Who We Are

Maisie Hughes, Consultant

As the owner of Design Virtue and co-founder of The Urban Studio, Maisie is committed to inclusive placemaking with people and plants. Maisie works with mission focused organizations to create greener and more equitable cities. She brings decades of award-winning leadership to her projects and pays obsessive attention to the work to deliver high quality outcomes. She is currently working with clients to create a ladder to employment that will yield full time urban forestry careers and diversify the urban forestry workforce. As a 2018 Landscape Architecture Foundation Fellow for Innovation and Leadership, Maisie is using film to explore what landscapes need to be to feel welcoming for all people.


Maisie is an ISA Certified Arborist, with Master of Landscape Architecture degree from Morgan State University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Afro American studies from Howard University.


Expertise: Program development and delivery, community engagement, training, facilitation, urban design, arboriculture, landscape architecture, permaculture design, professional and workforce development, and diversity, equity, access, and inclusion. 

Kendra Hyson, Collaborator

Kendra has a passion for community engagement and enthusiasm for social equity and sustainability applied through culturally sensitive design. She is a co-founder of The Urban Studio, where she works to “advance design thinking for equitable + sustainable urbanism,” (theurbanstudio.org). Her time working in the public sector for Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, DC Department of Parks and Recreation, and in commercial landscape architecture has helped shaped her creative and collaborative approach to urban design challenges. She is a 2015 Landscape Architecture Foundation Olmsted Scholar and Board Member of the Landscape Architecture Foundation. 

Kendra has a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Arizona and a Bachelors in Studio Art from Spelman College. 

Suraj Sazawal, Researcher

Suraj is a writer and advocate focusing on protecting political expression and increasing the operational space for humanitarian actors that address the root causes of poverty and conflict.  He serves as the North America representative for the CIVICUS Monitor, a global platform that tracks the state of civil society freedoms around the world. He is a co-author of Civil Society Under Strain: Counter-Terrorism Policy, Civil Society, and Aid Post 9/11, the first book to examine how the War on Terror impacts humanitarian aid. He serves on the board of local and national organizations working to make the promise of the Bill of Rights a reality for all. Suraj has a master’s degree in public policy with a specialization in national security from George Mason University and Bachelor degrees in History and International Relations from the University of Virginia.