Meet the Connect the Dots Team | Stakeholder Engagement for Impact
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Our Team

Meet our amazing, interdisciplinary team

Per project, our team expands beyond our core members to include experienced facilitators, researchers, engagement and design experts. For our community-based projects in particular, we work to include community members as an extended part of our team to ensure that our approach is representative, inclusive and rooted in the local area.

Marisa Denker

Founder & CEO

Marisa Denker is the founder and CEO of Connect the Dots. Evolving from Marisa’s Fulbright project in 2014, Connect the Dots now operates across the East Coast in the US and continues to have a sister branch in Dublin, Ireland. Marisa brings deep expertise in engagement design, design thinking, inclusive public outreach, strategic communications, stakeholder management, and project management.

She holds an MA in Design Practice from Dublin University (via her Fulbright fellowship) and a BA Urban Studies and English from University of Pennsylvania where she graduated as Phi Beta Kappa. Marisa additionally serves as an adjunct Professor at the University of Pennsylvania of her course Participatory Cities. She also co-founded A Playful City, a nonprofit in Ireland focused on co-creating playful, inclusive public spaces for all ages.

Rosanne Lubeck


Rosanne Lubeck leads cross-sector and transportation-focused planning projects, focusing on goals-based consensus building, inclusive outreach processes, and creative tailored engagement tools. Rosanne earned a Masters in Community Planning from University of Maryland in College Park, and has since worked in the transportation field for the City of Chicago and economic development organizations in the Washington, DC area.

Rosanne’s planning work is informed by a prior decade-long career in advocacy and public relations. Her varied experience prioritizes high-quality communication, detailed project management, and innovative participatory processes.

Sylvia Garcia-Garcia


Sylvia Garcia-Garcia runs a variety of stakeholder and community engagement projects at Connect the Dots. She is a bicultural multilingual experienced social impact professional, passionate about centering inclusion and sustainability. Sylvia holds a Master’s in Strategic Thinking from Tec de Monterrey and has since worked as a consultant and project manager across sectors and countries.

Her 15-years long career in social impact and collective change informs her work as does prioritizing knowledge sharing as key when creating social impact. She works guided by the idea that the future is created today.

Stephanie Fuentes

Community Engagement Project Manager

Stephanie Fuentes joined the Connect the Dots team as a Community Engagement Project Manager in April 2023. Stephanie has 8+ years experience in both non-profit and local government infusing the arts and the public in programs and projects ranging from arts education, advocacy, history, public art, and more. Her passion is to empower communities to engage in storytelling, decision making, and culture-keeping through public-facing projects. She graduated with a Bachelor of Art in Fine Art from Evangel University.

Lily Goodspeed

Community Engagement Senior Associate

Lily Goodspeed is a Senior Associate at Connect the Dots and most recently worked at SEAMAAC as Community Building and Planning Coordinator in South Philadelphia. Before that, she worked as Outreach Coordinator at scout (the urban design firm redeveloping the Bok building) and at Philly 3.0.

In 2020, she completed a Masters at Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania and has a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University. She has also worked in real estate, adaptive reuse development, marketing, communications, and community organizing in Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Mexico City. On the weekends, she writes comics, volunteers, explores, and runs a street art project called Plaque to the Future.

Robby Alva

Community Engagement Associate

Robby Alva is a Community Engagement Associate at Connect the Dots. He graduated with a joint Master’s degree in Urban Studies from the Universities of Brussels, Vienna, Copenhagen and Madrid. Inquisitive and resourceful, he is passionate about centering inclusion and resident perspectives, and is motivated by the desire to learn and understand human behavior to improve quality of life in urban communities.


With a previous bachelor’s in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University, Robby brings a detail oriented and interdisciplinary skillset with the ability to create compelling content and adapt messaging for multiple audiences across multiple platforms. He has previously worked in the digital marketing and strategic communications sectors, as well as in the international development field within the area of smart cities development. His multicultural background and diverse experiences have molded him into a holistic thinker, and flexible individual that is committed to delivering results and forward thinking change.

Michael Gulino

Community Engagement Project Assistant

Mickey Gulino is a Project Assistant at Connect the Dots, and assists with resource development, analysis and reporting, and outreach coordination. He has specialized in fostering non-profit connections, positive volunteerism, culturally informed engagement, and equitable education. Mickey is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he majored in Urban Studies. He is also a current master’s student at the University of Pennsylvania pursuing a M.S.Ed in Education, Culture, and Society.

With a passion for urban studies, education, and non-profits, he has sought to link non-profit and educational spaces to advocate for equitable, informed, and engaged urban landscapes. He has gained the majority of his experience in the non-profit world working for immigrant advocacy organizations and through his non-profit initiative connecting student volunteers and non-profits organizations in West Philadelphia. Concurrently, as an avid teacher, Mickey recognizes the value of discourse and participation, and seeks to incorporate these experiences to inform best practices and support equitable community engagement and participatory design.

David Simms

Community Engagement Project Assistant

David Simms joined the Connect the Dots team in April 2023 as a Project Assistant supporting project leaders across projects throughout their lifespans including designing tools and graphics for internal and external use and assisting with community engagement strategies, implementations, and impact measurement. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Community Development and is currently pursuing his Master degree in City & Regional Planning from Temple University, motivated by a desire to advance democratic willpower and empower local voices in decision-making processes.

Ángel Ballesteros Aviña

Outreach and Community Engagement Assistant

Ángel is part of Connect the Dots Outreach and Community Engagement Field team, supporting outreach and social engagement efforts by executing the important work of sharing information with and gaining insights from the public, through phone calls, in-person surveys, event coordination, and providing auxiliary support when necessary. Field Team members are indispensable to our logistical coordination and event planning operations.

Cheryl Jones

Outreach and Community Engagement Assistant

Cheryl is a valuable member of our Field Team, and has supported Connect the Dots in its work across the city. Cheryl has an AAS degree from the Community College of Philadelphia and spent over 30 years working for the USPS. She also works as an Outreach Assistant with the E.C.Y.E.H Office of the School District of Philadelphia and is grounded in community-building and fostering interpersonal relations. With a background in political campaigning and outreach, Cheryl brings her devotion towards community change to outreach work, from canvassing and phone banking to passing out flyers and engaging with passerbys. Her previous work, and the skills she’s fostered, allow her to connect with people from all walks of life and build meaningful connections between local residents and project staff. Her dedication to contributing to important causes, ability to bridge political and community difference, and inspire community connection motivated Cheryl to join our Field Team.

Shuja Moore

Community Liaison

Shuja is currently a Community Liaison at Connect the Dots, having joined the team in April 2023. He is also a filmmaker and community advocate based in West Philadelphia. Most known for his webseries Walkies (a docuseries that highlights the transformation stories of the formerly incarcerated), Shuja works to provide narrative justice in media, as well as inspiring and rebuilding his community through his work in film and nonprofit “Do Moore Good.”

Tariq Moore

Community Liaison

Tariq is currently a Community Liaison at Connect the Dots, having joined the team in April 2023. He has developed skills in connecting with local people, listening to their needs, and facilitating impactful projects that bring people together as a dedicated community engagement specialist, Recreation Specialty Instructor and an Elite trainer. He is motivated by the power of community-driven change and works tirelessly to inspire and mobilize individuals to get involved and make a positive difference in their neighborhoods. He believes in creating more inclusive spaces where everyone feels welcome and empowered to contribute to the greater good.

Our team also expands beyond our core members to include additional experienced facilitators, researchers, designers, and more. We often include community members as an extended part of our team to ensure that our approach is representative, inclusive and rooted in the local area.

To meet our team in Ireland, click here.