About Strong Towns

Strong Towns is a
non-profit, non-partisan organization that helps America's towns achieve financial strength and resiliency.

We travel the nation and the digisphere to promote a complete understanding of the costs that are associa­ted with our communities' methods of growth, and we advocate to address those costs via productive changes in our pattern of development.

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Board of Directors

Ryan Kelley, CNU-A - Chair

Kelley is currently a planner with the City of St. Louis Park, MN. He was previously a land use planner with Hennepin County developing policies to create more walkable and bikeable communities and interned in the planning department at the City of St. Paul. Prior to receiving his Masters in Urban and Regional Planning at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs he was the director of a Minneapolis AmeriCorps program and was a program officer for the Minnesota State Commission for AmeriCorps. He also served as a training consultant for the Institute on Community Inclusion at UMass Boston. Kelley is passionate about creating resilient communities and is active in the Congress for the New Urbanism, the American Planning Association, his local neighborhood board and the advancement of grassroots placemaking in Minneapolis. He received his BA in Philosophy from St. John's University, Minnesota and lives in southwest Minneapolis with his wife and two dogs.

Lucy Thompson

Lucy Thompson is multi-talented planner for the City of Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she has worked in neighborhood planning, heritage preservation, infill mixed-use development, public art, transit-oriented development and urban design for over 25 years.  Currently, her emphasis is on planning and urban design for downtown Saint Paul, the central Mississippi riverfront, and the city’s core neighborhoods, as well as implementing station area plans and traditional neighborhood zoning along the Green Line (light rail linking downtown Minneapolis and Saint Paul).  She brings a wealth of on the ground implementation experience to successfully achieving fine grained and incrementally evolving city fabric.

Ms. Thompson is a founding member, past co-director and current member of the Saint Paul on the Mississippi Design Center, a public-private partnership created in 1995 to implement the Saint Paul on the Mississippi Development Framework, the City‘s vision for a revitalized downtown reconnected to the Mississippi River.  Ms. Thompson has a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning and a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She is a charter member of the Congress for the New Urbanism and a founding member of New Urbanism Minnesota.

Betsey Buckheit

Betsey Buckheit’s route to the Strong Towns board began in 2001-2005 when she chaired the Northfield, MN Planning Commission and began asking questions about how Northfield got to where it was, where it wanted to go in the future, and who would pay for it.  This led her to the Humphrey Public Policy Fellows program,  Blandin Community Leadership Program, and a term on the Northfield City Council.  Betsey is also currently on the board of the Northfield Downtown Development Corporation, a group dedicated to sustaining a vibrant Downtown Northfield.  Betsey blogs at www.betseybuckheit.com about development-related policy and local issues with large dollops of non-motorized transportation advocacy thrown in.

Betsey has a B.A. in Religion from Swarthmore College, an M.A. in Philosophy from Syracuse University, and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School.  She lives in a brightly colored house in Northfield with her husband and 2 large dogs.  As an enthusiastic supporter of public transportation, she is taking full advantage of an opportunity to be in Cambridge, England and Jyväskylä, Finland during 2013-2014 where she hopes to enjoy and investigate European cities to look for inspiration to bring back to Strong Towns.