Speakers

2021

Profile Picture of Bill Peduto.

Bill Peduto

Mayor

Pittsburgh, PA

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Profile Picture of Bill Peduto.

Bill Peduto

Mayor

Pittsburgh, PA

Mayor William Peduto

William Peduto was elected to the office of Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh in the General Election on November 5, 2013, and took office as Pittsburgh’s 60th Mayor in January of 2014. Prior to taking office, he worked for 19 years on Pittsburgh City Council – seven years as a staffer then twelve years as a Member of Council. As a Councilman, Bill Peduto wrote the most comprehensive package of government reform legislation in Pittsburgh’s history. He strengthened the Ethics Code, created the city’s first Campaign Finance Limits, established Lobbyist Disclosure and Lobbyist Registration and ended No-Bid Contracts. As Mayor, Peduto continues to champion the protection and enhancement of Pittsburgh’s new reputation – maintaining fiscal responsibility, establishing community based development plans, embracing innovative solutions and becoming a leader in green initiatives.

The Peduto administration is committed to modernizing city government and implementing leading practices to provide taxpayers with an efficient, effective, transparent, and a more accountable government. Under Peduto’s leadership, the City of Pittsburgh has experienced a complete transformation of the city’s procurement process; the reorganization of the Department of Permits, Licenses & Inspections; a commitment to developing a long-term maintenance and investment plan for the city’s assets; the creation of the ONEPGH Resilience Strategy, and technological upgrades including a GPS based Snow Plow Tracker website, 311 Response Center mobile app, an interactive street paving website and several digital tools built with public information in a new open data portal. Setting priorities around strengthening Pittsburgh’s 90 communities, Peduto established the Bureau of Neighborhood Empowerment to promote the city’s role in housing, small business, and education; led the development of the city’s land bank; and championed the creation of a neighborhood-strengthening Rental Registration program.

 

Since taking office, Mayor Peduto has lead a collaborative effort to make Pittsburgh a leading 21st Century city. The Peduto administration has partnered with the White House on numerous initiatives, resulting in direct access to federal support related to affordable housing, education, economic development, energy efficiency, immigration, manufacturing, community policing, workforce development, technology and transportation. Under Peduto’s leadership the City of Pittsburgh has played an active role in National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Pennsylvania Municipal League initiatives. Pittsburgh was recently selected to join the Rockefeller Foundation network’s 100 Resilient Cities, which provides resources to improve city resilience in the face of climate change, globalization and urbanization trends. In 2015 Mayor Peduto signed a unique agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy to make the city a world leader in district energy production and Pittsburgh joined the UN’s Compact of Mayors, a global coalition of climate leaders committed to local action and global impact. Recently Mayor Peduto joined with mayors across the world to reaffirm Pittsburgh’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and efforts to combat climate change.Mayor Peduto is also a founding member of the MetroLab Network, a national alliance of cities and universities committed to providing analytically-based solutions to improve urban infrastructure, services and other public sector priorities.

The Peduto administration is working to ensure that everyone benefits from Pittsburgh’s transformation and growth because, “If it’s not for all, it’s not for us.”

Profile Picture of Nan Whaley.

Nan Whaley

Mayor

Dayton, OH

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Profile Picture of Nan Whaley.

Nan Whaley

Mayor

Dayton, OH

Nan Whaley is proud to choose Dayton as her home. Originally from Indiana, Nan attended the University of Dayton where she graduated in 1998 and soon settled in the Five Oaks neighborhood where she and her husband Sam reside today. 

Her career is distinguished by her commitment to public service, civic involvement and interest in local government. First elected to the Dayton City Commission in 2005, Nan was the youngest women ever chosen for a commission seat. She was proud to be elected as Dayton’s mayor in 2013 by a double-digit majority. As mayor, she has focused on the areas of community development, manufacturing, and women and children. 

Nan is a national leader among her peers serving as the Second Vice President for the US Conference of Mayors as well as the Chair of the International Committee for the conference. Nan is also a founding board member for the Ohio’s Mayor Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of Ohio’s 30 largest cities. 

 

Nan has been committed to the political process in local, state and national elections. While in college, she served as Ohio Chair of the College Democrats. She currently serves as Second Vice President of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors. Additionally, she is a four time delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

Profile Picture of Steve Williams.

Steve Williams

Mayor

Huntington, WV

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Profile Picture of Steve Williams.

Steve Williams

Mayor

Huntington, WV

Steve Williams was elected mayor of Huntington, West Virginia, in November 2012 and was re-elected in November 2016. Since taking office, he has utilized his diverse background in economic development, finance, state government and local governments to shepherd a renaissance in Huntington that has not been seen in decades.

Under Williams’ leadership, Huntington was named the $3 million grand prize winner of the America’s Best Communities competition in April 2017 for a comprehensive plan to transform Huntington into the economic gateway of the Appalachian region. This nationwide contest sponsored by Frontier Communications aimed to spur economic development in small communities. More than 350 communities entered. Working with community leaders, Williams’ administration has been able to leverage more than $20 million in additional grants, philanthropic contributions and corporate investment for the neighborhoods of Highlawn, Fairfield and West Huntington since the competition began in 2015.

The Highlawn redevelopment project includes the reuse of underutilized, former manufacturing sites located just east of Marshall University. Williams’ vision for these sites includes recreational and riverfront facilities; a baseball stadium; retail and hotel development; research facilities; and green infrastructure for storm water management.

Williams’ administration also has worked closely with neighborhood leaders to revitalize the West End of Huntington and the Coalfield Development Corp., which has developed a network of social enterprises throughout the region in building a new economy in the wake of the decline in the coal industry. Coalfield has created more than 40 on-the-job training positions, more than 200 professional certification opportunities, redeveloped more than 150,000 square feet of dilapidated property and successfully launched five new businesses in real estate development, construction, wood working, agriculture and artisan trades.

The Fairfield neighborhood is also undergoing a transformation with the development of a former public housing complex, Marshall University’s School of Pharmacy, revitalization of the A.D. Lewis Community Center and the formation of a citizen-based community development corporation known as the Fairfield Alliance.

Huntington has also gained recognition as the “city of solutions” for innovative programs to address the opioid epidemic. In 2014, Williams established the Mayor’s Office of Drug Control Policy. The Office formed several partnerships in developing a harm reduction program and focused on reducing drug trafficking and related crime while promoting prevention and treatment options. In 2016, Williams was named to a joint task force of the National League of Cities and National Association of Counties to address the opioid epidemic. In 2019, he was appointed as co-chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Substance Abuse, Prevention and Recovery Services Task Force.

Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in political science with Cum Laude honors from Marshall University in 1978 and a master’s degree in public administration from West Virginia University in 1980. He began serving as the city’s director of economic development in 1984 and, later that same year, he was named the youngest city manager in Huntington’s history. He served as city manager until Huntington switched to a strong mayor form of government in 1985.

Williams also represented Cabell and Wayne counties in the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1987 to 1994 where he spent much of his time working to reform the higher education and medical education systems in West Virginia.

Professionally, Williams established a career in finance with 26 years in investment banking and investment brokerage. He has served as an investment banker, stock broker, sales manager and senior level executive, overseeing many of the largest markets for the largest banking institutions in the nation.

Williams returned to politics in 2008 when he was elected as an at-large Huntington city councilman. He fulfilled his four-year term and served as the governing body’s Finance Committee chairman before he was elected mayor. He was named as the 2015-2016 Mayor of the Year by the West Virginia Municipal League. In December 2018, he was elected to a two-year term on the National League of Cities’ Board of Directors.

Williams is married to Mary Poindexter Williams. He has two stepdaughters, Nikki Reed and Laura Urban; three beloved family dogs, Darby, Foster, and Bailey; and a cat, K.C.

Profile Picture of Ron Dulaney Jr.

Ron Dulaney Jr.

Former Mayor and Fifth Ward City Councilor

City of Morgantown, WV

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Profile Picture of Ron Dulaney Jr.

Ron Dulaney Jr.

Former Mayor and Fifth Ward City Councilor

City of Morgantown, WV

Ron Dulaney Jr. became the City Council representative of the 5th ward after getting more than twice as many votes as his opponent, Kyle McAvoy.

Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Dulaney was the oldest of nine children. He studied studio art at Furman University, a liberal arts school in South Carolina.

“I graduated in the summer on a Friday and I started graduate school in architecture at Virginia Tech the following Monday,” said Dulaney.

After living in multiple Southern states, Dulaney settled in West Virginia around a decade ago.

“Morgantown is the place that has stuck,” he said. “Morgantown really has a lot to offer in terms of quality of life.”

Married with three children, Dulaney said he considered his family before running for City Council.

One of the positive effects of City Council would be that “the democratic process would become more accessible to our children, it would be something that they would become familiar with and engaged in,” he said.

Dulaney said that the 2016 presidential election motivated him to run for city council.

“It’s really hard to complain about what’s happening politically if you’re not actively engaged in the process,” he said.

Dulaney said that his campaign focused on the physical development of the city.  

“As an architect, I felt that was the skill set I wanted to bring,” he said. “I was interested in developing safer streets, streets that are accessible for all ages and all transportation types.”

 Another issue Dulaney said he wanted to address was affordable housing.

 “I know that was one of the things my family struggled with, we lived outside the city for a number of years,” he said. “Only two years ago we purchased a house that was affordable to us in Woodburn.”

An idea he has on creating affordable housing is inclusionary zoning, which allows a housing developer to create more rooms in a building if they offer a certain number of rooms at a lower price.

Dulaney said this provides developers with an incentive to create affordable housing, not a requirement.

Dulaney serves on the Planning Commission, the Woodburn School Redevelopment Commission, the Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Museum Commission.

Whether someone is a student or not, is registered to vote or not, Dulaney said he will be responsive to their needs.

“I’ll wear a university hat, I’ll wear a citizen hat and I’ll wear a city councilor hat,” he said. “I think we all need to approach our relationship with each other in a more symbiotic way and realize that there are mutual benefits to our being together in this place and there are opportunities there.”

Other city solutions that Dulaney advocates for include:

  • Improving street ways that are less congested and safer for a range of users and transportation modes
  • Achieving urban development that preserves and works in harmony with our character-defining assets including our historic streets and buildings, our neighborhoods, and our natural resources
  • Expanding affordable housing options for families and seniors
  • Implementing fresh strategies to encourage new business development that is entrepreneurial and innovative
  • Strengthening inclusiveness within our community of diverse abilities, classes, and identities 

Profile Picture of Quentin Hart.

Quentin Hart

Mayor

Waterloo, IA

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Profile Picture of Quentin Hart.

Quentin Hart

Mayor

Waterloo, IA

Mayor Quentin Hart is the first African American elected to the office of Mayor for the City of Waterloo, Iowa. Preceding the election, Mr. Hart was the Associate Director of Multicultural Affairs for Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa, providing leadership for multicultural initiatives and promoting awareness and appreciation for diversity on campus and the community. In the eight years preceding his mayoral election, Mayor Hart represented the citizens of Waterloo as Ward 4 Councilman and was the first African American-appointed Mayor Pro-Tem for the City of Waterloo.

Hart currently is a doctoral candidate at Iowa State University in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. He received his MAE in Postsecondary Education: Student Affairs from the University of Northern Iowa and is also a 2013 graduate of the Thomas Lakin Institute for Mentored Leadership.Hart is happily married to Cassandra Hart, a 2007 Gold Star Award Teacher, and is the father of two sons, Quentin Jr. and Quenden; and one daughter, Halayah.

Profile Picture of Sharon Weston.

Sharon Weston Broome

Mayor-President

Baton Rouge

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Profile Picture of Sharon Weston.

Sharon Weston Broome

Mayor-President

Baton Rouge

Sharon Weston Broome is a firm believer in achieving progress through inclusion, innovation and information.

Since taking office, Mayor Broome has placed a heavy focus on improving the quality of life for citizens while building resiliency through infrastructure improvements. She has focused on addressing transportation, drainage, public safety, education, economic development and revitalizing neighborhoods.

Mayor Broome is the first female Mayor-President of the City of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish. She previously served as a Baton Rouge Metro City Council Member, a Louisiana State Representative and a Louisiana State Senator.

While serving in the legislature, Broome became the first woman to hold the leadership positions of Speaker Pro Tempore in the House and President Pro Tempore in the Senate.

Mayor Broome has been recognized for her service and leadership by several organizations. She was selected for the inaugural class of the Bloomberg-Harvard City Leadership Initiative. Mayor Broome was recently appointed co-chair for the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative and serves on the advisory board for the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

She has been recognized for her service and dedication to Baton Rouge. Mayor Broome was recognized by the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the American Heart Association, Every Child Matters, and the National Congress of Black Women.

Mayor Broome has earned awards for her exemplary efforts in her community. She has received the Luminary Award from Links Incorporated LA Capitale Chapter, the Baton Rouge NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award, Girl Scouts Louisiana East 2017 Women of Distinction Award and the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. (Lambda Kappa Kappa Chapter) 2017 Citizen of the Year Award — just to name a few.

Broome holds a B.A. in Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse. She is a 2019 recipient of UW-L Alumni Association’s Maurice O. Graff Distinguished Alumni Award. Mayor Broome received her M.A. in Communications from Regent University. The mayor has served as an adjunct instructor at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge Community College and Southern University.

Faith and family are priorities for Mayor Broome. She is a member of United Christian Faith Ministries Church and is happily married to Marvin Broome. They are the proud parents of three children and have three grandchildren.

Profile Picture of G.T. Bynum.

G.T. Bynum

Mayor

Tulsa, OK

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Profile Picture of G.T. Bynum.

G.T. Bynum

Mayor

Tulsa, OK

Sworn in as the 40th Mayor of Tulsa in 2016, Mayor G.T. Bynum is using data and innovation to bring people together and make our city globally competitive. To accomplish this, Mayor Bynum is focused on fiscal responsibility, public safety, infrastructure, and equality of opportunity for all Tulsans. This approach has already yielded the successful recruitment of the two largest new employers in the history of Tulsa, while outpacing both the state and the nation in job growth.

Mayor Bynum worked closely with the Tulsa City Council to fund the sharpest increase in police hiring in Tulsa history, while simultaneously implementing one of the most comprehensive community policing programs in the United States. Under his Administration, the City opened its own municipal jail with an emphasis on innovative diversion programs while also opening the Tulsa Sobering Center, which offers treatment for those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Mayor Bynum led Tulsa to pilot the Better Way program, which provides honest work and social service assistance for the city’s panhandler and homeless population.

Mayor Bynum has made equality of opportunity a cornerstone of his Administration. Under his leadership, the City established the Tulsa Equality Indicators report which uses data to measure inequality across a variety of factors. He established the Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Equity to implement the Resilient Tulsa Strategy, the city’s first strategic plan to address issues of racial disparity. Mayor Bynum launched the New Tulsans Initiative, which is focused on making Tulsa a beacon of freedom and opportunity for immigrants all around the world.

Mayor Bynum’s Administration is simultaneously implementing the largest streets improvement program in Tulsa history (Improve Our Tulsa) and the largest economic development capital improvements program in Tulsa history (Vision Tulsa). He continues to receive national recognition for his initiatives to empower everyday citizens through programs like the Urban Data Pioneers and the Civic Innovation Fellowship.

Because of his leadership and vision for Tulsa, Mayor Bynum was selected for the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative in 2018 and was presented the International Cities of Service Engaged Cities Award.  His TED Talk on replacing partisanship with policy has been viewed over 940,000 times by people all around the world.             

Prior to his election as Mayor, Bynum served for eight years on the Tulsa City Council. During that time, he was elected as the youngest City Council Chairman in Tulsa history.

During his time as a city councilor, he led the successful effort to enact the largest streets improvement package in the city’s history, authored the first city sales tax cut in Tulsa history, doubled the number of police academies to increase manpower, authored legislation creating the first municipal rainy day fund in Oklahoma and coordinated efforts to establish the first municipal veterans treatment court in the United States.

Before serving as Mayor of Tulsa, Bynum served as the managing partner of Capitol Ventures, and before that worked in the United States Senate for Senators Don Nickles and Tom Coburn. Bynum is a proud graduate of two institutions operated by the Augustinian Order of the Catholic Church: Cascia Hall Preparatory School in Tulsa and Villanova University, where he served as Student Body President. 

Mayor Bynum comes from a family dedicated to public service and he and his wife, Susan, are the proud parents of Robert and Annabel – the sixth generation of Bynums to call Tulsa home.

Profile Picture of Chokwe Antar Lumumba.

Chokwe Antar Lumumba

Mayor

Jackson, MS

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Profile Picture of Chokwe Antar Lumumba.

Chokwe Antar Lumumba

Mayor

Jackson, MS

On July 3, 2017, Chokwe Antar Lumumba became the 53rd mayor of the City of Jackson, Mississippi.  He was 34 years old, making him the youngest mayor in Jackson’s history.  He is an attorney, a husband, a father, and the son of two life-long community activists—the late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba and Nubia Lumumba.

Mayor Lumumba earned his Juris Doctorate and a certificate in sports and entertainment law from Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas in 2008. After law school, he immediately returned to Jackson, Mississippi to serve with his late father, former Mayor Chokwe Lumumba at Lumumba, Freelon, and Associates. He litigated criminal and civil cases and represented various sports and entertainment clients for the firm. In 2013, he launched his own firm—Lumumba and Associates—a firm “Dedicated to Community. Invested in Justice.” Mayor Lumumba has a history of pro bono work as part of his commitment to providing community members with quality representation regardless of the ability to pay. He is a member of the Mississippi Bar Association as well as the Magnolia Bar Association.

Mayor Lumumba and the Lumumba Administration have advanced a number of important initiatives in the City of Jackson including:

  • The establishment of a strategic plan toward building a Dignity Economy in the City
  • Strengthening community oversight of the police including establishing Mississippi’s first policy on releasing the names of officers involved in shootings, banning excessive force (including chokeholds, strangleholds, knees on the neck, etc.), and requiring officers to intervene and stop other officers from using excessive force and report any such actions to a supervisor.
  • Winning a nearly $90 million settlement in the Lumumba Administration’s lawsuit against Siemens. The lawsuit was initiated to recoup losses to the City related to water infrastructure, billing, and metering issues so that, as Mayor Lumumba has said, “Jacksonians can get the infrastructure we deserve.”
  • Preventing the state takeover of Jackson Public Schools (JPS) through an innovative partnership with the state, JPS, the City, funding, and community partners to improve outcomes for Jackson’s scholars. This initiative included door-to-door outreach to engage community input citywide.
  • Embarking on the largest infrastructure improvement initiative in the City’s recent history. Improvements will address decades of neglect and include the paving of historic Medgar Evers Blvd and other major streets, installation of nearly 150 updated parking meters, and road and sewage line repairs throughout the City.

Mayor Lumumba is the recipient of several awards including the National Black Caucus of State Legislators 2017 Nation Builder Award and more recently, the Frederick Douglass 200 Award in the area of politics, an honor bestowed upon him by Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives and the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University in Washington, DC. He has also been recognized as one of Mississippi’s Top 50 Most Influential Leaders, and The Root’s 100 Most Influential African Americans of 2017.

Mayor Lumumba is a faithful member of Free Christian Ministries and serves on the church’s leadership team.  He is married to Ebony Lumumba and the couple has two daughters, Alake’ Maryama and Nubia Ngozi.

Profile Picture of David Holt.

David Holt

Mayor

Oklahoma City, OK

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Profile Picture of David Holt.

David Holt

Mayor

Oklahoma City, OK

In April 2018, David Holt took office as Oklahoma City’s 36th Mayor after being elected with 78.5 percent of the vote. It was the largest vote percentage achieved by a non-incumbent candidate for mayor since 1947. It made Holt the youngest Mayor of Oklahoma City since 1923, the first Native American mayor of Oklahoma City, and at the time of his election, the youngest mayor of a U.S. city with more than 500,000 residents. For more about Mayor Holt, click here.

To watch or read Mayor Holt’s 2020 State of the City address, click here

To watch Mayor Holt’s remarks regarding the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, click here

The Mayor of Oklahoma City is the “Chief Executive of the City” and “President of the Council,” according to the Oklahoma City Charter. The Mayor is the only person elected citywide, is a voting member of the City Council and presides over its meetings, makes appointments to boards and commissions, represents the City at home and around the nation and world, articulates a vision for the City, leads major initiatives, issues proclamations, delivers an annual State of the City address, and with the Council hires the City Manager, the Municipal Counselor, the City Auditor and municipal judges.

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Mark Funkhouser

Former Mayor

Kansas City, MO

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Profile Picture of Mark Funkhouser.

Mark Funkhouser

Former Mayor

Kansas City, MO

Mark Funkhouser, a former publisher of Governing magazine, is president of Funkhouser & Associates, LLC, an independent consulting firm focused on helping public officials and their private-sector partners create better, more fiscally sustainable communities. He served as mayor of Kansas City, Mo., from 2007 to 2011. Prior to being elected mayor, Funkhouser was the city’s auditor for 18 years and was honored in 2003 as a Governing Public Official of the Year. Before becoming publisher of Governing, he served as director of the Governing Institute.

Funkhouser is an internationally recognized auditing expert, author and teacher in public administration and its fiscal disciplines. He holds an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in public administration and sociology from the University of Missouri at Kansas City, an M.B.A. in accounting and finance from Tennessee State University, and a master’s degree in social work from West Virginia University.

Profile Picture of Trey Mendez.

Trey Mendez

Mayor

Brownsville, TX

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Profile Picture of Trey Mendez.

Trey Mendez

Mayor

Brownsville, TX

Juan “Trey” Mendez, III was born and raised in Brownsville, Texas. Growing up in a South Texas border town taught him the value of hard work and perseverance. From an early age, his parents stressed the importance of setting a goal and striving to achieve it. A product of the public school system in Brownsville, he graduated from the Gladys Porter High School of Technology and went on to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Government from the University of Texas at Brownsville in 2002. Three years later, he graduated from the University of Texas School of Law and moved back to Brownsville with a goal of making a difference in the lives of the people in his community.

Trey believes that being a productive citizen involves giving back and investing in your own community. In 2010, he was elected to a 6 year term as Trustee of the Texas Southmost College District. He was re-elected in 2016. In 2019, he ran a successful campaign for Mayor of Brownsville. He is currently a member of the Public Utilities Board and the Workforce Solutions Cameron County Board. Trey co-cofounded Dodici Pizza and Wine in 2018. The restaurant is located in Historic Downtown Brownsville. He is a former council member of the Insurance Law Section for the State Bar of Texas. He has been licensed to practice law for 15 years and has litigated thousands of cases.

Profile Picture of Ryan Coonerty.

Ryan Coonerty

Former mayor of Santa Cruz, CA  Supervisor

Santa Cruz County, CA

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Profile Picture of Ryan Coonerty.

Ryan Coonerty

Former mayor of Santa Cruz, CA  Supervisor

Santa Cruz County, CA

Ryan Coonerty serves as the Third District Supervisor for Santa Cruz County. The Third District stretches from 7th Avenue in Live Oak through the City of Santa Cruz and up the North Coast, including the communities of Davenport and Bonny Doon.

Elected to the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors in 2014 and reelected in 2018, Ryan is a two-time former Mayor of the City of Santa Cruz. He is also an entrepreneur, author, and educator. He is the host of “An Honorable Profession” podcast. He was the cofounder of NextSpace Coworking + Innovation (now owned by Pacific Workplaces), a lecturer on law and government at UC Santa Cruz, and co-author of The Rise of the Naked Economy – How to Benefit from the Changing Workplace (Macmillan, 2013) and wrote Etched in Stone – Enduring Words from our National Monuments (National Geographic, 2007). Ryan was selected by the Aspen Institute to be a Rodel Fellow in Public Leadership as one of “the nation’s most promising young elected officials,” a “Community Hero” by the Red Cross of Santa Cruz County and “Advocate of the Year” by the United Way of Santa Cruz County.

On the Board of Supervisors, Ryan has created incentives to support affordable workforce housing, led the expansion of the public safety program Community Partnership for Accountability, Connection and Treatment (PACT), and brought forward a successful proposal for the County to stop doing business with big banks that pled guilty to felonies. Ryan built on the work of his predecessors to improve Twin Lakes Beachfront access, repair roads and bikeways and worked with the Santa Cruz County Clerk to make sure the postage is paid on all vote-by-mail ballots—so that stamps are never a barrier to voting. Ryan led the effort to establish a local Nurse-Family Partnership Program and a Thrive by Three Fund to support families’ health and educational outcomes.

Ryan currently serves as the Chair of the Central California Alliance for Health, the Medi-Cal managed health care plan serving 350,000 members in Santa Cruz, Monterey and Merced Counties, where he works to improve access to health care for lower income residents.

A leader on environmental issues, Ryan was a strong supporter of the creation of Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP), which will reduce carbon emissions while supporting the local economy and jobs. He currently serves as an alternate to the MBCP Board and is on the Monterey Bay Air Resources Board. Ryan actively opposes a proposal to expand offshore oil and gas drilling off the coast of California and supports the lawsuits filed by the County and City of Santa Cruz against 29 oil, gas and coal companies for their significant contribution to creating climate change and the resulting damage from storms, fires and sea level rise.

Ryan has brought forth policies that protect the environment, create jobs and economic opportunity, enhance public safety, and improve government services for residents. He has been a steadfast supporter of women’s rights, equality for the LGBTQ community, and a vocal supporter of hard-working local immigrant families.

As Mayor and Councilmember, Ryan led successful efforts to reach a historic agreement with UC Santa Cruz and to invest the City’s reserve funds back into the community to spur the local economy. He authored the Clean Oceans, Rivers and Beaches initiative, and brought a new generation into civic life through the creation of Santa Cruz NEXT. Ryan also played a key role in attracting the Santa Cruz Warriors to Santa Cruz as well as spearheading efforts to simplify permitting for citizens and small businesses, and creating policies to increase the use of local alternative energy.

Ryan attended Santa Cruz’s public schools and graduated from the University of Oregon’s Clark Honors College. He received a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. He is the son of Neal and Candy Coonerty, who own Bookshop Santa Cruz, which is now run by Ryan’s sister Casey. He lives in Santa Cruz with his wife Emily, daughter Daisy and son Kellan.

Profile Picture of Liana Elliott.

Liana Elliott

Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor LaToya Cantrell

City of New Orleans

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Profile Picture of Liana Elliott.

Liana Elliott

Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor LaToya Cantrell

City of New Orleans

Liana Elliott is an urban planner and policy analyst, focusing on social justice issues around public health, community resilience, and social determinants and impacts of socioeconomic and racial disparities. Her interdisciplinary training and unique approach to social justice encompasses diverse perspectives and examines the complex web of connections between individuals, communities, and global contexts.

Elliott is currently serving as the Deputy Chief of Staff for the City of New Orleans Mayor, LaToya Cantrell since 2018. Elliott has been serving the City of New Orleans since 2014 in various roles, including chief of staff for former City Council President and Councilmember At-Large Jason Williams, and program manager for the City of New Orleans’ Fight the Blight Lot Maintenance Program, a proactive, strategic, place-based initiative operating in six target neighborhoods throughout Orleans Parish.  

Additionally, Elliott is the co-founder and Board Chair for 102.3 FM WHIV New Orleans, a community radio station dedicated to human rights and social justice. WHIV is member-supported, and entirely volunteer-run by over 90 hosts and DJs who provide original live programming 24/7 on New Orleans’ airwaves and streams around the world.

Before joining the City, Elliott was a strategy, implementation, and community development consultant specializing in public health policy, data analysis and communication, sustainable housing, emergency management, and social justice. Elliott has been a resident of New Orleans for over 15 years and lives in the Warehouse District. Elliott holds a BA from Tulane University, and Masters degrees in Social & Community Planning and Public Policy from the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California.

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Sheleah Harris

School Board Member

Shelby County, TN

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Sheleah Harris

School Board Member

Shelby County, TN

With more than 10 years of experience, Sheleah Harris has a professional background in secondary education, local government affairs, community engagement, and marketing. Fueled by her strong desire to restructure broken images of youth in our society, she has consistently aligned herself with opportunities to implement strategies for academic, social, and economic success for others. Sheleah is driven to improve “Equity and Access for ALL students” in Shelby County. She is a servant leader who has been relentless in her pursuit to create environments that cultivate an attitude of excellence within communities and neighborhoods throughout Shelby County. She is the founder and executive director of Living Grace, Inc. a non-profit organization that advocates and serves youth identified as homeless in Memphis. In addition, Sheleah also works as a manager of State and Local Government Affairs for a Fortune 500 company. In her role, she listens, learns and leads in the charge for innovation by collaborating with community stakeholders and legislatures to drive equity and access throughout the city.

Formerly, Sheleah also served as a high school teacher for Shelby County Schools and Bartlett City Schools. Sheleah is a proud product of Shelby County’s District 5 and a current resident and graduate of Cordova High School. She earned her B.S. in Marketing Management from The University of Memphis, M.S. in Education from Freed-Hardeman University, and certification in K-12 Education for the state of Tennessee.

She enjoys being active with her church, Life Church of Memphis; spending time with her family and friends; and spoiling her Hound Dog, Andy.

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Dr. Ramesh Kolluru

Vice President for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

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Profile Picture of Dr. Ramesh Kolluru.

Dr. Ramesh Kolluru

Vice President for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development

University of Louisiana at 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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Rebecca Fleischaker

Co-chief of Louisville Forward and Director of the Department of Economic Development

Louisville, KY

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Profile Picture of Rebecca Flieschaker.

Rebecca Fleischaker

Co-chief of Louisville Forward and Director of the Department of Economic Development

Louisville, KY

Rebecca oversees the economic development arm of Louisville Forward and works daily to attract new companies to Louisville, as well as help businesses already located in our city get started and expand. Together, with Jeff O’Brien, she works to ensure Louisville remains a great place to live, work and do business.

Profile PIcture Will Jawando.

Will Jawando

Councilmember

Montgomery County, MD

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Profile PIcture Will Jawando.

Will Jawando

Councilmember

Montgomery County, MD

Councilmember Will Jawando is an attorney, activist, and community leader with a lifelong dedication to public service. His career has been crafted by a unique combination of grit, compassion, and integrity. Born in Silver Spring, Maryland to a Nigerian father and white Kansan mother, Will’s bi-racial identity gave him an appreciation for the varied experiences life in America can bring. Raised in a low-income household, he was determined to secure a successful future for himself through the pathway of education.

When he was a teenager, tragedy struck when one of his best friends was killed in a senseless act of gun violence. The aftermath of this ordeal would be the catalyst that would solidify Will’s commitment to becoming an agent of change through public service. With unwavering dedication, he earned a B.A. in Sociology from Catholic University of America and completed his J.D. from their prestigious Columbus School of Law. While attending Catholic University, he started the first NAACP chapter on their campus – a move that would chart the course for his burgeoning career in law and politics.

Described as “the progressive leader we need” by revered civil rights activist and Congressman, John Lewis, Will has worked with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Sherrod Brown, and then-Senator Barack Obama. During the 8-year Obama Administration, Will had the honor of serving as Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, followed by a position as an advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. He has worked tirelessly to ensure a quality education, opportunities for prosperity and guaranteed civil rights are available to every American.

Will continued his dedication to public service in Montgomery County and in 2014, he founded Our Voices Matter-Maryland, a social justice non-profit that works with all communities to develop broader civic engagement, grassroots activism and leadership. In 2017, he spearheaded Summer R.I.S.E., a summer job shadowing program in partnership with Worksource Montgomery, state and county government, and Montgomery County Public Schools that placed over 400 high school students in enriching career experiences. Will is also a co-founder of the African Immigrant Caucus (AIC) whose mission is to increase civic engagement, economic development and political participation of Africans in the diaspora, in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia.

Will was elected and sworn-in as an at-large Montgomery County councilmember in December 2018 with the support of a diverse coalition from across the county. Will’s platform was based on what he calls The MOCO Promise, something he believes all Montgomery County residents are entitled to: A safe, vibrant and inclusive community, with great schools and a strong economy. Understanding that not everyone shares in the promise of Montgomery County, Will is committed to fighting to keep the promise for all residents. 

It’s Will’s family and friends that keep him grounded and focused on what’s most important in life. A devoted husband and father of four beautiful children, his family is his greatest achievement.  He and his wife Michele work together to create a loving and safe environment for their children, and won’t rest until Americans everywhere can have the same.

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Zeke Cohen

Councilmember

Baltimore, MD

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Zeke Cohen

Councilmember

Baltimore, MD

Zeke Cohen has represented the First District on the Baltimore City Council since 2016.

Zeke grew up in Northampton, Massachusetts, the son of a social worker and a psychiatrist. Zeke’s belief that “community comes first” was inspired by his mother’s stories of marching for Civil Rights and registering voters during the Mississippi Freedom Summer. After graduating from Goucher College, Zeke taught in West Baltimore and, as a teacher, was awarded the Elizabeth Lawrence Prize for Excellence. He attained a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University. Zeke started his nonprofit, The Intersection, to help young people learn community organizing and civic leadership.  He ran for office with the belief that democracy only works when everyone has a voice in the process.

In July 2019, Zeke introduced the Elijah Cummings Healing City Act, making Baltimore the first city in the country to comprehensively legislate trauma-responsive care. The bill, which was signed into law in February 2020, and the movement that propelled it forward were created to help Baltimore heal from our enduring legacies of trauma, racism and violence.

In April 2019, Zeke sponsored the Gender-Inclusive Single-User Restroom bill, which helps ensure our city is safe and welcoming for all communities by requiring all single-user restrooms to have gender-inclusive signage. It was the first bill in Baltimore’s history to be signed at a Pride Parade.

In 2018, Zeke introduced the Transparency in Lobbying Act. The law tightens restrictions on lobbyists and requires lobbying disclosure forms to be posted online.

Zeke and his staff work tirelessly to deliver world-class constituent services and to provide transparency throughout the process. Since entering office in 2016, his office has resolved over 2800 separate constituent requests for assistance. These include requests for help resolving water billing disputes, removing abandoned boats from vacant lots, and expediting the repair of broken streetlights. Zeke believes in the power of organized communities and in the past two years, his office created community-driven task forces on the topics of transportation and public safety.

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Sara Kerr

Vice President, Education Policy Implementation

Results for America

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Sara Kerr

Vice President, Education Policy Implementation

Results for America

Sara Kerr is the Vice President of Education Policy Implementation for Results for America. Sara previously served as a Senior Advisor on Leadership and Systems Improvement at Education Northwest, and before that, was a Senior Engagement Manager with the nonprofit U.S. Education Delivery Institute, where she oversaw a portfolio of engagements with states, districts, and education organizations focused on effectively implementing priority reforms, including those focused on educator effectiveness systems and new standards and assessments. Before joining EDI, Sara served as the Chief Performance Officer with the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE), where she oversaw the implementation of Delaware’s $119 million Race to the Top grant. Previously, Sara worked as a Policy Analyst at the Council of the District of Columbia, providing education policy expertise to Council members and serving as the liaison between the Council and executive agencies, such as the Office of the State Superintendent of Education and District of Columbia Public Schools. Prior to that, she worked with the District of Columbia Public Schools to implement its special education reform agenda and evaluated a number of state and federally funded education programs as a research associate with the American Institutes for Research (AIR).  She got her start in education as a special education teacher in Montgomery County, Maryland.

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Lourdes German

Founder and Director

Civic Innovation Project

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Lourdes German

Founder and Director

Civic Innovation Project

Lourdes German has over 15 years of experience specializing in municipal finance and advising leaders of cities, states, members of the United States Congress, the United Nations, the World Bank and others with respect to complex municipal finance matters and issues of sustainable urbanization.

Lourdes began her career in 2004 as an attorney advising state and local governments in all aspects of municipal public finance at the international law firm Palmer & Dodge (now Locke Lord, LLP). Following that work, Lourdes co-created the municipal finance department at Fidelity Investments as a Vice President of Municipal Finance. At Fidelity, Lourdes advised governments on public finance matters in the United States, established Fidelity’s first New York office for municipal finance, and developed Fidelity’s national education program with respect to municipal finance.

Following Fidelity, Lourdes’ professional experiences include serving as General Counsel and Vice President of Research of the municipal finance division of the global investment management company, Breckinridge Capital Advisors and serving as a Director of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. At Lincoln, Lourdes established the global campaign and program of work focused on Municipal Fiscal Health, managed Lincoln’s instructional design team, and launched programs focused on municipal finance with partners that included leading universities, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and others.

As an expert for the United Nations, Lourdes served as one of the authors who wrote the global policy framework for municipal finance to guide the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals effort in 2016 led by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the World Bank. Lourdes also served as an author of the United Nations book, Finance for City Leaders, published by the United Nations Press in 2016, and has served as an expert presenter in various global forums hosted by UN-Habitat, the UN Capital Development Fund, and the United Nations Statistical Commission.

Lourdes currently serves as a professor at the Boston College Carroll School of Management where she co-directs the interdisciplinary academic program, Managing for Social Impact & The Public Good, and also has a part-time faculty appointment at Boston University where she created the municipal finance education program. In addition, Lourdes also helped create the first municipal finance professional certificate program for urban planners at the University of Chicago and currently also serves as a faculty member for the program.

 

Finally, Lourdes also directs the Civic Innovation Project, a global thought leadership initiative that she launched with the support and partnership of the Microsoft Corporation in 2015 to support city-to-city learning. The initial learning platform and program created by the Civic Innovation Program in 2017 was recognized as one of the top emerging innovative technology platforms in America.

 

Outside of work, Lourdes serves as the current appointed Chair by the Governor of Massachusetts of the Massachusetts State Finance and Governance Board; serves on the board of the Rappaport Center for Law and Policy, and serves as a municipal finance expert on the London School of Economics/PWC Global Coalition for Urban Transition Committee convened to study sustainable municipal finance practices on a global scale.

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Brooks Rainwater

Senior Executive and Director, Center for City Solutions

National League of Cities

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Brooks Rainwater

Senior Executive and Director, Center for City Solutions

National League of Cities

Brooks Rainwater is the senior executive and director of the National League of Cities’ (NLC) Center for City Solutions. Rainwater drives the organization’s research agenda, community engagement efforts, and leadership education programming to help city leaders create strong local economies, safe and vibrant neighborhoods, world-class infrastructure, and a sustainable environment.

As an advocate for strong local leadership, Rainwater has published numerous reports and articles on innovative solutions that lead to vibrant and successful cities. He also speaks regularly across the country and overseas on issues facing city leaders. Rainwater’s recent research and interests include advancements in technology and city innovation, the sharing economy, and how the rise of state preemption is impacting local authority.

Rainwater’s expertise is a draw for media outlets, including the TODAY Show, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CNN, NPR, and the New York Times. He also frequently contributes to publications such as Fast Company, Forbes, CityLab, Business Insider, TechCrunch, and Fortune.

Prior to joining NLC, Rainwater was Director of Public Policy for the American Institute of Architects (AIA). While there he developed the Local Leaders research series, and spearheaded the Cities as a Lab initiative focused on the key role cities play as creative instigators of innovative practices.

Rainwater is an International Advisory Board Member for the City of Rotterdam. He also serves on the Board of Directors for STAR Communities and the American Library Association Public Policy Advisory Council. 

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Kennedy Smith

Senior Researcher

Institute for Local Self-Reliance

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Kennedy Smith

Senior Researcher

Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Kennedy Smith is a Senior Researcher for ILSR’s Independent Business Initiative. Her work focuses on analyzing the factors that threaten small businesses. She also develops program and policy tools that communities can use to level the playing field for small businesses and to build thriving economies.

Since joining ILSR’s staff in spring of 2020, Kennedy has focused primarily on helping small businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Her “Big List of COVID-19 Assistance Programs” has been visited nearly 200,000 times and has helped communities throughout the nation create programs to help small businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

Her 2020 report, Safeguarding Small Business During the Pandemic: 26 Strategies for Local Leaders, has been the focus of more than a dozen workshops and conferences, including events for the Mayors’ Institute on City Design and for statewide organizations in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, and North Carolina.

Her current work includes reining in the predatory practices of third-party delivery apps, encouraging development of healthy food stores in underserved neighborhoods, and strengthening federal government support for small businesses.

Kennedy’s work at ILSR builds on her years of on-the-ground experience helping towns and cities throughout North America build vibrant downtowns and neighborhood commercial centers. She served as the director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Main Street Center for 14 years, where she collaborated with ILSR on issues like highlighting the dangers to small businesses of big-box development. Through her consulting work with the Community Land Use and Economics Group, which she co-founded in 2004, she has helped communities throughout the world find solutions to tough revitalization and business development challenges.

In addition to her work at ILSR, Kennedy teaches a graduate-level course on historic preservation economics for Goucher College and serves as an advisor to the Community Land Use and Economics Group. She has an undergraduate degree in urban studies from Bryn Mawr College and a masters in architecture from the University of Virginia, and she was a 2005-2006 Loeb Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. Fast Company included Kennedy on its first list of the “Fast 50 Champions of Innovation,” recognizing “creative thinkers whose sense of style and power of persuasion change what our world looks like and how our products perform.” She has been honored by Planetizen, one of the nation’s top urban planning forums, as one of the “100 Most Influential Urbanists of All Time” (2017) and one of the “100 Top Urban Thinkers” (2009).

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Anisa Hemming

Director, Center for Green Schools

U.S. Green Buildings Council

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Anisa Hemming

Director, Center for Green Schools

U.S. Green Buildings Council

Anisa Heming is director of the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council. In 2014, she was named one of the Most Powerful Women in Sustainability by Green Building and Design Magazine. With a background in architecture, she began her work with USGBC in New Orleans, hired to assist with rebuilding the schools after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

After two years with the city’s Recovery School District, she moved to Washington, DC to begin the Green Schools Fellowship Program at the Center for Green Schools, a program that places and trains sustainability directors in school districts. As director, Anisa provides strategic direction to USGBC’s work in schools and coordinates an organization-wide team to promote environmental sustainability, health and wellness, and sustainability literacy in school systems around the world. She is a Little Rock native and holds a B.S. in Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis and an M.Arch. from the University of Washington in Seattle.

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Dr. Raju Gottumukkala

Site Director, NSF Center for Visual and Decision Informatics

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

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Profile Picture of Dr. Raju Gottumukkala.

Dr. Raju Gottumukkala

Site Director, NSF Center for Visual and Decision Informatics

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Dr. Raju Gottumukkala is the Director of Research for the Informatics Research Institute at UL Lafayette. As the Director of Research, he leads several research initiatives in the broader area of cyber physical systems and big data across three centers within IRI. This includes The National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Visual and Decision Informatics (CVDI) and Center for Business and Information Technologies. He is also the Site Director of NSF CVDI – an NSF Industry University Cooperative Research Center in the area of big data.


His research interest is in the broader area of cyber physical systems – specifically addressing real-world informatics and integrated systems modeling issues. He has led various efforts in the area of big data platforms, system resilience, modeling & verification of distributed systems, software defined networks, visual analytics, and evolutionary networks. His research has generated over $7M in funding from various state and federal agencies including NSF, DHS S&T, DOE, state agencies, and the private sector. He has 15 peer-reviewed conference/journal publications, 2 U.S. Patents, and authored several technical reports. He is also part of the US Ignite community leadership group and representative from the city of Lafayette. He has also served on various conference programs, and review committees. Most recently, he served as the industry sponsorship chair for the 1st and 2nd IEEE International Conference on Big Data, and is invited to serve as the workshop chair for the IEEE International Conference on Data Mining.

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Thomas Croft

Managing Director

Heartland Capital Strategies

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Thomas Croft

Managing Director

Heartland Capital Strategies

Thomas Croft is the Managing Director of Heartland Capital Strategies (HCS) and Executive Director of the Steel Valley Authority (SVA).  His previous works include Up from Wall Street: The Responsible Alternative. (Cosimo Books, 2009). Forward by Richard Trumka; “Targeted Responsible Investments,” a chapter in The Next Generation of Responsible Investing, Edited by Tessa Hebb. (2011, Springer Publishing); “Helping Workers’ Capital Work Harder: A Report on Global Economically Targeted Investments (ETIs).” (2009). A Report Commissioned by the Global Unions Committee on Workers’ Capital (CWC), International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC); “Collaboration Between Labor, Academics and Community Activists to Advance Labor/Capital Strategies.”  A Chapter in Money on the Line: Workers’ Capital in Canada.  (2003, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives). Isla Carmichael and Jack Quarter, Editors. Heartland previously commissioned Working Capital: The Power of Labor’s Capital (2001, Cornell University), edited by Tessa Hebb, et al. Forward by Leo Gerard.  And Croft has authored numerous articles.