• May 20, 2024

    Stephen Klimek is named Executive Director of Towerside. Stephen is a strategic organizational leader and city-building professional who advances equitable community & economic development through place-based design and planning, impact-driven projects, and systematic approaches to collective challenges.

  • April 26, 2024

    Towerside adopted an Equity Framework that will serve as the foundation for delivering diversity, equity, and inclusion outcomes within the organization, through our work, and as an influencer among our partners and peers.

  • December 16, 2021

    UMN Masters of Urban and Regional Planning students held a community exhibit today to showcase 10 land use planning projects focused on reconsidering the notion of an innovation district.

  • September 30, 2020

    Green 4th Street Enhancements Completed

  • June 30, 2020

    Metropolitan Council awards $100,000 grant for District Stormwater Phase II


Stephen Klimek named Towerside Innovation District’s Executive Director

May 20, 2024 by towersideadmin

Welcome our new Executive Director

Towerside Innovation District announced today the appointment of Stephen Klimek as its first-ever Executive Director, bringing new capacity and expertise in asset-based community and economic development to the organization.

“We are thrilled to welcome Stephen Klimek as a leader with a proven track record of creative problem solving, building organizational capacity, and prioritizing equity and diversity for vibrant communities,” said Sabina Saksena, Towerside Board President. “During this next phase of district development and growth at Towerside, we are confident that Stephen has the experience, perspective, and values necessary to advance our work as a replicable model of equitable, resilient, and climate-protecting community development.”

Stephen is a strategic organizational leader and city-building professional who advances equitable community & economic development through place-based design and planning, impact-driven projects, and systematic approaches to collective challenges. He joins Towerside from the Metropolitan Council’s Community Development Division where he served as a Program Officer for the Livable Communities Act programs overseeing more than $30M of grant funding awards to nearly three dozen transformative development projects across the region.

“I am honored for the opportunity to lead such a unique organization that’s dedicated to cultivating place,” said Klimek, “I’ve admired Towerside’s approach to leveraging the rich concentration of assets in this space to create a vibrant district where working, living, and innovation can come together in an equitable and sustainable community. I’m eager to help Towerside take its next steps as an organization and continue to advance its place-based community and economic development.”

Klimek’s background in advancing place-based efforts through the intersection of equitable development, planning, and design makes him a strong fit for the role of Towerside’s Executive Director. With a deep passion for urban infrastructure and the civic commons, his experience spans tactical projects, supporting multidisciplinary teams to tackle complex efforts, providing technical assistance and strategic guidance to communities to implement their visions, as well as building more impactful nonprofit and public organizations to lead this kind of work. Stephen has a keen mind for organizational development and systems thinking built on his strengths in seeing and forging connections between people, organizations, and ideas. Holding a vision and framework for place-based development, building partnerships and programs to make that work meaningful, and stewarding a team to navigate all of these efforts is where he truly thrives.

Klimek was selected as an Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow in the Twin Cities from 2015-2017 and focused part of his efforts on Towerside Innovation District efforts including the stormwater management system and Green 4th Street. Since then, he has also served as Treasurer and Board Co-Chair of the Association for Community Design, a national membership nonprofit focused on advancing racial justice across various design fields. He currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Creative Enterprise Zone’s Board of Directors and has led their work in fundraising and community-driven real estate development efforts. His previous work has advanced community-based development efforts at a variety of scales through public-private partnerships and nonprofits including The Cornerstone Group, Van Alen Institute, Hester Street, and Syracuse University. Stephen is an EcoDistricts Accredited Professional and holds a Master of Architecture and a Bachelor of Architecture from Syracuse University along with a major in Public Policy through the Maxwell School of Citizenship.

Klimek assumes the leadership reins of Towerside after a volunteer-led coalition created and sustained the organization through several major milestones. Established first as the Prospect North Partnership, and then later renamed as Towerside, the group legally incorporated and became a 501c3 organization in 2018. The diverse coalition of 30+ member partners developed the vision for a replicable model of urban redevelopment rooted in district-wide systems for energy, stormwater management, mobility, and connected public realm.

Since 2019, the working volunteer Board has steered the ship and more recently, created the Towerside 2.0 strategic framework that is reflective of the world we live in that’s recovering from global pandemic, grappling with a racial reckoning, and spinning into a changing climate. This has shaped Towerside’s strategic priorities. Some of those key initiatives include continuing to implement an equity framework for Towerside, advancing the future of mobility and parking, the Bridal Veil Regional Trail and completion of the Grand Rounds along with Granary Road, exploring clean district energy system and funding opportunities that promote broader adoption, and growing workforce development in clean & green technology opportunities in projects throughout the district.

Towerside’s continued partnership with diverse stakeholders demonstrates that communities can come together to build for the future. As a community and economic development framework Towerside includes a wide array of partners such as non-profit and government agencies, higher education, community residents, neighborhood groups, businesses, and developers. Towerside will continue to create framework guidelines, finding early capital to support the district-wide infrastructure systems, advance this vision with potential investors, developers, and the neighborhoods - while being agile in adding new dimensions to advance our mission and vision. As Towerside embarks on this transformative journey under Klimek's leadership, it reaffirms its commitment to fostering a dynamic ecosystem of innovation, collaboration, and inclusivity.

“Towerside would not exist without its diverse member groups who represent a variety of perspectives we need to realize our mission,” said Saksena, “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our partners who have gotten us this far and will continue to be vital assets as we move forward under Stephen’s leadership.” Towerside partners are invited to join its Annual Meeting breakfast on June 27th from 8:30-10:00 am to hear more from Stephen, Sabina, and the Board of Directors on what's next for Towerside.

For more information contact Sabina Saksena, Towerside Board Chair & Public Relations Lead

609 433 7455 | sabina.saksena @ cytilife . com