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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 | Senior Vice President, HNTB

Jackie Baumann | Chief Engineer, City of Gonzales

Haley Blakeman | Director of Implementation, Center for Planning Excellence

Camille Manning Broome | Senior Vice President, Center for Planning Excellence

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

Boyd A. Bryan | Partner, Jones Walker LLP

Steven Bryan | VP of Government Division, SmartProcure

Erik Bjontegard | Founder, Spark Compass

Lisa Creasman | Associate State Director, The Nature Conservancy

Kurt Culbertson | Chairman & CEO, Design Workshop

Nick Desai | Co-Founder, Heal

Rachel DiResto | Executive Vice President, Center for Planning Excellence

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

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

Jason Engen | Director of Client Development, Southern Earth Sciences, Inc.

Pat Forbes | Executive Director, Office of Community Development

Donna Fraiche | Shareholder, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz

Lamar M. Gardere | Executive Director, The Data Center

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

Cordell Haymon | Senior Vice President, SGS Petroleum Service Corp.

Michael D. Hebert | Attorney, Becker & Hebert LLC

Jeff Hebert | Deputy Mayor, Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Resilience Officer, City of New Orleans

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

Chip Johnson | former Mayor, City of Hernando, MS

Jessica Kemp, Ph.D. | Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, Center for Planning Excellence

Ramesh Kolluru | VP for Research, Innovation and Economic Development, UL Lafayette

Justin Kozak, Ph.D. | Researcher + Policy Analyst, Center for Planning Excellence

Warren Kron | GIS Manager, City of Baton Rouge - East Baton Rouge Parish

Will LaBar | Vice President, CGI Federal

Charles A. Landry | Partner, Fishman Haygood, LLP

Joel Mahoney | CEO, OpenCounter

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

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

Jay Noland | Owner, Noland Development, LLC

Jerry Paffendorf | Co-Founder and CEO, LOVELAND Technologies

Maria Papacharalambous | Waggonner & Ball

Steven Primeaux | Analytics Manager, Office of Performance and Accountability, City of New Orleans

Nick Popovich | Account Manager, Esri

Robert D. Rivers | Executive Director, New Orleans City Planning Commission

 Joel Robideaux | Mayor-PresidentLafayette Consolidated Government

Andre Rodrigue | Principal, Stantec

Denice RossPublic Interest Technology Fellow, New America

Jacques M. Roy | Mayor, City of Alexandria

Randy Roussel | Partner, Phelps Dunbar LLP

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

Jeff Sauser | Senior Urban Planner, Stantec's Urban Places

Kyle Smith | President, American Institute of Architects - Louisiana Chapter

John Snow | Partner, Emergent Method

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

John Spain | Executive Vice President, Baton Rouge Area Foundation

Janet Tharp | Director of Planning, Center for Planning Excellence

Elizabeth "Boo" Thomas | President/CEO, Center for Planning Excellence

Greg Trahan | Director, Economic Development, Louisiana State University

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

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.


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

Tyler Antrup serves as the Urban Water Program Manager in the Office of Resilience and Sustainability for the City of New Orleans. He leads coordination of the city’s drainage, green infrastructure, and water quality programs across all departments and agencies. He holds a Master's degree in Sustainable Real Estate Development from Tulane University, and a Bachelor's degree in Urban Planning and Design from the University of Missouri- Kansas City.


Jim Barbaresso

Senior Vice President, HNTB

Jim Barbaresso has more than 39 years of experience in transportation planning, traffic operations, and ITS in both the public and private sectors. He leads the HNTB ITS Practice and provides subject matter expertise on highway and tolling projects across the United States, including some of the nation’s most challenging emerging mobility programs like Smart Columbus and the Tampa Connected Vehicle Pilot. He has written numerous white papers and articles on public agency considerations regarding new mobility solutions in our age of connectivity and automation.

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Jackie Baumann

Chief Engineer, City of Gonzales

Jackie is a professional, civil engineer. She graduated from the LSU College of Engineering in 2000 and began her career designing residential and commercial developments. Ten years ago, Jackie transitioned from private design work to municipal project management as Ascension Parish Engineer.  For the past 7 years, Jackie has been dedicated to the City of Gonzales as Chief Engineer, where she has manages water, sewer, gas, and roadway infrastructure projects.  Jackie serves on numerous committees representing Gonzales and works to improve roadway safety, utilities, and economic development within the City.

She is actively involved in Grace Life Fellowship church, has been happily married for 15 years, and has a beautiful 12-year-old daughter.    

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Haley Blakeman

Director of Implementation, Center for Planning Excellence

Haley is the Director of Implementation for CPEX’s Statewide Planning initiative, which assists 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.

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Camille Manning-Broome

Senior Vice President, Center for Planning Excellence

With experience in both social and natural sciences, Camille has developed and oversees multi-disciplinary statewide resiliency and planning efforts that leverage funding, provide technical assistance and model land use tools to communities across the state. Camille has spearheaded and directed cross-agency projects, publishing documents such as the Louisiana Land Use Toolkit, Coastal Best Practices Manual, View From the Coast, and has worked on Comprehensive Plans in more than 30 communities.

Prior to working at CPEX, Camille gained both private-sector and government experience working on a host of issues from strategic planning to hazard mitigation. She first worked for the Federal government creating recovery plans for all the communities impacted from Katrina and later worked at the Shaw Group where she worked on Louisiana’s first Coastal Master Plan. Camille has been an invited guest and participant on Congressional delegation trips to the Netherlands and Japan to study water and disaster management, both led by U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu.  Most recently, she become a Mentor for Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, where she is part of an international effort educating individuals on climate change. A native of Baton Rouge, Camille earned her bachelor’s degree at LSU, and later, working under a National Science Foundation grant and assistantship, she received a M.S. in Environmental Sciences with an emphasis on Disaster Science. Her thesis research focused on risk perceptions and adaptation strategies for coastal fishing communities. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Sciences at LSU with her research focusing on climate change adaptation in South Louisiana.  


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 LLP

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.


Erik 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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Lisa Creasman

Associate State Director, The Nature Conservancy

Bio coming soon

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Kurt Culbertson

Chairman & CEO, Design Workshop

Kurt Culbertson, FASLA, is the Chairman and CEO of Design Workshop. A graduate of Louisiana State University, Culbertson holds a master’s degree in business administration in real estate from Southern Methodist University. He is currently pursuing a doctorate from the Edinburgh College of Art. Kurt joined Design Workshop in 1979. He is a full member of the Urban Land Institute, participating in the Recreation Development Council, and served as chapter chair of the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Young Presidents Organization. He has served as a fellow of Dumbarton Oaks, the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Institute of Urban Design and received a Fulbright Scholarship to the Wirtschaft Universitat in Vienna, Austria. He also has served as co-chair of the Cultural Landscape Foundation. He is a registered landscape architect in Colorado, Louisiana and South Carolina as well as a LEED®-certified designer and a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

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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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Rachel DiResto 

Executive Vice President, Center for Planning Excellence

Rachel has been with CPEX for over seventeen years since its inception as Plan Baton Rouge and she has played an integral role in building the organization into what it is today. Rachel has overseen numerous CPEX initiatives, and she is dedicated to cultivating progressive planning practices for the future livability and economic vitality of Louisiana communities.  Specializing in transportation issues, Rachel has developed policy platforms and proactive strategies for advancing solutions to complex community and regional planning issues. She currently spearheads the CONNECT Coalition, which is a regional transportation coalition advocating for improved connectivity between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. She currently serves on the DOTD Statewide Complete Streets Advisory Committee and the Baton Rouge Complete Streets Advisory Committee which are both working to implement complete streets policies at the state and local levels. She also served on the Community Advisory Committee for the DOTD Statewide Plan update and the Capital Region Transportation Safety Coalition.  In these roles, she has contributed research, policy expertise and practical solutions while advocating for more multi-modal investments at every scale.  

Previously, Rachel led the update of the downtown master plan called Plan Baton Rouge Phase Two. Rachel also played a central role in coordinating the Louisiana Speaks process, a regional long-term recovery plan for Southern Louisiana following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. 

Rachel has an M.S. in Urban and Regional Planning from UNO, and a B.A. in Art History from the University of Dallas. In 2005, she received the 40 Under 40 award. Rachel has served on the Forum 35 Board of Directors, Arts Council Board of Directors and currently serves on the Baton Rouge Gallery Board of Directors.

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Frank M. Duke 

Director, Baton Rouge City-Parish Planning Commission

Bio coming soon

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Justin 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. Ehrenwerth previously served as the inaugural Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, created in the aftermath of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and tasked with restoring the ecosystem and revitalizing the economy of the Gulf Coast. Prior to joining the council, Ehrenwerth served as Chief of Staff to the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Assistant Counsel to the President. 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.

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Jason Engen

Director of Client Development, Southern Earth Sciences, Inc.

Jason Engen was raised in New Orleans and started working as a teenager in his father’s construction materials testing laboratory. Following an enlistment in the Air Force as an Arabic Crypotologic Linguist, he returned home to manage the Baton Rouge office for his father’s company. Following an acquisition by a national engineering firm, Jason continued in the business and is currently the Director of Client Development for Southern Earth Sciences, Inc. Additionally, in 2014 Jason was appointed to the East Baton Rouge Industrial Development Board where he currently serves as the Vice President of the Board and in 2015 he was appointed to the Planning & Zoning Commission where he served last year as the Vice Chairman and beginning this year, now Chairs the Commission.

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Pat Forbes

Executive Director, Office of Community Development

Office of Community Development Executive Director Pat Forbes oversees the state’s Community Development Block Grant programs funded by HUD. Forbes’ oversight includes housing, economic development and infrastructure 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. 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 master’s degree in business administration from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

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Donna Fraiche

Shareholder, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz

Board Member, Center for Planning Excellence

Ms. Fraiche is past chair of the Firm's Nominating Committee and past chair of Women's Initiative. She serves as the Honorary Consul-General of Japan for New Orleans. She served as the first female president of the organization now known as the American Health Lawyers Association and is currently a Fellow of the Association.

Ms. Fraiche concentrates her practice in the general representation of health care organizations, companies and individuals in major regulatory, public policy and litigation efforts. Past chair of the Louisiana Health Care Commission, she is a former member of the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) responsible for addressing the planning needs post Hurricanes Katrina and Rita where she served as chair of the Long Term Community Planning Task Force and the Health Care Committee. She is president of the Louisiana Supreme Court Historical Society and is a member of the American Hospital Association Council on Governance; secretary of the Board of Woman's Hospital; and on the Board, Investment and Strategic Planning Committee of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. She has served as chair of the Board of Trustees of Loyola University and delivered the commencement address at the Law School graduation in 2001. She served as president and chair of the Board of the World Trade Center, was a founder of the New Orleans Regional Medical Center, and is a diplomate of the American College of Health Care Executives. Ms. Fraiche is past president of the Louisiana Bar Foundation who honored her with the 2017 Distinguished Attorney Award. She is chair of the marketing effort for Coalition for Coastal Resilience and Economy of the Greater New Orleans, Inc.

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Lamar M. Gardere

Executive Director, The Data Center

Lamar Gardere is Executive Director at The Data Center. Lamar is responsible for guiding The Data Center’s mission of democratizing data into realistic action, ensuring quality standards and the ongoing impact of the organization. In addition, he is responsible for leading The Data Center’s ongoing efforts to transform local culture to one that embraces data as an intrinsic component of sound decisionmaking.

Lamar joined The Data Center after six years with the City of New Orleans Office of Information Technology and Innovation, most recently as the Chief Information Officer. As CIO, he was responsible for delivering stable, value-added IT services to City of New Orleans employees and constituents – a task accomplished through development of sustainable, forward looking strategies for growth, and expansion of IT services. Lamar is nationally recognized for his work implementing and developing the open data policy for the City of New Orleans. This work facilitated release and upkeep of many of the City’s most valuable datasets and led to the development of extensive data sharing resources, now available through the City of New Orleans’ Open Data portal.

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Gwen Hamilton 

President & CEO, East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority

Bio coming soon

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Cordell Haymon

Senior Vice President, SGS Petroleum Service Corp.

Board Chair, 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.


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.

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Jeff Hebert

Deputy Mayor, Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Resilience Officer, City of New Orleans

Jeff Hebert was appointed Deputy Mayor and Chief Administrative Officer on August 15, 2016, and continues to serve as the City of New Orleans’ first Chief Resilience Officer. In this capacity, he oversees the administration of City Hall. The Deputy Mayor also leads the Mayor’s efforts to improve city government performance and the Mayor’s charge to return the city to fiscal stability. Hebert is a city planner by profession, and has previously served as the Executive Director of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) where he oversaw $42.5 million in direct investment and leveraged over $191 million in additional capital. Prior to being appointed to NORA, from 2010 to 2012, Hebert served as the Mayor’s Director of Blight Policy and Revitalization, where he developed The Blight Strategy, which was awarded a 2012 Bright Idea Award from the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, reducing blight by 10,000 units in the first three years of the Mayor’s term. Before joining the Landrieu Administration, Hebert led the state’s Regional Plan for Recovery and Growth following the devastation from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as the Director of Community Planning for the Louisiana Recovery Authority. Over the past eight years, Jeff has advised government officials across the globe on disaster recovery planning and implementation including the State of Iowa after floods in 2008, Queensland Reconstruction Authority, Australia after floods in 2010, prefectural and national agencies in Japan after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011, and New York City government agencies after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. As Chief Resilience Officer, Hebert oversees the implementation of the nation’s first Comprehensive Resilience Strategy, development of the city’s climate action plan and sea level rise and climate adaptation strategies, and was recently appointed by Governor John Bel Edwards to the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection, Restoration, and Conservation. Mr. Hebert holds a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Design and Architecture Studies from New York University, a Master in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is a graduate of the NeighborWorks® America Achieving Excellence in Community Development program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

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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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Jessica Kemp

Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, Center for Planning Excellence

As Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, Jessica is responsible for advancing CPEX’s mission in public policy for the CONNECT coalition and issues related to 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.


Ramesh Kolluru

VP for Research, Innovation and Economic Development; Professor, School of Computing and Informatics, UL Lafayette

Dr. Ramesh Kolluru is vice president for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

In this role, he drives the University's transition to a top-tier, modern research university — one that is committed to research for a reason — through research, scholarship, and innovation. His leadership efforts include stimulating activities related to sponsored research, doctoral programs, technology transfer, corporate and governmental relations, and economic development. Additionally, he oversees operations of the University Research Park, as well as various research centers and institutes at UL Lafayette.

He is a nationally recognized leader in the application of computing and informatics research to solve challenges in health care, disaster management, supply chain management, public-private partnerships, big data analytics, among others. During his research career, he founded three premier applied research centers at UL Lafayette, including the nation's only National Science Foundation "big data" center of excellence; he also generated more than $65 million in research grants and contracts. Under his leadership, the University translates applied research to stimulate innovation and economic development in the region.

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Justin Kozak, Ph.D.

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.

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Warren Kron

GIS Manager, City of Baton Rouge - East Baton Rouge Parish 

Warren Kron has worked for the City of Baton Rouge and Parish of East Baton Rouge over the last 19 years in the Department of Information Services and the Office of the Planning Commission, and his public service has been focused on the development of an enterprise GIS program. This effort has involved many multi-disciplinary projects, developing a data model, building applications to extend GIS throughout City-Parish government, and playing a key role in the City-Parish's shift to Open Data. Warren earned a bachelor's degree of landscape architecture from the LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture. He serves as the Louisiana Municipal Association member and chair of the 2017 Louisiana GIS Council.  Warren is a certified GIS Professional and enjoys gardening, golfing and traveling.


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

CEO, OpenCounter

Joel Mahoney is Co-Founder and CEO at He was an inaugural fellow at Code for America, and served as a technical advisor to the organization. Before Code for America, Joel founded companies in the health and hospitality sectors. His work has been featured in the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and the New York Times. He won the International Design for Experience Award for his work with the City of Boston, and was one of GovTech Magazine's Top 25 Doers, Dreamers & Drivers in 2012.

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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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J. 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.

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Jay Noland

Owner, Noland Development llc

Board Member, Center for Planning Excellence

Bio coming soon


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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Maria Papacharalambous

Waggonner & Ball

Bio coming soon

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Steven Primeaux

Analytics Manager, Office of Performance and Accountability, City of New Orleans

Bio coming soon

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Nick Popovich

Account Manager, ESRI

Bio coming soon


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.

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Andre Rodrigue

Principal, Stantec

Bio coming soon


Denice Ross

Public Interest Technology Fellow, New America

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

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

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

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

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Jacques M. Roy

Mayor, City of Alexandria

Bio coming soon

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Randy Roussel

Partner, Phelps Dunbar LLP

Board Member, Center for Planning Excellence

Randy Roussel practices in the area of business and finance. His general business practice is concentrated in the areas of real estate, banking and commercial transactions. Mr. Roussel has represented Wampold Companies, Waffle House, Whitney National Bank, Carmouche Construction and a variety of multifamily and commercial developers.

Mr. Roussel’s practice emphasizes mixed-use real estate development. He works on HUD 221(d)(4) and other multi-family financing programs.

Prior to joining Phelps Dunbar, he was a certified public accountant for Arthur Andersen & Company in New Orleans from 1978-1981. From 1986-1987, he was an associate at Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson in Baton Rouge and in 1987 he became partner at Bradford & Roussel in Baton Rouge which merged with Gary Field Landry & Bradford in 1991. Mr. Roussel joined Phelps Dunbar in 1995.

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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).

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Jeff Sauser

Senior Urban Planner, Stantec's Urban Places

Jeff Sauser is an associate urban designer at Stantec and a founding member of the Stantec's Urban Places Group. Jeff manages many of the group's largest, most complex urban planning, design, and redevelopment projects across North America. His work focuses on creating compact, walkable, mixed-use redevelopment in transitioning neighborhoods and emerging communities in both urban and suburban contexts. His clients include large and small private developers, downtown improvement districts, municipalities, and other urban advocates. Jeff is also co-chair of Stantec’s Smart Mobility Working Group and one of the firm’s leaders in planning for the next generation of transformational urban opportunities and public benefits unlocked by automated vehicles.

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Kyle Smith

President, American Institute of Architects - Louisiana Chapter

Kyle Smith has been an architect in Baton Rouge, LA for over 14 years and currently practices with Holden Architects in Baton Rouge. After earning his Bachelors of Architecture degree from Louisiana Tech University in 2002, which immediately followed his Bachelors of Science degree in Architectural Engineering Technology in 2000 from the University of Southern Mississippi, Kyle went on to work for award winning Baton Rouge firms as project manager for numerous multi-million dollar projects. His resume includes managing projects such as the LSU Student Union Renovations and Addition, New Alex Box Stadium at LSU, the new LSU Tennis Indoor/Outdoor Facility and the new LSU Foundation Office Building.

Kyle has remained actively involved in AIA on local and state levels. He has served on the AIA Baton Rouge Board of Directors since 2010 and on the AIA Louisiana Board of Directors since 2013. He served as Director on the AIA Baton Rouge Board from 2010-2012, Vice President of AIA Baton Rouge in 2014, AIA Baton Rouge President in 2015 and currently is serving as past President of the AIA Baton Rouge Chapter. 

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John Snow

Partner, Emergent Method

John Snow is vice president and a partner at Emergent Method, a Louisiana-based management and strategy consulting firm, with expertise rooted in strategic and organizational planning, community and stakeholder outreach, and strategic communications. He has worked on numerous large-scale planning efforts for clients over the past several years including the City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge, the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, Louisiana Economic Development, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, and many more, with his client work often occurring at the convergence of technology/digital strategy, infrastructure, public policy, and strategic communications. He holds two degrees from Louisiana State University and is a 2011 “Forty Under 40” honoree, 2012 Leadership Baton Rouge graduate, and 2014 Leadership Louisiana graduate.


Scott L. 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.

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John Spain

Executive Vice President, Baton Rouge Area Foundation

Bio coming soon

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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.

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Elizabeth "Boo" Thomas

President/CEO, Center for Planning Excellence

Well-versed in community-driven land use planning and implementation, Thomas has led successful revitalization efforts across the region since obtaining her Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from LSU. As the former head of Plan Baton Rouge and the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance, Thomas has been an advocate for smart growth in Louisiana throughout her career.

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

In recognition of her outstanding contributions to Louisiana, Thomas has been honored by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, the YMCA, the Baton Rouge Business Report, LSU, Forum 35 and the Louisiana Architecture Foundation. In September 2009, Thomas and CPEX were awarded the Olmsted Medal by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) for “incredible leadership and set the standard for bringing community members and leaders together to work toward a shared vision for future growth and development.” One year later, Thomas became the second woman in Louisiana named to the ASLA National Council of Fellows, one of the highest honors the organization can bestow on an individual. She also received the John W. Barton Excellence in Nonprofit Management Award from the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.


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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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.