Our People

Executive Director

Amanda O’Rourke

Amanda has been with 8 80 Cities since the beginning in 2007. She was a key architect of the 8 80 concept, and has held several positions within the organization. She has been a key driving force in the development and growth of 8 80 Cities and has worked on numerous projects related to parks, public spaces, and sustainable transportation in North America, Europe, Mexico, and Australia.

Amanda holds a Master’s of Science in Planning from the University of Toronto, and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Biology from Queen’s University. She is also currently Co-Chair of the Children, Play, and Nature Committee for World Urban Parks. She loves being a momma to three small kids, is an eternal optimist, and is passionate about transforming cities into great places for all people.

Ph: +1-647-800-5226

Manager, Communications & Administration

Camila Uriona

Camila joined 8 80 Cities in 2011. A great multitasker, she takes care of both administration and communications.

Trained in communications, Camila has special expertise in internal and external client relations and is always keen to explore new approaches to her areas of work. She has outstanding sensitivity to people and brings creativity and fun to all the work she does.

Ph: +1-647-800-5255

Manager, Finance

Deborah McKeon

Deborah joined 8 80 Cities in June 2021 and brings with her more than 20 years of experience in the non-profit, public, and for-profit sectors. With a keen eye for budgeting, the day-to-day details of accounting, fiscal management, and reporting, Deborah brings her sharp attention to detail in helping non-profits succeed.

Raised in both Toronto and Northern Ontario, and later living in such diverse places as Paris, the Bahamas, and small towns in and around North America, she brings a unique perspective and approach to city building and what makes places livable.

Deborah is currently pursuing training and certification in the two-year Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program (MMTCP), certified by the Awareness Training Institute and the University of California at Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.

When she is not working with numbers or studying, Deborah enjoys hiking, photography, painting, and clay sculpture.


Ph.: +1-647-800-5275

Project Manager

Jiya Benni

Jiya Benni joined 8 80 Cities in April of 2021. A great believer in the power of collaborative planning and placemaking in city-building, she is passionate about creating equitable, sustainable, and resilient cities. Jiya holds a Master’s in Urbanism from TU Delft, The Netherlands and a Bachelor’s in Architecture from the University of Kerala, India. Outside work, you will find her writing on her blogs ‘Contemplating Urban Matters’ and ‘Patient Caterpillar’, making collages or taking long walks and hikes with her partner. Jiya is currently on maternity leave.

Ph: +1-647-800-5590

Project Manager

Jayne Armstrong

Jayne is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto who is excited to bring her passion for creating equitable public spaces to 8 80 Cities. As an avid beach bum, Jayne has taken her passions for public space and applied them to her research on reclaiming the nebulous public-private beachfront in Scarborough for everyone.

She previously worked at Bike Share Toronto and continues her passion for cycling all year round. Either by foot or by cycle, Jayne loves exploring the neighbourhoods of Toronto in search of the unique built form and pocket parks.

Ph: +1-647-800-5418

Project Manager

Shannon Lawrence

Shannon Lawrence is an urban designer and community development planner who has spent more than a decade working in collaboration with communities across the globe. She has extensive experience managing projects and developing policy, working with citizen groups, local governments and NGO’s in North America, West Africa, Europe and Southeast Asia. Shannon has held roles with the UN in Geneva and with the City of Toronto’s strategic and corporate policy team.

For the past three years she has been based in Jerusalem, working on issues of contested urban space and raising her young daughter. In addition to her advisory and policy work, Shannon has created audio and performative urban art installations using the intangible elements of memory and culture to question public space and the forces that have shaped it; this work has sparked dialogue and attempted to create space for future possibilities. Shannon holds a MSc in Building and Urban Design from The Bartlett School of Planning at University College London and a BA in Development Studies and Economics from McGill University.

Ph: +1-289-212-3530

Project Coordinator

Tennesha Joseph

Tennesha is an urban planner and nighttime safety advocate who has recently joined 8 80 Cities. In 2021, Tennesha was selected to participate in 8 80 Cities’ 2021 Ontario Community Changemaker (OCC) program and has since created her own public space initiative, Are You Afraid of the Dark T.O?, where she explores how to create public spaces that are welcoming and safe for women & girls at night using LED-lit seating installations. Her installation has been featured in a laneway in Brampton, ON as part of Activate Downtown Brampton and Downtown Kitchener’s first-ever pop-up park.

Tennesha believes in creating cities that reflect the diverse needs and lived experiences within them, especially that of women and youth. She is passionate about finding new and exciting ways to make public spaces more accessible, day or night. When she isn’t curled up with a good book, she loves venturing out to the trails and public parks in her local community, especially at night. Tennesha holds a Bachelor’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Toronto Metropolitan University.

Ph: +1 289 212 3553

Board of Directors

Jared Kolb, Interim Chair
Eti Greenberg, Director
Sue Lantz, Director
Rafael Vargas, Director
Patricia Wood, Director
Nithursan Elamuhilan, Director
Yvonne Yeung, Director
Nadha Hassen, Director


Gil Penalosa

Gil Penalosa is passionate about cities for all people. Gil advises decision-makers and communities on creating vibrant cities and healthy communities and focuses on the design and use of parks and streets as great public places, as well as sustainable mobility: walking, riding bicycles, using public transit, and the new use of cars.

Gil is the founder of 8 80 Cities, and created the organization centred on a simple but powerful philosophy: if you create a great city for an 8-year-old and an 80-year-old, you will create a successful city for all people.

Gil also runs his own international consulting firm – Gil Penalosa & Associates, and is an accomplished keynote speaker and facilitator of strategic workshops.

Work With Us

Let’s collaborate to create better cities.

The 8 80 Cities team is passionate about cities for all people. Let’s talk and explore opportunities for collaboration.