Autumn 2015 Seminar Speakers
Jennifer Evans-Cowley, Ph.D., AICP, is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Administration for the College of Engineering and a professor of city and regional planning at the Knowlton School. Evans-Cowley has more than 15 years of planning experience, including roles in academia, professional practice, and elected office. She most recently served as the head of city and regional planning section where she was responsible for launching a new bachelor’s program in city and regional planning. Her research regularly appears in planning journals and she is the author of four Planning Advisory Service Reports for the American Planning Association. Evans-Cowley speaks at planning conferences across the United States, addressing the importance of technology in planning. She served as the Chair of the Technology Division of the American Planning Association between 2010 and 2012. In 2011, she was named among the top 25 leading thinkers and innovators in the field of Urban Planning and Technology by Planetizen.com, a public-interest information exchange for planners and designers. Evans-Cowley has a BS in Political Science and a Master of Urban Planning from Texas A&M University, and a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Texas. Her PhD in Urban and Regional Science is from Texas A&M University. Professor Evans-Cowley’s research has been supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Battelle Endowment for Technology and Human Affairs and the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis. In addition to her research, Evans-Cowley has established the Planning Education at a Distance program, which is the leading model nationally for distance-based continuing education in the planning field.
Ashley Z. Hand, AIA, LEED AP BD+C was appointed the first Chief Innovation Officer of the City of Kansas City, Missouri by Mayor Sly James in January 2013 and the first female municipal CIO in the country. Throughout her career, Ashley has focused on efficiency through strategic planning, engagement, lean process improvement and design thinking. Projects included the Mayor's Challenge Cabinet; the Ideas Fair; a digital roadmap and partnership with Bloomberg Associates for a digital lab event; a pilot project with Philips Lighting; and a unique public-private partnership with Cisco and Sprint to build a comprehensive smart city network and enhanced experience along the streetcar starter line. Working collaboratively across disciplines, Ashley brings training and experience as an architect, sustainability and education advocate; researcher; volunteer; and urbanist to both the public and private sectors. Ashley holds a BA in political science from McGill University and a Masters of Architecture from the Pratt Institute and is a registered architect in the State of Missouri. She has been recognized by the Central Exchange as a Rising Star in Technology and NextCity Vanguard for urban leadership (2014); inaugural KCBJ NextGen (2013); and AIA KC Emerging Professional of the year (2012). She recently relocated to Los Angeles with her family.
Jason Lally is the Open Data Program Manager, working with the City of San Francisco Chief Data Officer, Joy Bonaguro, to help operationalize the City’s open data strategy. Jason comes to San Francisco by way of a Mayor’s Innovation Fellowship that concluded in August 2014. Before that, he worked at the intersection of technology and urban planning as Director of the Decision Lab at PlaceMatters in Denver, CO. He came to open government and open data through his work in cities and regions across the country on data-informed, community planning processes. Recognizing a need for more robust information services and platforms to support strong community engagement, Jason is pleased to contribute to making data more accessible and useful at the City. Jason earned his Masters in City and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mike Lydon is a Principal of The Street Plans Collaborative. As an internationally recognized planner, writer, and advocate for livable cities, his work has been featured by NPR, The New York Times, CNN Headline News, The Atlantic Cities, Planetizen, Grist, Salon, Next City, Architect Magazine, and Streetsblog, among other publications. Along with Tony Garcia, Mike is the author of Tactical Urbanism: Short-term Action for Long-term Change, which was published by Island Press in March 2015 and grew from the globally acclaimed Tactical Urbanism Volume 1- 4 series. Mike is also the creator and primary author of the The Open Streets Project, and with author Julie Flynn the editor and co-creator of Mercado: Lessons from 20 Markets across South America. Mike collaborated with Andres Duany and Jeff Speck in writing The Smart Growth Manual, published by McGraw-Hill in 2009 and honored by Planetizen as one of the top ten planning books of 2010. Before launching the firm in 2009, Lydon worked for Smart Growth Vermont, the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, and Ann Arbor’s GetDowntown Program. From 2006 - 2009 Lydon worked for Duany Plater-Zyberk and Company (DPZ), an international leader in the practice of smart growth planning, design, and research techniques. At DPZ Mike worked extensively on Miami 21, the recipient of the American Planning Association’s 2011 National Planning Excellence Award, and contributed to several other research and project initiatives. Mike was selected in 2009 as one of 34 Urban Vanguards by Next City magazine. Mike received a B.A. in American Cultural Studies from Bates College and a Masters in Urban Planning from the University of Michigan. Mike is a CNU-Accredited Professional and he encourages you to trade four wheels for two.
Nan Li, Ph.D., PE, LEED AP, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Construction Management at Tsinghua University, Beijing China. Dr. Li graduated from the University of Southern California in 2014, where he received a PhD degree in Civil Engineering and two Master degrees in Civil Engineering and Computer Science. He received the PhD Achievement Award and the Best Dissertation Award upon his graduation. Professor Li has published over 30 journal and conference papers and serves as an associate editor of Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering (JCCE) and a board member of the International Association for Automation and Robotics in Construction (IAARC). He has recently been selected into the One Thousand Young Talents Plan in China. His research interests include informatics and intelligence for buildings and infrastructure systems, and urban and community resilience.
Jennifer Minner, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of City & Regional Planning at Cornell University. Professor Minner teaches and researches the intersecting domains of land use, sustainability, historic preservation, and technology. She also researches reinvestment in and repair of urban fabric; tensions and opportunities in land use planning and preservation; sustainable adaptation and conservation of the built environment; and participatory and analytical technologies used in planning. Professor Minner's experience includes planning, research, and community mapping projects related to land use and sustainability, historic preservation, environmental education, institutional research and higher education assessment, and economic development. She served as chair and heritage commissioner on the City of Olympia, Washington Heritage Commission. She is a past president and a founding board member of the MidTexMod chapter of Docomomo US, a nonprofit dedicated to documentation and conservation of the Modern Movement in Central Texas. She presently serves on the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission. Professor Minner received a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Washington (1995), a M.U.R.P. from Portland State University (2000), and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin (2013).
Aseem Mulji is Data & Technology Manager at the Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP), a non-profit organization that empowers communities across North America to decide how to spend public money. In his time at PBP, Aseem helped to organize the first city-wide participatory budgeting (PB) process in the U.S. in Vallejo, Calif, where over 4,000 residents from diverse communities decided on how to spend $3 million in sales tax money. He now manages PBP’s data and technology projects, as part a new program called the Participation Lab, in which we collaborate with partners to research, develop, and test new tools to improve participatory budgeting and democracy. Aseem’s interest in PB and technology grew out of his work on an exhibit titled “The Citizen, The Cloud & The Smart City” for the 2012 World Cities Summit in Singapore. Other past professional experience includes work with the Addison County Planning Commission in Vermont and the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington, DC. Aseem is a graduate of Middlebury College where he studied geography, math and French.
Steph A. Nelson is a transportation data specialist currently working in the Parking Group with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. For the last several years, she spent several hundred hours steeped in various parking datasets to evaluate the impact of the SFpark pilot project, in coordination with the US DOT evaluation of SFpark. She holds master’s degrees in city and regional planning as well as government.
Kerrie Romanow serves as Director of Environmental Services for City of San José. The Environmental Services Department manages solid waste collection and recycling, watershed protection, pollution prevention, municipal drinking water, recycled water, community sustainability initiatives, and operation and planning for the San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility. The department has over 500 employees, an annual operating budget of over $200 million, and a five-year capital budget of nearly $750 million. Prior to joining the City, Kerrie served as Chief Operating Officer for a national environmental, health, and safety management consulting firm, and as Manager of Facilities and Environmental, Health, and Safety for an international compound semiconductor manufacturing firm. She earned a BS Degree in Environmental Economics from UC Berkeley, an MBA from Santa Clara University and completed the Harvard University Senior Executives in State and Local Government certificate program.
Vijay Sammeta is the Chief Information Officer for the City of San José, with over 20 years of experience in the public, private and non-profit high-tech industry. As the Chief Information Officer of the 10th largest city in the U.S., Vijay is responsible for shaping the strategic direction for the Capital of Silicon Valley and leading the City’s IT Department. During his career, Vijay has also worked for notable Silicon Valley technology firms Hewlett-Packard and McAfee.com, as well as the fiercely competitive world of advertising. Vijay holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. As a resident of San José, he embodies the notion of “live, work and play in San Jose,” which often guides his technology investment decisions. Vijay is often quoted as saying, “Let’s not do technology simply for technology’s sake…”
Benedict R. Schwegler, Jr., Ph.D., M.ASCE, is Vice President and Chief Scientist of Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) Research & Development, where he created and manages the Simulation-based Design Group. The overall goal of this team is to improve Disney’s ability to simulate, predict, and manage the project delivery process to enable sustainable design and engineering of the built environment. His team develops new software tools like 4D Simulation as well as formal information models to enable integration of design, construction, and operational data for all capital facility projects of The Walt Disney Company (especially theme parks and resorts). In addition to the Simulation-Based Design project, Ben’s group has developed Integrated Infrastructure models, resulting in the most energy efficient theme park and resort design ever built; novel water treatment technologies enabling the first closed-loop control of wastewater treatment plants, and next generation fireworks. Ben was the recipient of the 2002 Henry R. Michel Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and was awarded the Orange County (California) Engineering Council’s Outstanding Project Management Award for 2001. Ben is on the Board of Directors of the Precourt Institute for Energy Efficiency at Stanford University and a member of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Technical Divisions Advisory Board. He is also a Consulting Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, where his current research focuses on the adaptation of the built environment to climate change. He has been involved in nearly all of Walt Disney Imagineering’s construction projects over the past 20 years. Ben’s doctorate is from University of California, Los Angeles. He stays healthy racing high-performance small sailboats and road bikes.