BrainSpaces, Inc.

856 N. Fairfield Avenue, Suite #1

Chicago, IL  60622

Ph:  773.531.3221


Amy Yurko, AIA

Reigning School Planner of the Year:

Association for Learning Environments

(formerly Council of Educational Facility Planners International)


Amy Yurko is the founder of BrainSpaces. She is both a licensed architect and educator who believes in applying brain-based strategies to the design of learning environments.  Over her 20+ year career, she has planned and designed meaningful places for learners throughout the country and around the world. A recognized expert in her field, Amy is consistently invited to teach, speak, write and participate in design juries. As Chair of the Curriculum Design Committee for the American Institute of Architects, she has led efforts to redesign the continuing education strategies for its 80,000 members worldwide.  She has held faculty positions at the University of Southern California and Illinois Institute of Technology and has developed a keen understanding of the challenges in education today.  Amy’s thoughtful integration of education, learning and architecture allows for fresh approaches to programming and planning as well as accurate translations of educational goals into clear and effective directions for school facilities.  She is known for her straightforward style and no-nonsense approach, and has a proven talent for bringing people and ideas together in new ways – promoting dynamic collaborations with compelling results.  Amy is committed to encouraging every learner to experience the joy of discovery. 


Peter Brown, AIA LEED® AP

Peter Brown AIA, a registered architect, has built a career through developing collaborative relationships with educators and architects, gaining a working knowledge of all aspects of school operations from multiple viewpoints—students, teachers, administrators, facility managers, school boards and community stakeholders. Skilled at hearing subtleties within each organization, Peter often becomes a translator—transforming educational and curricular concepts into spatial concepts that architects and engineers understand.

Peter has planned schools to meet the needs of over 50,000 students, in collaboration with over 25 firms on over $1 Billion in school construction. With projects and engagements in over 16 states and 7 countries, Peter brings a global perspective to project teams and a keen interest in creating school environments that improve performance of teaching and learning. His deep understanding of facility research, sustainable design, diverse learning styles and multiple curricular approaches result in schools designed to meet the needs of all learners.


Kelley Tanner

Kelley Tanner is educational planner and researcher fueled by her desire to make a difference in education. For most of her 25-year professional career, she has been involved with the planning and design of human-centered environments, focusing the last half on understanding how people learn and creating authentic learning environments. Through her work and experiences, Kelley has developed a valuable practice of that intersection of learning and place.

With an ability to connect with a diversity of people and perspectives, Kelley is a valuable member to any team. She is known for her no-nonsense, approachable style of communication and her ability to embrace multiple viewpoint. As detail-oriented and organized person she can balance the “big picture” and overall vision to enable creative solutions and successful consensus building. Her approach is to first listen.

As president of BrainSpaces|Connections, Kelley has offered educational research and communications design with educational organizations/foundations such as Getting Smart, Foundation for Excellence in Education, Hewlett Foundation, Microsoft, Nellie Mae Foundation, Stanford University, Vulcan, an others.  She has also served as an educational planner with various school districts and architects throughout the United States. She is currently services as an International Board Member of the Association for Learning Environments (formerly the Council of Educational Facility Planners International) representing the Pacific Northwest Region.


Michelle Sakayan

Throughout her career, Michelle has worked on a wide variety of projects for an incredibly wide range of clients such as multiple projects for Chicago Public Schools, private schools such as Francis Parker, Chicago Latin School, University of Chicago Lab School, North Shore Country Day School and Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. But no matter how different the projects are - regardless of size, budget or mission - there is one constant: To listen, to truly listen, is at the core of everything - listening to the needs of students, educators, parents, administrators and board members, with full attention is what Michelle is know for.

Each mission is unique, and each must be protected from concept to completion. Michelle’s goals for each client: 1) create solutions that are beautiful and fully functional; 2) help them visualize often inaccessible two dimensional images; 3) insure designs are fully understood, then executed as promised. Passion for projects with purpose and working with purpose - this is her driving force. 

Michelle is driven by a primary focus and commitment to creating inspiring environments that improve the lives of children.


Bill Latham, REFP

Bill Latham has been involved in planning learning spaces for nearly 20 years.  As a Certified Education Facility Planner and noted expert in planning functional interiors (F&E), he is focused on creating harmony and synergy between a client’s pedagogical, technology, and learning environments strategies. He has worked on projects throughout the United States, assisting clients in developing their progressive visions of how their spaces will support their modern methods of teaching and learning.  When working with clients, he focuses on ensuring that the design intent of their facility is driven all the way through their furnishing plan.  As the need for more complex and specialized spaces have continued to develop, he has worked closely with architects, designers, furniture manufacturers, and educationalists to develop appropriate solutions to these emerging needs.  He is an ardent proponent of broad-based education reform and focus on the preparation of the next generation of creative, agile workers.

Bill began his career as a chemist, having worked in the field for almost a decade before engaging a career in supporting education.  During his time in the chemical industry he obtained three patents and worked in both line and general management.  Today he works as the CEO of the Contrax Group, an organization that work with communities to support creating equitable, high impact learning environments that engage today’s students and teachers.  The firm partners with clients in pursuing its mission of giving every community the opportunity to give each student access to a world-class learning environment.


Beth Hebert, PhD

Beth Hebert, former principal of the internationally recognized Crow Island School in Winnetka, Illinois, is a passionate advocate for illuminating the connections between the design of schools and classrooms and children’s learning. In addition to reflecting on her work as a school leader through mentoring, writing, and presentations, Beth has lectured and written extensively about how students respond to thoughtfully designed school spaces and how well-designed schools contribute positively to the curriculum, philosophy, teaching and learning, and overall spirit of the school. Beth has served as a consultant to school districts and architectural firms in planning of new schools or renovation of existing schools. In 1990, she organized a national invitational conference on education and architecture to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Crow Island School, a landmark building. She is co-editor of the monograph published by the American Institute of Architects, entitled “Children, Learning & School Design”, a summary document of the presentations and discussions of that conference.

Beth Hebert is author of The Power of Portfolios – What Children Can Teach Us About Learning and Assessment - Jossey-Bass, 2001 (click here) and

The Boss of the Whole School- Effective Leadership in Action -Teachers College Press, 2006  (click here).

Other publications include “Design Matters: How School Environment Affects Children.” Educational Leadership.” Vol. 56 Issue 1 (1998).


Lucy Gray

Lucy Gray brings eighteen years of experience and a passion for excellence to any endeavor. Known for her work ethic and professional generosity, she views technology and new media as essentials in facilitating educational and societal change.

Named an Apple Distinguished Educator in 2005 and a Google Certified Teacher since 2007, Lucy Gray has worked in the field of education for the past 20 years. Her career began as a primary grade teacher in the Chicago Public Schools and she received an M.Ed in Technology in Education from National Louis University. Most recently,  she has worked at the University of Chicago in a variety of capacities related to educational technology. She is currently a BrainSpaces consultant, working with a variety of institutions and businesses on 21st century learning initiatives related to information literacy, global education, and mobile learning. For further information about Lucy, visit her consulting web site at

She began her career in the Chicago Public Schools as an elementary school teacher and more recently, she worked at the University of Chicago in a variety of roles related to educational technology. Lucy served as a middle school computer science teacher at the
University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and as a technology coach at the Urban Education Institute. Her most recent position has been at the University’s Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education as an education technology specialist, and she continues to consult with this group on an ongoing science curriculum project.

During the course of her work, Lucy has had the opportunity to observe many schools and confer with educators around the world regarding best practices in teaching and learning. Her involvement in the prestigious
Apple Distinguished Educator and Google Certified Teacher communities has contributed to the development of a vast professional network which informs her professional practice on a continual basis.

Based on these experiences, Lucy understands that educational technology should play a pivotal role in modernizing education. She can guide strategic planning efforts for schools interested in incorporating best educational technology practices into their communities and inspire educators to think differently about teaching and learning.  Among her varied professional interests, Lucy is particularly interested in projects related to mobile learning, digital equity, information literacy, and global education. She also possesses deep knowledge of social media, and is available to advise educational institutions, non-profits, and businesses on how to leverage Web 2.0 tools for teaching, learning and publicity purposes as well.


w h o   w e   a r e

For more about Peter, click HERE or contact him at

 For more about Amy, click HERE or contact her at

 Read what our clients say about working with BrainSpaces!

click HERE

Updated: July 2018


c copyright 2004-18

all rights reserved.