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SSI-3 features a tremendous speaker line-up. All presentations will be in the engaging 'ignite' style format followed by a panel discussion. The unique design of the event allows all attendees to attend all sessions and participate in the conversation as we discover how to create the 

Cities We Want. 



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Former HUD Deputy Secretary

Ron Sims is a civic volunteer active in health, education, environmental and social equity issues. Appointed by Governor Jay Inslee, Sims serves as the chair of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board. The board is responsible for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Washington State.

Sims served as the Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from 2009-2011. He was appointed by President Obama and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Prior to his appointment at HUD, Sims served for 12 years as the elected Executive of Martin Luther King, Jr. County in Washington State. As County Executive, Sims was nationally recognized for his work on the integration of environmental, social equity and public health policies that produced groundbreaking work on climate change, health care reform, affordable housing, mass transit, environmental protection, land use, and equity and social justice.




Director of Research, 

American Planning Association

David Rouse is the Managing Director of Research and Advisory Services for the American Planning Association in Washington, DC. In this capacity he leads the Planning Advisory Service, National Centers for Planning (Green Communities, Hazards Planning, and Planning and Community Health), and special initiatives such as the Sustaining Places Comprehensive Plan Standards and Planning for Autonomous Vehicles.  Prior to joining APA, David was a principal at the firm Wallace Roberts & Todd in Philadelphia. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners and a registered landscape architect with over 35 years of experience in community planning, design, and applied research.




Director of Public Works,

City of Westminster

Max Kirschbaum is the Director of Public Works and Utilities for the City of Westminster since 2015.  He is responsible for street operations and all engineering and operations aspects of the water, wastewater, and reclaimed water utilities. Previously, he was the Operations Manager in the Public Services Department for El Paso County, Colorado for five years.  In that role, he was responsible for road and bridge operations, fleet maintenance, facility maintenance, and parking and security.  He also served in the US Air Force from 1983 to 2010 as a civil engineer officer, retiring in the rank of Colonel.  His 13 assignments included Italy, Saudi Arabia, Republic of Korea, Okinawa, Japan; and he deployed to Baghdad, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005-2006.  He is a Professional Engineer, registered in Minnesota and Colorado. 



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Director of Emergency Management, 

Larimer County

Lori Hodges has over twenty years of experience at both the state and local levels in the emergency services and emergency management fields. Her education includes a Master’s Degree in Defense Studies from the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security, a Master’s Degree in Political Science and Public Policy from the University of Colorado at Denver and a Bachelor’s Degree in Emergency Management from Metropolitan State College of Denver. Lori Hodges currently works as the Director of Emergency Management for Larimer County in Northern Colorado.



Research Fellow,

Arizona State University

Dr. Samuel Markolf is a research fellow within the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN) and the School for Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University. His research broadly focuses on urban infrastructure resilience to extreme events. In particular, current projects include characterizing vulnerabilities that arise in transportation systems via interdependencies with other infrastructure systems (e.g. the electricity grid.); critically assessing the role of risk analysis in infrastructure resilience and the exploration of alternative approaches; analyzing the extent to which integrated social-ecological-technical systems (SETS) are present in cities and the extent to which SETS can enhance the resilience of cities to extreme events; and investigating the influence that historical extreme events have had on the design, implementation, and governance of infrastructure over time.


When not working on ways to enhance the sustainability and resiliency of our cities, Sam is most likely travelling, hiking, biking, or enjoying the company of his friends and family.




Planning Services Manager,

Aurora Water

Sarah Young is the Planning Services Manager for the City of Aurora Water Department. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado at Denver, is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Administration and is a registered professional engineer in Colorado. She worked as a consulting engineer for 12 years with a focus on water/wastewater master-planning and design and then was hired as a principal in a general contractor construction company which specialized in large park, stormwater, and stream restoration projects. She was hired by the City of Aurora Water Department in 2013 where her team is now responsible for the long range planning, asset management and GIS for Aurora’s water, wastewater and stormwater utilities.

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Vice President,

Opus One Solutions

Cameron Brooks is an expert on electricity policy and the regulated utility industry, creating new business opportunities that leverage policy and emerging markets. Cameron founded and leads Tolerable Planet Enterprises, an advisory firm that provides a unique combination of regulatory engagement, business development and policy strategy for philanthropies, advocates, technology providers and government agencies. Cameron is also founder and President of E9 Insight, a Boulder, Colorado, research firm that provides customized research on the U.S. and international electric utility industry. In these capacities, clients include Google, Energy Foundation, Virgin Unite, U.S. Department of Energy, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a wide range of high-growth clean technology companies. Cameron has held executive roles with clean energy companies and non-profits, including Opus One Solutions, Tendril, Renewable Choice Energy and the Clean Energy States Alliance. Cameron’s earlier experience spans a wide range of environmental, green building and adventure and environmental media roles. Cameron is a graduate of Yale University (Cultural Ecology and Ecologic Design) and holds an MBA from Cornell University (including an immersion in energy markets). He and his family live in Boulder, Colorado.


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Anne Kuechenmeister

Project Manager-Planning, Michael Baker International

Anne is a community planner who specializes in public engagement strategies to build communities capacity to act on complex planning issues.  She builds a thoughtful process paired with effective, creative and innovative tools and strategies for engagement.

She began her work at a Denver-based urban planning think tank focusing on public engagement practices. In this role she research effective strategies for engagement. Her experience has shown that public engagement can lead to broad support for planning issues, increasing efficiency for project implementation and building political will for action.

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Michelle Stephens

President, APA Colorado

Michelle is a change agent who passionately believes in the role technology can play in improving our communities and our organizations.


Over the last 18 years Michelle has held roles that range from city planner to international for-profit developer, including positions in Utah, Colorado, Oregon, and the United Arab Emirates. She is fluent in building, engineering, planning, and project management jargon and currently serves as the President for the Colorado Chapter of the American Planning Association.


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Managing Director, Nelson/Nygaard

Leah understands that by daring to work together on the issues we care about, we can transform our communities into more sustainable, equitable, and livable places.

As Nelson\Nygaard’s Managing Director, Leah is the steward of the firm’s values and its commitment to putting people first. Her leadership and capacity to inspire others has resulted in visionary transportation initiatives in the communities in which she’s worked. As mobility changes, Leah guides Nelson\Nygaard to the forefront of innovation, driven and informed by the values of our firm, our communities, and our clients.

Leah joined Nelson\Nygaard after spending five years as the Director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, where she launched transformative programs like Parking Kitty and BikeTown and made Portland a Vision Zero City. Through her leadership, PBOT grew its Safe Routes to School program, reinvented Sunday Parkways, and became the first city in the U.S. to adopt design standards requiring cycle tracks in new developments. Previously, Leah served in management roles for the Departments of Transportation in Chicago and Washington, D.C. and on the board of NACTO. In all of these roles, her work has been guided by her commitment to excellence, teamwork, and having fun.

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Mark received his PhD in Civil Engineering at the Urban Sustainable Infrastructure Engineering Program (USIEP) at the University of Colorado Denver in 2007. Mark has received the Wirth Chair Innovator in Sustainability Award (Jun 2013) from the University of Colorado Denver and the Award of Excellence in Analysis and Planning (Jun 2010) from ASLA. His latest two publications are: Integrating a City’s Existing Infrastructure Vulnerabilities and Carbon Footprint for Achieving City-Wide Sustainability and Resilience Goals and a chapter contribution to the Routledge Handbook of Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure - The Infrastructure Decay Rate in US Cities: the Case for a Paradigm Shift in Information and Communication




Principal and Founder,

MZ Strategies

Mariia Zimmerman, Principal and Founder of MZ Strategies, LLC, is a seasoned veteran of shaping organizational change and entrepreneurship. She opened Reconnecting America's Washington, DC office and served as its Vice President for Policy. She was a founding member and interim Director of Transportation for America and served as Deputy Director of the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities helping to manage the establishment of a $250 million grant program within the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Mariia also spent six years on Capitol Hill working in the office of Congressman Earl Blumenauer.


Mariia has led a wide range of technical, research, and planning efforts on a range of policy subjects from transportation reform to transit-oriented development to affordable housing and regional planning.  She is a frequent national speaker and author on transit-oriented development (TOD), smart growth, public transportation finance and urban planning issues. Mariia has been a Visiting Fellow at Virginia Tech's Metropolitan Institute in Alexandria, VA. She served as Vice Chair for Regional and Metropolitan Planning with the American Planning Association's Regional and Intergovernmental Division, and is on the Board of the Shared Use Mobility Center.




Director of Research at the Institute for the Built Environment at Colorado State University

Dr. Jeni Cross is the Director of Research for the Institute for the Built Environment, an Associate Professor of Sociology at Colorado State University, and founder and co-Director of the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences. 


Jeni’s passion is applying the tools of social science (theory and research methods) to help communities and organizations create meaningful change.  Her current work includes using the EcoDistrict framework, which focuses on sustainability and climate resilience, to inform urban development projects in Fort Collins and Northern Colorado.  She has also worked with community organizations to create social marketing projects that improve radon mitigation, reduce substance use, and increase energy conservation. Jeni is dedicated to service and outreach and is known for her skill at translating social science into practice. She is also an engaging speaker, making even highly technical knowledge interesting and useful to a variety of audiences.



Professor & Excellence Faculty Scholar,

University of Illinois

Paolo Gardoni is a Professor and Excellence Faculty Scholar in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He is the Director of the MAE Center that focuses on creating a Multi-hazard Approach to Engineering, and the Associate Director of the NIST-funded Center of Excellence for Risk-based Community Resilience Planning.  Dr. Gardoni is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the international journal Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure published by Taylor and Francis Group.  He is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Civil Engineering Risk and Reliability Association (CERRA), of the Advisory Council of the International Forum on Engineering Decision Making (IFED), and of a number of national and international committees and associations that focus on risk and reliability analysis. 


Dr. Gardoni’s research interests include sustainable and resilient infrastructure; reliability, risk and life cycle analysis; decision making under uncertainty; earthquake engineering; performance assessment of deteriorating systems; ethical, social, and legal dimensions of risk; policies for natural hazard mitigation and disaster recovery; and engineering ethics.  He is the author of over 120 refereed journal papers and 6 edited volumes.  He has received over $29 million in research funding from multiple national and international agencies including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Qatar National Research Funds (QNRF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

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Senior Vice President,


Josh is the leader of  the Built Ecology team at WSP – WSP’s built environment sustainability group. Josh has a background in sustainable energy engineering and works at the intersection of green building, integration of sustainable energy systems, and building and community health, wellness, and resiliency. Josh has consulted on a wide variety of projects for both public and private sector clients–nationally and internationally–and is a regular writer and speaker on sustainability topics including conference keynote and college commencement addresses. His work has been featured in print and web magazine articles, blogs, and book essays.

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Project Manager, City and County of Denver

Gabriella Arismendi has been a multi-modal transportation and economic development planner for over nine years. She helps communities design and implement multi-modal transportation solutions that provide equal access, foster economic growth, and efficiently manage public resources. Gabriella’s experience spans a wide range of project scales, from establishing multi-technological bicycle and pedestrian planning programs to managing large scale transportation engineering studies.


Gabriella currently a Project Manager for the City and County of Denver Public Works Department and is leading several tactical urbanism efforts for the Southwest quadrant of the city and county. Prior to Denver, Gabriella was the Transportation & Mobility Planner for the City of Westminster and as the Active Transportation Planner for MetroPlan Orlando, the regional transportation planning authority in Central Florida. She holds a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Florida International University, a Graduate Certificate in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Central Florida, and a Certificate in Transportation Demand Management from the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) at the University of South Florida. 



Director of Geodesign,

Jacobs Engineering

Shannon McElvaney has 25 years of experience applying the use of geospatial technology across numerous industries including planning, utilities, transportation, natural resources, conservation, agriculture, and renewable energy. For the last 9 years, he has focused on the use of geodesign for smart urban and regional planning and design. Shannon also serves as the Geodesign Practice Director in the Advance Planning Group at Jacobs, where he focuses on integrating spatial analytics and geodesign processes with planning and design to help clients create a more sustainable, resilient built and natural environment. Shannon is also the Chief Geospatial Officer for WISRD, as wall as an adjunct professor in the graduate Geodesign Program in the Department of Landscape Architecture at Penn State University and is the author of the book Geodesign: Case Studies in Regional and Urban Planning.


Richard Baker

Information and Communications Technology Designer, Stantec

Richard Baker is an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) designer and smart buildings/smart cities specialist in Stantec’s Seattle-area office. He designs, coordinates, and oversees implementation of building-level infrastructure for technology systems from high-rise mixed-use buildings to performing arts centers. In 2018, Richard received his Master of Engineering in sustainable smart cites,
with a focus on deploying ICT on a citywide scale. He recently shared his perspective on how smart tech is transforming commercial buildings in Building Design + Construction magazine.  

Richard has served as a key member of Stantec teams and has designed more than $1.5 billion worth of new commercial, healthcare, cultural, government, and educational facilities. A passionate communicator, he’s known for his drive to push the envelope for what is possible, and this quality is evident in the work he does. As the father of three children, Richard particularly enjoyed his recent work for the Seattle Children’s Hospital, not only because his own family could need its services someday, but also because he knew it would help improve the lives of countless families going through tough times.

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