The Real Play City Challenge: Introducing the Jury

The Real Play Coalition is delighted to announce the judges for the Real Play City Challenge. Each member in the panel brings with them expert knowledge with a unique perspective, and insights related to play and urban development. They represent different disciplines including urban planning and design, play-research, public policy and community development.

We are excited to work with this high-profile team who will be responsible for appraising and judging entries for the challenge:


Tim Gill 

Tim Gill is a global advocate for children’s outdoor play and mobility, and an independent scholar, writer and consultant based in London. He is the author of Urban Playground: How child-friendly planning and design can save cities and No Fear: Growing up in a risk-averse society. Tim is a Design Council Ambassador and Churchill Fellow, and former director of the Children’s Play Council (now Play England). His client list includes the London School of Economics, Mayor of London and National Trust, and he is the founding patron of the UK Forest School Association. His website is


Dr. Bo Stjerne Thomsen

Dr. Bo Stjerne Thomsen is the Vice-President, Chair of Learning Through Play, and member of the Leadership Team at the LEGO Foundation. As chair and senior expert on how children and adults learn through play, he provides consultation at a bilateral, regional and multilateral level to international partners and leaders. He represents the LEGO Foundation and the LEGO Brand Group at international forums, and advises leadership teams across the LEGO entities, to attain the overall LEGO Brand Vision of becoming a global force for Learning Through Play. 

Over the years, Bo lead the international research agenda and organizational expertise on children’s development, play and learning for the LEGO Foundation and supported the LEGO Group. In his previous roles as Director of the LEGO Learning Institute, Head of the Centre for Creativity, Play and Learning, and Global Head of Research, he built more than 15 international research partnerships and supported the implementation of evidence into projects across 20+ countries, to raise awareness around the role and impact of play on creativity and lifelong learning. Bo Stjerne has published widely on Creativity, Play and Learning, most recently on the integrated role of technologies in everyday life, and the systems change needed in schools and education to achieve equitable outcomes with learning through play. 


Lauren Sorkin, Executive Director, Resilient Cities Network

As Executive Director, Lauren oversees global efforts to strengthen cities in the face of the complex and interconnected challenges they face. Leading a team of professionals in London, Mexico City, New York, and Singapore in collaboration with Chief Resilience Officers in over 40 countries, she drove the co-design process to launch the Resilient Cities Network as an independent city-led network organization.

Lauren serves as an advisor and spokesperson on urban resilience, women’s leadership, sustainable finance, climate risk, stakeholder engagement, and urbanization trends. She is on the Advisory Board of several sustainability-focused initiatives including Food Tank, the Singapore Sustainability Summit (S3), and Natural Capital.

Previously with the Asian Development Bank, Lauren led the Bank’s first-ever climate change investment plan before moving to the ADB’s Vietnam Office to mainstream climate risks and opportunities in the country’s US$7-billion portfolio. Before joining the ADB, she worked with USAID to implement clean energy, climate change, and conservation projects in Asia, Africa, and South America. She has published work on biofuels, climate change, public speaking for social impact, infant mortality, and HIV/AIDS.

Lauren holds a BA in International Relations from Tufts University, and an MSc in Environment and Development from the London School of Economics.


Nhial Deng


Nhial Deng is a 23-year-old South Sudanese refugee, writer, youth advocate, community activist and organizer. He spent 11 years in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya and now attends Huron University in Canada.

As a youth leader and community activist in Kakuma, Nhial initiated a number of projects in the camp to help young people build better futures such as the Refugee Youth Peace Ambassadors and SheLeads Kakuma. He is passionate about the role of education, mentorship, and social entrepreneurship as powerful tools for young refugees to build better futures and communities and his work revolves around education, gender equality, and peacebuilding. 

Today, while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Global Affairs and Digital Communications, Nhial is very active in the advocacy space for refugees, education, and meaningful youth engagement. 

He sits on a number of advisory boards including the Government of Canada’s Refugee Education Council and is involved in several global youth movements.


Leticia Lozano

Leticia is an architect and a play-researcher with a passion for public space, human behaviour and spatial justice. Her hybrid profile has led her to collaborate with international organisations and governments designing public spaces, urban strategies and public policy recommendations to position play and urban childhoods at the centre of cities’ transformation. Before founding MACIA Estudio, Leticia led the Playful City strategy at the LabCDMX, was the only Latin American within the Creative Producers International program to advance playable cities’ research, and recently became part of the first cohort of the Emerging Urban Leaders Fellowship.


She is the author of “Playing Together” and “Architecture for Urban Play”, co-host of Paisajes de Juego, a podcast in Spanish exploring the transversal nature of play, and member of WUP’s Children, Play and Nature Committee.


MACIA Estudio’s project Tamaulipas was a winner in the first Real Play City Challenge.


Madhav Pai

Madhav Pai is the Program Executive Director of WRI India Ross Center. He spearheads a large urbanization policy research and prototyping support program that informs key areas of India’s urban growth story. For the last two decades, Madhav has led, designed, and implemented urban programs and projects, across continents, in over a dozen countries.

Madhav has mentored senior researchers at WRI India, in building sustainable, low carbon and resilient prototypes for Indian cities which can be further scaled across the country. He has led several projects around emerging urbanism ideas such as the use of tactical urbanism and public campaigns around pedestrian/social infrastructure, geospatial and other big data analytics to create data driven conversations and innovation challenges/competitions to address service delivery challenges. Notable successes include project design and implementation of Indore BRT, Mumbai Street Lab, the Raahgiri campaign for democratizing public streets, and solution design for last-mile connectivity, clean tech, etc.

Under his leadership, the team has also informed several policy discussions, at the national-, state-, and city-level, on road safety, urban transport, transit-oriented development, electric mobility, urban and regional planning and clean air. Today, WRI India Ross Center engages 100+ professionals in offices across India and supports over 50 Indian cities.


Rongedzayi Fambasayi 

Managing Director, Play Africa 

Rongedzayi Fambasayi a passionate champion of children, play and inclusive cities. He is a children’s rights lawyer by training with over 10 years of progressive experience leading multi-country and multi-donor projects. He has a global outlook having previously worked with leading international and pan-African child rights organisations driving law reform, campaigns, and advocacy across Africa. Rongedzayi currently serves as an independent External Expert in the Working Group on Children’s Rights and Climate Change of the African Union’s Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, leading the continental agenda on mainstreaming a child-rights-based approach to climate action and ensure access to climate-justice for children.


Amanda O’Rourke

Amanda O’Rourke is the Executive Director of 8 80 Cities, a non-profit organization with a mission to create healthy, equitable, and sustainable cities. She has over 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector leading strategic planning, partnership development, and managing high impact teams. She has led diverse equitable mobility and public space projects in cities and towns in North America, Europe, and Australia. She enjoys working collaboratively with city governments and community partners to make it easier for people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds to walk, bike, take transit, and build social connection and sense of belonging in public spaces.  Amanda holds a Master of Science in Urban Planning from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Biology from Queen’s University. She is also the Co-Chair of the Children Play and Nature Committee for World Urban Parks, and full-time mom to three energetic kids


Join the Challenge


The 2022 Real Play City Challenge is focused on 3 key themes — Places where play unites us all, places where play supports climate change and places where play heals people. This year, the aim of the challenge is to help communities and cities tackle global challenges through play 

If you’re a playmaker that’s solving any of these challenges in your city or community, please register for the Real Play City Challenge here before September 4.