Doctoral Student in Design and Planning
Debra Flanders Cushing is a PhD student in Design and Planning at CU. Her research areas include: involving diverse youth in the design of community environments; using youth-created digital stories as pathways to community engagement; and evaluating different formats for youth governance to create child- and youth-friendly communities. She has lived in Boulder for nine years.
Debra received her Bachelor's from Penn State and her Master's from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Landscape Architecture . She worked as a design practitioner, using participatory planning approaches to design community parks, trail systems, and outdoor learning environments and has extensive experience coordinating, implementing, and evaluating service learning courses and outreach projects connecting university students to the local community. Debra currently teaches an undergraduate course in the Environmental Design Program at CU Boulder," Immigrant Integration through Community Planning" and previously taught Sustainable Planning and Participatory Community Planning.
She received the 2009 Equity and Excellence Award from the Office of Diversity Equity and Community Engagement at CU Boulder for her work with diverse youth, including immigrants. The Institute for Ethical and Civic Engagement, CU Boulder, gave her the 2009 Annual Serving Communities Award for her work with service learning and community outreach.
Mara Mintzer is a Research Affiliate with the Children, Youth, Environments Center focusing on the Boulder Child- and Youth-Friendly City Initiative (BCYFCI). Prior to working with CYE, Mara was the Director of Belle Haven Community School in Menlo Park, California, where she oversaw child and family support services on a low-income school campus. The integrated programs included an afterschool program that was re-designed to align with the school-day curriculum, a family resource center where parents participated in parenting classes, mental health support, and support advocating for their children’s education, summer school, and a variety of early childhood programs. Mara has had a wide range of experiences designing and implementing programs for low-income children, families and neighborhoods in New York and California. Thanks to extensive travels and studies, she speaks French and Spanish. Mara received her undergraduate degree in psychology with honors from Brown University, and a master’s degree in organizational psychology with honors from Columbia University.