Shaakira is an Architect and Urban Development Specialist who uses her design and technical skills, coupled with her human-centred approach and local government experience, to advance social and spatial justice through equitable urban design and development. She passionately believes in creating healthy, and thriving cities for, and with the people who activate them. In her previous role at the Johannesburg Development Agency, she led an institutional change to empower communities to contribute to the planning and development of their neighbourhoods, by introducing new participatory models and co-created solutions. She also introduced new economic development models to develop skills and SMME support and development through her projects that were adapted into institutional practice. She holds an MSc in Urban Management and Development from Erasmus University in the Netherlands, as well as a Masters in Architecture from the University of Cape Town, a Bachelor of Architectural Studies (honours) from University of Cape Town and a Bachelor of Architectural Studies from University of Witwatersrand. Based on her leadership within her field, Shaakira has been recognised as one of Mail and Guardians Top 200 Young South Africans, is a Mandela Washington Fellow as part of the Young African Leaders Initiative and TEDx speaker, and a previous finalist for the Pioneer in Innovation for Women in Construction Award and Standard Bank Rising Star Award.