation project to preserve the 1897 library building and protect it from sea-level rise, coastal flooding and extreme weather.

Eric Klinenberg, Research Director

Eric Klinenberg, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge leads Rebuild by Design’s research as principal investigator. Dr. Klinenberg is also editor of the journal Public Culture, and an affiliated faculty member of the Wagner School of Public Service and the Department of Media, Culture, and Communications.

Klinenberg has been studying cities and climate change since the 1990s, when he conducted research for his first book, Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago. In 2013, he authored the influential article “Adaptation: Can Cities Be Climate-Proofed” in The New Yorker, and since Sandy he has organized a series of public events around Sandy, Climate Change, and the Future of New York City.

Liz Koslov, Research Assistant

Liz Koslov is a PhD candidate in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. Her research interests include housing and relocation, urban redevelopment, and the sociology of climate change. She is currently working on her dissertation, an ethnography of the home buyout process on Staten Island after Hurricane Sandy. As a research assistant with Rebuild By Design, Liz is helping to develop a survey that will track the long-term social, economic, and health outcomes of post-Sandy relocation and rebuilding in New York and New Jersey. Liz is also a member of the Superstorm Research Lab and the Cities, Culture, and Climate Change working group at NYU's Institute for Public Knowledge. Before coming to NYU, Liz received an MSc in Culture and Society from the Department of Sociology at the London School of Economics and a BA in Communication and Spanish and Latin American Literature from the George Washington University. In her free time, she enjoys cheering on the Mets, reading crime fiction, and searching for Staten Island's best pizza.

Gordon Douglas, Postdoctoral Fellow

As the Rebuild by Design Postdoctoral Research Fellow at NYU's Institute for Public Knowledge, Gordon is conducting fieldwork in two communities severely flooded during Hurricane Sandy, examining the storm's impact on community identity. He is also collaborating on a study of social inequalities of climate vulnerability, and helping to design a longitudinal study of attitudes toward climate change and resilience efforts throughout the Sandy-affected region.

Gordon received his PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago in 2014. With research focused on local cultural identity, urban and environmental planning and development, and people's interactions with their physical surroundings, Gordon's writing and photography have appeared in Architect Magazine, City & Community, Urban Studies, the Journal of Urban Design, and other publications. His forthcoming book concerns people who create unauthorized but functional and civic-minded "DIY urban design" contributions and what these informal improvement efforts tell us about the state of the contemporary city.


Communications Manager

Rebuild by Design is looking for a Communications Manager to join our dedicated and energetic team in New York City. The ideal candidate will hold a Bachelor’s Degree in communications, public relations or related field with a minimum of 5 – 8 years’ related work experience or an equivalent combination of education and experience. Master’s degree is a plus. Experience in policy/government, community non-profit, design/engineering/planning, and environmental communications preferred. 


– Have a commitment to the vision of Rebuild by Design
- Familiar with a resilience framework
- Excellent writing and verbal skills
– Strong organization and project management skills
– Project management experience for administering multiple, simultaneous projects
– Experience managing digital elements of campaigns and initiatives – including website content, social media, email management, and online advocacy and organizing tools
– Experience working with press, writing press releases, newsletters and media advisories
– Expertise in developing a working relationship with news media contacts
– Experience working in or with government
– Fluency with multiple common CMS, html, wordpress, mailchimp, and other online communication and campaign tools
– Proficient in Adobe Creative Suite
– Ability to communicate effectively through writing
– Ability to work effectively under tight deadlines
– Proficiency in moderate to advanced graphic design
– Passion for social change, ability to be creative, strong sense of humor, flexibility, excels under stress and wants to work with fun people

Essential Duties:
- Strategic communications planning
– Creation of brand guidelines
– Preparing public presentations and speechwriting
– Writing op-eds, and blog posts
– Cultivating key reporters/journalists
– Directing social media channels
– Developing digital media campaigns
– Creating and executing public education campaigns to maximize reach of RBD
– Managing all public facing materials including RBD website and marketing material design and content
– Writing and draft management for publications
– Event management
– Grant reporting
– Managing external vendors such as web developers, external PR firms, etc.

Rebuild by Design is housed at the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University.  The Communications Manager will report to the Managing Director.

Interested candidates shall apply by sending a resume to jobs@rebuildbydesign.org