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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.



The Louisiana Smart Growth Summit convenes world-class experts, thought leaders, and practitioners from various disciplines around the country. Read below to learn more about the lineup so far for 2017, and stay tuned for further updates of confirmed speakers!



Andy Berke


Born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Andy Berke served as State Senator for Tennessee’s 10th District from 2007 to 2012 before becoming the 65th Mayor of Chattanooga in 2013.

As Mayor, Andy is focused on growing the local economy, ensuring every child has the opportunity to succeed, making Chattanooga’s streets safer and neighborhoods stronger -- all while running a high-performing and effective government. Under Mayor Berke’s leadership, Chattanooga has maximized their gigabit infrastructure and become a leader in the 21st century economy.

In 2014, Mayor Berke established the first Innovation District in a mid-sized city and has since focused his efforts on digital equity, to ensure more citizens have the opportunity to participate in this burgeoning tech sector. To increase connectivity in the home, Mayor Berke has partnered with Chattanooga’s local fiber optic provider, EPB, to offer reliable, low-cost, high speed broadband to all families with a child on free or reduced lunch. In addition to digital equity, Mayor Berke works hard to strengthen Chattanooga families through a variety of initiatives, including Baby University which provides new parents with the tools and resources they need to get their child off to a great start in life and a Pre-K Scholarship program to increase access to early learning for families caught in the gap.

In 2017, Mayor Berke established an Office of Workforce Development in City Hall to help build paths to the middle class for more Chattanoogans. Mayor Berke was named 2015’s Municipal Leader of the Year by American City and County magazine for these innovative initiatives and for his leadership during a domestic terror attack on July 16, 2015, that took the lives of four Marines and a Naval Officer. 


Carol Coletta

SENIOR FELLOW, The Kresge Foundation’s American Cities Practice

Carol Coletta is a senior fellow with The Kresge Foundation’s American Cities Practice. She is leading a proposed $40 million collaboration of foundations, nonprofits and governments to demonstrate the ways in which a connected set of civic assets – a civic commons – can yield increased and more widely shared prosperity for cities and neighborhoods. 

She formerly was vice president of Community and National Initiatives for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. She led the two-year start-up of ArtPlace, a public-private collaboration to accelerate creative placemaking in communities across the U.S. and was president and CEO of CEOs for Cities for seven years.

She also served as executive director of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, U.S. Conference of Mayors and American Architectural Foundation. 

For nine years, she was host and producer of the nationally syndicated weekly public radio show Smart City, where she interviewed more than 900 international leaders in business, the arts and cities.


Jaime Lerner


Jaime Lerner is an architect and urban planner, founder of the Instituto Jaime Lerner and chairman of Jaime Lerner Arquitetos Associados (JLAA). Former president of the UIA - International Union of Architects in the 2002/2005 term, three-time mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, he led the urban revolution that made the city renowned for urban planning, public transportation, environmental social programs and urban projects. He served as governor of Parana State twice and conducted an economic and social transformation both in the urban and rural areas.

His international awards include the highest United Nations Environmental Award (1990), Child and Peace Award from UNICEF (1996), the 2001 World Technology Award for Transportation, and the 2002 Sir Robert Mathew Prize for the Improvement of Quality of Human Settlements. In 2010 Lerner was nominated among the 25 most influential thinkers in the world by the Time magazine and in 2011, in recognition for his leadership, vision and contribution in the field or sustainable urban mobility, he received the Leadership in Transport Award, granted by the International Transport Forum at the OECD.

JLAA practice develops projects for the public and private sectors for cities in Brazil and abroad, such as Porto Alegre, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, Florianópolis, Recife, Luanda (Angola), David (Panama), Durango, Oaxaca, Mazatlán (Mexico) and Santiago de Los Caballeros (Dominican Republic).


Steven Bryan

VP of Government Division, SmartProcure

Steven Bryan is the VP of Government Division at SmartProcure. He has helped SmartProcure grow from a handful of employees to over 200 people focused on providing procurement innovation to the public sector. SmartProcure is an online database that provides businesses & government agencies access to detailed government purchasing information from thousands of US agencies for smarter selling & procurement.


Nick Desai

Co-Founder, Heal

Nick Desai is an accomplished and visionary entrepreneur who has started and led four venture funded start-ups over the last 18 years. Nick is the Co-Founder and CEO of Heal, an on-demand doctor house call app available in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco and San Diego.

For Nick, Heal is more than a company – it’s a mission to fix the broken $3 trillion healthcare system. Nick’s previous start-ups have been innovative leaders in technology-enabled fitness and weight loss, social media and mobile applications, and the web’s first self-updating address book. Nick earned his BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from UC Irvine, where he is in the Engineering Hall of Fame, and an MS in Electrical Engineering from UCLA. Nick is on the board of the UC Irvine Alumni Association and the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Heart Association. In his occasional free time, he writes for the Huffington Post. Nick lives in the Pacific Palisades with his wife and two little boys, who are his pride and joy.

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Justin R. Ehrenwerth

President and CEO, The Water Institute of the Gulf

Justin R. Ehrenwerth took the helm as President and CEO of The Water Institute of the Gulf in early 2017. Founded in 2011, the Institute is a not-for-profit, independent research institute dedicated to advancing the understanding of coastal, deltaic, river and water resource systems, both within the Gulf Coast and around the world.

Most recently, Ehrenwerth served as the inaugural Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council).  The Council was created in the aftermath of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and is comprised of the Governors of five Gulf Coastal States and Secretaries from six Federal agencies. Ehrenwerth successfully established the Council as the newest independent agency in the Federal government and oversaw all aspects of its programmatic, technical and operational activities. Under his leadership, the Council approved an Initial Comprehensive Plan and Funded Priorities List, created a Federal grants system to allocate and monitor billions of dollars in restoration projects, and approved a Comprehensive Plan Update outlining a strategy for moving forward with large-scale ecosystem restoration in the coming decades.

Prior to joining the Council, Ehrenwerth served as Chief of Staff to the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce, where he assisted the Secretary and Deputy Secretary in overseeing issues of management, policy and strategic planning for the Department which has an annual budget of $10 billion and approximately 47,000 employees. Previously, Ehrenwerth served as Assistant Counsel to the President, where he took the lead on Deepwater Horizon litigation for the White House working with the Department of Justice. He also served as a member of the Oversight and Litigation group representing the White House in Congressional investigations and advising Federal agencies on oversight matters.

Ehrenwerth is a summa cum laude graduate of Colby College and holds an MA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Oxford and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He and his wife, Dana Dupré, originally from Opelousas, have called Louisiana home since 2013.


Chip Johnson

 Former Mayor, City of Hernando, MS

The former mayor of Hernando, Mississippi, a town of about 15,000 people, Mayor Chip Johnson was a leading figure in promoting many public health issues throughout the city, including those to promote healthy eating and active living.

Mayor Johnson helped establish a new city parks department that built five major parks and other recreation facilities that enjoy wide use among Hernando residents young and old. He was influential in making Hernando a more pedestrian- and bicyclist-friendly town by passing a Complete Streets policy, requiring every new street to have a sidewalk, and developing miles of new bicycle lanes. Under Mayor Johnson’s leadership, the city worked with local schools on joint-use agreements, which allowed school facilities to be open to city residents during non-school hours.

Providing more healthy food options was also a priority for Mayor Johnson. He helped start the Hernando Farmers’ Market, which has grown into the largest in Mississippi and is regularly ranked one of the most popular in the nation. In addition, Mayor Johnson worked with local schools through the “Eat Right, Play More” program, which promotes healthier foods in the cafeteria and vending machine, extra recess time, and Safe Routes to School projects to help students safely walk or bike to and from school. The school district is now home to twelve Project Fit America playgrounds.

His efforts led the Blue Cross & Blue Shield Foundation to name Hernando as the “Healthiest Hometown in Mississippi” in 2010, a designation accompanied by a $50,000 grant for health and wellness activities.  In addition, he has been recognized as a national spokesperson for obesity prevention initiatives and was one of two mayors invited to kick off First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign. In 2013, Mayor Johnson received the Leadership for Healthy Communities’ Childhood Obesity Prevention Award.


Warren Kron

GIS Manager, City - Parish of Baton Rouge Department of Information Services

In May 2014, Warren Kron was appointed to the GIS manager position at the Baton Rouge City-Parish Department of Information Services. He was previously the GIS coordinator at the City-Parish Planning Commission, where he worked for 16 years. He now works more closely with all city-parish departments to further implement the eBRGIS Program. Warren also recently became a certified GIS Professional (GISP) by the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI), and he serves on the Louisiana GIS Council. He participated in a recorded speaker panel discussion at the 2014 HxGN Live conference.


Joel Mahoney

Co-Founder and CEO, OpenCounter

Joel Mahoney is a civic technologist and entrepreneur. He was an inaugural Fellow at Code for America, and served as a technical advisor to the organization. 

During his Fellowship, Joel worked with the City of Boston to build, which helps parents to navigate the city's complicated school registration process. The project won praise from parents, teachers and school department officials, and was selected for an International Design for Experience Award in 2014.

Prior to Code for America, Joel started a number of companies, including a set-top box system for hotels, a genetic visualization tool for doctors and pharmacists, and a hotel search engine. He is the author of multiple patents on related technologies.

Joel is currently the co-founder of, which makes it easier for entrepreneurs to register a new business. The project won the Knight News Challenge in 2013.

Joel's work has been featured in FastCompany, BusinessWeek, Inc., the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Huffington Post, and the New York Times. He has spoken about civic technology and open data at conferences around the world, including TEDx, and the Aspen Institute.


Jerry Paffendorf

Co-Founder and CEO, LOVELAND Technologies

Jerry Paffendorf is co-founder and CEO of Loveland Technologies, a mapping company based in Detroit that is focused on mapping ownership and land use for properties across the world. The company works with governments, developers, neighborhood groups, and passionate individuals to gather and present information about property in clear, actionable ways. Loveland’s Detroit projects include mapping tax foreclosures at, and digitizing the city’s property information to help fight blight at Paffendorf earned a master’s degree from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.


Nick Popovich


Bio coming soon


Denice Ross

Public Interest Technology Fellow, New America

Denice W. Ross is a Public Interest Technology Fellow at New America.  She specializes in data transparency and civic engagement, with a focus on action at the local level.

Before joining New America, Ross was a senior advisor in the Obama White House, where she leveraged data and innovation to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of community-based federal programs. As a presidential innovation fellow in 2014, she co-founded the White House Police Data Initiative, one of the most tangible responses to the 21st Century Policing Task Force report, and she worked with the Department of Energy on crowdsourcing private-sector data to improve community resilience in disaster-impacted areas. Earlier, she served as director of enterprise innovation for the City of New Orleans, where she built a digital services team and established open data as the cornerstone for performance management and public engagement. 

Prior to her roles in government, Ross co-directed the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center (GNOCDC), a non-profit data intermediary and member of the Urban Institute’s National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership. When Hurricane Katrina propelled New Orleans into the national spotlight, Ross collaborated with Brookings to track the city’s recovery through The New Orleans Index. In addition, she actively participated in numerous post-Katrina community planning initiatives, and co-founded the first new childcare center after the storm.

Ross began her technology career building web sites, and holds a bachelor of science from the University of Arizona. She lives in the D.C. area with her husband and four children.


John Snow

Vice President, Emergent Method

An experienced management consultant with expertise rooted in organizational design, community and stakeholder outreach, public relations, change management, strategic and digital communications and project management, John Snow joined Emergent Method in 2013 after leading organizational design and public outreach and engagement efforts across East Baton Rouge Parish and the state of Louisiana. As vice president, John serves as a member of the firm’s leadership team and a strategy consultant focused on improving clients’ organizational performance, communications, and programs or initiatives across various sectors such as technology, infrastructure, healthcare, and more.

He has worked on numerous projects for local and state public sector agencies over the past several years, including his work in leading project management and outreach efforts for several economic development and workforce development initiatives on behalf of Louisiana Economic Development, managing community outreach and engagement efforts for the East Baton Rouge Parish Green Light Plan – a $750 million road improvements program targeted at improving the arterial road system of East Baton Rouge Parish, and supporting the state’s coastal restoration efforts through his work on Louisiana’s 2012 Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast. In addition, John leads the strategic planning process for a number of organizations that range from privately-held companies and not-for-profit organizations to public sector agencies, ranging from Visit Baton Rouge and the ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter to the Baton Rouge Soccer Club and the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation. Most recently, John has led outreach and engagement efforts for the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury to aid in the development of new parish-wide drainage polices and related ordinances to address a growing flooding crisis for the area, served as project manager in conducting an economic and community impact study on behalf of the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, and led the development of a target industry validation study for the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance focused on identifying emerging opportunities to support the sustained economic growth for one of the most populous regions in the U.S.

In 2011, John was named to the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report’s “Forty Under 40” list in recognition of his career and entrepreneurial success, balancing bottom-line results with involvement in community and charitable activities. He is a 2012 graduate of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s Leadership Baton Rouge program and a 2014 graduate of the Council for A Better Louisiana’s 2014 Leadership Louisiana Class. He also serves on several local and regional boards of directors such as Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area and the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication’s Alumni Executive Board, and in 2016 was appointed to serve on the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.

He holds two degrees from Louisiana State University, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Advertising from the Manship School of Mass Communication and his Master of Business Administration from the E.J. Ourso School of Business – Flores MBA Program.


Oliver Wise

Director at Office of Performance and Accountability, City of New Orleans

Oliver Wise is the founding director of the City of New Orleans’ Office of Performance and Accountability (OPA), the City’s first data analytics and performance management team. Launched in 2011 by Mayor Landrieu, OPA leverages data to set goals, track performance and get results across City government.

Oliver’s work has been recognized with a Certificate of Excellence by the International City Managers Association, an Innovation Award from the Bureau of Governmental Research and a Bright Idea award from the Harvard University Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. He was also named to Government Technology’s “Top 25 Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers” list for 2015.

He holds an M.P.A. from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, a B.A. from Tufts University, and lives in the Faubourg St. John neighborhood of New Orleans with his awesome family: Ryan, Annie, and Olive.