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100 Lafayette St
Baton Rouge, LA, 70801
United States


The Louisiana Smart Growth Summit is the premier interdisciplinary forum promoting dialogue focusing on resilience, livability, planning, design  infrastructure, development, placemaking, public transit, transportation, connectivity, policymaking and economic development.

2014 Speakers

This year's Summit featured some of the foremost thought leaders with expertise across the spectrum of planning, economic development, community building, public/private partnerships and more.

Director, Office of Economic Resilience, US Department of Housing and Urban Development

Harriet Tregoning is the Director HUD’s Office of Economic Resilience, where her Office will help cities, counties and towns across the country build a strong foundation for a diverse and prosperous economy based on enhancing community quality of place, economic opportunity, fiscal stability, transportation choice, and affordability. She was recently the Director of the District of Columbia Office of Planning, where she worked to make DC a walkable, bikeable, eminently livable, globally competitive and sustainable city. Prior to this she was the director of the Governors’ Institute on Community Design and co-founder, with former Maryland Governor Glendening, and executive director of the Smart Growth Leadership Institute. She served Governor Glendening as both Secretary of Planning and then as the nation’s first state-level Cabinet Secretary for Smart Growth.

Mayor of Memphis, Tennessee

AC Wharton, Jr. was sworn in as the Mayor of the City of Memphis on October 26, 2009. Mayor Wharton was elected by a 61% margin of victory against numerous challengers to become Memphis' first new Mayor in 18 years. Upon taking office, Mayor Wharton immediately set about focusing his administration to execute a new agenda of transparency, responsiveness, innovation, and delivering efficient, equitable, and excellent service for the people of Memphis.

He inspired Operation Safe Community, the area's first comprehensive crime-fighting plan, developed the first smart growth and sustainability plan, tackled education and early childhood development issues, and reduced Memphis' inherited debt while limiting its citizens to only one tax increase in seven years.

A visionary leader, Mayor Wharton created a public-private partnership to preserve and cultivate Shelby Farms Park — the largest urban park of its kind in the country--and established the Shelby Farms Greenline, a new urban trail connecting Midtown Memphis to Shelby Farms Park recognizing Memphis' potential as a green, connected, and healthy city.

Community Outreach Coordinator, Office of the Mayor-President; City of Baton Rouge, Parish of East Baton Rouge

Originally from Virginia, Andy Allen serves as the Community Outreach Coordinator in the office of Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden. Andy graduated Summa Cum Laude from The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia in 2011. While there, he was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society and served as a Timothy J. Sullivan Scholar, a Sharpe Community Scholar, and a Glenn Scholar.

Following graduation, Andy came to Baton Rouge as a Corps Member with Teach For America and taught science for two years in alternative high schools in East Baton Rouge Parish. As a teacher, he was rated “Highly Effective” by the state of Louisiana and nominated for Biology Teacher of the Year. Andy spent a summer in Mississippi training new Teach For America Corps Members prior to taking his current position in the Mayor’s Office. Andy currently serves on the EBR Parish Overall Advisory Leadership Council and on the steering committee for the Louisiana Center for Health Equity.


Assistant to City-Parish President, Lafayette Consolidated Government

Carlee is the Assistant to City-Parish President Joey Durel, a position she has held for four years. From the President’s Office, she has served as the liaison from the President’s Office to the Comprehensive Planning process since its inception. Her additional responsibilities include communications and community relations for Lafayette Consolidated Government (LCG), and she serves as a legislative liaison between LCG and Baton Rouge. From the Mayor’s office, she has led a diversity of special projects including the creation of the Farmers and Artisans Market at the Horse Farm and Lafayette’s application to the inaugural Bloomberg Mayors Challenge Program. Lafayette was named one of twenty finalists for that program in November of 2012. She is involved in several volunteer activities which help broaden her community perspective for her work in the President’s office. She is the immediate past chair of the Leadership Institute of Acadiana, the organization which administers the Leadership Lafayette program. She is a current member and former board member of the Junior League of Lafayette and the705, and she currently serves on the boards of CASA of SoLA and the Lafayette Youth Soccer Association. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Northwestern University in Illinois and holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration from LSU. She made her way to Louisiana through the Teach for America program, teaching math for three years in Church Point. Prior to moving to LCG, she worked for several years in the nonprofit field.


Real Estate Director, East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority

James Andermann serves as the Real Estate Director for the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority, specializing in project development and implementation. With a commanding knowledge of both urban revitalization and project specific financial planning, James is responsible for managing the Redevelopment Authority’s Land Banking portfolio. In 2013 James created a tax sale certificate program as a mechanism to generate long-term funding for land banking activities. James is currently serving as the project manager for two exciting development projects: Ardendale and 1509 Government Street. These two assets are valued at $14 million dollars and on track to develop more than $50 million dollars of new construction within the next 18 months. 
James holds a Bachelor’s degree of Art and Design with a specialization in Landscape Architecture from Louisiana State University. He and his wife, Lauren, have a daughter Reese (7), and a son Eli (4). They are members of St. Jude Catholic Church.

Assistant Director, Real Estate Research Institute, LSU

Brian Andrews is the Assistant Director of the Real Estate Research Institute at Louisiana State University and teaches classes in Principles of Real Estate, Real Estate Finance and Commercial Bank Management. He is an active outside consultant through his firm, Andrews Commercial Real Estate Services, arranging financing for commercial real estate projects and providing consulting services for investors. Andrews serves on the board of the Baton Rouge Growth Coalition and participates in the Urban Design Subcommittee of the East Baton Rouge City-Parish Planning Commission’s Zoning Advisory Committee, charged with reviewing and establishing guidelines for Urban Design Levels as proposed in FUTUREBR. He is also a regular columnist for Real Estate Weekly, an e-newsletter published by the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report.

Associate Professor, School of Kinesiology, LSU

Birgitta Baker is an Associate Professor in the School of Kinesiology at Louisiana State University where she studies predictors and outcomes of physical activity, sedentary behavior, and health. She earned her Bachelor of Human Kinetics degree from the University of British Columbia, her M.S. in Youth and Family Recreation from Brigham Young University, and her Ph.D. in Leisure Studies from the Pennsylvania State University. Birgitta’s research, community engagement, and teaching focus on the mental and physical health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. Her current research projects include using physical activity as a supplement to traditional treatment for children with anxiety, examining the role of parks in promoting social capital and physical activity, and addressing social determinants of health in low-wealth communities through capacity building. 

Executive Vice President and COO, Greater New Orleans, Inc.

As the number two executive at GNO, Inc., the regional economic development organization for Southeast Louisiana, Barnes oversees several major initiatives including the development of the region’s new Emerging Environmental industry sector, the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan, the Coalition for Coastal Resilience & Economy, the national Economic Protection and Resilience Organization, and other innovative projects designed to create and protect jobs in the region, which is vulnerable to natural and manmade disasters. Barnes serves on the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans and recently served on President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force. Formally, Ms. Barnes was Senior Vice President and Managing Director for Louisiana at Seedco Financial, now called TruFund Financial Services, a national nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution. In 2006, Barnes relocated from New York City to New Orleans to open Seedco Financial’s Louisiana field office and implement the organization’s emergency business and economic recovery response to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. At Seedco Financial, Ms. Barnes deployed Federal funds totaling $30 million for emergency grants and loans to a total of 1,000 small businesses in greater New Orleans. Also, she opened the Seedco Financial Southeast Louisiana Fisheries Assistance Center in Belle Chasse, Louisiana, the only known business assistance center for commercial fisheries. Following 9/11, Ms. Barnes managed small business recovery programs for Seedco.  Ms. Barnes co-chairs the Sustainable Industries Industry Council of ProsperityNOLA: A Plan to Drive Economic Growth for 2018 for the City of New Orleans; and is a member of the Community Advisory Board and the Local Advisory Board for Education Pioneers.


President, SWA Group

Kinder is the president of SWA and the managing partner of SWA's Houston office. Over the span of 20 years, Kinder has actively traveled the country seeking out regional flavors to create landscapes that are culturally resonant. Kinder’s collaborative mindset and awareness of the effect of historical and contemporary culture in creating experiential places is rooted in the design work he has performed in all corners of North America. His current work often finds him in the Middle East and Africa where he is called upon to synthesize complex systems to create open spaces for new cities or urban precincts. While much of his work is focused in these regions, he cherishes his projects in the US and Texas where inimitable regional American cultures and landscapes define who we are and how we live.

Chief Executive Officer, New Orleans City Park

Bob Becker has been the CEO of City Park for twelve years and has been credited with dramatically improving the park’s financial condition and developing a new vision for the park’s future. Since 2005, his focus has been on the restoration of the Park following the catastrophic damage sustained during Hurricane Katrina and implementation of the Park’s Master Plan. Since the storm, Becker has put together a public/private financing plan that has raised over $117 million to recover from the hurricane and implement the Master Plan. Prior to his work in City Park, Becker was the Senior Vice President for the Audubon Nature Institute and was the Executive Director of the New Orleans City Planning Commission during most of the 1980”s. Becker is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified City Planners and an Adjunct professor at the University of New Orleans. He has received numerous awards throughout his career including the 2010 National Planning Award honoring the park’s recovery effort, being selected as the 2012 Distinguished Alumnus from the University Of New Orleans College Of Liberal Arts, and being selected as one of the Ten Outstanding Persons for 2013 by Family Service of Greater New Orleans. He has a B.A. in History from the University at Buffalo, an M.A. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Iowa, and a PhD from the University of New Orleans in Urban Studies.


Director of Finance and Economic Development, East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority

Susannah Bing is the Director of Finance and Economic Development for the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority (“RDA”), whose mission is to redevelop and revitalize blighted and underserved communities in East Baton Rouge Parish.  She is currently directing the master planning for the historic Entergy site on Government Street and the immediate 140 acres surrounding that catalytic property in Mid City.  

As the Director of Finance and Economic Development, Susannah directs and manages funds for Gap Finance for Affordable Housing, Gap Finance for Commercial Development and the Business Improvement Grant Program.  These programs are financial tools to aid developers with new construction or the rehabilitation of existing buildings in order to bring about catalytic revitalization within RDA targeted areas.  The Business Improvement Grant Program is a redevelopment tool to assist small business owners with improvements to the facades of their businesses and the surrounding landscape.  Collectively, Susannah has directed almost $7MM to projects aimed at revitalization and affordable housing. Susannah currently serves on the Historic Preservation Commission for the City of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish.

Director of Implementation, Center for Planning Excellence

Haley Blakeman is the Director of Implementation for CPEX’s Statewide Planning initiative, which assists small towns and parishes throughout Louisiana to grow in a more sustainable manner by facilitating long-term, citizen-driven comprehensive planning processes, building planning capacity, and working with them to implement projects from their plans. Haley has worked on planning efforts and implementation projects with the Town of Jena, City of Thibodaux, St. Charles Parish, Vernon Parish, Lafayette City-Parish, East Feliciana Parish and Lafourche Parish. In addition, Haley led the Better Block BR implementation on Government Street in Baton Rouge, which was a live demonstration of how the street could be reconfigured to accommodate all modes of transportation, street trees, pop-up businesses and urban parks. She has also worked with the National Association of Realtors to educate their members about Smart Growth.

Haley has more than 14 years of experience in Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture. During that time, she has been exposed to design at a variety of scales, from comprehensive planning to detail site design. She has contributed to projects ranging from residential master planning, commercial site design, institutional site design, hike and bike trail design, open space and greenway plans, stream restoration and water quality testing, as well as Traditional Neighborhood Developments throughout the Gulf South.


Chief Development Officer, Lafayette Consolidated Government

As Chief Development Officer for Lafayette, Kevin Blanchard lead efforts to implement the comprehensive plan and coordinates planning and development efforts across local government by bringing all the various departments to the table when new developments are proposed.  Blanchard has been practicing commercial and oil and gas law with the Onebane Law Firm since 2011.  He is the current chairman of the Comprehensive Plan Citizens Advisory Committee, and he will retain that post. Before becoming an attorney, Blanchard worked at the Acadiana Bureau of the Baton Rouge Advocate. Blanchard is also a member of the board of directors for the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, a board member for the Lafayette Young Lawyers Association, and was recently named to the Top 20 Under 40 by the Daily Advertiser and the 705. 


President, Green Coast Enterprises

Will is the Co-Founder and President of Green Coast Enterprises. He also teaches real estate development at the Tulane University School of Architecture. Will has been named an Echoing Green fellow for 2008-10, one of Gambit Magazine’s “40 under 40” for 2009, one of Fast Company’s “10 Coolest Innovators Rebuilding New Orleans” and one of “America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs” by Business Week. President Obama named him a Champion of Change in 2011. Prior to founding Green Coast, he helped plan and/or develop over $150 million in projects in North Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, and Massachusetts. For nearly three years, he served as the Organizational Director of the Davidson Housing Coalition, a non-profit affordable housing developer based in Davidson, North Carolina. He has also worked as a green development specialist for New Ecology, Inc. Will holds a Ph.D. in Regional and Urban Economics and Sustainable Community Development, Masters Degrees in City Planning and Real Estate Development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and degrees in Physics and Cross-Cultural Studies from Davidson College. He lives in New Orleans, LA, with his wife, Rebekah, and their two children.

Chief Operating Officer, New Orleans Redevelopment Authority

Brenda M. Breaux is the Chief Operating Officer for the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) where she is responsible for the day to day operations of the Agency. Brenda directly oversees the Land Stewardship, Real Estate Development, Disposition, Human Resources and Administrative functions.  Previously, she served as Senior Chief Deputy City Attorney for the City of New Orleans where her duties included but were not limited to management of 37 staff attorneys and support staff with direct responsibilities for housing, development and finance matters, the Mayor's Blight Initiative, DCDBG and CDBG projects, liaison between City, State and Federal entities for downtown medical complex project and negotiations between the City and State regarding the former Road Home properties.  Brenda has worked on large scale affordable housing and complex real estate development projects in New Orleans and Biloxi, MS, in addition to serving as Deputy Executive Director for the Housing Authority of New Orleans responsible for Development, Construction, Section 8, Procurement, Human Resources and Administrative Services and other executive level positions.  She received her Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Spelman College, her Juris Doctor from Loyola University of New Orleans College of Law and has been practicing law for 19 years.


Director of Planning and Design, Lafayette Central Park, Inc.

While a student at UL-Lafayette in 2005, EB learned that the University’s “Horse Farm” property was threatened by development. She launched a successful community-wide campaign to save the property as greenspace instead.   After moving to Texas to pursue graduate degrees in Community & Regional Planning and Urban Design at UT-Austin, EB returned to Lafayette to serve as the Director of Planning & Design for Lafayette Central Park, the non-profit charged with planning, designing, building, and operating the park at the Horse Farm she worked so hard to preserve. She has been recognized as one of Acadiana’s “Top 20 Under 40,” and “Person of the Year,” was a member of the 2014 “Leadership Lafayette” class, and was named a “Community Championship Team” Leader by the USGBC for her commitment to making Lafayette a better place to live.

Senior Research Associate, LSU's Office of Social Service Research and Development

Mary Ellen Brown is a skilled grant writer and community development practitioner. Ms. Brown has taught courses on grant writing, advanced direct practice with communities and organizations, and youth development in a community context for the School of Social Work at LSU. Areas of specialized research and practice include community advancement, promoting effective human service organizations, and transforming systems that perpetuate poverty in order to impact the social determinants of health and improve quality of life outcomes for vulnerable populations. Ms. Brown's current contributions to the domain of community development are focused on neighbor engagement, empowerment, the civic economy, collaborations and holistic neighborhood transformation. In 2011, Ms. Brown was one of seventeen doctoral students in the U.S. selected to receive the Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant Award from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This funding supports her dissertation research, titled "Investing in the Civic Economy: Social Capital and Choice Neighborhoods." Ms. Brown currently leads the LSU Community Research Team for the Baton Rouge Choice Neighborhood and the Baton Rouge Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation initiatives, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Justice, respectively. 


Associate Director of Policy Solutions, The Reinvestment Fund

Catherine Califano is Associate Director of Policy Solutions at The Reinvestment Fund (TRF). TRF is a nonprofit CDFI with a mission to build wealth and opportunity for low-wealth communities and low/moderate income individuals through the promotion of socially and environmentally responsible development. With over 20 years of experience in community development and 7 years of municipal government experience, Ms. Califano helps clients develop and evaluate implementation strategies using TRF’s analytics. She supports clients understand and interpret data to design programs and policies that seek to improve education, business development and neighborhood conditions. Ms. Califano has assisted in the creation of many MVA studies and produced publications on supermarket access and intervention strategies. She provides TA to CDCs funded through the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation and many MVA clients that are devising their community development plans.


Principal, Jeffrey Carbo Landscape Architects

Jeffrey Carbo is a Landscape Architect with over twenty-six years experience in professional practice. The range and scope of his concerns include environmental conservation, the historical and cultural context of local and regional landscapes, and the attention to detail in the numerous places and gardens that he has helped create. In his role as Principal, Jeff provides leadership in client relations, conceptual design, budget development, design criticism, project management, and construction observation. Jeff serves as multi-discipline team leader, with hands-on skills in quality assurance and details.


Executive Director, Propeller: A Source for Social Innovation

Andrea began her career as a high school English teacher at John McDonogh Sr. High School and subsequently trained teachers at the University of New Orleans and The New Teacher Project. She has worked at the Louisiana Association of Charter Schools where she oversaw grantmaking for over $5 million in charter school startup funds and launched a $1.5 million below-market rate Bridge Loan Fund. She was named “40 Under 40“ by Gambit Magazine, 2010 City Business “Women of the Year,“ World Economic Forum Young Global Shaper, and is an appointed board member of the New Orleans Business Alliance, the official economic development arm of the City of New Orleans. She graduated from Stanford University, attended Harvard Graduate School of Education and the University of New Orleans, and was trained in business at Dartmouth University’s Tuck School of Business.


Senior Manager, Education, Center for Sustainable Energy

Andrea has a Ph.D. in Climate Change/Ecology from the University of California, Davis.  She has conducted research in Michigan, Alaska, Iceland, Japan, and California on the functioning of the carbon cycle. Following a postdoc at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, she shifted gears and became a high school science teacher at High Tech High in San Diego. Within 5 years, she won the “Teacher of the Year” award from the ATHENA Foundation. A volunteer trip to Africa inspired her to return to the cutting edge issues of climate change, and encouraging people to engage in more sustainable living practices. For the past seven years, Andrea has been employed as the subject matter expert on climate change at the Center for Sustainable Energy in San Diego CA.

Independent Public Health Planner, Bike Baton Rouge/Gardere Initiative

Juan Cruz is the founder and principal of Cultural Dynamics, a public health planning and diversity consulting firm serving health and social service agencies, foundations. He has deep experience in policy and advocacy, strategic and program planning and developing collaborative initiatives. Though he has worked in many projects, there are common threads running through his career: serving the disenfranchised - families, immigrants, seniors; and through planning and advocacy - enhancing organizational capacity to effectively serve marginalized communities. He promotes collaborative relationships, respectful practice, an assets focus, and acting with integrity. Mr. Cruz is currently involved: At the Gardere Initiative, providing advocacy and technical support for safe streets and community engagement; with Bike Baton Rouge, developing a committee dedicated to addressing public health and equity issues as they effect whole communities, as well as pedestrians and bicyclists. Mr. Cruz holds a Masters degree in Public Health Policy and Administration from the University of California, Berkeley.

Program Manager, Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy, Tulane Law School

Christopher Dalbom is the Program Manager of the Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy at the Law School. After graduating from Tulane Law School in 2012 he worked for one year as a Senior Research Fellow at the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy. Christopher has done extensive work on legal and policy issues relating to interstate water compacts, Mississippi River management,  the RESTORE Act and other revenue streams associated with the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and coastal and water management. Prior to coming to Tulane, Christopher served in the Peace Corps in El Salvador and studied cultural geography in Louisiana and Virginia. He has a JD from Tulane University, an MA from Louisiana State University, and a BA from the University of Kansas.


Director, Tulane's Institute on Water Resources Law & Policy

Mr. Davis joined the Tulane University Law School as a Senior Research Fellow and as the founding Director of the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy in January 2007. For the prior fourteen years he served as executive director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana where he helped shape programs and policies at the state and federal level to improve the stewardship of the wetlands and waters of coastal Louisiana, one of the world's greatest coastal and estuarine resources. He has practiced law in Indianapolis, the District of Columbia, and Chicago and has taught at the Indiana University (Indianapolis) School of Business and the IIT-Chicago Kent School of Law in Chicago. Mr. Davis has lectured widely on the topic of water resource management and stewardship and has testified numerous times before Congress on the need for a focused and effective commitment to the viability of coastal Louisiana and other vital natural treasures.


Project Manager, Center for Planning Excellence

Drawing on her background in Natural Science, Jeannette co-creates and manages coastal planning and research projects. In this role, Jeannette develops tools and resources specifically for coastal communities and ensures that hazard mitigation is as much a part of coastal communities’ effort towards resiliency as natural resource protection. As a member of CPEX’s Planning + Implementation team, Jeannette also contributes to various projects across the state. During a summer program at Louisiana University Marine Consortium in her last undergraduate semester in Biological Science, Jeannette developed a strong interest in the dynamics of coastal Louisiana and a desire to spend her time assisting coastal communities in efforts to live in this beautiful but challenging environment. She earned a Master of Science in Energy and Environmental Science from University of Groningen in the Netherlands in 2010. During this time she expanded her understanding of the dynamics of living in coastal areas and learned about innovative water management methods as well as the effects of climate change on coastal areas. Jeannette is applying and building on this knowledge in her work with coastal communities.

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Planning Director, Baton Rouge City-Parish Planning Commission

Frank Duke is Baton Rouge’s new Planning Director. He arrives in Baton Rouge with more than 25 years of experience, including working as the Planning Director in Norfolk, Virginia; Durham, North Carolina; Palm Beach County (West Palm Beach area), Florida; and Bay County (Panama City area), Florida. Mr. Duke also served as Senior Policy Coordinator for the South Florida Water Management District, where he advised on the development of Florida law governing the use of water, and as an Economic Analyst for the Florida Department of Commerce. While in Florida, Mr. Duke represented three successive Florida governors on the Federal Everglades Ecosystem Restoration Working Group. Additionally, he also represented the South Florida Water Management District on the Governor’s Commission for a Sustainable South Florida. In each of the four local governments in which he worked prior to coming to Baton Rouge, Mr. Duke was responsible for the development of a new comprehensive plan as well as major revisions to land development regulations. Projects for which Mr. Duke has been responsible have won recognition from the American Planning Association, the National Association of Counties, the National Association of Managerial Technical Assistance Centers, the Florida and North Carolina chapters of the American Planning Association, and 1000 Friends of Florida, a citizen’s planning advocacy group.  In recognition of his past work, in 2014 Mr. Duke was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners, one of the highest honors a professional planner can receive, acknowledging that the individual has made significant contributions to the profession and to society. At his induction ceremony, Mr. Duke was described as “one of the most effective planning directors in the Southeast.” Mr. Duke served as a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Triangle Section of the Urban Land Institute. He is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, the American Planning Association, and the Congress for New Urbanism.


Director of Marketing & Events, Downtown Development Authority, Lafayette

Growing up in Opelousas, Kate Durio knew she would not live there forever. After the first two years of her college career at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, she realized, she was not quite far enough away yet. To pursue her childhood dream of becoming an award-winning journalist, she researched the top journalism schools in the country and landed at the University of Oregon. After graduation, she moved to Porland, Oregon where she worked for a CBS affiliate station before feeling the pull back to Acadiana. After six years in Oregon, her visits had grown more frequent and homesickness for the culture of Lafayette had finally won. She found a job at KATC TV-3 and moved back to Acadiana, but her journalism career was interrupted in the fall of 2011 when Downtown Lafayette called. She had become an award-winning journalist by now but felt a need to do more for the community. She jumped at this new opportunity and put all of those years living in one of the most liveable cities in the country to good use. Since then, she has served as as the Director of Marketing and Events for Downtown Lafayette where, among many, many, many other things, she markets and produces Downtown Alive!, Movies in the Parc, ArtWalk and generally has her polished nails in everything that goes on Downtown. She has found a new appreciation and enjoyment of her serendipitous involvement with the Comprehensive Plan and helping to plan the future of Downtown Lafayette. She keeps her finger on the pulse of the arts, music and culture scenes both for professional and personal fun reasons. She is a big fan of typewriters, snail mail, vinyl and the public library, which is located Downtown, of course. In addition to her day job, she serves on several boards including The 705: Acadiana’s Emerging Leaders, Southern Screen Film Festival and Public Relations Association of Louisiana – Acadiana Chapter. Within her 705 Board Member capacity, she and fellow-board member (and good trouble-maker) Gretchen Vanicor founded ReCover Acadiana which fights blight and encourages the infusion of arts through creative, community collaboration. She and Gretchen have become Tactical Urbanists and work together through the ReCover committee to show that Lafayette can do better for our community through projects and civic service.

Director of Design, Downtown Development Authority, Lafayette

Geoff Dyer is the Director of Design for the Downtown Development Authority. Previously, Geoff managed a Calgary based urban design firm focused on the design, coding and implementation of walkable, mixed-use developments. To date he has completed over 75 projects in 20 different states, four difference Canadian provinces and several other countries. Geoff is a Fellow in the Knight Program in Community Building, a member of the New Urban Guild, and has served as a juror for the Charter Award for the Congress for the New Urbanism. Geoff received his master degree in Urban Design from the University of Calgary and his undergraduate degree from Arizona State University.

Interim President & CEO, New Orleans Business Alliance

Melissa Ehlinger is the Interim President & CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance.  Prior to this appointment, Melissa served as the Senior Vice President for Strategy and Business Development and has been an integral part of crafting the organization’s overall economic development strategy and has overseen day-to-day business attraction and retention functions, as well as the organization’s research department. Her previous experience in urban economic development includes work with the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, where she worked as a Project Manager in residential and commercial corridor redevelopment. Melissa previously served as an Attorney with the United States Department of Transportation. A native New Orleanian, Melissa holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Texas at Austin, Phi Beta Kappa; a JD from The George Washington University; and a Masters in Urban Planning from the University of New Orleans.

President & CEO, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc.

Matthew Enstice is the President & CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. In this role, he is leading a pioneering initiative to integrate health care services, life sciences, clean energy, and education in an effort to revitalize the city of Buffalo. 

BNMC is a consortium of the region’s premier health care, life sciences research, and medical education institutions, all located on 120 acres in downtown Buffalo, New York. The BNMC is dedicated to the cultivation of a world-class medical campus for clinical care, research, education, and entrepreneurship. Through Matt’s efforts, local neighborhood leaders, foundations, multi-national corporations, NGOs, research labs, hospitals, and educational institutions are collaborating to create a model for reenergizing the city that has application all over America.

Prior to returning home to Buffalo, Matt worked in the entertainment industry LA and New York, for Broadway Pictures and with Lorne Michaels at Saturday Night Live. He is currently active on the boards of the SAGE Global (Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship), Buffalo Renaissance Foundation, Amherst Chamber of Commerce and is on the Advisory Board for the School of Visual Arts Design for Social Innovation in New York City. Matt is married and lives in Snyder, NY with his family

Principal, Foster Strategy, L.L.C.

Helen Foster, Principal of Foster Strategy, LLC, is a nationally recognized branding and development strategist specializing in age-qualified real estate. As a consultant to some of the nation's top 50+ developers – including active adult communities, continuing care communities, master plans, and forward-thinking cities and states – she helps to identify Boomer+ development opportunities and strengthen product concepts. Common assignments include marketing assessments, product/brand development consulting, lifestyle programming, sales training, and marketing advisory services. Based in New Orleans, Helen is an active speaker, judge, adviser and editorial contributor for major industry organizations including the Pacific Coast Builder's Conference, the National Association of Homebuilder's 50+ Housing Council, the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), and the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Senior Housing Council.

Vice President, Energy Efficiency Services, Leidos

Bio coming soon


Executive Director, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

Kyle Graham is the Executive Director for Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the state office responsible for implementing Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast and integrating hurricane protection, storm damage reduction, flood control, and the associated infrastructure construction and maintenance of coastal protection and restoration projects. Before working for the State of Louisiana, Mr. Graham earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from the University of North Carolina and Appalachian State University, worked as a wetland scientist restoring streams and wetlands, and oversaw the preparation and management of environmental documentation and permitting impacts. 


Principal, Perkins+Will

David Green focuses on large-scale planning and urban design projects for the firm. He has been involved in hundreds of projects in the past twenty years, encompassing all scales of development from individual buildings to multi-thousand acre projects. His work focuses on issues of development, particularly the creation of health and research districts in urban areas and the metrics that facilitate the success of these districts. David received the AIA Atlanta Silver Medal in 2003 and the AIA Georgia Bronze Medal in 2008. David was a member of Georgia Tech College of Architecture Faculty from 1992-2013. He is currently located in both the Atlanta and London offices of Perkins+Will, leading planning efforts across the globe. He lectures widely on issues of urban design, planning and architecture.

Associate Director, PolicyLink

Anita Hairston, Associate Director, is based in Washington, DC, and works on transportation policy. She advances PolicyLink priorities that relate to promoting equitable and fair infrastructure investments, with a particular focus on surface transportation. Prior to joining PolicyLink, Anita spent six years with the Washington, DC Office of Planning, where she served first as a community planner, working on neighborhood and citywide plans, and ultimately as the chief of staff, providing leadership for the agency's media activities, legislative initiatives, and several of its major projects. She has also worked as a planning consultant on several projects, including a regional smart growth plan for the San Francisco Bay Area. Anita holds a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley, and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Director of Outdoor Recreation, Louisiana Office of State Parks

Cleve Hardman is in his 10th year as the Director of Outdoor Recreation for the Louisiana Office of State Parks. In this capacity he and his staff administer two Federal grant programs for the State of Louisiana – the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Recreational Trails Program. These programs are designed to provide financial assistance in the development of recreational facilities for the citizens of Louisiana and to enhance the quality of life. Prior to joining the Office of State Parks, Cleve served 20 years in the United States Navy working in public affairs and broadcasting. He is a graduate of Southern Methodist University.

Executive Director, Friends of Lafitte Corridor

Sophie Harris is the Executive Director of Friends of Lafitte Corridor, a non-profit organization devoted to revitalizing New Orleans’ Lafitte Corridor neighborhoods by building, programming, and promoting the new Lafitte Greenway park and multi-use trail as a great public space. Sophie previously managed the NEWCITY Neighborhood Partnership, a coalition of 100 organizations promoting community economic development in New Orleans’ Tremé and Mid-City neighborhoods. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with degrees in Urban Studies and Political Science, Sophie won a Post-Graduate Robert A. Fox Leadership Fellowship in service.


Chairman of the Board, Center for Planning Excellence
Senior Vice President, SGS Petroleum Service Corporation

Cordell Haymon is a Baton Rouge attorney and businessman. He has a B.A. in Economics from Rice University and a J.D. from the LSU Law Center. He was engaged in the active practice of law for 25 years and served as President of the Baton Rouge Bar Association and on the Board of Governors of the Louisiana State Bar Association. He is currently VP of the Louisiana State Law Institute. For over 20 years Mr. Haymon was principal owner and CEO of Petroleum Service Corporation which does barge and ship loading and unloading, marine dock operations, and industrial product handling. In 2004 the company was acquired by SGS, a global firm based in Geneva. Mr. Haymon continues to serve as VP of SGS Petroleum Service Corporation and on the Board of SGS North America. Mr. Haymon has been an advocate for proactive planning and, while serving on the Board of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, chaired the committee which created a plan for the revitalization of downtown Baton Rouge (Plan Baton Rouge) in 1998. Mr. Haymon is married to Ava Leavell Haymon, has two children and three grandchildren, and attends University Presbyterian Church.

Assistant Professor, Public Administration Institute, Louisiana State University 

Dr. Roy Heidelberg is an Assistant Professor with LSU’s Public Administration Institute. He has a background in public policy and management and has been with LSU since 2012. His teaching interests include public policy, decision making and modeling and his research interests include accountability, economic development, social theory and policy.


Special Projects Administrator, Main Street Manager, City of Kenner Department of Planning and Zoning

Michael C. Ince is the Grant Administrator for the City of Kenner’s Department of Planning and Zoning. As the special projects administrator and main street manager for the City of Kenner, he helped found and establish a designated Main Street Community by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the Rivertown Historic District. He also created and helped establish the Historic Rivertown Redevelopment Association, a 501 (c3) non-profit in the Historic Rivertown District, and the Arts & Cultural District in the Historic Rivertown neighborhood. Michael developed and established the Rivertown Arts Council, a 9-member committee dedicated to public art projects and creative place making. Since then, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development awarded $423,400 in Transportation Enhancement Grant Funding for the Williams Blvd. Beautification program in the Rivertown Historic District.

Visiting Community and Economic Development Adviser, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

David Jackson is the visiting community and economic development adviser, specializing in affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization, at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Prior to joining the Atlanta Fed, Jackson was executive director of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation. In that role he shared best practices and provided perspective about emerging issues in the fields of community development and philanthropy. He has served as associate director of Enterprise Foundation's Southeast regional office and assistant commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation's Division of Homeownership, as well as several other housing and neighborhood related positions with the city. Jackson was previously president and chief executive officer of the Center for Working Families Inc. and vice president of One Economy Corporation's Eastern region. Jackson holds a BS from New York Institute of Technology, an MBA from J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University, and has completed a Fannie Mae Foundation Fellowship at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.


Research Professor of Sociology, University of New Orleans

Pamela Jenkins is a Research Professor of Sociology and faculty in the Women’s Studies Program at the University of New Orleans. She is a founding faculty member of UNO’s Center for Hazard Assessment, Response and Technology (CHART). Before Katrina, her research interests were diverse but focused on how communities respond to a variety of problems. Her research interests post-Katrina include documenting the response to Katrina as part of a national research team on Hurricane Katrina evacuees. She has published on first responders, faith-based communities’ response to the storm, and the experiences of elderly during and after Katrina. Throughout her career, she has evaluated a number of national and local efforts focused on community sustainability. At a community level, she is involved in several projects that work directly with best practice for violence prevention, including domestic and community violence. 


Executive Director, Cumberland Region Tomorrow

Dr. Bridget Jones is Executive Director of Cumberland Region Tomorrow, a non-profit citizen-based organization dedicated to planning for the future livability and economic vitality of a 10-county region in Middle Tennessee. An economic and community development and higher education professional, she has lead major regional and community-level initiatives and projects across Middle Tennessee. Bridget's work has focused on effective use of collaborative vision and effort along with proactive project management strategies toward complex solutions to community and economic development problems through her career. Prior to joining Cumberland Region Tomorrow in mid-2003, Bridget worked in southern Middle Tennessee with the South Central Tennessee Development District, Columbia Main Street Corporation and Columbia State Community College in various executive and project leadership positions, including Executive Direction of Downtown revitalization Programs, Regional JTPA/Workforce Development Grant Programs and Regional Rural Community Development -Community College Site Creation in multiple communities throughout the South Central Region of Middle Tennessee. Dr. Jones is a native Middle Tennessean and holds degrees from the University of Memphis, Vanderbilt University and the University of Louisville. She is past-Chair of Columbia Main Street Corporation, a founding Board Member of Maury Vision 20-20, a graduate of Leadership Maury and Leadership Middle Tennessee Class, and a past-Member of the Southern Growth Policy Board – Global Strategies Council. She is a Visiting Lecturer with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Lipscomb University Institute of Sustainable Practice, and currently serves on the Board of Smart Growth America. 

Deputy Secretary, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development

Presently serves as the Deputy Secretary for the DOTD, Eric is a native of Baton Rouge, LA. He has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Louisiana State University, a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Arizona and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), North Carolina State University. Eric is a licensed Professional Engineer in Louisiana, Arizona, and North Carolina. His experience includes the fields of highway geometric design, traffic engineering, highway safety, urban and statewide transportation planning, and public administration.

Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Albemarle Corporation

Susan M. Kelliher was named Senior Vice President, Human Resources at Albemarle, effective March 5, 2012. In this role, she leads all aspects of Albemarle’s global human resources functions, including recruiting and retaining a world-class workforce and providing leadership, management and strategic advice on Albemarle’s people processes, systems and capabilities in support of the company’s strategies. With over 20 years of human resources experience, Mrs. Kelliher has an impressive background in all human resources disciplines, including organizational change and effectiveness, talent acquisition and development of people. She has extensive experience in integration of acquisitions and workforce planning and has led a number of global organizations in her career. Mrs. Kelliher most recently served as Vice President, Human Resources – Global Sales and Enterprise Marketing at Hewlett Packard where she led a team of 30 human resources professionals. Mrs. Kelliher received a B.A. degree in Asian Studies and Political Science from Rice University. She attended a junior year abroad program at Nanjing University in the People’s Republic of China. Mrs. Kelliher received a M.B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. She and her husband, John, have one daughter, Alyssa.


Vice President of Policy + Advocacy, Center for Planning Excellence

As Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, Jessica is responsible for advancing CPEX’s mission in public policy for the CONNECT coalition and issues related to planning throughout the state. Her work includes the development, monitoring, coordination, implementation and evaluation of policy and advocacy efforts at the municipal, state and national levels. Jessica is also responsible for strategic planning at CPEX.

Executive Director, New Orleans Food & Farm Network

Sanjay Kharod has worked on building a fair and just food system for over 20 years working with environmental justice and food systems groups in New York City, as a City Planner in Lafayette, Louisiana, and currently as the the Executive Director of the New Orleans Food & Farm Network (NOFFN). NOFFN is an organization that works to fill the gaps in the local food system by helping build economically viable and sustainable pieces of this system. NOFFN is the only organization in New Orleans providing support, capacity-building, and technical assistance to a wide-range of emerging agricultural projects. Projects that NOFFN has assisted include the NOLA Fruit Tree Project, Our NOLA Garden, Capstone, and Hollygrove Market and Farm that have increased the amount of food available in neighborhoods. It has helped galvanize neighborhood interest in health eating by supporting the Backyard Gardeners Network, and Growing Local NOLA. It has assisted a number of market farming projects including Good Food NOLA, NOLA Kitchen Gardens, and SheauxFresh Farms. And NOFFN is building a pipeline of future farmers by assisting projects like Grow Dat Youth Farm, Our School at Blair Grocery, and Sprout NOLA. Most recently, NOFFN has democratized information on vacant lot availability with Living Lots NOLA and provided a methodology and information on transforming these lots into farms, gardens, and community spaces with the FarmCity Toolbox.

Director of Planning, Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation

Mark E. Kirstner, AICP has 28 years of experience in land use and transportation planning, community and economic development.  Mark holds a Master’s degree in Geography from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. During his 19 years with Guilford County, NC he worked in planning, economic development, environmental protection, strategic planning, systems analysis, and managed the county’s transit system. Currently as Director of Planning with the Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation, he is responsible for creating mobility choices through the coordination of land use and transportation issues, developing regional systems and planning models, and walkable, bikeable, transit friendly communities. Also he is the Piedmont Together Project Manager winner of the 2014 NCAPA Marvin Collins Outstanding Planning Special Theme Award for Equitable Development.


President & CEO, Gulf Coast Housing Partnership

Ms. Laborde has developed more than three thousand affordable and market-rate homes and commercial and community facilities both directly and in partnership with local non-profits, city and state government, and the private sector. Prior to joining Gulf Coast Housing Partnership, Ms. Laborde operated Kaliope, LLC, a real estate development and consulting company which she established in 1999. Previously, she was founder and executive director of the first bank-owned community development corporation in Louisiana. Before settling in Louisiana, Ms. Laborde held a variety of management positions with private sector real estate developers in Missouri and North Carolina. Ms. Laborde holds a BS in economics from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and an MBA from Tulane University. She was appointed to the board of directors of the Louisiana Land Trust in 2012. She currently serves on the board of directors of the Housing Partnership Network as well as both the Louisiana Association of Affordable Housing Providers and the Mississippi Association of Affordable Housing Providers. And she is a member of both the First NBC and Richman NMTC LLC Advisory Boards.


Of Counsel, Jones Walker LLP

Charles A. Landry is an attorney with Jones Walker, one of the largest law firms in the Gulf South with 380 attorneys in seven states. He concentrates his practice in the areas of real estate development, real estate finance, land use, planning and zoning, and business and commercial law. He splits his time between Jones Walker’s Lafayette and Baton Rouge offices. He has represented numerous parties in a wide range of complex real estate transactions, which included residential developments (including Traditional Neighborhood Developments such as River Ranch, Sugar Mill Pond, Americana and River View), office buildings, shopping malls and centers, hotels and medical facilities, golf course communities, and industrial developments. He has extensive experience in community planning. Mr. Landry is the co-Editor of The Foreign Investor's Guide to the Legal Aspects of Doing Business in Louisiana, an extensive analysis of the laws of the United States and the State ofLouisiana. He is listed in both The Best Lawyers in America® and Louisiana Super Lawyers in the area of Real Estate. Mr. Landry has served as Chairman of numerous statewide and community organizations including the Council for a Better Louisiana, LSU Foundation, Baton Rouge Area Chamber, LSU Law Chancellor’s Society, Capital Area United Way, Regional Urban Land Institute and the Baton Rouge Arts Council to name a few. He was named the 2006 Businessperson of the Year by the Baton Rouge Business Report and also received the Distinguished Leadership Award for a Citizen Planner presented by the Louisiana Chapter of
the American Planning Association.


Director of Talent Development, Baton Rouge Area Chamber

Julie Laperouse is the Director of Talent Development for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.  In this role, she directs programs to both attract and assimilate talented professionals to the Capital Region. Some initiatives out of her program include personalized tours for out-of-state candidates interviewing in the area, new resident orientation, as well as the recently-launched She is also Chief Peacock of her training and speaking company, Screaming Peacock, which develops and delivers training on networking, customer service, and teambuilding. Julie and her husband Paul live in Baton Rouge have three little girls with another baby on the way in January.  


Manager of Aging and Health Resources, Atlanta Regional Commission

Kathryn Lawler is the Manager of the Aging and Health Resources Division and Director of the Area Agency on Aging for the Atlanta Regional Commission. She supports a team of diverse professionals planning for the rapidly aging population and delivering a wide range of services to older individuals and caregivers living in the 10 county metro Atlanta region.

Prior to this role, Kathryn served as Strategic Initiatives Manager for the Atlanta Regional Commission providing policy and program support to the different divisions of ARC including Transportation, Aging, Land Use and Environmental Services. Kathryn served four years as the Director of Aging Atlanta, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation partnership focused on preparing the metro region for the rapid growth in the older adult population. She was a fellow at Harvard University’s Joint Center on Housing Studies and provided research support to the Congressional Commission on Senior Housing and Healthcare in the 21st Century. Kathryn received a bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s degree from Harvard University.


Owner/Founder, The Buy Local Card

Bio coming soon


Senior Vice President for Planning and Implementation, Center for Planning Excellence

Bringing a combination of experience in both social and environmental sciences, Camille has developed and oversees multi-disciplinary statewide planning efforts that leverage funding, provide technical assistance and model land use tools to communities across the state. Camille has spearheaded and directed cross-agency projects such as the Louisiana Land Use Toolkit, Coastal Best Practices Manual, and has worked on Comprehensive Plans in over 22 communities.

Prior to working at CPEX, Camille has both private and government experience working on a host of issues from strategic planning to hazard mitigation. Camille is a frequent presenter at universities and national conferences, serves on boards, has received various awards, and has been an invited guest and participant to Congressional delegation trips to the Netherlands and Japan to study water and disaster management, both led by U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu.


Community Planner, Center for Planning Excellence

Lauren LaFitte Marschall is a Community Planner with CPEX’s Community Planning and Implementation team, facilitating comprehensive planning in small towns, rural parishes, and coastal communities around Louisiana. She has worked with communities including the City of Thibodaux and Vernon Parish on public outreach and meeting facilitation and assists with research, writing, and reporting on many other CPEX projects. Lauren also brings several years of experience with Geographic Information Systems to CPEX, and will map and analyze coastal population shifts for CPEX’s Coastal Planning Consortium project.

Lauren holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Louisiana State University in her hometown of Baton Rouge, and a Master of Science in Community and Regional Planning from The University of Texas at Austin. While in Austin, she contributed to comprehensive planning efforts in underserved communities near the Texas-Mexico border called colonias. Lauren is a member of the American Planning Association and currently serves as Assistant Director for the Capital Section of APA’s Louisiana Chapter.

Executive Director, St. Claude Main Street

Dawne Massey is an accomplished writer and communications professional with a background that includes nonprofit project management, consumer marketing, and event production. She has more than 20 years of experience creating and executing public relations strategies, producing events and festivals, and working for broadcast and print media outlets.  She earned a BA in journalism from the University of Memphis.

Before joining St. Claude Main Street in April 2014, Dawne was the Project Director of the National Blues Museum, a non-profit organization creating a 23,000-square-foot music museum in downtown St. Louis. In addition to developing the initial business plan, 501(c)(3) organizational paperwork, and marketing materials, she coordinated state, federal and historic tax credit applications, produced the organization’s public programs and developed/executed its social media presence.


Vice President and Executive Director for Louisiana, National Audubon Society

Dr. Douglas Meffert is a Vice President and Executive Director of Louisiana for the National Audubon Society. Audubon's Louisiana team focuses on large scale coastal and gulf restoration and the protection of many globally significant Important Bird Areas. Doug was most recently Director of Project Development and Associate Professor at Tulane University's Payson Center for International Development as well as Executive Director of River Sphere. Doug is also working with Audubon's International Alliances Program on projects protecting birds that migrate from North America, the Caribbean and central and south America. Doug received a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard's Graduate School of Design and is a faculty associate at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, MA. He holds MBA and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Tulane, and a Ph.D. in environmental science and engineering from UCLA.


Professor Emeritus, LSU Law Center

Kenneth M. Murchison is Professor Emeritus at the LSU Law Center.  He was a faculty member at the law center for 33 years and was the James E. and Betty M. Phillips Professor at the time of his retirement in 2011.  He is a Life Fellow of Clare Hall at Cambridge University, and he has also been the Natural Resources Law Institute Fellow at Lewis and Clark and a visiting professor at the University of Richmond, the United States Military Academy, the University of Alabama, and the Ohio State University.  In 2015, he will be visiting at the University of New Mexico.  While a member of the LSU Law Center faculty, Professor Murchison taught local government law more than 30 times and authored 18 articles focusing on Louisiana local government.

CEO, Downtown Development Authority, Lafayette

Nathan Norris is the CEO of the Downtown Development Authority of Lafayette, Louisiana.  Previously, Nathan was the co-founder and Director of Implementation Advisory for the international urban design firm PlaceMakers. At PlaceMakers, Nathan worked with developers and municipalities to plan, entitle, develop and market neighborhoods, towns and cities. Nathan is an attorney and served as the real estate broker for large scale traditional neighborhood developments. Nathan is a contributor to the Charter of the New Urbanism and the SmartCode Manual; a Board Member of the Transect Codes Council; the primary author of the Smart Growth Schools Report Card; a certified instructor for the National Association of Realtors Smart Growth course; and the project manager for the Appraisal System which rates the merits of development from the perspective of Smart Growth principles.  He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and his law degree from the University of Alabama before serving in the U.S. Army with the 1st Cavalry Division.

Program Manager, Trust for Public Land

Sarah is a Program Manager in the New Orleans office of The Trust for Public Land. Her work focuses on initiatives regarding urban public land and green spaces. While with TPL, Sarah has overseen the installation of the Fitness Zone in City Park’s Festival Grounds and the renovation of a NORD park, Mickey Markey Park. Prior to joining TPL, she worked for several non-profits in New Orleans, mainly in the field of affordable housing. Sarah was a Rockefeller Foundation Redevelopment Fellow in New Orleans through the University of Pennsylvania. She holds a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of New Orleans and a BA from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland.


Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Environment and Planning, Tennessee Department of Transportation

In October of 2011, Toks Omishakin was appointed Assistant Commissioner and Chief of the Bureau of Environment and Planning at the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT). In this position, he guides TDOT's continued success in establishing transportation planning, policy, and performance and the necessary communication that is required with other governmental agencies, organizations, and the general public and legislative bodies. He is responsible for the bureau’s administrative and project budget that exceeds $250 million annually. He leads the activities of the divisions of Environment, Long-Range Planning, Project Planning and Multimodal Transportation Resources. Prior to joining TDOT, he served as the Director of Healthy Living Initiatives in the Office of Mayor - Karl Dean in Nashville, Tennessee. There he led efforts to develop a Complete Streets policy for Nashville and helped established a more balanced approach to transportation planning and design for the city. He was the Mayor’s liaison to several council’s and boards appointed to improve the built environment and health of Nashville. Mr. Omishakin has been a speaker and presenter at several national and international conferences and his work has been published in The American Journal of Preventative Medicine and profiled in Newsweek magazine. Mr. Omishakin is an active member of the American Planning Association. He holds a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) with concentrations in transportation planning and urban design from Jackson State University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Technology from Mississippi Valley State University.

Chair, Louisiana Super Region Rail Authority

Kristin Gisleson Palmer is the first chairperson of the Louisiana Super Region Rail Authority which is a formal collaboration of local governments empowered as a compact to pursue, finance and operate passenger rail between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.  As former councilperson for New Orleans City Council District "C," she was a leading advocate for the revitalization of New Orleans by investing in all of our culturally diverse neighborhoods. As the former Executive Director of Rebuilding Together New Orleans, she has assisted numerous elderly, disabled, and low-income residents return to their homes post-Katrina.

Her top initiatives include regionalism within the transportation sector, expansion of streetcar lines, and increasing the number of bike paths throughout the City. She is a strong advocate for improving the quality of life of all of our residents and has been a champion for blight reduction and economic development. She has been selected to participate in prestigious fellowship programs including the inaugural Smart Growth America Local Leaders Council as an Advisory Board member, the Aspen Institute's Rodel Fellowship Program, the New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute (NORLI), and the national network of NewDEAL Leaders. She received the National Trust for Historic Preservation Award in 2009 and was recognized with a City Business Women of the Year Award in 2007. In 2013, she was recognized as Legislator of the Year by the Alliance for Good Government.

Director, Freshwater and Marine Science, The Nature Conservancy, Louisiana Chapter

Dr. Bryan Piazza is the director of freshwater and marine science in The Nature Conservancy’s Louisiana Program. He has worked in multiple facets of conservation and restoration of Louisiana’s wetlands for more than 15 years, from academic research to policy development and project planning. His current work focuses on developing science-based decision making processes, decision-support tools, and products for engaging stakeholders in conservation and restoration of rivers, wetlands, and water resources. Bryan is leading the development team to create powerful and user-friendly online tools to understand and make decisions about freshwater resources in Louisiana and Mississippi (, and served on the development team for The Nature Conservancy’s Coastal Resilience Gulf of Mexico Decision Support Tool ( He teaches a graduate course on environmental decision making and serves as an adjunct assistant professor at Louisiana State University and Southern Illinois University. Bryan holds a B.S. in Wildlife Management and Biology from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, an M.S. in Wildlife Science from Louisiana State University and a Ph.D. in Oceanography and Coastal Science from Louisiana State University. He has published on a number of conservation and restoration topics, and is the author of a book titled, The Atchafalaya River Basin: History and Ecology of an American Wetland.

Executive Director, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation

Since 2007, Christy Oliver Reeves has held the title of Director of Community Relations at Blue Cross and Blue Shield Louisiana. She also serves as the Executive Director of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation, the company’s charitable subsidiary. In this capacity, she oversees a 1.8 million dollar philanthropy budget, the operation of the foundation’s grantmaking and its two signature programs, the Angel Award and Smart Bodies. Under her leadership, she increased the 2007 United Way workplace giving campaign by 150 percent in employee participation and 51 percent in financial contributions over previous years. Reeves also works with public and private organizations to broaden healthcare programs and enhance educational opportunities throughout Louisiana. Prior to joining Blue Cross, Reeves served as the CEO of Audubon Girl Scouts, where she led the transformation process of two councils into one and implemented high-capacity resources to thousands of girls. During her tenure, she succeeded in ensuring fiscal stability of a $1.6 million budget through new funding opportunities and community partnerships and developed long-range plans for the organization. Reeves provided leadership and direction to staff (approximately 40 annually) and volunteers (nearly 3,000) and maintained camp and office properties. Reeves received a Bachelor of Arts in Theater from Louisiana State University as well as master’s degrees in both Business Administration and Library and Information Science. Reeves is the recipient of numerous community awards, including The Baton Rouge Business Report 40 Under 40 and the Capital Area United Way 2008 Volunteer of the Year. Among the many community boards on which she has served are: Family Services of Baton Rouge, Louisiana Senior Olympic Games, Capital Area United Way, the Baton Rouge Children’s Coalition, LSU School of Human Ecology and Playmakers of Baton Rouge.


Executive Director, Downtown Development District, Baton Rouge

As Executive Director of the Downtown Development District, Davis Rhorer is responsible for carrying out the mission of the DDD to initiate, incubate and support partnerships that develop and enhance Downtown Baton Rouge. In this capacity, Rhorer has worked closely with the DDD Board of Directors, private sector partners and local government to revitalize Louisiana’s Capitol City, helping to attract more than $2.4 billion in investments over the last 20 years. Since the DDD was established in 1987, Rhorer has served as a prominent leader in the development of various plans and initiatives that have transformed the Downtown area, including: the Baton Rouge 2000 Plan, Baton Rouge 2000 Update, the Riverfront Development Plan, the Fourth Street Master Plan, the Capitol Park Master Plan, the New River District Master Plan, the Downtown Visitors’ Amenity Plan and the city’s comprehensive Master Plan for development, Plan Baton Rouge.  He is also currently engaged in Phase II of Plan Baton Rouge. 

Throughout his tenure, Rhorer has played a key role in various riverfront development projects including: the historic restoration and reopening of the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center, the $30 million expansion of the Baton Rouge River Center, the addition of a planetarium and space theatre to the Louisiana Arts and Science Museum (LASM), the establishment of the Shaw Center for the Arts, and the development, funding and implementation of the biking and walking trail on the levee which connects Downtown to Louisiana State University.  He was also instrumental in managing and overseeing the massive consolidation of state office buildings, which has brought more than 3,000 state workers to the Downtown area and resulted in the creation of more than 2 million square feet of new class “A” office buildings.

John Rhea Alumni Professor of Economics; Director of the Public Administration Institute Louisiana State University

James A. Richardson is John Rhea Alumni Professor of Economics and Director of the Public Administration Institute in the E. J. Ourso College of Business Administration at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Dr. Richardson has also served as Chairman of the Department of Economics, Acting Dean of the College of Business Administration, and Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Louisiana State University. Dr. Richardson has served from 1987 through the present as the private economist on the Louisiana Revenue Estimating Conference, the panel with the constitutional authority and responsibility to provide official revenue estimates for the state. This Conference includes the Governor of the State, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Dr. Richardson also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Public Affairs Research Council and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Council for A Better Louisiana. He organized and supervised a major tax study for the state of Louisiana which resulted in Louisiana Fiscal Alternatives: Finding Permanent Solutions to Recurring Budget Crises, published by the LSU Press in 1988. Dr. Richardson also participates in the preparation of the Louisiana Economic Outlook, a two-year forecast of the Louisiana Economy published by the E. J. Ourso College of Business Administration at Louisiana State University. Dr. Richardson also completed a study for the Louisiana Hospital Association, an analysis of tax incentives for Louisiana businesses, an analysis of starting up independent school districts in Baker and Zachary, Louisiana, and an evaluation of the development of deepwater facilities for ports in St. Mary Parish and Iberia Parish. He has also conducted numerous economic impact studies for various industries in the state, as well as for the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Louisiana Department of Economic Development. Dr. Richardson specializes in regional forecasting, state and local tax policy, economic valuation, and energy economics.


Executive Director, New Orleans City Planning Commission

Bob Rivers is the Executive Director of the New Orleans City Planning Commission. Prior to this position, he was the Chief Deputy City Attorney in New Orleans, and a Special Counsel in real estate with Jones Walker. Prior to becoming an attorney, Mr. Rivers had a fourteen-year career in city planning and historic preservation, most recently as Administrator of the Nantucket (Massachusetts) Historic District Commission, and also as a Planner with the Louisiana Urban Technical Assistance Center at UNO, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, the Institute for Urban Development Research at George Washington University, EDAW, Inc., and the Town of Herndon, Virginia. Rivers holds an AB in architecture from Princeton University, a MURP from George Washington University, and a JD with honors from Tulane University.

Active Transportation Engineer/Urban Planning Specialist, Louisiana Public Health Institute

Jennifer Ruley, PE is an Active Transportation Engineer and lead for the Louisiana Public Health Institute’s Active Environments Planning initiative.  She has more than 20 years of professional engineering experience and a diverse background in planning, designing, and implementing active transportation projects, soil and water management best practices, and environmental regulatory compliance.   Jennifer has played a critical role in expanding the City of New Orleans’ bikeway network to nearly 100 miles; she’s assisted in developing New Orleans’s first Pedestrian Safety Action Plan; and advised on major projects like the Lafitte Greenway, New Orleans’ Bike Share Feasibility Study, and New Orleans’s complete streets policy.  More recently, Jennifer has assisted the Capital Regional Planning Commission and Center for Planning Excellence to support active transportation projects and initiatives in the Baton Rouge region.  Prior to her work in New Orleans, Jennifer worked for 4 years as an environmental engineer with ARCADIS and 7 years as an agricultural engineer with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Jennifer holds a Master of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from LSU (2002) and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biological and Agricultural Engineering from LSU (1993).

Executive Director, Mid City Redevelopment Alliance

Samuel Sanders is the Executive Director of Mid City Redevelopment Alliance, a non-profit community revitalization organization founded by Baton Rouge General in 1991. The mission of the organization is to develop and promote the growth and renewal of the Mid City region by attracting new and retaining current residents and businesses. Sanders has been with the organization since 2003; he was unanimously selected by the board of directors to lead the organization in 2006. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Christopher Newport University and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Troy University.


Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Institute, Virginia Tech

Professor Schilling leads the Institute’s Sustainable Communities and Urban Regeneration Initiatives that explore the intersection of policy, planning and collaboration in the development of more livable communities. With support from the Ford Foundation, the Institute is home to the Vacant Properties Research Network—a virtual platform for facilitating policy and research translation among scholars, policymakers and practitioners on the regeneration of legacy cities. Schilling recently finished two comprehensive case studies (Philadelphia and Cleveland) which unveil a resilient policy model for reclaiming vacant properties. In 2012 Schilling co-authored the definitive APA practitioners guide—Cities in Transition—which provides planners and policy makers with the nuts and bolts of how they develop a strategic policy framework for regenerating distressed communities. As a founding member of the National Vacant Properties Campaign (2003-2010), now the Center for Community Progress, Schilling worked in over 20 cities providing on the ground technical assistance covering topics such as code enforcement, nuisance abatement, land banking, zoning code reform, urban regeneration, and urban greening.


Executive Director, Broad Community Connections

Jeffrey Schwartz is the founding Executive Director of Broad Community Connections, where he has worked since January 2009. A native New Orleanian, Jeff has eight years of community economic development experience, where he has focused on community development finance, small business and real estate development, and the relationship between the health and vibrancy of a community and its built environment. He has a BA in Economics and History from the University of Wisconsin—Madison, and a Master of City Planning degree from MIT, where he studied City Design & Development and Housing & Community Economic Development, and wrote his thesis on fresh food access in New Orleans before and after Katrina. Jeffrey is actively involved with planning and transportation issues in New Orleans, and he serves on the boards of the Regional Planning Commission and Ride New Orleans.


Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Transportation

John Schroer was appointed Commissioner of Transportation by Governor Bill Haslam in January, 2011. He is the 29th commissioner of the state agency that oversees a statewide transportation system including highways, rail, airports, waterways and transit. Just after his appointment, Commissioner Schroer initiated a review of TDOT including its organization and processes in conjunction with Governor Haslam's "Top to Bottom Review" of state government. Recommendations from this review have begun and will be completed in the next two years. During his first year, Commissioner Schroer embarked on Summer Tours, 2011 by traveling thousands of miles across the state to TDOT projects and facilities. He met with agency employees to gather ideas on how TDOT could become more efficient. It was so effective he continued this process in the summer and fall of 2012. Recently, Commissioner was appointed Chairman of the prestigious Standing Committee on Finance and Administration of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, an organization composed of peers from all DOTs across the nation.

Previous to his state service, Commissioner Schroer was the Mayor of Franklin, Tennessee beginning with his election in 2007. During his tenure, he was involved in the Middle Tennessee Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) serving on its executive committee. By virtue of his position as mayor, he was a member of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and served as its treasurer. As Commissioner of Transportation, he continues to be a member of each of those public bodies. An Indiana native, Commissioner Schroer received a bachelor's degree in business from Indiana University. After graduation he moved to the Franklin area and subsequently received an MBA from the University of Tennessee. He spent ten years in the commercial real estate financing business before beginning a real estate development business. He is a past board member of Williamson County United Way and a founding board member of Franklin Tomorrow.


Assistant City Attorney, Code Enforcement & Hearings Bureau, City of New Orleans

Laura C. Settlemyer is an Assistant City Attorney in the City of New Orleans’s Code Enforcement & Hearings Bureau. In her current role, Laura is responsible for handling all lien foreclosures as well as overseeing and managing the City’s strategy with respect to blighted commercial properties. Laura has been with the City Attorney’s Office since 2011, where she has served as counsel to the Directors of the Code Enforcement & Hearings Bureau, Housing Policy and Community Development, and the Capital Projects Administration. Prior to joining the City Attorney’s Office, Laura was an Associate Attorney in the Commercial Litigation Section of McGlinchey Stafford PLLC in the firm’s New Orleans office. While studying at Emory University School of Law, Laura was the research assistant to Frank S. Alexander, co-founder of Center for Community Progress.

Executive Director, Capital Region Planning Commission

Bio coming soon


Louisiana Director, One Voice

Ashley Shelton is the former Vice President of Programs at the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation (LDRF), where managed a system of integrated, value-added programs with the goal of creating a better Louisiana for all of its citizens in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  In her role at LDRF, she designed, initiated and coordinated a comprehensive policy strategy, which led to a systemic, multi-pronged approach to equitable policy development on a local, state, and national level. Utilizing a participatory model, she is engaging local, state, and national partnerships to develop and nurture civic engagement throughout the state by providing leadership and key philanthropic knowledge of Louisiana-based.

Ashley has received many honors, including selection as a 2005-2006 Fellow in the Emerging Leaders Program at Duke University and the University of Cape Town, and was appointed in 2003 to the Foundation for the Mid South’s Commission to Build Philanthropy. Ashley earned her B.A. in Mass Communications from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. She is civically involved in several organizations including the La Capitale Chapter of the Links, Inc., board member of the Equity and Inclusion Campaign, and board member of the Knock-Knock Children’s Museum.


Member, Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann L.L.C.

James E. A. Slaton is a Member of Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann L.L.C. and practices out of its Baton Rouge office.  He concentrates his practice in commercial real estate, including land use and zoning matters, leasing and finance.  James serves as the Vice Chair of the Land Use and Environmental Group of the American Bar Association Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section.  He is also an Associate Member of the Urban Land Institute where he serves on the Programming Committee for the Louisiana Chapter, and is Vice-Chair of the Lighthouse Louisiana Baton Rouge Advisory Board.  He received his J.D. from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University and B.A. from Louisiana State University.

Principal, Director of Sustainability & Building Performance, ESKEW+DUMEZ+RIPPLE, APC

Z Smith has been involved in nationally published sustainability research and design for the past ten years. He has served as a Project Architect for carbon neutral, net-zero energy and net-zero water use buildings, and taught sustainable design courses at universities in the U.S. and Canada. With training and experience in the fields of architecture, physics, information technology, and renewable energy, Smith now serves as our studio’s Director of Sustainability & Building Performance. He integrates his broad range of skills in service of lowering the environmental footprint of each of our buildings, while continuing to help us deliver projects on time and on budget. He brings an approach of scientific rigor to green design in our studio’s wide array of community, educational, and institutional projects, and brings tremendous added value to our Clients through the reduction of energy consumption, and subsequently the reduction of energy bills.In addition to his Directorial role within our practice, Z is also a frequent public speaker on sustainable design issues, a member of the USGBC Louisiana Board of Directors, and an adjunct professor at the Tulane School of Architecture.



Michael Songy, a founding Principal and CEO at CSRS, Inc., has more than 33 years of experience leading and developing the firm's technical teams to meet the needs and vision of its clients. Mr. Songy's consulting assignments vary widely and include strategic planning and management of capital improvement programs, feasibility analyses for land development strategies, engineering and storm water management, and impact assessments for local governing authorities. 

Executive Vice President, Baton Rouge Area Foundation

John Spain is the executive vice president of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, where he oversees projects that aim to solve fundamental problems across South Louisiana. John’s work has included health care and education reform, economic development and renewal of inner city neighborhoods. Recently, he spearheaded a project that created the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority, which won $60 million in federal tax credits for inner city rebuilding in its first try. Prior to moving to the Foundation, John was the managing director of The Powell Group, a private holding company with thirteen diverse subsidiary companies. John started his professional career in the field of broadcasting and worked at WBRZ-TV, the ABC affiliate in Baton Rouge for 23 years. He served in various capacities including investigative reporter, news director and station manager.


Executive Director, US Green Building Council Louisiana

Shannon Stage joined the USGBC Louisiana team as Executive Director in 2011. A former school teacher, museum educator, and community volunteer, she has nearly 30 years of education and nonprofit experience. She served as the first education curator of Louisiana's Old State Capital Museum and has served as organizing leader of several civic events including Baton Rouge’s 200th Bonne Fete Celebration, coordinating the education and volunteer efforts. She has served on numerous nonprofit boards in Florida, Washington, and Louisiana. She is a past President of the Baton Rouge Woman’s Club Board of Directors, continues to serve as a Board Advisor and is a founder of the Woman’s Club Foundation. The Woman’s Club preserves and maintains an historic building in downtown Baton Rouge and promotes civic responsibility through education and service to other nonprofits in the area.

AllianceNRG Solutions

Robert Suggs was born in raised in New Orleans and attended Jesuit High School. He graduated with a bachelor's degree from Hampden Sydney College in Virginia and went on to obtain an associate's degree from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. Mr. Suggs grew up appreciating dedication to business and dedication to community. After completing his education he worked in the family-owned business, Petroleum Helicopters Inc., where he learned from the ground up. He found inspiration from his entrepreneurial parents and observed as much as possible. Developing a strong knowledge of energy services industry. His family has been working in the energy industry for over 65 years and his experience working at PHI has enabled him to put into use “best practices” he acquired while working with the energy service industries finest employees. He has also served as an Intervener for the Louisiana Public Service Commission. Robert knows the important of reliability and quality.  He strives to have a positive impact on the Louisiana and Gulf South business community. He has helped South Coast Solar become the South's best alternative power company. Mr. Suggs has helped transform the company from a local installation company to a multi-state energy performance contractor with design/build capabilities. Additionally, Robert has worked to lobby legislators in Baton Rouge, as well in Mississippi to foster change for the solar industry to insure it remains for years to come. Robert Suggs has a vision for the future of South Coast Solar, expanding the company into natural gas generators, energy efficiency evaluation and products and affordable financing to empower home owners and businesses.


Director of Planning, Center for Planning Excellence

Janet works closely with clients using a problem-solving approach that focuses on understanding the client’s needs and goals. Janet has more than 30 years of planning experience, specializing in project management, comprehensive and special district planning, ordinance drafting and public outreach and values research. Janet has practiced in both the public and private sectors, and has experience directing large and mid-sized city planning departments. While working for the city of Dallas, she managed the development of the ForwardDallas! Comprehensive Plan. She was a part of the management team for the East Baton Rouge Parish Comprehensive Plan and is currently on the team preparing a plan for Lafourche Parish. Janet has also drafted numerous zoning and subdivision ordinances and managed a city-wide Complete Streets initiative for Dallas.


President & CEO, Center for Planning Excellence

Well-versed in local community planning activities, Thomas has led neighborhood redevelopment efforts in Baton Rouge since obtaining her Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from LSU. As the former head of Plan Baton Rouge and the Mid-City Redevelopment Alliance, Thomas has been an advocate for smart growth in Louisiana throughout her career.

While Thomas’ work at Plan Baton Rouge focused in the revitalization of the downtown area, in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, she led CPEX in facilitating the Louisiana Speaks recovery process, which was the largest planning effort ever undertaken in Louisiana and set national records for public participation. The process resulted in the Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan, a comprehensive plan created through the participation of over 27,000 South Louisiana residents. Thomas has continued to build on that plan, overseeing CPEX’s planning efforts in parishes across the state.

In recognition of her outstanding contributions to Louisiana, Thomas has been honored by the Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce, the YMCA, the Baton Rouge Business Report, LSU and the Louisiana Architecture Foundation. In September 2009, Thomas and CPEX were awarded the Olmsted Medal by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) for “incredible leadership and set the standard for bringing community members and leaders together to work toward a shared vision for future growth and development.” One year later, Thomas became the second woman in Louisiana named to the ASLA National Council of Fellows, one of the highest honors the organization can bestow on an individual.

Executive Director, Louisiana Housing Corporation

Fred Tombar is the Executive Director of the Louisiana Housing Corporation (LHC). The
Louisiana Housing Corporation was created by Act 408 of the Louisiana Legislature in
2011 which consolidated several state housing-related entities. The LHC is charged with
providing safe, affordable, energy-efficient housing for Louisiana’s low and moderate
income residents. In the capacity of Executive Director, Mr. Tombar executes the LHC’s strategic plan and provides counsel to the LHC Board of Directors on matters of policy and manages the dayto-day operations of the Corporation. During fiscal year 2014, the LHC, under Mr. Tombar’s direction, built or rehabilitated 1,770 units of affordable housing and assisted 539 Louisiana residents in becoming first-time homeowners through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Soft Second Mortgage (SSM) and First-Time Homebuyers (FTHB) Programs. The Corporation also assisted 1,130 Louisiana households in becoming more energy efficient through the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and provided $33.5 million to ensure that more than 87,000 utility payments were made on behalf of distressed households. Before joining LHC, Mr. Tombar was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as Senior Advisor to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan. As Senior Advisor, Mr. Tombar was responsible for leading the strategic direction, policy development, and assisting in the coordination of operations of the Department’s disaster and recovery programs. He has more than 20 years of experience working to improve organizational performance, managing complex projects and operations, and developing housing policy. In response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Mr. Tombar directed a key project, the Road Home Program in Louisiana. This project served as the largest single housing recovery program in the history of the United States.


President, Baton Rouge Citizens to Save Our Water

A. Hays Town,  Jr. received a BS in Civil Engineering in 1958 and an MS in Geography in 2012, both from LSU. He served as an infantry officer in the US Army Reserve, owned and operated Town Construction Co., and served as the president of the first Montessori school in Baton Rouge. He was the founding president of the Associated Builders and Contractors Baton Rouge Chapter, served on the National Board of Directors for the Associated Builders and Contractors, and served as Chairman for the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors. He also received the National Man of the Year Award from the Associated Builders & Contractors. He was Founding President of the Saint Elizabeth Foundation, served as Chairman of the Louisiana State Child Care Committee, and received the Angel of Adoption Award from the United States Congress. He is the Founding President of Baton Rouge Citizens to Save Our Water


Executive Director of Sea Grant, Louisiana State University

Dr. Twilley is Executive Director of Louisiana Sea Grant College Program and professor in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Science at LSU.  Presently, Dr. Twilley serves as President-Elect of Coastal Estuarine Research Federation.  He has been a Distinguished Professor at both LSU and UL Lafayette; and has served in several administrative capacities in higher education.  He is founder of the LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio and developed the UL Lafayette Center for Ecology and Environmental Technology. Most of Dr. Twilley's research has focused on coastal wetlands both in the Gulf of Mexico, throughout Latin America, and in the Pacific Islands. He received his BS and MS from East Carolina University, PhD from University of Florida and post-doctoral studies were at University of Maryland Center for Environmental Studies.


Director of Sustainability, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

As the University's first Director of Sustainability, Gretchen works closely with the Office of the President and the President's Council on Sustainability to identify and prioritize areas for campus-wide sustainability efforts, plan and develop strategies to reduce energy and material consumption, and engage university leaders to improve sustainability broadly across campus units. She also serves as the campus spokesperson on sustainability issues. Gretchen earned a bachelor’s degree in management with a double major in marketing from McNeese State University in 2006. She also earned bachelor's and master’s degrees in architecture from UL Lafayette in 2008 and 2010, respectively. Gretchen returned to UL Lafayette in January 2014 after working in the local architecture industry.


Principal, Waggonner & Ball Architects

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, David Waggonner saw an opportunity for New Orleans to reinvent itself as a safe, resilient, economically vibrant city through embracing its life-blood: water. He initiated the Dutch Dialogues, a water-based design exchange between Dutch design professionals and their American counterparts and subsequently led an international team of experts in the development of the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan, which addresses multiple scales of sustainable storm water management and embraces water to improve safety, resiliency, quality of life, and economic development. David brings his water-based urban design expertise to coastal and inland cities in the U.S., Europe, and Asia and speaks often at conferences and forums worldwide.


Complete Streets Regional Leader, Alta Planning + Design

G. Wade Walker, P.E. is the Complete Streets Regional Leader for Alta Planning + Design Southeast Region. For the past eighteen years, he has worked in the realm of complete streets and context sensitive solutions, focusing on the restoration of livability to streets, smart growth, and walkability. Wade has been involved in many varied initiatives concentrating on livable traffic and a rebalancing of modes and design and implementation of Complete Streets. Key projects Wade has been involved in include Virginia’s Route 50 Traffic Calming Plan in Virginia; Plan Baton Rouge Downtown Revitalization Strategy; One-Way Street Conversions for Lakeland and Pensacola Florida, New Haven, Connecticut, and Chattanooga, Tennessee; and the Scenic and Historic A1A Master Plan in St. Johns County, Florida.  Recent projects include the US 64 Parkway Alternative in Bolivar, Tennessee; El Paso Avenue Complete Street Design in Russellville, Arkansas; and the HampLine Road Diet and Cycle Track Design in Memphis, Tennessee.