January 17th, 2024
WRT Announces New Principals

We are thrilled to announce six new principals, who, through their thoughtful and inspired leadership, motivate their teams to innovate, excel, and advance the practice.

2024 Principals (v1)

Poonam Narkar, AICP, LEED AP

Poonam's approach to community design is rooted in the belief that the built environment must respond to natural resources, cultural context and social aspirations. She understands the importance of bringing the community and various stakeholders together at the table to make informed decisions in the interest of their community.

"The process of city-making and community building is complex, messy, and takes time. It needs many players to work together towards a common goal. Every action we take and every choice we make today will have a long-term impact on our physical environment and our collective well-being. As a planning professional, I feel a deep sense of responsibility, but also faith that we can make a difference."  

"Poonam distinguishes herself as a thoughtful and talented urban designer with the ability to guide projects towards innovative and positive outcomes. She is a trusted and approachable person that our staff can come to with a wide variety of concerns."

— Jim Stickley, Principal

Peter Winch Principal
Peter Winch, AICP

Peter’s analytical planning skill set and his sense of spatial relationships at the district and city scales positions him to serve clients across WRT’s interdisciplinary planning and design practice. His understanding of planning policies and long-range urban planning strategies have been leveraged at various scales, from new park development to large, growing cities. Peter makes the planning process accessible and enjoys connecting with community members through public engagement.

"We're fortunate to be working in a time where people are recognizing the need for community-based planning and investments in things like parks to help heal areas of our cities that have been disinvested. I was drawn to this profession because of issues affecting physical space, but as time goes on I realize it is more about the people in those spaces and putting what they need at the center of our work."

"Peter is a consummate practitioner as a practice leader in parks and open space planning and community design, with very high standards of project excellence and ability to guide teams through complex problem-solving."

— John Gibbs, Principal

Julie Disston
Julie A. Disston, AIA, LEED AP

Julie is a registered architect and project manager with more than two decades of experience in campus master planning, multi-phase affordable housing, civic, healthcare, adaptive re-use, and more. As principal, Julie is excited about mentoring future generations of architects and designers as a form of giving back for all that she has received in her career.

"I joined WRT shortly after graduation and was fortunate to receive great mentorship and amazing opportunities to grow as an architect. Once I became a registered architect, I immediately wanted to pay it forward to the next generation. I want to make sure that everyone — from our clients and end users, to the people at WRT — have a voice to shape the ultimate design. Being an advocate for those individuals is so rewarding. I look forward to watching our team development and contribute to the process.”

“Julie has so many wonderful qualities as a leader. She invests time connecting deeply with each individual team member, and then provides the space, guidance, and inspiration to bring out the best in them. We and our clients see her positive influence in the work every day."

— Joe Healy, Managing Principal

Charles Neer Principal
Charles Neer, ASLA

Since joining WRT in 1999, Charles has worked on various waterfronts, campus master plans, and large-scale parks projects throughout the country, including eight years as the project manager of The Parklands of Floyds Fork, seeing the 4,000-acre project from master plan through implementation. For the past few years, he has led the FDR Park Plan, a monumental project reshaping the identity of South Philadelphia and the larger metropolitan area as a large-scale form of civic, public health, and ecological infrastructure.

Charles' connection to WRT is unique. He was born and raised in the Greenspring Valley outside Baltimore, the location of WRT's first project. Charles was hired by one of the founding principals, Bill Roberts, to intern in the San Diego office where he met and worked alongside current principal John Gibbs. Later, he met his spouse at WRT. "I have been raised as a child of WRT. This company feels like family. We work together, play together, and encourage and collaborate with each other. As a principal, I'm excited about building the portfolio, but I'm most excited about continuing to build this family of practicitioners." 

“Everyone can see Charlie's passion for the practice and projects. It's easy to say but hard to maintain the level of his commitment over those years. Charlie’s tremendous knowledge of the large-scale urban parks planning and design will lead the next growth of WRT’s parks and open space practice.”'

— Keiko Cramer, Principal

David Gamba Principal
David J. Gamba, CPHD

David provides leadership for WRT’s Housing and Neighborhood practice, especially nurturing client relationships, staff development, and consistently delivering impactful work. David’s diverse project portfolio includes extensive work in multi-family housing, low-income housing, historic preservation, and adaptive re-use. More than anything, David loves seeing how creating safe, sustainable, and affordable housing can help transform people and  neighborhoods over time. 

"WRT is unique because it is a collection of individuals who are driven more about the impact of their work than winning awards for the greatness of any individual design. As principal, I see my role as one that builds off of the passions of each individual team member, understanding and embracing the reasons we do what we do, and being responsive and flexible enough to align the opportunities that we pursue with our ethos as a practice." 

“David is a true champion for the interdisciplinary approach that is increasingly at the core of our housing practice, and is essential to addressing equity and resiliency issues through transformative planning and design. His drive and vision are contagious.”

— Joe Healy, Managing Principal

John Keene Principal
John T. Keene, AIA

Whether it's in K-12 schools, universities, community buildings, or nature centers, John wants to inspire an appreciation of the natural environment, and leave a lasting impact of learning across generations. As a principal, John is excited to leverage the diverse range of experiences and expertise at WRT to help create better learning environments at scale, to provide people with the tools and resources necessary to be more adaptive and resilient individuals in the future, and better appreciate the places in which they live. 

"What keeps me going is being able to see people benefit from my work, from our work. I read stories about the kids who have gone on to do something really great, who actually reference the classrooms and spaces that we designed as being part of their growth. This is proof that our investment is worthwhile... however, there doesn't seem to be enough attention and resources for learning among broader ranges of people. I want to change that." 

"John is a great collaborative leader. He recognizes the subtlety and intimacy of the learning process and how we can embed that within our projects. His intensity of thought brings energy to the design process and excitement to the people engaged in the work." 

— Richard King, Principal

poonam and peter external principal announcement
Principals Promotion mirror
Principals Promotion
Peter and Poonam Principal