A cheerleader of possibility, Alex Gilliam is the Founder and Director of Public Workshop, an organization that help clients and community partners throughout the United States create uniquely engaging opportunities for youth and their communities to shape the design of their schools, neighborhoods and cities. He believes that great design, empowerment, innovation, and having fun are not mutually exclusive. Uniquely combining his skills as a designer, teacher, expert builder and social entrepreneur, Alex leads multigenerational design-build community projects, develops creative placemaking initiatives that bring people together in new ways, constructs makerspaces for people of all ages, devises transformative youth design leadership programs, and creates innovative participatory design tools.
His recent projects include leading the designing and building of a makerspace in Chester that is dedicated to empowering citizens to ‘rebuild their main street’; developing play and building-based STEM curriculum while leading the design-building of an outdoor classroom for a school in Arizona; helping clients create citizen science programs in Chicago and New York for measuring the impact of green infrastructure and green affordable housing; and transforming vacant lots into playgrounds and exercise courses in Philadelphia, Flint, Cleveland, and Camden. In addition to his work with Public Workshop, Alex partnered with Renee Schacht to create Tiny WPA, a nonprofit organization that uniquely connects and empowers youth and adults be catalysts, entrepreneurs, designers, builders and change-agents in their communities throughout Philadelphia. Tiny WPA and Public Workshop share a community focused makerspace in West Philadelphia, one of six makerspaces that Alex has helped clients and partners create.