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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 speakers from 2018.



Jennifer Allen

City Strategist manager, Ioby

Jennifer is a community planner who loves connecting people to the relationships and resources they need. At ioby (In Our Backyards), Jennifer manages the City Action Strategist Team with staff located in Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Memphis. She guides them as they share ioby’s platform and resources to support local leaders working for neighborhood change.

Prior to joining ioby, Jennifer was the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Trailnet in St. Louis where she oversaw The Calm Streets Project, built strategic partnerships, and assisted with advocacy campaigns. During her time in Los Angeles, Jennifer worked at Livable Places as an advocate for more affordable housing, transportation options, and quality public spaces for Angelenos. Jennifer has a Master of Arts in Urban Planning from UCLA.


Gretchen Beesing


Gretchen joined Catalyst Miami in 2007, directing civic leadership and advocacy programs for more than five years. She became CEO in 2013. Gretchen’s integration of Catalyst’s services into a solid program suite based on an effective and empowering financial coaching platform, offers asset-building strategies at each stage in our clients’ journey to prosperity. She effectively transitioned Catalyst from a financial literacy provider to a financial capability thought leader, as evidenced by our many national partnerships and demonstration products, including MAF’s Lending Circles and a savings program for the unbanked. Other accomplishments include conceiving and piloting our Miami Thrives executive leadership program for community development practitioners, the first in South Florida. Under Gretchen’s leadership, Catalyst hosted Miami’s first Anti-Poverty Summit, attended by more than 300 service providers, activists and Miami-Dade County officials.

Gretchen serves as Chair of the Board of Directors for the South Florida Community Development Coalition. She participates on the JPMorgan Chase’s Community Advisory Board (Florida), the Florida Policy Institute’s Community Advisory Board, Resilient 305 Steering Committee, among other advisory boards. Gretchen was a 2015 American Express NGEN Fellow and is an alumnus of the Federal Reserve Board’s Community Leaders Forum.


Roxanne Blackwell

Director of federal government affairs, The American Society of Landscape Architects

Roxanne Blackwell, Esq., Hon. ASLA is the Director of Federal Government Affairs for the American Society of Landscape Architects, where she oversees all federal government affairs programs and represents the society before Congress and the federal agencies. Roxanne came to ASLA with several years of legislative experience working on Capitol Hill, where she served in senior level positions. She has extensive legislative experience working on transportation, water, and natural resources issues, and has achieved numerous legislative and regulatory victories on behalf of ASLA. In 2015, the ASLA Board of Trustees recognized Roxanne’s achievements and voted to make her an honorary member of ASLA. Roxanne received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Howard University and her Juris Doctor from the Howard University School of Law. She is admitted to the Maryland Bar and is a certified mediator.


Haley Blakeman

Vice President, Center for Planning Excellence

Haley is Vice President for CPEX, assisting our communities to grow more sustainably by facilitating citizen-driven planning processes, building planning capacity, and working with them to implement projects from their plans. Haley has worked on planning and implementation projects throughout Louisiana including Jena, Thibodaux, St. Francisville, St. Charles Parish, and Vernon Parish. In addition, Haley led the Better Block BR demonstration on Government Street in Baton Rouge, which showed how the street could be reconfigured to accommodate all modes of transportation, street trees, pop-up businesses and urban parks.

Since 1999, Haley has been practicing urban planning and landscape architecture at a variety of scales, from comprehensive planning to detail site design. She has contributed to projects ranging from residential master plans, commercial and institutional site designs, hike and bike trail designs, open space and greenway plans, and stream restorations.

Haley holds a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree from Louisiana State University and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from the University of New Orleans.  She is a licensed landscape architect and a certified planner.

Haley is involved in both the American Planning Association and American Society of Landscape Architects, where she has held many leadership roles including state chapter president and national Chapter Presidents Council Chair. She has also helped implement Complete Streets policy at the state and local level through the Complete Streets Implementation Workgroup.


Monique B. Boulet

ceo, acadiana planning commission

Bio coming soon!


Brenda M. Breaux

Executive Director, New Orleans redevelopment authority

Brenda M. Breaux personifies leadership, strong business acumen, passion and commitment to excellence. As Executive Director for the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA), she is responsible for providing strategic leadership, stability and growth opportunities for the Authority and the community we serve.

Prior to this new role, Brenda served diligently as the Chief Operating Officer of NORA for four (4) years where she was responsible for overseeing and managing Human Resources, Land Management, Land Stewardship, Real Estate Development and the day to day operations of the Authority. In this position, Brenda also directed legal strategies and participated in dispute resolution.

Brenda also 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 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 the downtown medical complex project and negotiations between the City and State regarding the former Road Home properties.

Additionally, she served as the Deputy Executive Director for the Housing Authority of New Orleans, while there Brenda was responsible for Development, Construction, Section 8, Procurement, Human Resources and Administrative Services and other executive level positions. Brenda has proven that years of experience and leadership has provided her with the opportunity to manage large scale affordable housing and complex real estate development projects in New Orleans and Biloxi, MS

Brenda earned 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 23 years.


Preston J. Castille, Jr.

Partner, taylor porter

Preston J. Castille, Jr. is a partner and a member of the Taylor Porter Law Firm’s Executive Committee.  He joined Taylor Porter in 1994 and is engaged primarily in business litigation and transactions.  Prior to attending law school, Mr. Castille worked as an economist for the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C.  In addition to being an experienced litigator in both state and federal court, Mr. Castille assists clients with matters involving the Louisiana Legislature, the Louisiana Public Service Commission and other state and local governmental entities.  Mr. Castille is ranked in Best Lawyers in America® in the fields of Administrative Law and Insurance Law. Mr. Castille is active in various education-related organizations including New Schools for Baton Rouge and several charter school organizations. He serves on the Greater Baton Rouge Area of Chamber of Commerce Business Advisory Committee.

Renee Chatelain

President & ceo, arts council of greater Baton Rouge

Renee Chatelain is graduate of Louisiana State University, holding both a B.A. Degree in History and a Juris Doctor. She is President/CEO of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. Renee began her career as a professional dancer and has since been a guest teacher for Iceland Dance Theater - Reykjavik, Iceland; Ballet Festival of India – Mumbai, Cornell University, and Hunter College. She has been a featured speaker at the Women in Dance Conference, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters in New York and has served as a community coach for the City of Mandeville Louisiana, through the Louisiana Office of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. Awards include the John W. Barton Sr. Excellence in Non-profit Management, Milestone Award - National Guild for Community Arts Education.


Joyce Coffee

President, climate resilience consulting

Joyce Coffee, LEED AP, founder and president of the Certified B Corp Climate Resilience Consulting, works with leaders to create strategies that strengthen urban resilience, protecting and enhancing markets and livelihoods through adaptation to climate change.

She has over 20 years of domestic and international experience in the corporate, government and non-profit sectors implementing resilience and sustainability strategies, management systems, performance measurement, partnerships, benchmarking and reporting.

Joyce advises various high level resilience groups, including the Climate Bond Initiative's Adaptation and Resilience Expert Group, Climate KIC’s City Finance Lab, Resilience Brokers Programme, the Global Adaptation and Resilience Investment work group, the Anthropocene Alliance, the US Green Building Council Illinois Chapter, The Climate Service, MIT CoLab, and the National Science Foundation’s Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network.

She received a B.S. in biology, environmental studies and Asian studies from Tufts University and a Masters in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is the author of the Climate Adaptation Exchange Blog. @joycecoffee


Sean Daly

Senior Planner, Transportation Systems, Iteris; Professional Development Officer, American Planning Association – Louisiana Chapter

Sean Daly is a senior planner at Iteris, Inc. Over his 15-year career, Mr. Daly has worked on wide range of transportation planning activities on the local, regional, state, and federal level in the public sector and in professional consulting. These include multimodal and goods movement transportation studies, intersection and corridor analysis, state and federal transportation policy and finance and data analytics for transportation performance measurement and evaluation. He Is the Professional Development Officer for the Louisiana Chapter of APA and a certified Professional Transportation Planner. He is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles, and received his master's in City and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania.


Veronica Davis, PE

Partner and principal planning manager at nspiregreen llc; co-founder of black women bike

Veronica O. Davis, PE is the Partner and Principal Planning Manager at Nspiregreen LLC, which she co-owns with Chanceé Lundy. In July 2012, the White House recognized her as a Champion of Change and Transportation Innovator for her professional accomplishments and community advocacy in the District of Columbia.

At Nspiregreen, she is responsible for managing the Urban Planning business unit, which includes surface transportation planning, policy development, and long range planning. Some of Nspiregreen’s Washington D.C. projects include moveDC – the District of Columbia's long range transportation plan, North-South Corridor Planning Study under the D.C. Streetcar program, Vision Zero, and 16th Street Transit Priority Study.

Veronica is one of the co-founders of Black Women Bike (BWB), an organization and movement that encourages African American women to use biking for health and wellness as well as an alternative form of transportation for commuting. In less than two years the organization has grown to over 1,500 African American women ranging in age from late 20’s to early 70’s.

Veronica earned her dual Masters Degrees (Engineering Management and Regional Planning) from Cornell University.  She has a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from the University of Maryland. She is a registered professional engineer in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia.


Eric Dexter

Director of business development, civil solutions consulting group

Eric Dexter is the Director of Business Development for Civil Solutions Consulting Group, a Baton Rouge-based civil engineering firm that assists governmental agencies, developers, and architecture firms with the planning, design, and management of residential and commercial development, infrastructure, and disaster recovery programs.

As a volunteer, he currently serves as the chairman of the board for Apex Collegiate Academy Charter School. He also serves (or has served) on boards/committees/councils/cabinets for the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Baton Rouge Blues Foundation, Brotherhood Sisterhood Committee, Capital Area United Way, Complete Streets Citizens Advisory Committee, Dialogue on Race Louisiana, Downtown Development District, Forum 35, Louisiana Association of Business & Industry (LABI), Louisiana Art & Science Museum, Manship Theatre, Sustainable Transportation Action Committee, and the Urban Congress on African American Males in Baton Rouge. 

Understanding the importance of continued professional development, Eric is a graduate of the Baton Rouge Area Leadership Program (2015), as well as Forum 35’s John W. Barton, Sr. Community Development Leadership Program (2013).

Over the past few years, Eric has been recognized by the Baton Rouge Business Report as a Forty Under 40 honoree (2015); LABI’s Young Businessperson-Free Enterprise Champion (2016); and a Boys & Girls Club of Greater Baton Rouge Great Futures Gala Honoree (2017).

Eric is originally from Alexandria, LA and is a graduate of Northwestern State University where he majored in Business Administration and minored in Marketing.


Jeannette Dubinin

Director of coastal program, Center for Planning Excellence

Jeannette has been with CPEX since 2010, focusing on developing and providing planning and implementation tools with and for Louisiana’s coastal communities. She has co-authored several of CPEX’s publications and worked with numerous coastal communities to identify opportunities for reducing flood risk and increasing overall resilience.

Jeannette has a natural science background and earned a M. Sc. in Energy and Environmental Science from Rijksuniversiteit Groningen in the Netherlands, and B.Sc. in Biological Science from LSU in Baton Rouge.

Jeannette is married and has two daughters, two dogs, and an ugly cat that she likes to spend her time with. Her hobbies include horseback riding, gardening and carpentry.  


Kate Durio

CREATE Initiative / Assistant to the Mayor-President, lafayette consolidated government

Kate Durio is an Assistant to Mayor-President, Joel Robideaux in Lafayette, Louisiana for the CREATE Initiative announced in 2017. CREATE representing Culture, Recreation, Entertainment, Arts, Tourism, Economy, is a comprehensive strategy to infuse creativity and cultural innovation into all city-parish efforts. In addition to CREATE, Kate works with the Mayor-President to improve downtown, smart city efforts and public spaces. Her program, Creativity Everywhere, won the Award of Excellence from the International Downtown Association and the Louisiana Cultural District of the year in 2014. Kate is on several boards and also co-founded ReCover Acadiana to tackle beautification and blight projects through collaboration or rogue action. She enjoys working to empower local neighborhoods; because she believes we should all do what we can, where we can, starting on our own block. Kate is an award-winning investigative journalist and has worked in Portland, Oregon and Lafayette.

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Anne Fadullon

director of the planning and development cabinet, city of philadelphia

Anne is the Director of Planning & Development, a cabinet level position in the City of Philadelphia. Her department oversees the City’s planning, zoning, affordable housing, development assistance and historic preservation functions.

Prior to joining the City, Anne was the Director of Real Estate Development at Dale Corporation where she completed both affordable and market-rate projects. She is Past President of the Philadelphia Building Industry Association.

Anne has a degree in Urban Studies and Economics from Lehigh University and a Masters in City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania.


Dan Favre

executive director, Bike easy

Dan has been riding his bicycle all over the streets of New Orleans since moving here in 2006. You may have seen him bike commuting to his former office in the CBD or zipping through City Park with friends to catch the dusk golden hour on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain.

Along with a well-traveled helmet, Dan brings brings extensive experience with collaborative leadership and nonprofit management, grassroots organizing, advocacy campaigning, membership fundraising and development, and strategic communications from years working in the region’s environmental movement. Read more about Dan in the press release announcing his hiring.

As Executive Director of Bike Easy, Dan is most excited about continuing to develop a strong organization that effectively advocates for safer road systems that support biking and walking in Greater New Orleans while encouraging the on-going growth of the region’s bicycle culture.

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Patrick W. Forbes, P.E.


 Office of Community Development Executive Director Pat Forbesoversees the state’s Community Development Block Grant programs funded by HUD. Forbes’ oversight includes housing, economic development, infrastructure and planning programs for recovery from hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike and Isaac, and the 2016 floods.

Previously, Forbes managed the Louisiana Recovery Authority’s infrastructure section and before Hurricane Katrina, he served as an engineer in the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities.  

 Prior to his state service, Forbes worked as a consulting environmental engineer, owned and operated his own company, and worked at Georgia Pacific’s Port Hudson paper mill. 

 Forbes earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.


Jonathan Foret

executive director, south louisiana wetlands discovery center

As a native of Chauvin, Jonathan Foret grew up in a culture-rich environment from working on shrimp boats as a young boy to speaking Louisiana French to his grandmother. He graduated from South Terrebonne High School in Bourg, LA and received his bachelor’s degree in English from Nicholls State University. He taught English at Grand Caillou Middle in Houma, LA and later in Brooklyn, New York before he joined the Peace Corps.

He served in the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific for two years where he taught English as a second language, served as community development coordinator and taught the Tongans how to use a Louisiana cast net. He returned to the States to work with several nonprofit organizations before leaving again to take a position with a disabled people’s organization in Bangladesh. This work led him to work for the United Nations in the Asia Pacific region where he did monitoring and evaluation visits in several countries in the area.

Upon completion of this work he returned to the United States to receive his master’s in Public Administration from the University of New Orleans. He is proud to be working with the board of directors for the Wetlands Discovery Center to move the organization’s vision forward. He has developed many innovative programs and fundraisers including the Rougarou Fest, a family-friendly festival with a spooky flair that celebrates the rich folklore that exists along the bayous of Southeast Louisiana. The Rougarou Fest was ranked as one of the Top 10 Costume Parties in the United States by USA Today in 2014, one of the Top 20 Events out of 11 states in the month of October by the Southeast Tourism Society in 2015, and most recently awarded Best New Event in the state of Louisiana by the Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals.


Christopher Forinash

Principal & Washington DC Office Lead, Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates

Chris Forinash connects people to the places they love by making the ways they get around easier, healthier, and more sustainable.

Chris has nearly 25 years working in urban transportation and development. Starting from a technical base of forecasting the demand for regional transportation investments, he focused on the policies that ensure transportation systems support sustainable, equitable community-building. He contributed to early work on recognizing the environmental benefits of smart growth, changing parking policy, and reforming federal transportation funding. He is renowned for interpreting technical results legibly for policy-makers and the public.

Chris approaches all of his work by engaging with the community, analyzing their needs and options, and recommending innovative and practical changes. He led a team of 15 national organizations that helped leaders from 150 regions and neighborhoods create ambitious transportation, economic development, and environmental plans driven by the priorities of all their residents. He served as chair of the Arlington County (Virginia) Planning Commission as it accelerated a successful transition from stagnant suburb to vibrant urban community.


Kelsey Funes

partner, phelps dunbar llp

Kelsey Kornick Funes represents both plaintiffs and defendants in their disputes involving public and private construction projects. She has represented owners, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and design professionals in state and federal courts in Louisiana, as well as mediation and arbitration across the Gulf Coast region. 

Ms. Funes has handled matters involving all aspects of the construction process, including public bid protests, delay and inefficiency claims, claims involving construction defects, enforcement of payment and lien claims, as well as claims against performance and payment bonds. Ms. Funes also represents contractors before the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors.

Ms. Funes currently serves as the practice coordinator of the Baton Rouge Litigation practice.


Calvin Gladney

President & CEO, Smart Growth America

Calvin Gladney, LEED AP, is a nationally recognized thought leader on the equitable and sustainable revitalization of communities. Prior to SGA, he was Managing Partner of Mosaic Urban, and has worked in over 25 cities. He was also the Urban Land Institute’s Senior Visiting Fellow for Equity, and served as Vice President of the Anacostia Waterfront Corp. and the General Counsel of BRIDGE Housing Corporation.

Mr. Gladney graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School, received his B.S. from Cornell University. He is a Trustee of the ULI, a Board member of the Center for Community Progress, and a member of ULI’s national Public/Private Partnership Council. He also serves as an adjunct real estate professor at Georgetown University. You can connect with him on Twitter and on Instagram @SmartGrowthCEO.


Mark Goodson

Principal, REsilience practice lead, csrs

Mark Goodson is CSRS’ Resilience Practice Lead who oversees a multi-disciplinary team of professionals that advises clients on how to survive, adapt, and thrive during changing conditions. Mr. Goodson and our resilience team members provide technical assistance to commercial and governmental clients across the U.S. He is a representative in the 100 Resilient Cities organization, and CSRS is one of the organization’s platform partners. Mr. Goodson’s career spans over 12 years, during which time he focused on resilience, urban planning and redevelopment, finance, and program management. Mr. Goodson holds a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture and a Master of Public Administration, both from Louisiana State University.


Erika L. Green

Councilwoman, District 5, City of Baton Rouge - Parish of East Baton Rouge

Erika L. Green is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and a product of the East Baton Rouge Public School System. After graduating from Belaire High School, she received a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a specialization in Juvenile Justice from Prairie View A and M University in Texas. At graduation, Erika received the highest student honor, Student Humanitarian. She returned to her hometown to attend Southern University Law Center, where she received her Juris Doctorate.

Erika practices law at her Baton Rouge firm, The Law Office of Erika Green, LLC, but partnered with Cavalier and Green, LLC, for civil matters. Her community impact extends to board membership of the Gloryland Educational Resource Center, Inc., YWCA, JK Haynes Charter School, and The Capital Area Transit System. She is also an active member of the Baton Rouge Branch of the NAACP, Baton Rouge Delta Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Junior League of Baton Rouge, Forum 35, NOBLE, and Louis A. Martinet Society. Erika is a devoted member of Gloryland Baptist Church.

In January 2015, she was appointed to the East Baton Rouge Metro Council as District 5 Councilwoman. In December 2016, she was elected to the position. During her council tenure, she has served on the Mayor’s Millennial Agenda Transition Team and founded Camp Expose for middle school students and IWE Festival, an urban culture and literary festival in North Baton Rouge. She desires citizen involvement and has established three District 5 Advisory Committees.


Cordell Haymon

Chairman of the board, center for planning excellence

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 a member and past President 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 Sr. 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.  He has also served as chair of Teach for America – South Louisiana since 2004. Mr. Haymon is married to Louisiana’s Poet Laureate Ava Leavell Haymon, has two children and three grandchildren, and attends University Presbyterian Church.


Pamela Jenkins, PhD

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.


Diane Jones Allen, PhD

PRINCIPAL LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT, DESIGNJONES LLC; Program Director Landscape Architecture, University of Texas Arlington

Diane Jones Allen, D.Eng., ASLA, PLA is currently the Program Director for Landscape Architecture, the College of Architecture Planning, and Public Affairs, the University of Texas, Arlington. She is Principal Landscape Architect with DesignJones LLC in New Orleans, Louisiana which received the 2016 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Community Service Award. Diane is on the Board of the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF). Her research and practice is guided by the intersection of environmental justice, identity and sustainability in cultural landscapes.


Alex Kaplan

head of North America and senior Vice President, global partnerships for swiss re

Alex Kaplan is Head of North America and Senior Vice President, Global Partnerships for Swiss Re, where he develops and executes innovative risk transfer solutions to help governments, international financial institutions and NGOs at all levels manage their financial risks. Kaplan joined Swiss Re in 2008 as Vice President of Regulatory Affairs representing Swiss Re’s commercial interests before governors, state insurance regulators and legislators, as well as members of Congress and appointed members of the Federal government. Prior to joining Swiss Re, Kaplan was appointed Deputy to the Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs for the United States Department of the Treasury under Secretary Henry M. Paulson in August 2006. Kaplan has also worked with the Organization for International Investment, a Washington D.C.-based business association representing US subsidiaries of foreign companies.  Kaplan holds a bachelor of arts degree in economics from Hobart College in Geneva, New York.


Jessica McKelvie Kemp, PhD

Vice President, Center for Planning Excellence

As Vice President, Jessica is responsible for advancing CPEX’s mission in public policy for the CONNECT coalition and issues related to housing, equity and 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 assisting executive leadership with strategic planning and resource development at CPEX.

Jessica’s professional and academic career has been focused on research, communications, fund development and social justice philanthropy. Before coming to CPEX in 2013, Jessica served as Vice President of Communications for the Foundation for Louisiana where she led communications and outreach efforts as well as resource development strategies to advance program and policy objectives focused on economic development, affordable housing and equitable access to opportunity.

Jessica completed a Ph.D. in English at Louisiana State University, specializing in critical theory and consumerism; a M.A. in English from the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York; and a B.A. in English from Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. Jessica has served on the YWCA’s Public Policy Committee and participated in Habitat for Humanity’s Women’s Build. She currently sits on the boards of the Environment and Health Council of Louisiana and the Capital Area March of Dimes. She is a lifelong fellow of the Effective Leadership Program, a joint endeavor of Duke University, Southern University and the University of Cape Town to cultivate leaders committed to social justice in Louisiana and South Africa.


Joseph Andrew Kohl

Founding Principal, Dover, Kohl & Partners

Joseph Kohl was among the founders who, in 1987, established the firm that became Dover, Kohl & Partners. Concerned with ever increasing suburban sprawl, Joe and Victor Dover began designing sustainable streets, towns, and regions for municipalities and private clients across the country and internationally. Together, they have developed a successful public design process, combining cutting-edge visualization techniques with community participation strategies.

Joe is recognized nationally as an innovator in urban design and graphic communication. He pioneered the use of computer imaging simulations for urban design projects, winning several national awards for his work. He is known for his expertise in applying graphic techniques to development ordinances, and he has authored many of the firm’s illustrated land development regulations. Joe is responsible for daily business operations and internal management of the firm. He oversees the firm’s urban design, working hands-on with the Town Planners to refine and constantly improve designs for walkable, sustainable urban places.

Joe received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, where he also studied at their Washington-Alexandria Center for Architecture. He received his Master of Architecture in Suburb and Town Design from the University of Miami. Joe is a charter member of the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), the leading organization promoting walkable, neighborhood-based development as an alternative to suburban sprawl, and is a CNU-Accredited Professional. Joe is also a founder and board member of the Form-Based Codes Institute, a not-for-profit think tank that focuses on quality control, education, and advancement of form-based codes as an alternative to Euclidean zoning. He serves as the Institute’s treasurer and he frequently instructs courses on the application and implementation of Form-Based Codes. Joe has also taught numerous design and media courses at the University of Miami.

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Justin Kozak, PhD

Researcher + Policy Analyst, Center for Planning Excellence

Justin completed a PhD in Environmental Resources & Policy at Southern Illinois University (SIU) where his research focused broadly on working solutions to water resources issues in Louisiana and beyond. Drawn to Louisiana through work in the Atchafalaya River Basin as part of a National Science Foundation IGERT Fellowship in Watershed Science and Policy, he moved with his wife to Baton Rouge where he dabbled in stay-at-home husbanding and housekeeping on a shoestring before being hired by the Center for Planning Excellence.

As a member of CPEX’s Planning + Implementation team, Justin is currently researching climate change adaptation as it pertains to coastal Louisiana.


Jonathan Leit

Director, New Orleans office, alembic community development

Jonathan Leit, Director of the New Orleans office of Alembic Community Development, is a real estate developer and urban planner focused on implementing neighborhood redevelopment projects in partnership with community-based organizations. Since 2006, Jonathan has worked on community development projects in revitalizing communities in New Orleans and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, in particular leveraging public and private financing sources towards redeveloping vacant historic buildings, while also building the capacity of nonprofit partners through joint ventures and consulting engagements. Jonathan also teaches community development finance as an adjunct lecturer in Tulane University’s Master of Sustainable Real Estate Development program. He was a Rockefeller Fellow in New Orleans through the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Urban Redevelopment Excellence, and holds a Master in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Justin Lemoine

owner, ELS Landscape Architecture Studio

Justin Lemoine is a 2006 graduate of the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture. After graduation, Justin and his wife Lauren moved to Austin Texas where he worked for SEC Planning Consultants on a wide variety of projects ranging from detailed design to community planning.  In the spring of 2007, Justin moved back to Baton Rouge and joined Dana Brown & Associates (formerly Brown+Danos landdesign).  At DBA, Justin was studio director and principal. There, he worked on public and private projects of varying sizes ranging from residential and commercial to community planning and engagement and large municipal parks and public spaces. While at DBA, Justin also became involved with Louisiana ASLA and the MidCity Redevelopment Alliance.

In 2013, Justin formed ELS Landscape Architecture Studio.   Today, ELS focuses on residential, commercial, and public project design throughout the state of Louisiana. In 2016, Justin and several RRSLA Alums founded the MidCity Makers Market, a monthly event that showcases the works of talented artists from Baton Rouge and Beyond. 


Greg Lemons

mayor, town of abita springs

He is a highly decorated Army Veteran having that served in the Vietnam War and is a Disabled Army Veteran. He is very proud to have represented our country.

Professionally he spent 36 years with a Fortune 500 Company.

He has served as a Past Chairman of the St Tammany Fire District #8, Founder and Treasurer of “Friends of the Park”. Currently a member of the VFW and American Legion, Abita Knights of Columbus, Abita Garden Club and Abita Men’s Club. A Past Board Member of the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra, St Tammany Hospital and NAMI St Tammany.

The Mayor is a strong advocate for Stopping Fracking in Abita Springs. He also is involved with Abita Springs being 100% Renewable Energy by 2035.

Politically in Abita Springs he has served as a Commissioner of the Planning & Zoning Commission for 2 years, elected an Alderman for 6 years and elected Mayor Pro Tem. He was elected Mayor of Abita Springs and has served in that capacity since 2013.

Abita Springs is his home, he grew up there and has many fond memories and his family lives there. It is important to give back to the community and keep Abita Springs the special place that it is.

Personally, he has been married for 50 years and has 2 daughters, a grandson and a great grandson. He is the 4th generation to reside in Abita Springs, it’s his home, he grew up there, has many fond memories, his family lives there. Giving back to the community and keeping Abita Springs this special town is very important. He enjoys attending the Abita Opry, bicycling and his dogs. Although his biggest pleasure in life is spending time with “Malindy” his boat.


Camille Manning-Broome

president & ceo, Center for Planning Excellence

A native Louisianan, Camille Manning-Broome is internationally recognized for her expertise in resilience and adaptation planning. Her leadership on issues of land loss, coastal community sustainability, climate change resilience and adaptation as well as resident-led community planning has contributed to the transformation of cities, towns and parishes throughout Louisiana and has created knowledge of interest to peers throughout the U.S. and the globe, from South Africa to Scotland to Denmark.

Having spent time in various parts of the state throughout her life – summers in Natchitoches, graduate school work in lower Plaquemines Parish, and now raising a family in Baton Rouge, Camille’s driving passion is planning for a Louisiana her kids will be proud to call home. She invests her personal and professional energy into engaging local and state leadership in support of resident-driven planning efforts. Through this work, Camille prioritizes resilience, equity, and preservation of cultural and social ties for all residents, with emphasis on populations facing challenges associated with historical disinvestment, land loss and changing climate conditions.

As President and CEO, Camille oversees CPEX’s multidisciplinary team as they develop plans and provide technical assistance, data and research, policy guidance, communications support and thought leadership to communities seeking to make thoughtful decisions about how they develop and grow. Camille is a member of the CPEX Board of Directors and works closely with them to set the organization’s vision and advance CPEX’s mission to bring people and planning together to make great places.

In her previous role as Senior Vice President, Camille guided CPEX’s planning and implementation team in developing comprehensive plans, model land-use tools, and implementation strategies for more than 30 Louisiana communities. She built CPEX’s coastal resilience line of work by engaging coastal communities in creating a vision for the future of the working coast and developing the strategies, programs, and resources necessary to make progress toward that vision.  Camille managed CPEX’s business development activities and has cultivated and maintained strategic relationships with funders, project partners, consulting clients, and stakeholders.

Camille has a B.A. in Art History and an M.S. in Environmental Science with an emphasis on Disaster Science and Management from Louisiana State University.  She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Sciences at LSU; her dissertation research is focused on community adaptation to climate change.


George Marks

President/Director, NUNU Arts and Culture Collective

In addition to his creating his own works of art, Marks has been a seminal member of the creative community of Louisiana. He is a former member of the (Louisiana) State Arts Council. He is founder of the NUNU Arts and Culture Collective, a meeting place for visual artists, writers, musicians and cultural ambassadors from the local community of Arnaudville and surrounding region. Each year, Marks directs a five-day Francophone focused Creative Placemaking Summit (Semaine de la Francophonie) that builds partnerships between Louisiana French culture and the Francophone world by serving as a platform for project creation. Marks is considered a champion of the arts and culture in South Louisiana and has been an outspoken advocate for the development and promotion of the creative economy. He is the recipient of the 2017 ABC Fund ICON Award for Cultural Economy; 2017 ABiz Jillian Johnson Award for Entrepreneurship in the Cultural Economy; 2016 Foundation for Historical Louisiana Cultural Preservationist; 2008 Governor’s Leadership in the Arts award; and 2006 Opelousas-St. Landry Parish Chamber of Commerce’s Entrepreneurial Excellence award. He is the creator of Le Feu et l’Eau Rural Arts Celebration, co-creator of the Corridor des Arts partnership and serves on the burgeoning St Landry Parish Creative Placemaking Task Force. His community development work is documented in the Creative Placemaking Report by Ann Markusen, Markusen Economic Research Services, and Anne Gadwa, Metris Arts Consulting: A white paper for The Mayors' Institute on City Design, a leadership initiative on the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors and American Architectural Foundation.


Lauren Marschall


Lauren is a community and regional planner with Geographic Information Systems expertise.  As Project Manager, she helps drive CPEX’s planning and implementation work by facilitating comprehensive planning processes and code writing in communities across Louisiana. She has worked with Ascension Parish, the City of Gonzales, City of Thibodaux, Vernon Parish and others on comprehensive plans, public outreach, and meeting facilitation.  Lauren also contributes to many other CPEX efforts, including neighborhood transportation planning, streetscape demonstration projects, and mapping.

As Operations Manager, Lauren’s role includes financial, contractual, and human resources responsibilities, and assisting leadership in managing CPEX’s resources and procedures.

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. Lauren is a member of the American Planning Association and currently serves as Treasurer for the Capital Section of APA’s Louisiana Chapter.


Andreanecia M. Morris

Executive Director, HousingNOLA

Andreanecia M. Morris serves as Executive Director of HousingNOLA, the nonprofit responsible for the New Orleans’s 10-Year housing strategy and implementation plan. HousingNOLA offers a road map to insure that strategic choices are made to address inequity issues in housing.  The plan works to address the need for 33,600 additional affordable housing opportunities in the city by 2025 for households at almost every level.

Since graduating Loyola University, Morris has worked to create affordable housing opportunities in both the public and private sector. Gambit Weekly named Morris New Orleanian of the Year for her efforts in 2017.


Tommy Pacello


Tommy Pacello is an attorney and city planner. He is the President of the Memphis Medical District Collaborative, a community development organization focused on strengthening the communities between and around eight major medical, educational, and research anchor institutions.

Previously, Tommy served as a member of Innovate Memphis, a non-profit funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies to develop and implement data driven strategies to urban challenges. In 2015, Tommy was named one of the top 40 Real Estate Professionals under the age of 40 by the Urban Land Institute.

Tommy is also the Chair for the Memphis Chapter of the Urban Land Institute and is actively involved with the Congress for the New Urbanism. He is a frequent speaker on civic innovation and urban issues.


Davis Rhorer

Executive Director, Downtown Development District

As Executive Director of the Downtown Development District (DDD), 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.

Since the DDD was established in 1987, Rhorer has served as the 1st and only executive director and is a prominent leader in the development of various plans and initiatives that have transformed the Downtown area. In this capacity, Rhorer has served on many boards, including the International Downtown Association, and has worked closely with the DDD Board of Directors, private sector partners, local government, non-profit and philanthropic organizations to revitalize Louisiana’s Capitol City - helping to attract more than $2.25 billion in investments. He is the leader in implementing downtown Baton Rouge’s current master plan – Plan Baton Rouge II.

Rhorer and the Downtown Development District have received ten awards from the International Downtown Association, recognizing their continued leadership role in the revitalization of Downtown Baton Rouge.

He is a 1979 graduate of the Robert F. Reich School of Landscape Architecture at Louisiana State University and currently serves on the Alumni Board.


Scott Ritter

Co-founder & Managing Partner, Ritter Maher Architects

A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Scott Ritter has nearly 20 years of architectural experience. Scott began his undergraduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin, in the field of Architectural Engineering. He completed his studies at Louisiana State University, with a Bachelors of Architecture. In 2002, Scott launched his own architecture and design firm—Ritter Maher Architects—with partner and friend Stephen Maher. RMA plays a vital role in redevelopment in Baton Rouge, and works hand in hand with both development groups and non-profits to advance the practice of good design in our cities. Scott plays an active part in the Baton Rouge community and is a strong advocate of civic and social improvement. He is an active member of the American Institute of Architects and currently sits on the Executive Committee for the Greater Baton Rouge Arts Council. Scott is licensed to practice Architecture in numerous states including Louisiana, Texas and North Carolina.

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Jason Roberts

Originator, National better block Project

Jason Roberts is an artist, civic activist, and urban designer whose life’s work has been dedicated to the creation of healthy, vibrant, and sustainable neighborhoods. In 2006, Jason formed the nonprofit organization, Oak Cliff Transit Authority, to revive the Dallas streetcar system, and later spearheaded the city’s effort in garnering a $23 million grant from the federal government to help reintroduce a modern streetcar system to Dallas. In 2010, Jason organized a series of Better Block projects, taking blighted blocks with vacant properties in Dallas and converting them into temporary, walkable districts with pop-up businesses, bike lanes, cafe seating, and landscaping. The project has become an open-sourced international movement occurring everywhere from Melbourne, Australia to Tehran, Iran, and has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Dwell Magazine. Jason has received a Champions of Change award from the U.S. White House, showcased in the 2012 Venice Biennale, and was listed in Planetizen‘s Top 100 Most Influential Urbanists. 


Jill Robertson

Principal, DIALOG

Jill Robertson joined DIALGO’s Edmonton studio in 2013 and brings a wealth of experience in landscape architecture and planning from detailed site design to visionary master planning. She has led a variety of multi-disciplinary project teams across Canada, the U.S. and internationally, and understands the strategic advantages of a truly collaborative design process.

A skilled facilitator of design-oriented public engagement, Jill is known for her ability to achieve meaningful consensus in highly sensitive situations. Prior to joining DIALOG, she was the Director of Planning of Halifax-based Ekistics Planning and Design, one of Eastern Canada’s leading boutique design firms.

She is a registered landscape architect and LEED® Accredited Professional (Neighbourhood Development) with a special interest in landscape ecology, collaborative master planning, and urban design.


Richard Rothstein

Distinguished Fellow, Economic Policy Institute; author of the color of the law: a forgotten history of how our government segregated america

Richard Rothstein is a Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Policy Institute and a fellow of the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and of the Haas Institute at the University of California (Berkeley). He is the author of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America. The book expands upon and provides a national perspective on his recent work that has documented the history of state-sponsored residential segregation, as in his report, The Making of Ferguson. He is the author of Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right (2008) and Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap (2004). He is also the author of The Way We Were? Myths and Realities of America’s Student Achievement (1998). Other recent books include The Charter School Dust-Up: Examining the Evidence on Enrollment and Achievement (co-authored in 2005); and All Else Equal: Are Public and Private Schools Different? (co-authored in 2003). He welcomes comments at


Greg Rucks

principal, Rocky Mountain institute

Greg Rucks is a Principal in RMI’s Transportation Practice and is currently leading a multi-year partnership with the Austin community to develop and implement technology and world-class solutions for transforming mobility: enhancing traveler information, offering a wider variety of cost-effective, convenient, and tech-enabled commuter options, enabling mobility-oriented land use and city development, and ultimately shifting from a fossil-fueled, personal-vehicle-based mobility system toward one defined by fully autonomous, electrified, on-demand mobility. With an eye on replicability,

Greg is also helping scale solutions from Austin to other global cities, including Pune, India, as part of developing an Urban Mobility Lab there in partnership with the Indian government.


Liz Williams Russell

coastal community resilience director, Foundation for louisiana

Liz Williams Russell manages the development and implementation of strategies to support communities and economies influenced by land loss and relative sea-level rise across coastal Louisiana. With a background and training in architectural design, landscape systems, and urban planning, Liz incorporates the complexities of the developed urban ecosystem to promote equitable opportunities in areas altered and affected by land change. Liz directs the activities of the Foundation for Louisiana’s Coastal Resilience Leverage Fund, managing coastal grant-making areas with community based advisors, allies and relevant partners while improving and increasing opportunities for regional collaboration. Liz continues to accomplish this work by encouraging communication and coordination among networks across parishes, coastal basins and statewide.

The Fund acknowledges and reinforces the work done by resident leaders and community based organizations, working to provide opportunities for those most impacted by environmental risks to be key decision makers in how to address them. Liz’s role underscores the foundation’s unique ability to provide both technical and grantmaking support in order to catalyze local skillsets and resources, to bolster a range of regional organizational strengths, and to integrate related and interconnected activities towards comprehensive statewide response to coastal change.

Risk mitigation and resilience-based programs require an awareness of and participation with these transitioning watersheds. In order to better provide opportunities, establish and cultivate partnerships, and advocate for informed and diverse public engagement, Liz supports fundraising initiatives and guides the common campaign and funding plan across Foundation for Louisiana’s Coastal Resiliency Leverage Fund. 

Liz previously has worked as a Research Fellow and Affiliate with the Coastal Sustainability Studio at Louisiana State University. In this role she led and collaborated with cohorts of civil engineers, urban planners, coastal scientists, and landscape architects alongside economic, legal, and cultural advisors. Each project engaged a set of unique conditions within the coastal landscape and proposed developments through which residents and communities might advance and thrive in a future with evolving challenges.

In addition to early years of experience within traditional architecture practice, Liz has held a range of academic positions. She has taught within the School of Architecture at LSU, the Department of Architecture and Landscape within the University of Greenwich in London, London College of Contemporary Art, and Birmingham City University in the UK.


Matthew D. Sanders

Resilience Program and Policy Administrator, Louisiana Office of Community Development

Mathew is the resilience program and policy administrator for the State of Louisiana’s Office of Community Development (OCD). Louisiana 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.

Prior to taking on a resilience-specific role within OCD, Mathew served as the organization’s policy advisor, taking a lead role in program development in conjunction with state’s recovery from 2012’s Hurricane Isaac. Additionally, he has focused on program and policy development within the state’s broader $16 billion portfolio in response to hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike as well as cloudburst flooding events affecting large swaths of Louisiana in March and August 2016.

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).


Ashley K. Shelton

executive director, the power coalition

Ashley K. Shelton is the Executive Director of the Power Coalition, a statewide 501c3 table in Louisiana. The Power Coalition uses a broad-based strategy that combines community organizing, issue advocacy, and civic action all while increasing the capacity of community organizations throughout the State to sustain and hold the work. The Power Coalition is a spinoff organization of One Voice. As the Louisiana Director of One Voice, Mrs. Shelton led a series of coordinated campaigns while anchoring and supporting the development of the 501c3 table that is now The Power Coalition of Equity and Justice.

She also was the former Vice President of Programs at the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation (LDRF), now the Foundation for Louisiana. In her role at the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation, Ms. Shelton managed a system of integrated, value-added programs 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. She utilized a participatory model that engaged local, state, and national partnerships to develop and nurture civic engagement throughout the state.


Chancelier ‘Xero’ Skidmore

executive director, forward arts

Chancelier “Xero” Skidmore is a poet, educator and organizer from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He has been ranked twice among the top five slam poets in the United States through that competition and in December of 2010 he ranked 3rd at the Individual World Poetry Slam Festival and in 2013 he ranked 1st.  You can find his work published in the anthology, Spoken Word Revolution Redux by Sourcebooks mediaFusion and the Spring 2010 volume of the New Delta Review by LSU Press.  Xero teaches poetry to teens in Baton Rouge and its surrounding areas through Forward Arts.


James E. A. Slaton

Member, stone pigman walther wittman 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 sales and acquisitions, development, land use and zoning matters and financing.  James is a fellow of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers and a member of the American Bar Association Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section, in which he served as chair of the section's Land Use and Environmental Group from 2016-2018.  In 2017, Best Lawyers in America named James the "Lawyer of the Year" in Baton Rouge for real estate law.  He received his J.D. from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University and B.A. from Louisiana State University.


John Robert Smith

Chairman, Transportation for America; Senior Policy Advisor, Smart Growth America; former Mayor of Meridian, MS

John Robert Smith administers technical assistance programs for Smart Growth America covering downtown revitalization and economic and fiscal health. He is often a keynote speaker on walkability, transit-oriented development, and national trends impacting local communities.

He served for 16 years as mayor of Meridian, Mississippi. Mayor Smith’s signature project, Meridian’s Union Station, is recognized as one of the nation’s best multimodal transportation centers. He helped define Meridian’s role as a cultural center by restoring the Grand Opera House of Mississippi, creating the Riley Education and Performing Arts Center, and advancing Meridian’s selection as the site for the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience.

Mayor Smith believes that each community must respect its past and play to its strengths to develop and maintain a strong identity.


John Spain

Executive Vice President, Baton Rouge Area Foundation

John Spain is the Executive Vice President of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. The Foundation is a non-profit community foundation with assets of over $650 million dollars. The Foundation provides charitable gifts to organizations and is involved in civic projects in the areas of health care, urban renewal projects, education, and the arts. In his role as Executive Vice President he oversees the foundation’s community projects.

Prior to moving to the Foundation, John was the Managing Director of The Powell Group, a private holding company with thirteen diverse subsidiary companies including radio stations, commercial timber, rice milling and international power plants and real-estate development.

John started his professional career in the field of broadcasting and worked at WBRZ-TV, the ABC affiliate in Baton Rouge for 23 years where he served as its News Director and Station Manager.


Quint Studer

Founder, Studer Community Institute / Vibrant Community Partners

Quint Studer is the author of Building a Vibrant Community: How Citizen-Powered Change Is Reshaping America, a practical blueprint for communities seeking to become a place where citizens will want to work, live, shop, and play. As the founder of Studer Community Institute, he has been integral in revitalizing Pensacola, Florida, which has now won several awards and increased its tax revenue to 25.9 percent growth within its thriving downtown.

Quint travels around the country educating and consulting with communities. He covers a range of vital issues including change management, creating a sense of place, downtown revitalization, attracting investors, and supporting the small business community, etc.

To learn more please visit and


Janet Tharp

Director of Planning, Center for Planning Excellence

Janet has over 30 years of planning experience, specializing in project management, comprehensive and special district planning, ordinance drafting, implementation 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. She has prepared comprehensive and special area plans and development ordinances throughout the country, and was a project manager for the East Baton Rouge Parish Comprehensive Plan.

When working with Louisiana communities and parishes, Janet focuses on understanding residents’ and stakeholders’ values, needs and goals and incorporating them into the community’s planning efforts. Janet has led plans in the City of Gonzales, as well as in Lafourche, East Feliciana, West Feliciana, and Point Coupee Parishes. She has prepared ordinance amendments in East Baton Rouge and Vernon parishes and for the City of Gonzales. She recently managed a city-wide Complete Streets initiative and a worked on a neighborhood and housing plan for the City of Dallas.

Janet serves as a smart growth instructor for the National Association of Realtors, and teaches classes throughout the US.


Dr. Robert Twilley

Executive Director, Sea Grant Louisiana; CPEX Board Member

Dr. Twilley is currently the Executive Director of the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program and a professor of oceanography and coastal sciences at LSU. Dr. Twilley was the director of the Wetland Biogeochemistry Institute at Louisiana State University at Lafayette, and a professor with the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Science. Most of Dr. Twilley's research has focused on understanding the ecosystem ecology, management practices and biogeochemistry of coastal wetlands both in the Gulf of Mexico (from Florida to the Yucatan Peninsula) and throughout Latin America. He works on the nutrient biogeochemistry of wetland and coastal ecosystems, and on coupled ecological models of ecosystem management. Dr. Twilley has published over 75 articles in journals and book chapters on his research. In 1999 he co-edited The Biogeochemistry of Gulf of Mexico Estuaries, in 2001 he was lead author of Confronting Climate Change in the Gulf Coast Region: Prospects for Sustaining Our Ecological Heritage, and 2002 he was co-author of a report by the Pew Center for Global Climate Change entitled Coastal and Marine Ecosystems and Global Climate Change. Presently, Dr. Twilley is member of the Louisiana Framework Development Team that is developing a comprehensive restoration plan for the Louisiana Coastal Area. He was the recipient of the 2000 Distinguished Professor Award at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and holds the Board of Regents Professorship in Coastal Biodiversity. He is active in the Estuarine Research Federation having co-chaired the ERF’99 conference in New Orleans, and was program chair of the 2003 annual conference of the Society of Wetland Scientists. He has served on several scientific program and review panels including National Science Foundation, EPA, NOAA, World Wildlife Fund, Gordon Conference, and US Climate Change Science Program, as well as on the editorial board of three professional journals.


Christopher J. Tyson

President & CEO, East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority

Christopher Jordan Tyson is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority where he leads Baton Rouge’s land development and blight elimination efforts. He is also the Newman Trowbridge Distinguished Professor of Law at the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University. Chris is a noted expert on local government law as well as urban land use and development. His scholarship has been published in leading law reviews, including the Tulane Law Review, the Penn State Law Review and the University of Pittsburgh Law Review. He is the co-editor of the textbook, State and Local Government in a Federal System and has published other works, including a book chapter and several essays. Chris has been featured as an opinion-editorial contributor for The New York Times where his writing on the killing of Alton Sterling became an internationally-syndicated piece. He has also appeared as a commentator on radio and television.

Chris earned his Bachelor of Architecture degree, with honors, from Howard University; his Master of Public Policy degree from the Harvard Kennedy School; and his Juris Doctor degree from the Georgetown University Law Center. He worked on the Washington, DC legislative staff for former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, a position he began the day after Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana and the gulf coast. During post-Katrina recovery efforts, Chris assisted the Senator in tracking legislation in the U.S. Senate and addressing the needs of the many Louisianans seeking relief in the early stages of the recovery efforts.

In 2015 Chris became the Louisiana State Democratic Party nominee for Louisiana Secretary of State. While unsuccessful, he earned the largest number of votes of any black candidate at that point in Louisiana’s history. His commitment to public service extends to a range of civic roles. Most recently, Chris served as the Transition Coordinator for Baton Rouge’s first black woman mayor, Mayor Sharon Weston Broome. In 2017 Louisiana State University honored him with the Brij Mohan Distinguished Professor Award, a distinction bestowed upon a faculty member who exhibits a commitment to peace and social justice.

Chris is married to Dr. Gia Landry Tyson. They reside in Baton Rouge with their three children, Camille, Jordan and Landry.


Rob Verchick

Gauthier-St. Martin Chair in Environmental Law , Loyola University New Orleans; Senior Fellow, Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy, Tulane University

Robert R.M. Verchick holds the Gauthier-St. Martin Chair in Environmental Law at Loyola University New Orleans. He is also a Senior Fellow in Disaster Resilience at Tulane University and President of the Center for Progressive Reform, a national policy institute focused on public health and environmental protection. In the spring of 2018 Professor Verchick will be on leave from Loyola, teaching as a Visiting Professor at Yale University, with a joint appointment at the Law School and at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

In 2009 and 2010, Professor Verchick served in the Obama administration as Deputy Associate Administrator for Policy at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In that role he helped develop climate adaptation policy for the EPA and served on President Obama's Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. In the fall of 2012, he researched climate adaptation policies in India as a Visiting Scholar at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, supported by a Fulbright Award.

Professor Verchick’s writing focuses on climate change adaptation, disaster law, and environmental regulation. He is an author of three books, including the award-winning, Facing Catastrophe: Environmental Action for a Post-Katrina World (Harvard University Press 2010) and Disaster Law and Policy (Aspen Press, 3rd ed. 2015) (with co-authors). His work has appeared in many venues, including the California Law Review, the Southern California Law Review, and the environmental law reviews at Harvard, Stanford, and Berkeley. Professor Verchick holds an A.B. degree, with distinction and honors, from Stanford University and a J.D. degree cum laude from Harvard University.


Larry J. Weber

Edwin B. Green Chair in Hydraulics; Executive Associate Dean, University of Iowa’s College of Engineering

Larry serves as the Executive Associate Dean for the College of Engineering at the University of Iowa. In this position he serves as the Chief Operating Officer for the College, with administrative responsibility for the research, teaching and service programs of the College and its associated centers and institutes. From 2004 – 2017 he served as the Director of IIHR – Hydroscience and Engineering. He was also the co-founder of the Iowa Flood Center, formed in 2009 and in 2013 he co-founded the Iowa Nutrient Research Center (an Iowa Regents Center located at Iowa State University). Additionally, he was called upon by State Leadership to lead the transition of the Iowa Geological Survey from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to the University of Iowa. Through these center-level activities, he has developed research, educational and service programs of significant strength across the state with expertise ranging from drought to flood, connecting surface water and ground water processes to better understand and manage issues of water quantity and water quality. He served as the principle investigator of an initial $8.8M grant that demonstrated the value of this approach, leading to a recent $96.9M grant awarded to the State of Iowa from US Housing and Urban Development’s National Disaster Resilience Competition. The State of Iowa project is seen as leading the nation in watershed resilience through The Iowa Watershed Approach.


Dr. Shawn Wilson

Secretary, Louisiana Department of Transportation and development

Dr. Shawn Wilson was appointed Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) by Governor John Bel Edwards on January 11, 2016 after more than 10 years of executive service at DOTD.

Since his appointment, Dr. Wilson has been a tireless advocate for new revenue, maximizing Federal dollars available to Louisiana, advancing a balanced and comprehensive transportation policy for Louisiana, and ensuring the Department is more collaborative in its work at every level.

Under his leadership, DOTD was successful at securing and obligating nearly $150 million additional Federal dollars for I-10 widening from I-49 to New Orleans, for the Baton Rouge I-10 bottleneck, and for the shortest Design Build procurement in the state’s history is underway to widen I-10 from Highland Road to LA 73. In addition, under his leadership, DOTD has been able to assist communities with alternative fueled transit assets, focus efforts on advancing passenger rail, and helping launch bike share in Baton Rouge, LA.

DOTD has turned its focus to procuring $650 million in GARVEE Bonds for two Design Build Projects, a major Urban Interstate Reconstruction and the state’s first Public Private Partnership.

Dr. Wilson earned a B.A. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Louisiana and holds a Master of Public Administration degree, as well as a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Southern University.

Shawn and his wife, Rocki, reside in Lafayette, Louisiana. They have two children, Shawn Wilson- Arceneaux (Mike) and Joshua, and they recently welcomed their first granddaughter Lailah Rose.


Katie Wholey

resilience consultant, arup

Katie Wholey is a resilience consultant and urban planner in Arup’s Boston office, specializing in climate risk and resilience, sustainability, and post-disaster recovery. Katie works with clients in the public and private sector to evaluate complex design and policy challenges and provide forward-thinking solutions to long-term planning for climate resilience and sustainability. Prior to working for Arup, Katie was a Program Manager for the NY Rising Housing Recovery Program with the NY State Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery. Her work with NY Rising focused on developing innovative policy solutions and strategies for housing recovery in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Katie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Architectural Studies from Tufts University and a Master’s in Urban Planning from the University of Michigan.


Kevin Wright

co-founder & principal, yard & company

Kevin is the Co-Founder and Principal at YARD & Company, an urban growth firm focused on urban design, planning and real estate development projects in North America and abroad. Kevin is a leader in community development, economic and real estate development finance, planning, and placemaking.

His work as Executive Director of the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation (WHRF) from 2011-2018 received local honors and was featured in national publications such as The Huffington Post. It was there where he used his diverse background in storytelling and community planning to help a struggling organization develop a new brand and mission and grow from a staff of one contracted employee to seven full-time employees and several interns. Additionally, he grew the foundation’s budget ten-fold and developed a more sustainable and diverse revenue stream. Kevin has led teams in the creation and implementation of dozens of projects ranging from small creative placemaking activities to multi-million dollar real estate deals. These projects have included several public and private partners and a diverse set of public financing tools such as Tax Increment Financing, public loans/grants, and Historic Tax Credits.

Kevin earned a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Missouri State University and received a Master’s Degree in Community Planning from the University of Cincinnati with a specialization in urban real estate and neighborhood development. Kevin serves locally on the Board of The Community Development Corporations Association of Greater Cincinnati, Cincinnati Neighborhood Business Districts United, is a member of the Urban Land Institute and was recently named to the 40 under 40 list by The Cincinnati Business Courier.


Phanat Xanamane

co-founder and creative director, envision da berry

Phanat Xanamane is an urban designer residing in New Iberia since 2010, where he initiates community revitalization projects. His not-for-profit, Envision da Berry has already built a combination of fresh produce market, as well as community gardens, and has hosted multiple public art festivals and community planning events. The organization has successfully reframed an area in decline as part of a vibrant tourist economy with cultural, culinary and historical significance. An important part of the success has been a performance, entertainment and social media campaign. As an openly gay Asian refugee, he has led an organization that has broken down the many racial and social barriers to provide a counter-localism for the future of the small town American South.