NJIT Hub for Creative Placemaking









Press Release:

Published: Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Bridging Arts and Community: NJIT Launches Hub for Creative Placemaking

Our Mission

Creative Placemaking is the intentional integration of arts and culture into community, social and economic development.  This mission of NJIT’s Hub for Creative Placemaking is to develop the components of the Creative Placemaking framework to support meaning-making in the places people live, work and play.

Our Vision

NJIT’s Hub for Creative Placemaking builds on a strong foundation of existing programs and projects at NJIT.  We believe that it is critical to further establish Creative Placemaking as a field of practice and to develop that practice through the implied meaning inherent in its name. We have already begun to and intend to continue to train students and leaders for the field of practice. We will develop, measure and apply the practice across NJIT’s spectrum of creative innovations in technology, design, social context, and business practices.  

The New Jersey Innovation Acceleration Center (NJIAC) is a resource for entrepreneurs and innovators throughout the region.  Situating NJIT’s Hub for Creative Placemaking under the umbrella of NJIAC gives access to a robust set of resources that both support our mission and align the practice with innovation toward equity, inclusive economic growth, and opportunity. 

Our Team

Suzanne Ishee, NJIT Hub for Creative Placemaking Director- Lead Instructor, Curriculum and Clearinghouse

Suzanne Ishee serves as an Adjunct Instructor for Creative Placemaking, Professional Development/Executive Education, and for the College of Science and Liberal Arts.  Suzanne is an Emmy and Drama Desk honored producer, actor and playwright veteran of the theatre and concert stages. In 2009, she expanded her art career into the Creative Placemaking field through supporting the formation of Arts Build Communities at Rutgers University as Advisory Board Chairperson.  In 2011, she co-founded the Center for Creative Placemaking (CCP) where she continued to advance the field of practice through promotion, thought leadership, and training. She designed and developed Creative Placemaking content for numerous sector-specific workshops including those for professionals who practice Real Estate, Downtown Management, Conservation, Pubic Art, Professional Artists, and numerous others. She developed the curriculum for the existing Certificate in Creative Placemaking at NJIT and shares leadership of instruction with Dr.Colette Santasieri.  She provides expertise and engagement in numerous CP-related efforts in the region including as Co-Chair of the Livable Task Force for NJ Transportation Planning Authority/Together North Jersey, as a member of the Western Highlands Scenic Byway Management Board and the Morris Canal Greenway Redevelopment Working Group. She serves on the stewardship council of the 3-state/9-county Scenic, Wild Delaware River Geotourism Initiative, and since its inception remains an active member of Sustainable Jersey’s Arts and Creative Culture Task Force through evaluation of NJ municipality’s annual submissions.


Dr. Colette Santasieri, Hub Co-Principal Investigator -Technical Assistance and Co-Lead Instructor, Curriculum 

Dr. Santasieri is Executive Director of Policy and Planning Innovation for Civil Infrastructure and Environment at NJIT, and the Executive Director of the NJ Brownfields Assistance Center and the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s (NJIT) Technical Assistance to Brownfields Communities Program.  She possesses over 35 years of land use, environmental, and infrastructure planning, and community development experience. She has extensive experience and expertise in the planning and design of sustainable and resilient communities, properties, and civil infrastructure systems; community visioning for redevelopment; brownfields redevelopment; transit-oriented development; identifying and analyzing a project’s impacts on socio-economic, natural, and man-made settings as well as on environmental justice communities; and providing technical assistance and educational forums to elected officials, government staff, nonprofits, and the public. She is the co-instructor of the NJIT Creative Placemaking Professional Certificate course. 


Dr. Michael Ehrlich, Co-Director, New Jersey Innovation Acceleration Center and Hub Principal Investigator-Research

Ehrlich had an international business career before joining NJIT in 2007. He spent his last Wall Street years at Bear Stearns as Senior Managing Director of the Emerging Markets Fixed Income Business. Upon leaving Wall Street, Ehrlich became an entrepreneur and started FineStar Imaging LLC, a small technology company that specialized in document production and management. Ehrlich, who belongs to the NY Angels, focuses his research on the commercialization of technology. Ehrlich established and is the advisor to the Entrepreneur's Society, a student club at NJIT. With support from Capital One Bank, he established the New Business Model Competition (NBMC), an early-stage business model competition in its 11th year, for Newark and North Jersey-based students (undergraduate and graduate) as well as North Jersey community-based businesses and entrepreneurs. Winners of the NBMC (eight winners last year) receive a fellowship that pays them to work on their new business ideas and to attend the NJIT – MTSM Lean Startup Accelerator program to launch their new businesses. Ehrlich works extensively with NJIT faculty/student teams to help them transform their research into commercial innovations. He was an early participant in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program and since 2015 he has been the principal investigator directing the NSF I-Corps Site at NJIT where he funds 30-40 faculty-student teams each year ($2-3K/team). With Judith Sheft, Ehrlich co-lead the HealthIT connections program, funded by JPMorgan Chase Small Business Forward Initiative, which helps the overall regional HealthIT cluster and provides support for growth-stage companies to accelerate their growth rate and create good quality jobs for the region. Ehrlich has published research in the Journal of Business Venturing, Babson conference proceedings, and other top journals. 


Linda Street, Hub Senior Community Engagement Liaison

Linda Street is the ‘Chief Chick’ at Pink Dragon Artist Syndicate LLC, an arts organization and creative consulting company. A retired Fortune 100 executive, her wide-ranging background boasts 40+ years of diverse corporate and entrepreneurial experience spanning information technology, strategic planning, training, communications, branding, graphic arts, fashion design, public art, artist management, creative direction and program development. She has developed career guidance programming for Dress For Success Hudson County. Her personal brand has sparked a growing “dope chick” movement to also promote empowerment for women and girls. She has directed public art projects for Verizon, NJ Transit and Trust For Public Land throughout Newark, New Jersey and curated such noteworthy exhibitions as 2014’s Unusual Suspects at Gallery Aferro in Newark and East Orange Is The Newest Black at historic Manufacturer’s Village East Orange in 2016. Linda Street has been recognized by the City of East Orange, NJ Clean Communities and NJ Transit for her arts and community development initiatives in her hometown of East Orange; and honored as 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year by Vashti School of Leadership. Notably, Linda Street also serves as a social media brand ambassador for NY Times Bestselling Author, FUBU founder and star of ABC’s Shark Tank, Daymond John, working to spread his Power of Broke entrepreneurial empowerment philosophies. She authored “Bulletproof Ambition: THE Art and Courage of Jerry Gant” which is in the collections of both the Newark Library and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  In 2018 she was a featured artist in the Black History Month Exhibition at Jersey City Hall and the It Begins With Passion Exhibition at Jersey City’s Garden Level Gallery. A limited-edition silkscreen print of her “Afro Chick” was purchased for the Newark Library Special Collections; with her mixed media and silkscreen print works also included in two exhibitions during the Newark Arts 16th Annual Open Doors Citywide Arts and Culture Festival. 


Judith Sheft, Hub Co-Founder

Judith A. Sheft is Executive Director of the NJ Commission on Science, Technology and Innovation.  She is former Associate Vice President Strategic Relationships and External Affairs at New Jersey Innovation Institute at NJIT.  In her prior position, she was Co-Director of the NJ Innovation Acceleration Center and involved with regional economic and cluster development having responsibilities for the HealthIT Connections entrepreneurial cluster development program, the NJIT I-Corps Site and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center.