Our Team

Charles Montgomery

Founder & Board Chair

Charles Montgomery is an award-winning author, urbanist and leader of transformative experiments, research and interventions for wellbeing in cities. His acclaimed book, Happy City, Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design, examines the intersection between urban design and the emerging science of happiness. Collaborating with the Guggenheim Museum, Futurewise, Laboratorio para la Ciudad and other entities, Charles has created experiments and design methods that help participants alter their relationships with their cities, and with each other. Among his numerous awards is a Citation of Merit from the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society for outstanding contribution towards the public’s understanding of climate change science. Charles is a member of the United Nations Sustainable Solutions Networks sub-council for Happy Cities.

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Houssam Elokda

Interim Managing Principal

Houssam is our interim Managing Principal, and leads our master planning and happy homes portfolios. Houssam has a passion for creating urban plans, policies and designs that boost human happiness. He brings an evidence-based approach that helps governments, developers and non-profit clients maximize urban health and happiness. Houssam has led complex masterplanning and policy projects in diverse settings that range from the rural Nova Scotian Town of Bridgewater to metropoles like Dubai, Cairo and Vancouver. He also led Shore to Core, our groundbreaking collaboration with neuroscientists to examine the psycho-social effects of public space design in West Palm Beach. Houssam is a gifted communicator who uses keynotes and workshops to educate people around the world on the urban design/wellbeing connection.

Houssam plays leadership roles in various urbanist organizations. He is a co-founder and board chairman at Transport for Cairo, a mobility firm that pioneers data collection methods to improve informal transportation networks in emerging cities. He also sits on the board of organizations that work in real estate, transit advocacy and construction.

Mitchell Reardon

Senior Planner, Urban Design and Placemaking

Mitchell is an award-winning community builder who specializes in healthy urban planning, design and research. He leads our planning and placemaking work.

Mitchell’s experiments, projects and research have helped clients achieve high standards in health, wellbeing and sociability in cities around the world, including Vancouver, Wuhan, Mexico City and Stockholm. His work is informed by diverse and sometimes unorthodox approaches to urban planning, design, engagement and research. He has helped create smiles from Vancouver to Vijayawada and Denver to Rotterdam. Mitchell has pioneered public space wellbeing assessments, deep engagement approaches and unique experiments on social trust. He has used tactical urbanism interventions to bring life to laneways in Vancouver and other underperforming spaces in cities around the world.

Mitchell received his Masters of Science in Urban and Regional Planning at Stockholm University in Sweden. His work and insights have been published or broadcast on Next City, CBC News, StarMetro, CBC Radio and more.

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Cheri Hessami

Head of Operations and Wellbeing

Cheri is a multidisciplinary urbanist with a background in cognitive science, public health and business operations. She is passionate about building sustainable and equitable organizations that have a positive social impact. Cheri brings this expertise to help make Happy Cities an inclusive and impactful organization.

During her time with Happy Cities, Cheri has used deep engagement techniques to help marginalized youth shape their community in Rotterdam, and to ensure that seldom-heard groups inform public space plans in Vancouver. She has worked with communities to co-create a placemaking master plan for Superior, Colorado. And she has co-led pioneering studies on tactical urbanism projects, unearthing the remarkable effect that public plaza designs can have on feelings of safety and belonging. This work received a Canadian Institute of Planners Award for Planning Excellence in Healthy Communities Planning.

Cheri has a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Waterloo and a Bachelor of Arts & Science in Cognitive Science from McGill University.

Madeleine Hebert

Intern Architect

Madeleine is an Intern Architect AIBC and a project coordinator on our Happy Homes team. Madeleine helps ensure research and consulting projects stay on time and on budget. Madeleine is curious about how buildings influence people’s lives after they move in, seeking to understand how big and small design decisions impact people’s wellbeing in various housing types. She enjoys meeting with clients & communities, analyzing requirements and context, and presenting creative solutions that bring their vision to life. Madeleine believes that collaboration and facilitating conversations is a critical part of the architectural profession. In her free time, Madeleine enjoys rock climbing and spending time with her dog, Pina.

Liyang Wan

Junior Planner

Liyang is an urban planner, designer, thinker, and storyteller. Liyang works at the intersection of planning, design, policy, engagement, research, and implementation to create happy, healthy everyday places for—and with—everyday people. With diverse knowledge and experiences in Urban Planning, Environmental Design, and Marketing and Communications, she enjoys listening to and collaborating with communities to tell their unique stories and develop equitable, co-created, context-based solutions.

Emma Avery

Urban Wellbeing Storyteller & Editor

Emma is an urban geographer, writer, and designer with a multidisciplinary background in anthropology, journalism, and urban planning. She works to ensure our communications are compelling and engaging, distilling complex planning concepts into accessible graphics, stories and reports. Emma has worked to create happier and healthier communities through her federally-funded research on new master-planned smart and green cities, and consulting work on active mobility and best-practice bicycle infrastructure. She has worked on planning and communications projects across several North American cities and suburban communities, including Montreal, Saskatoon, Chapel Hill, and St. Petersburg.

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Tristan Cleveland

Healthy Communities Researcher

Tristan Cleveland is an urban planner and writer who has worked in Canada, Guyana, and Venezuela. Tristan leads cutting edge research that helps municipalities understand the financial impacts of urban design decisions. He is a research assistant and PhD candidate at Dalhousie University with a focus on the health and financial impacts of urban design patterns. He also leads master planning and research projects across Canada. Tristan is a distinguished speaker and workshop facilitator with experience in various cities across the country. He has devoted his life and career to reforming planning so building communities that support the basic needs of human health becomes the new minimum standard.

Hannah Wright

Urban Planner & Child-Friendly Cities Expert

Hannah helps deliver our European projects and supports our placemaking efforts. She has a decade of experience in master planning, visioning, policy and research in an array of international contexts. Working at the interaction of research and practice to create healthy streets, neighbourhoods and cities, Hannah has built strong competencies in designing child-friendly cities and in supporting healthy living through urban planning and design. She enjoys supporting knowledge and skills development in workshop settings and is at ease moving from desk research to field work. Hannah is a Thought Leader at PlacemakingX, a chartered member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and has a Masters and BA with Honours in Urban Studies from Sheffield University.

Collaborators

Uytae Lee

Uytae Lee helps us tell stories that inspire change in urban communities. Uytae produces videos that educate the public on urban planning issues. His academic background in urban planning paired with his experience in journalism, music, and videography provides him with a unique perspective on communicating the complex issues surrounding our cities. In 2013, he founded PLANifax, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public on urban planning issues in Halifax through video. He later went on to support diverse organizations to create engaging content on a wide array of urban planning issues. His past clients are a mix of governmental organizations and media outlets; they include The City of Vancouver, the Halifax Regional Municipality, Halifax Water, and the Discourse. He currently produces a video column for CBC Vancouver where he challenges viewers to ‘rethink’ their city. Uytae holds a Bachelor’s degree in Community Design and Sustainability from Dalhousie University.

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Jan Emmanuel de Neve

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve is a professor of economics at the University of Oxford. He is best known for his research on the economics of happiness which has led to new insights into the relationship between happiness and income, economic growth, and inequality. His research was selected among “The Management Ideas that Mattered Most in 2016” by Harvard Business Review and he was awarded the Ruut Veenhoven Award in 2015 for his contributions to the scientific study of happiness. De Neve is an associate editor of the World Happiness Report and a member of the Global Happiness Council and chairs its workplace wellbeing committee.

Jan is a global happiness expert with experience from around the world. His collaborations with Happy City ensure that we are advised and mentored by academic leaders in the science of happiness.

Omar Dominguez

Advising Partner

Omar has led Happy City to become a dynamic and internationally recognized leader in urban wellbeing consulting. In his former role as Managing principal at Happy City, he co-developed ground-breaking research and interventions to improve community wellbeing. He nurtured a talented interdisciplinary team of experts in urban planning, architecture and public health. He also led collaborations among senior government officials, real estate developers, academic partners and other city builders.

With a background in sustainable finance and urban design, Omar focuses on ways to ensure that new urban developments maximize public benefits and mitigate risks to society, investors and the environment. Omar is also a member of the Vancouver City Planning Commission, where he advises City Council on matters pertaining to the future of the city.

Omar currently works with the Vancity Community Foundation as a Strategic Advisor in Community-Owned Real Estate. In this role he supports the acquisition, construction and redevelopment of community-owned affordable housing, co-working spaces and programming facilities.

Omar completed a degree in International Business from the Technological Institute of Monterrey in Mexico City and has an MA in Community Development and Social Planning from the University of British Columbia.

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CAMINA

CAMINA Center for Pedestrian Mobility Studies A.C. is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, with an interdisciplinary team committed to improving pedestrian environments and creating strategies that encourage more people to walk safely, efficiently and comfortably. CAMINA works with both public and private sectors, non-governmental organizations, civil associations and with people who interact directly with the urban environment.

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In the News

Designing happy cities with Mitchell ReardonShared Space podcast with Erin Peavey

Vibrant Metro Vancouver neighbourhoods face urban decay as businesses become COVID-19 casualties – News1130

‘Happy cities need to make spaces for people, not cars’ – The Hindu

‘There’s nothing else like it’: El Mirador building with unique design, at risk – Edmonton Journal

Cities, technology, and happiness: a look at the future – Baha’i World News Service 

Inspire Jericho’ talks launch with Charles Montgomery of Happy City – Vancouver Courier 

#20ReasonsToBike: Riding a bike to work may be the secret to happiness – The Georgia Straight

How to make cities happier, healthier and better equipped to fight climate change – CBC Windsor 

CivicCon Live: ‘Happy City’ with Charles Montgomery on Monday – Pensacola News Journal 

CivicCon: How city design affects people’s happiness, and how happy people affect a city’s success – Pensacola News Journal 

Charles Montgomery: Cities can ‘push us apart, or draw us together’ – Pensacola News Journal 

The psychological tricks designers use to make cities happier places – WIRED

Designing Cities Around Happiness – Thousand Oaks Acorn

COMMENTARY: Forget commuter rail; high-speed bus lanes better option for HRM – Chronicle Herald 

Canadian ‘Happy City’ urbanist Charles Montgomery was asked how to make Perth a happier city and his response was very amusing – ABC Radio Perth

Natura’s parkside homes designed with community in mind – Vancouver Sun 

‘Happy cities need to make spaces for people, not cars’ – The Hindu

What’s behind the Tomo name of a new cohousing project? – Georgia Straight

Making connections – Globe and Mail

Cohousing project in Vancouver – Daily Hive

Cohousing Lite enters the Vancouver housing lexicon – The Courier

Cities Are Creating Car-Free Zones to Ease Congestion And PollutionNPR 

People are nicer to each other when they move more slowly’: how to create happier cities – The Guardian 

Walking Towards a Happy City – Walk 21 Vienna

La ciudad justa, verde, eficiente y feliz son el mismo lugar – El Pais

Happy City Heroes – Power and Influence

Happiness and cities: dispatch from the Academy of Urbanism – Monocle Radio

Christchurch Convention Centre location a ‘mistake’ – The Press, Christchurch; On-line

Why sprawling, car dependent cities are making us miserable? – TV New Zealand; TV

How can we make Vancouver happier? – CBC News; TV

The psychology of ‘no’: Vancouver transit vote is case study in why it’s so hard to do what makes us happy – National Post; Print

How Cities Make Us Sick – CBC News; TV

Voices of New Economies: An Interview With Charles Montgomery – Cities for People; On-line

Can we have happy sprawl – 720 AM, ABC Perth; Radio

How to make cities that make people happy – The Globe and Mail; Print

Choosing the happy city – Rethinking Transportation: New Voices, New Ideas; Video

Designing The Happy City – 94.9 FM, Seattle News & Information; Radio

Ballet of the Sidewalk– Metropolis Magazine; Print

Urban walking is a legal high, so why are cities cruel to pedestrians?– The Globe and Mail; Print

What makes a city, happy? – The Arcade; Podcast

Building Happier, Healthier, and More Sustainable Cities – Urban Land; On-line