GPLEX has provided me with an amazing opportunity to connect with impactful leaders in Philadelphia and explore the biggest challenges and opportunities that exist in our city today. This program has helped me deepen my understanding of Philadelphia’s most complex neighborhoods and the role we must play in supporting each other as we navigate the present state and define the future of our city.
As an architect and the founder of an advocacy platform for healthier buildings, Spec Matters, I have always felt an obligation to promote the well-being of the public through the built environment. Buildings, however, are only one part of the urban fabric that determines the vitality of a city. Many people, organizations, and institutions work with a similar purpose to shape our neighborhoods, and yet it is so rare for people from across this spectrum to gather in one place.
Participating in this gathering of some of our city’s smartest and most passionate leaders is both humbling and energizing. GPLEX is the perfect model of a local powerhouse made up of dedicated individuals from vastly different sectors—like non-profit, healthcare, public policy, real estate, higher ed, and many others—all working on impacting the well-being of Philadelphians. To me, what is most exciting is knowing the possibility of all the passion, resources, and momentum that is brought together in one place. These groups have the potential to turn conversations into actions and initiatives that will greatly benefit our city. Working at FIFTEEN, a female-founded WBE/MBE architecture and design firm driven by the desire to affect positive change, I see so much potential and hope for our city. It’s powerful to know that we are part of a larger network of organizations who believe in the entrepreneurial spirit and cross-practice solutions encouraged at GPLEX. Our team is eager to contribute to the work of those who share our mission to improve our built environment, our communities, and our future.
I look forward to reconnecting with my fellow GPLEX participants in Detroit in October—a city I recently had the privilege of exploring through the Urban Land Institute Health Leader’s Network this past Spring. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to return and explore the perspectives that have played a critical role in Detroit’s recovery. Like so many cities, Detroit’s history is interwoven with moments of tragedy and injustice which were crucial to face and acknowledge in order to move forward. I hope we can find the courage to face our own City’s issues in order to shape a brighter future. I’m looking forward to the depth of the conversations around the lessons learned which are in great need in our own city.
The trip to Detroit will also provide yet another chance to meet passionate people who are confronting the challenges in their communities. This is truly the greatest potential that GPLEX holds: the ability to help formulate connections. From these connections, ideas can turn into exciting collaborations. Change is much more manageable when you don’t have to face it alone. While a city’s challenges may be deep and complex, thoughtful and well-informed solutions can only come to fruition when a group of passionate, diverse, and caring leaders are willing to step up and try something different.
I’m thrilled to be a part of GPLEX 2022 and trust that this is only the beginning.
Biography: Ramune Bartuskaite is the CEO and Founder of Spec Matters, an advocacy platform for healthier buildings and materials. She is a licensed architect at FIFTEEN Architecture + Design in Philadelphia—a practice driven by the desire to affect positive change. Ramune is a Lithuanian immigrant and a first-generation graduate. She holds a Masters of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania, a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture with a Marketing Minor from Miami University, and a Certificate in Healthier Materials and Sustainable Building from Parsons School of Design.