Advocates for excellence in the urban environment


Simeon Bankoff, President

Simeon BankoffSimeon Bankoff has long been an advocate for the protection of New York City’s historic buildings and neighborhoods. Simeon served as director of the Historic Districts Council from 2000 to 2021, working at the forefront of historic preservation campaigns such as the drive to save the formerly industrial neighborhoods of Brooklyn’s waterfront, the protection of Lower Manhattan’s unprotected historic buildings, fighting out-of-scale development along Central Park, and advocating for the preservation of low-density historic neighborhoods in Queens. Simeon previously served at preservation organizations in New York including the Historic House Trust, where he worked to acquire 18th- and 19th-century farmhouses for the city, and the New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation, where he helped initiate the Cultural Medallions plaque program, which commemorates the residences of notable New Yorkers. A lifelong resident of Brooklyn, he holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College.

Jennifer Nitzky, American Society of Landscape Architects New York Chapter, Vice President

Jennifer Nitzky

Jennifer Nitzky, RLA, ASLA, ISA is a Landscape Architect and Certified Arborist with over 20 years of experience in urban design, parks & playgrounds, green roofs, and green infrastructure. She is skilled in a community-oriented planning and design process, leading workshops and hands-on community activities. Jennifer has been involved in ASLA since graduate school, serving on several committees for both the Illinois and New York chapters. She is a two-term past president of ASLA-NY and a current ASLA-NY Trustee. She is also a member of the NYC Pollinator Working Group and a past Manhattan Community Board 7 member. With a passion for expanding awareness of the profession, Jennifer is a strong advocate for landscape and environmental issues through social media outlets. Jennifer grew up in Michigan, earned a B.S. in Architectural Design at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and earned her Master of Landscape Architecture at Ball State University in Indiana.

Gwen Pier, National Sculpture Society, Treasurer

Gwen Pier is the Executive Director of the National Sculpture Society, where she is responsible for running a national not-for-profit arts organization whose programs include: exhibitions and publications; board, general (open to public), and committee meetings; educational scholarships, grants, and competitions; development and fundraising; and special events (educational lectures, tours, and panel discussions). The National Sculpture Society was founded in 1893 and is committed to promoting good sculpture in the United States. Gwen has worked in the arts for over thirty years. She attended Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York (B.A., English); the University of London, Goldsmith’s College; and Columbia University (M.S., Fundraising and Nonprofit Management).

Barry Benepe, Honorary Vice President

Barry BenepeBarry Benepe is proud to be a born-and-bred New Yorker. The son of a linen importer, he grew up on Gramercy Park, walking daily under the Third Avenue El to attend Friends Seminary on Stuyvesant Square. After graduating from Williams College with a B.A. in Fine Arts in 1950, he returned to New York, studying at Cooper Union for two years. He later attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received a Bachelor of Architecture degree. Although Barry has spent most of his career as a planner and architect, his passion—much like Jane Jacobs and his mentor, architect and planner Robert C. Weinberg—is advocacy and activism. Barry has championed causes throughout the years including the campaign to oppose the Westway Project in the 1970s, efforts to create more attractive spaces for pedestrians, and his greatest passion for the past thirty years, New York City’s Greenmarket program. Barry and his wife, Judith, live in the West Village, a few streets away from Jane Jacobs’ home on Hudson Street, where he can be found wandering with his 1911 Bromley map in hand, still excited by what he sees and finds in New York, the city he has made more livable for us all.

Elena Brescia, Honorary Vice President

Elena BresciaElena Brescia, RLA, FASLA, is a landscape architect whose work has spanned scales from private residences to regional infrastructure. In practice for nearly 30 years, she has balanced practice with pro-bono work and service to the profession. Her professional life started as a textile conservator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a position which allowed a tactile connection to works of art and required thoughtful interventions. This experience informs her approach to landscape architecture as an immersive, tactile experience where texture and atmosphere are of material importance, and the experience of a place informs interventions in it. Elena studied Art History at Fordham University and earned a Master of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. She was a co-founder of SCAPE Landscape Architecture in New York and has served on the Boards of the NY Chapter of ASLA, NYSCLA, New York New Visions, and the Fine Arts Federation where she served as President from 2009-14.

Jeff Byles, Honorary Vice President

Jeff Byles, AICP is committed to the belief that communities can be inspired and renewed through the power of place. Jeff serves as Partnership Director for Being Here Landscape Architecture & Environmental Design, PLLC, a collaborative design and consulting practice that works at the intersection of site and society to foster well-being. Jeff developed national expertise in public design through his work with organizations including Van Alen Institute, where he led design competitions and public programs devoted to transforming the built environment. Previously, Jeff served as Managing Editor of The Architect’s Newspaper in New York. Jeff’s publications include Rubble: Unearthing the History of Demolition (2005), and A History of Design from the Victorian Era to the Present (2011, with Ann Ferebee). He has lectured internationally on architecture, landscape, and the future of the city.


Ann Marie Baranowski, American Institute of Architects New York Chapter

Ann Marie Baranowski, FAIA, LEED AP, is the Founding Principal of Ann Marie Baranowski Architect PLLC. Her wide-ranging experience as an architect, planner, owner’s representative, and teacher gives her a clear understanding of design excellence, its value in the public realm, and its practical effects on the life-cycle of buildings. Ann Marie has partnered on significant buildings that set a national example for enriching urban life, including the coordination of high-profile public art installations for MTA’s Fulton Center and the South Ferry Terminal. As the Museum Architect for the Brooklyn Museum of Art, she directed the planning and implementation of the celebrated Eastern Parkway Entrance, renewing the Museum’s identity. Ann Marie also advocates for culture and social equity through volunteer service and teaching, serving as an active member of AIANY and teaching in architecture programs at the Yale School of Architecture and the Rhode Island School of Design.

Amanda Lehman

Amanda LehmanAmanda Lehman is an architect with a multidisciplinary interest in integrating history, context, and environmental sustainability. Her path toward architecture began romantically with restoration training at the St. Antoine Abbey in eastern France. She continued training in restoration in Europe and Southeast Asia before serving at the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Following an eight-year respite in New Orleans and San Francisco, she served as Senior Associate at COOKFOX, an architecture firm where she pursued design shaped by a strong connection to place, the highest standards of sustainability, and a commitment to excellence enriched by the collaborative process. Amanda earned a Master of Architecture from the Tulane University School of Architecture in 1997, and is a member of the AIANY Historic Buildings Committee.

LeAnn Shelton

LeAnn SheltonLeAnn Shelton, AIA, Esq. is General Counsel and Director of Business Affairs for Rockwell Group. As a registered architect and attorney with over twenty years of experience, she handles a wide range of design and legal issues, including entertainment, intellectual property, real estate, product licensing, product liability, professional liability, employment, land use, and construction law. LeAnn currently serves as the Division Chair of the Arts and Museum Law Division of the ABA Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries, and as a public member of the New York City Loft Board. She is a former Director of Legislative Affairs of the AIA New York Chapter Board of Directors, and served as the Architect Member of the Public Design Commission of the City of New York. Prior to joining Rockwell Group in 2008, LeAnn was an Associate Principal at Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn, and at David Brody Bond. She is a graduate of Amherst College, Columbia University Law School, and Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

Carol Steinberg

Carol SteinbergCarol J. Steinberg has practiced art, copyright, and entertainment law in New York City and on the East End of Long Island for over twenty years. She is a Member of the Faculty of the School of Visual Arts, where she teaches courses on artists’ rights, and is the Art Lawyer on the newly-formed East Hampton Arts Council. Carol is a former Co-Chair of the New York County Lawyers’ Association’s Entertainment and Media Law Section; is the Assistant Treasurer and Pro Bono Steering Committee Member of the New York State Bar Association’s Entertainment, Arts, and Sports Law Section; and has been a member of the Art Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association for the past three years. Carol is currently a consultant to the New York Foundation for the Arts and speaks frequently about copyright issues at their Artist as Entrepreneur Boot Camps. Carol is also on the Advisory Council of Golden Fleece Ltd. (the Composers’ Theatre), and has received a Volunteer Award from the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.