History and Mission

Founded in 2005 by educator Rebecca Krucoff and playwright Ain Gordon, the Urban Memory Project asks residents to explore the vital relationship between their personal histories and their city’s history, preparing the next generation to be the voice of its own story. Participants study city trends and issues while mastering practices modeled by historians and artists: documentation, research, analysis and final presentation.

The Urban Memory Project has worked with more than 1,000 students and 150 teachers in New York City public schools. Project residents partner with U.S. history and government teachers to co-plan and co-teach classes ranging from six to 20 weeks, and they provide short-term and ongoing professional development. The project enriches its programming through partnerships with organizations such as the Gotham Center for New York City History, the Henry Street Settlement Abrons Arts Center and the New York Public Library.


REBECCA KRUCOFF, Director and co-founder

Rebecca has spent the past 25 years in education, working in a variety of museums and schools to create curriculum, train teachers and teach the public at all age levels. Rebecca holds a master’s degree from Bank Street College of Education and is a Masters candidate in the Pratt Institute Historic Preservation program. She has taught social studies at La Guardia High School for Music, Art and Performing Arts; the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School; and the New York City Museum School. She has been a museum educator in New York City and Chicago for institutions including the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum, and most recently, was the Curator of Education for the Brooklyn Historical Society. Rebecca has developed a variety of teacher materials for cultural institutions, including a series of in-depth neighborhood history guides for the New York Public Library, drawn from their archives. In addition to founding and directing the Urban Memory Project, Rebecca works as a consultant for Literacy and Math Matters, providing instructional and administrative support to schools across New York City.

AIN GORDON, Director and co-founder

Ain is a writer, director and actor who is a three-time Obie Award winner, a two-time New York Foundation for the Arts fellow, and the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship in playwriting. His work has been commissioned, produced and presented by New York Theater Workshop, Soho Rep., The Public Theatre, 651 ARTS, Dance Theater Workshop, Performance Space 122, and HERE Arts Center (all in New York City); the Mark Taper Forum (California); the George Street Playhouse (New Jersey); the Krannert Center (Illinois); the Baltimore Museum of Art (Maryland); DiverseWorks (Texas); Spirit Square (North Carolina); VSA North Fourth Arts Center (New Mexico); Jacob’s Pillow (Massachusetts); LexArts (Kentucky); The Kitchen Theatre (New York state); Dance Space (Washington, D.C.); and elsewhere. Ain has received support from organizations including the Multi-Arts Production Fund, the Jerome Foundation, the Greenwall Foundation, the Peg Santvoord Foundation, the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Art, the Department of Cultural Affairs, the National Performance Network, the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, AT&T OnStage, and the Arts Presenters Ensemble Theatre Collaborations Program funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Trust. He has been co-director of the Pick Up Performance Co(s) since 1992.


Board of Directors

Jason Mazza, Director

Jason serves as the Principal at Image & Type LLC, a Brooklyn-based print, and web design studio. Jason came to the Urban Memory Project through his work at New Visions for Public Schools, where he managed the design, development, and distribution of their print and online communications. Jason previously worked as a freelance designer for clients as varied as News Corporation, Major League Baseball and the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, and before that, he was a Business Analyst with Bank of America’s online banking. Jason has served on the Urban Memory Project board since 2009.

Nellie Perera, Director

Nellie is a NYC-based performer, writer, and educator.  She currently works with the Scholars Program at Brooklyn College, and before that was with Henry Street Settlement where she coordinated and developed arts residencies and professional development workshops with several schools and museum education programs throughout New York City. Nellie has worked in the field of Arts-in-Education in New York City for two decades, as a theater teaching artist, professional development trainer, and drama instructor. She got her start with NYU’s (now CUNY’s) Creative Arts Team, and went on to teach drama for Community Word Project, Grand Street Settlement’s Girl’s and Young Women’s Initiative, and Opening Act, among other arts organizations. Nellie has served on the Urban Memory Project board since 2013.

Jennifer Weiss, Director

Jennifer Weiss has been in the field of public health for over 15 years. Currently she consults for New York-based non­profits on public health policy, advocacy and education relating to workplace wellness, chronic disease management, long term health care, and nutrition. In addition to her public health work, Jennifer is an entrepreneur and a writer: she co-founded a company specializing in activist clothing for kids, and is the co-author of two non-fiction books, a book of fiction, and several articles and opinion pieces for newspapers around the country. She also serves on the board of Meet the Writers, Inc.