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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!



Tyler Antrup | Urban Water Program Manager, City of New Orleans

Jim Barbaresso | National Practice Leader for Intelligent Transportation Systems, HNTB Corporation

Jackie Baumann | Chief Engineer, Department of Public Works - City of Gonzales

 Sharon Weston Broome | Mayor-President, City of Baton Rouge-Parish of East Baton Rouge

Boyd A. Bryan | Partner, Jones Walker

Steven Bryan | VP of Government Division, SmartProcure

Roxanne Blackwell | Director, Federal Government Affairs, ASLA

Eric Bjontegard | Founder, Spark Compass

Charlie Cook | FEMA

Nick Desai | Co-Founder, Heal

Frank Duke | Director, Baton Rouge City-Parish Planning Commission

Justin R. Ehrenwerth | President and CEO, The Water Institute of the Gulf

Pat Forbes | Executive Director, Office of Community Development

Gwen Hamilton | President & CEO, East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority

Michael D. Hebert | Attorney, Becker & Hebert LLC

Jesse Hoggard | Vice President-Marketing, Cellcontrol

Pamela Jenkins, Ph.D. | Professor, University of New Orleans

Chip Johnson | former Mayor, City of Hernando, MS

Katherine Klosek | Senior Implementation Advisor, Cities, The Center for Government Excellence

Peter Koht | Co-Founder, OpenCounter

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

Will LaBar | Vice President, CGI Federal

Charles A. Landry | Partner, Fishman Haygood, LLP

Joel Mahoney | Co-Founder and CEO, OpenCounter

Jared E. Munster, Ph.D. | Director, Department of Safety and Permits - City of New Orleans

Dyke Nelson | Founder/Lead Designer, DNA Workshop, LLC

Jerry Paffendorf | Co-Founder and CEO, LOVELAND Technologies

Nick Popovich | ESRI

Michael R. Rhea | Associate, Jones Walker

Robert Rivers | Executive Director, New Orleans City Planning Commission

 Joel Robideaux | Mayor-PresidentLafayette Consolidated Government

Denice RossPublic Interest Technology Fellow, New America

Mathew Sanders | Resilience Program and Policy Administrator, Office of Community Development

John Snow | Vice President, Emergent Method

Scott Sternberg | Partner, Sternberg, Naccari & White, LLC

Greg Trahan | Director, Economic Development, Louisiana State University

Christopher J. Tyson | Newman Trowbridge Distinguished Associate Professor of Law, LSU Law Center

David Waggonner | President, Waggonner & Ball

Ronny Walker | Mayor, City of Ruston

Amanda Spain Wells | Of Counsel, Baker Donelson Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC


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 $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.

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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.


Seleta J. Reynolds

General Manager, Los Angeles Department of Transportation 

Seleta Reynolds is General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) appointed by the Administration of Mayor Eric Garcetti. Ms. Reynolds is responsible for implementing Great Streets for Los Angeles, a plan to reduce traffic fatalities, double the number of people riding bikes, and expand access to integrated transportation choices for Angelinos and the region.

Ms. Reynolds has over 18 years of transportation experience throughout the United States. She has advised transportation technology companies like WalkScore, contributed to the state-of-the-practice as an Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals Board Member, mentored young professionals through Women’s Transportation Seminar, and nurtured research on Transportation Research Board committees. Ms. Reynolds serves as the President of the National Association for City Transportation Officials. 


Tyler Antrup 

Urban water program manager, City of New Orleans

Bio coming soon


Jim Barbaresso

National Practice Leader for Intelligent Transportation Systems, HNTB Corporation

Jim Barbaresso is shaping or influencing a number of projects related to the national Autonomous Vehicle and Connected Vehicle initiative, including designing and building one of the first live test beds with the Michigan Department of Transportation.
In the past 30 years, he has worked with transportation clients, automobile manufacturers and technology companies, successfully planning, implementing and managing some of the largest, most visible Intelligent Transportation Systems and autonomous and connected vehicles programs in the United States.

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Jackie Baumann

Chief Engineer, Department of Public Works - City of Gonzales

Bio coming soon


Sharon Weston Broome

Mayor-President, City of Baton Rouge-Parish of East Baton Rouge

Sharon Weston Broome was sworn in as the mayor-president of the City of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish on Jan. 2, 2017. She is the first woman to be elected as the leader of the capital city of Louisiana. Since the campaign trail, her focus has been to unite the citizenry around the common goals of equality in education, economic development, justice, housing and other quality ways of life.

Immediately following her election, Mayor-President Broome convened a team of 300 diverse residents to be part of her transition team. Residents ranged from millennials to seniors, who represented various races, education levels and socioeconomic statuses. Among the issues covered were flood recovery, community-police relations, education, economic development, race relations and transportation. Using this feedback directly from the community, Broome’s administration immediately took action, accomplishing much within the first 100 days in office.

Among these actions were: updating the Baton Rouge Police Department’s Use of Force Policy to align with national best practices; continuing to maximize FEMA Public Assistance funds for reimbursement from repairs and restructuring related to the historic flood of August 2016; launched the Equity in Business initiative, which aims to increase contract opportunities and entrepreneurial activity in all neighborhoods; entered into an agreement with the Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce that now includes a focus on small businesses, and those owned by minorities and women; held first joint meeting with East Baton Rouge Parish School Board members and Metro Council; and launched an implementation plan for a “Cradle to K” initiative.

Prior to her current post, Broome served as a Metro Council member; Louisiana State Representative (District 29); and Louisiana State Senator (District 15). While in the legislature, she became the first woman to hold the leadership position of pro tempore in the House and Senate.

Over the years, Broome has been recognized for her service and leadership by several organizations, including the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Louisiana Health Freedom Coalition, American Heart Association, Every Child Matters and Morehouse College.

With a B.A. in mass communication from the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse and an M.A. in communications from Regent University, Broome has served as an adjunct instructor at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge Community College and Southern University. In addition, she was a reporter for five years for WBRZ-TV, the Baton Rouge ABC affiliate.

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Boyd A. Bryan

Partner, Jones Walker

Boyd Bryan represents clients in a wide range of environmental matters, including environmental issues in transactions, environmental litigation, and regulatory issues from permitting to compliance advice. He was recognized in "Chambers USA – America's Leading Lawyers for Business" in the area of Environment (listed annually since 2010) and was listed in The Best Lawyers in America® 2018 (Copyright 2017 by Woodward/White, Inc., Aiken, SC) in the area of Environmental Law (listed annually since 2016).


Steven Bryan

VP of Government Division, SmartProcure

Steven brings over 10 years of marketing and sales experience, and a love for the outdoors. He began his career working in NYC as a media buyer for Warner Bros., and then went on to pursue his passion of operating his own water sport business after negotiating a contract with the State of Maryland. He then went to join SmartProcure as the 1st sales hire and is passionate about leveraging data to help build efficiencies between the public and private sector.

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Roxanne Blackwell

Director, Federal Government Affairs, ASLA


Bio coming soon


Eric Bjontegard

Founder, Spark Compass 


Erik has over 30 years of experience ranging from aerospace to retail. A former executive at Qualcomm’s corporate R&D division and previous rocket scientist, he holds patents at Qualcomm and is the inventor of the patent pending Spark Compass platform.

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Charlie Cook



Bio coming soon

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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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Frank Duke 

Director, Baton Rouge City-Parish Planning Commission


Bio coming soon

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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.

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Pat Forbes

Executive Director, Office of Community Development


Pat Forbes has been the Executive Director of the state Office of Community Development since July 2011. In his executive capacity, he oversees the Community Development Block Grant and Local Government Assistance programs, as well as the housing, economic development and infrastructure programs that utilize federal disaster CDBG (CDBG-DR) funds for recovery from hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike and Isaac. 

Forbes has held several positions in the Office of Community Development’s Disaster Recovery Unit. He previously worked as a member of the staff of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, where he developed recovery programs for the state’s infrastructure recovery programs, as well as providing outreach and technical assistance to the affected local governments. 

Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Forbes served as an engineer and technical assistant in the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities. Before his state service, he worked as a consulting environmental engineer, owned and operated his own company and served in numerous capacities at Georgia Pacific’s Port Hudson paper mill.

Forbes holds both a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in business administration from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. 

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Gwen Hamilton 

President & CEO, East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority

Bio coming soon


Michael D. Hebert 

Attorney, Becker & Hebert, LLC


Michael Hebert has practiced law since 1986. Michael has a broad-based practice and was appointed City-Parish Attorney of Lafayette in 2011.


Jesse Hoggard 

Vice President-Marketing, Cellcontrol

Bio coming soon

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Pamela Jenkins, Ph.D.

Professor, 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.


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.

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Katherine Klosek

Senior Implementation Advisor, Cities, The Center for Government Excellence

Katherine has been dedicated to domestic social policy at all levels of government since 2006. A native Baltimorean, she brings a blend of policy, data and advocacy, and community engagement skills to GovEx. GovEx is part of Johns Hopkins University’s 21st Century Cities Initiative and a proud partner in What Works Cities. Launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies in April 2015, What Works Cities is a national initiative to help 100 mid-sized American cities enhance their use of data and evidence to improve services, inform local decision-making, and engage residents.

Katherine began her career in Governor O’Malley’s StateStat Office, advancing progress toward statewide economic opportunity and health policy goals. In 2012, Katherine went on to serve as Director of the Baltimore City Partnership to End Childhood Hunger, leading a coalition of public and private actors in planning and implementing evidence-based strategies to eradicate hunger and improve family stability.


Peter Koht

Co-Founder, OpenCounter

Peter is the Co-founder of OpenCounter. An experienced economic development professional, Peter worked for the City of Santa Cruz where he lead a regional broadband policy group, and spearheaded the City’s open data policy along with initiatives to lower administrative barriers to job creation. Prior to his public sector role, he worked in technology and media. 

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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.


Will LaBar 

Vice President, CGI Federal

Bio coming soon


Charles A. Landry

Partner, Fishman Haygood, LLP

Charles Landry is a partner and member of Fishman Haygood's Business Section. Charles concentrates his practice in the areas of real estate development, real estate finance, land use and zoning. He has represented numerous parties in a wide range of real estate transactions, which included residential developments (including Traditional Neighborhood Developments) office buildings, shopping malls and centers, hotels and medical facilities, golf course communities, and industrial developments.

He is a leading expert in public private partnership in Louisiana having represented parties in numerous complex projects. He is also widely recognized as one of the leading land use attorneys in Louisiana.  He was a founding member and has served as the Chairperson of the East Baton Rouge Zoning Advisory Committee since its formation in 2003.

He has also been very involved in advancing Greater Baton Rouge’s high-tech, information, and entrepreneurial economic sector. He was instrumental in the formation of the Louisiana Technology Park, and serves as General Counsel to the Research Park Corporation. Charles 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 of Louisiana as those laws may impact a party wishing to invest in Louisiana.

He has been a frequent lecturer at Louisiana State University’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center and numerous continuing education seminars on the subjects of complex real estate transactions, title examination, land use planning, secured transactions, and real estate workouts.


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.

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Jared E. Munster, Ph.D

Director, Department of Safety and Permits - City of New Orleans

Bio coming soon

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Dyke Nelson

Founder/Lead Designer, DNA Workshop, LLC

Dyke Nelson is the owner of DNA Workshop, LLC. After earning a Bachelor of Architecture from Auburn University, he has been in continuous architectural practice since 1996 and is licensed in LA, MS, CA and AR. Prior to starting his own practice, he was a partner and lead designer at Chenevert Architects in Baton Rouge for eight years. While at Chenevert, Nelson designed a variety of projects ranging from single-family homes to a 90,000 square foot Cancer Center.

Before moving to Louisiana, Nelson was a job captain for Gensler- Architecture, Design and Planning Worldwide in San Francisco, California. There he was responsible for coordinating large corporate office projects and commercial interior projects such as the corporate headquarters for Peoplesoft. While in San Francisco, Nelson also worked with RLS, an audio, visual and technology consulting firm, providing architectural design on highly technical spaces including several broadcast facilities.

Since moving to Louisiana, Nelson has worked on numerous projects ranging from historic renovations to large mixed-use buildings, where he has become one of the region’s leaders on sustainability. He is a LEED accredited professional and has completed three LEED certified projects and has six more projected to be, including the historic Tessier Building the oldest commercial building in Baton Rouge. He also remodeled and expanded his family home, which was featured on the show “Renovation Nation” on Discovery’s Planet Green channel. Dyke Nelson is a member of the United States Green Building Council and is actively involved in the AIA. In addition to these professional commitments, he believes strongly in civic involvement and serves on a variety of boards such as, Baton Rouge Area Red Cross, Friends of Hilltop Arboretum, and the Greater Baton Rouge Arts Council.


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.

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Nick Popovich


Bio coming soon

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Michael R. Rhea

Associate, Jones Walker

Michael R. Rhea is an associate in the Jones Walker firm's Business & Commercial Litigation Practice Group and practices from the firm's Baton Rouge office. He is a 2012 graduate of the Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Louisiana State University, where he received his juris doctor degree and diploma in civil law, summa cum laude, and was named to the Order of the Coif. Mr. Rhea received his Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and in Political Science from Louisiana State University. While achieving his bachelor's degrees, he also studied abroad in Granada, Spain.

Mr. Rhea previously clerked for several Baton Rouge law firms, including Jones Walker. He was also an Americorps member and VolunTeens Team Leader for Volunteer Baton Rouge, where he collected donations and planned and coordinated community service projects for teenagers.


Robert D. Rivers

Executive Director, New Orleans City Planning Commission

Bob Rivers was appointed the Executive Director of the New Orleans City Planning Commission in 2013, where he supervises a staff of twenty-four.  This appointment represents a return to the planning profession after a ten-year career as an attorney, first as a Special Counsel in the Real Estate Practice Group of the Jones Walker law firm in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and more recently as Chief Deputy City Attorney for the City of New Orleans Law Department.  Mr. Rivers was the Administrator of the Nantucket Historic District Commission from 1998-2000, and also held various planning and preservation positions 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.  From 2005 through 2013, Mr. Rivers served as an adjunct professor with the University of New Orleans Department of Planning and Urban Studies, teaching a number of courses in planning, law, preservation, disaster recovery and housing. Mr. Rivers holds an undergraduate degree in architecture from Princeton University, a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from George Washington University, and a JD with honors from Tulane University.


Joel Robideaux

Mayor-President, Lafayette Consolidated Government

Mayor-President Robideaux was elected in October 2015, and officially took office on January 4, 2016.  Campaigning on the promise of “working together,” Mayor-President Robideaux has been working to understand the opportunities and challenges of government, regularly meeting with the other Mayors, LCG elected officials and staff, local business and civic leaders and constituents to understand parish-wide needs.

The unprecedented rainfall and the historic floods in August of 2016 turned out to be the biggest challenge of the administration’s first year in office. Mr. Robideaux was appointed to Governor John Bel Edwards’ Restore Louisiana Task Force and serves as the Chairman of the housing sub-committee and he knows the need to address drainage by working with officials from the local, regional, state and national levels.  Since the flood, Mr. Robideaux has sought new ways for the parish to become better prepared and quicker to recover from future challenges and has been working to build public and private partnerships to achieve that goal. The administration has participated in or conducted multiple workshops with renowned land use and planning experts to address the parish’s budget crisis and to create a more resilient community. Building resilient cities is a global movement to equip communities to handle physical, social and economic challenges by focusing on planning, response and an increased ability to better handle an unexpected event.

During his inaugural parish-wide address in March of 2017, Mr. Robideaux announced the launch of a new initiative to capitalize on Lafayette’s culture to further diversify the economy. CREATE (Culture, Recreation, Entertainment, Arts, Tourism, Economy) is a parish-wide, interagency, multi-year initiative to expand upon one of our greatest and most innate qualities, our culture, as an economic driver. CREATE is the first step to rebranding the community as a cultural, recreational and entertainment destination, which will also be important to retaining and attracting future generations to the region.

As a major gateway to the city, parish and university, Mayor-President Robideaux has identified the need to improve University Avenue. In its current condition, the University corridor does not reflect the quality of place our citizens deserve and it does not appropriately welcome our visitors to Lafayette. At the 2016 Mayors’ Institute on City Design, Mr. Robideaux engaged with architects, urban designers, planners and fellow Mayors from around the country for input from experts and peers on opportunities and challenges surrounding the corridor. The Acadiana Metropolitan Planning Organization awarded Lafayette Consolidated Government more than $500,000 to fund two projects on the University Avenue corridor. One project will fund the design and construction of a roundabout on University Avenue at Renaud Drive, just north of the Interstate. A second project will be the development of a corridor plan for University Avenue to unify the planning efforts along the state highway. Together with the Council, funding will be dedicated through a bond sale to begin the esthetic improvements such as planting trees and building sidewalks along the corridor. Through these efforts, Mr. Robideaux believes University Avenue can provide economic prosperity and a quality of life for those who live and work along the corridor.


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.

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Mathew Sanders

Resilience Program and Policy Administrator, State of Louisiana's Office of Community Development

Mathew is the resilience program and policy administrator for the State of Louisiana’s Office of Community Development (OCD). Louisiana has received a $92.6M award in conjunction with the HUD-funded National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC), including a $40M award to support its resilience policy framework, Louisiana’s Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments (LA SAFE), and a $48.3M award to resettle the Isle de Jean Charles community in Terrebonne Parish, LA. Mathew was the state’s intergovernmental lead for its NDRC application and is currently the principal in the development of both awarded projects.

Mathew holds degrees from Louisiana State University and New York University in mass communication and as a master of urban planning, respectively. Additionally, he is accredited by the American Planning Association’s American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).


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.


Scott Sternberg 

Partner, Sternberg, Naccari & White, LLC

Scott Sternberg is a Partner with Sternberg, Naccari & White, LLC, where he leads the Firm’s litigation practice as counsel to media and business entities throughout the Gulf Coast area.

Scott's business litigation practice has taken him to conference rooms and courtrooms throughout the South. His work with startup businesses has led him to present at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week on multiple occasions regarding legal issues facing entrepreneurs. Scott's interests include real estate and tax title litigation, representing tax title purchasers and those who have had their property taken by the state for failure to pay property taxes.  He also has significant experience both bringing and defending personal injury cases.

But, Scott is perhaps best known for his thriving media and open government practice: representing newspapers, online media entities and citizens in public records, open meetings, libel, privacy and other First Amendment and access-related issues. He has significant experience testifying before the Louisiana Legislature and teaches at Loyola University.  Scott also speaks and writes on topics related to public access to government, ethics and First Amendment issues. Scott is former winner of the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Stephen T. Victory Award for his writing. In 2015, Scott was also named one of Gambit’s “40 under 40.”

Scott received his Juris Doctor and Diploma in Civil Law cum laude from Louisiana State University’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center, where he was a member of the Louisiana Law Review, selected for the Moot Court Board and elected president of the Student Bar Association. While earning his bachelor’s degree in Journalism from LSU, he served as Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Reveille.


Greg Trahan

Director, Economic Development, Louisiana State University

Mr. Trahan currently represents LSU through the Office of Research and Economic Development (ORED) and is responsible for translating research, connecting faculty, and aligning assets to build strategic partnerships with business and industry. He also serves as Program Manager for LSU's Transformational Technology & Cyber Research Center (TTCRC), the university's applied research division responsible for translating basic research into services, products, and capabilities for the Federal Government, defense, and intelligence communities. As Program Manager, he assists with business and product development, strategic outreach, and research alignment.


Christopher J. Tyson

Newman Trowbridge Distinguished Associate Professor of Law, LSU Law Center

Professor Tyson joined the Law Center faculty in 2010 as an Assistant Professor. He teaches and writes in the areas of property, real estate development, local government law and urban land use and development. Professor Tyson earned his B.A. in Architecture, with honors, from Howard University; a Masters of Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center. While at Georgetown, Professor Tyson served as articles editor of the Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law and received the Dean's Certificate of Recognition of Special and Outstanding Service to the Law Center Community. Prior to earning his law degree, Professor Tyson worked in management consulting and in the Washington, DC office of United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu. After earning his law degree, Professor Tyson worked as an associate in the Real Estate Practice at the law firm Jones Walker, LLP in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He has been honored as one of the Baton Rouge Business Report’s 2010 Top Forty Under 40, the National Bar Association’s Top 40 Lawyers Under 40 for 2011 and the New Leaders Council’s 2011 Top 40 Under 40. He is also a recipient of the National Bar Association and Impact’s 2011 Excellence in Activism award. Professor Tyson was the 2015 Democratic candidate for Louisiana Secretary of State.

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David Waggonner 

President, Waggonner & Ball


David Waggonner is president of Waggonner and Ball, an award-winning, internationally active architecture and planning practice located in New Orleans. The firm’s architectural work varies from historic preservation to modern institutional projects. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, David saw an opportunity for New Orleans to reinvent itself as a sustainable city that embraces its lifeblood, water. He championed a process that examines history, soils, biodiversity, infrastructure networks, and urban space, along with the forces of water. This combination serves as a holistic foundation for design, first developed during the Dutch Dialogues and continuing through the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan. 

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Ronny Walker

Mayor, City of Ruston

Ronny Walker has been deeply involved in the economic growth and civic well-being of Ruston and Lincoln Parish for almost his entire adult life.

After graduation from Flora High School, Ronny earned his Bachelor's degree in Education from Mississippi State University and his Master of Education from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. After graduation, Ronny served at Temple Baptist Church in Ruston from 1981-1989.

It was at this time when Ronny Walker's interest in business and the economic future of our area began to grow. For more than two decades, Ronny Walker has devoted himself to building a better future for Lincoln Parish, Louisiana Tech University, and the City of Ruston. He has held positions at the Ruston State Bank, Community Trust Bank, Louisiana Tech Athletics, and First National Bank in Ruston. He is married to Heather Pitt Walker.

Ronny Walker enjoys using his skills, knowledge and energy to assist our community and our people. He has served as President on the boards of the Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, Lady Techsters Tip Off Club, Louisiana Tech Quarterback Club, Lincoln Parish GIS Commission, Louisiana Peach Festival, and ARCO.  Ronny Walker has also served on the Lincoln Parish Police Jury, Lincoln Parish Library, H.E.L.P. Agency, Ruston-Lincoln Industrial Development Committee, and the Louisiana Tech Alumni Board.  On November 4, 2014, Ruston voters elected Ronny as their Mayor and he took office on January 1, 2015.

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Amanda Spain Wells

Of Counsel, Baker Donelson Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC

Ms. Wells focuses her practice primarily on real estate financing and affordable housing. She has extensive experience in structuring all types of real estate financing transactions for borrowers, lenders and investors, focusing on all forms of state and federal tax credits (LIHTC, NMTC, HRTC), CDBG, HOME and other federal funding programs. Following the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, she worked closely with a diverse group of private and public entities to create and implement the now HUD recommended program for the use of public funds for affordable housing projects. Ms. Wells successfully closed more than three-quarters of a billion dollars in publicly funded loans for more than 100 projects in devastated areas of Louisiana. 

Ms. Wells is also engaged in drafting land use restrictions and creating blueprints for new mixed-use, residential and commercial developments throughout Louisiana, including traditional neighborhood developments (TNDs). Furthermore, she focuses on negotiating loan documents, bank financing and refinancing transactions as both lender and borrower counsel.