Risa Shoup joins as Karp Strategies’ newest Senior Consultant. She brings over a decade of experience at the intersection of arts and culture, real estate, and urban planning. Before joining Karp Strategies, Risa held senior leadership roles in New York City cultural nonprofits where she built cross-sector partnerships to support affordable and accessible neighborhoods. Risa brings her practice in participatory planning, market analysis, and stakeholder engagement to her work at Karp Strategies. Presently, Risa is the lead project manager on projects ranging from strategic planning to socioeconomic analysis to stakeholder engagement and works closely with CEO Rebecca Karp on the firm's business development strategy.
We sat down with Risa to learn more about the breadth of her experience in arts, culture, and planning and dig into what she’s most looking forward to in this new chapter of her career. Read the full Q&A:
We are thrilled to have you on the Karp Strategies team! What are you most excited about in this new role?
I’m really excited about our team! I am grateful to work in a place that’s learning focused, which I believe makes me a better manager and collaborator to my colleagues and our clients. I really appreciate our focus on how we can help one another learn whatever is needed to do great work.
I am also excited about the variety of projects that Karp Strategies has on deck and the ways that I can take what I’ve learned running nonprofits and working in the arts and cultural and real estate sectors to the work I do here with our clients.
You have a unique combination of expertise in arts and culture nonprofit management, real estate, and urban planning. What have those experiences taught you about the role of art and culture in cities?
I fundamentally believe in the importance of arts and culture for healthy, equitable, safe, just communities. The impact of an expensive market where displacement is common for the arts and culture community shows who’s being left out of market changes and the need for affordable space in the city. What I don’t ever want to do in my work is imply protections for arts and culture space is more important than protections for housing for small businesses. Rather I think you need it all. Something I, and many others working at this intersection, try to do is draw our colleagues from arts and culture into the fight for protections for small businesses and housing.
Your past work involved building and operating affordable creative spaces across NYC. At Karp Strategies, you are applying this expertise to the work we do in economic development and real estate development strategy. How does your past experience inform your practice today?
My past work experience gave me deep insight into the way that different City agencies play into the redevelopment of publicly owned buildings and how real estate development impacts different communities that intersect in a single place. I think it made me more compassionate and focused on facilitating processes that guide people on the ground to understand both how real estate gets developed and what the potential impacts of development will be to their lives. Moreover, I am keenly aware of the link between the sustainability of a particular workforce (in the case of my past work, people working in arts and culture) and the need for affordable space in which to do their work. So I think a lot about how new developments won’t just create new opportunities for jobs but will help preserve and strengthen existing ones as well.
During your tenure working with arts and culture organizations, you’ve had the opportunity to engage with stakeholders that range from government agencies to nonprofits, businesses, and advocates. Tell us about some best practices for approaching stakeholder engagement?
My number one best practice is to meet people where they are. That means going to them, compensating them for their time if possible, and using language that shows I’m aware and sensitive to the community’s needs. In addition, I believe in creating a two-way information exchange where the emphasis is on informed stakeholder engagement. I walk into any engagement setting knowing that the community has the best understanding of what they need. My role is not to tell them what they need but rather to create a welcoming space in which they’re comfortable telling me what they need.
Karp Strategies prides itself on our “people, data, place” methodology. What does it mean to you and how are you seeing it materialize in the work you are doing?
For me, it means we take approach our work both compassionately and rigorously. We’re rigorous in so far as we’re looking at every possible angle that could inform a potential outcome and we’re compassionate in that we are not assuming the numbers tell the full story. We don’t assume a place is truly inclusive or that power dynamics between people are even. This approach leads to results that preserve existing communities and allow for innovations and interventions that can help them grow and meet their needs.
Finally, what’s on your arts and culture to-do list?
Soon I’ll be going to see Inheritance on Broadway!