Here's who will be speaking at our Regional Gathering in Plano, Texas.
The first in a series of regional gatherings for Strong Towns advocates is coming up soon! Join us Wednesday, October 3 – Friday, October 5, 2018 in downtown Plano, Texas.
One of the many good reasons to attend is the opportunity to learn from regional and national experts. We are assembling a line-up of presenters who bring a wealth of wisdom and experience in building strong towns, and we're proud to introduce them to you here! This list will be updated as more featured presenters are confirmed, so continue to check back.
Tickets are now available to the general public.
Amanda Popken is a placemaker, community engagement strategist, economic development specialist, and city planner. Amanda focuses on community engagement and the form of our built environment.
She is the CEO of Amanda Popken Development, which formed in 2016 to align a toolbox of urban planning and economic development strategies with marketing services, and a focus on triple-bottom-line sustainability.
Her firm primarily orchestrates placemaking events that redesign public space and engage local creatives and entrepreneurs to contribute the details that give a place character. They identify opportunities for incremental urbanism while promoting, inspiring, teaching & engaging communities to grow their own social capital and create sustainable wealth.
John Simmerman is the President and Co-Founder of the Active Towns Initiative. John is a health promotion professional, consultant and storyteller with nearly 30 years experience in creating and promoting healthy, active lifestyles through the transformation of physical environments and the implementation of effective programming.
His mission with the Active Towns Initiative is to produce entertaining and educational multimedia content which increases awareness, inspires engagement and provides viable solutions for communities to create a culture of activity.
Kristin Green is the founder of Placemakers Design, a firm primarily focused on the planning and design of downtown developments across North Texas. Kristin specializes in infill developments that cannot meet local development codes that are written for suburban or large-scale urban development. Kristin graduated from Texas A&M in 2003 with a BS in Civil Engineering and has over 15 years of experience in the field working for both municipalities and private developers.
Giorgio Angelini is the director of the new documentary film Owned: A Tale of Two Americas, a film about suburbanization and mass homeownership in America, those who have benefited from it, and those who have been left behind by it.
Giorgio came into film from a longer, multi-faceted career in the creative arts, which includes a Masters of Architecture from Rice University. It was during architecture school in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse, when Giorgio was awarded a research grant to photograph the abandoned McMansions of the Inland Empire, California, that the seeds for his documentary debut, Owned, began to take shape.
Derek J. Avery, Sr. is the Founder and President of COIR Holdings, LLC. He has been involved in selling, building, developing, and consulting real estate for over 12 years. He was a board member of Southeast Houston Community Development Corporation from 2009-2012.
Derek is currently building zero-net capable homes and commercial spaces in the southern region of Dallas. He is the creator of the Joy Building System, and he advocates for revitalization without gentrification.
Quint Studer is a Strong Towns member, Pensacola, Florida resident, and the founder of Studer Community Institute. He is the author of Building a Vibrant Community: How Citizen-Powered Change Is Reshaping America. For more information, please visit vibrantcommunityblueprint.com.
As a businessman, visionary, entrepreneur, and a mentor to many, Quint has given his life to designing the building blocks for people and organizations that guide them to achieving and sustaining high performance.
Kevin Shepherd, P.E., ENV-SP, is a founding principal of VERDUNITY, an award-winning Dallas-based community consulting firm that helps community leaders apply Strong Towns principles to how they plan, build and manage their cities. Most recently, he and his colleagues launched the Go Cultivate! blog, podcast and workshops, where they share and discuss strategies to help community builders grow themselves, their neighborhoods and their cities. Kevin is a founding member of Strong Towns and board member for the North Texas chapter of CNU.
Lynda Humble serves as the City Manager of Bastrop, Texas. With 25+ years experience in the public sector and having worked for several DFW Metroplex cities, Lynda has a proven record of creating transformational change and solving specific concerns with her extensive knowledge and broad-based understanding of the inter-workings of all aspects of local government organizations and systems.
Honorable Curtistene Smith McCowan was elected the 21st Mayor of DeSoto, Texas, on May 7, 2016—the first woman to hold the office. She has served on the DeSoto City Council since May, 2012, serving as Mayor Pro Tem from 2014 to 2016; during this same time period, she chaired the Audit and Finance Committee. Prior to winning a seat on the City Council, she served five years on the DeSoto Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors.
Michael Kovacs has served as the City Manager of Fate, Texas, for 4 years, and has over 20 years of experience in city management. He has directly supervised departments responsible for public works, police, fire, EMS, parks and recreation, finance, building, planning, engineering, and public information. Kovacs describes his management style as being a servant leader who is personally invested in the mission of the City, knowing and helping the staff, and focusing on the needs of the community and its elected officials.
Justin Weiss first joined the City of Fate team in January, 2013 as the Assistant to the City Manager, Economic and Community Development. In June of 2015, Weiss was promoted to serve as the Assistant City Manager and oversees Economic and Community Development, Public Works, Engineering, Planning & Development, Building Safety, and Information Technology.
Charles Marohn - known as "Chuck" to friends and colleagues - is the Founder and President of Strong Towns and the author of the forthcoming Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity. He is a Professional Engineer (PE) licensed in the State of Minnesota and a land use planner with two decades of experience. He holds a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning, both from the University of Minnesota.
Marohn is also the lead author of Thoughts on Building Strong Towns — Volume 1, Volume 2 and Volume 3 — as well as the author of A World Class Transportation System. He hosts the Strong Towns Podcast and is a primary writer for Strong Towns’ web content. He has presented Strong Towns concepts in hundreds of cities and towns across North America. He is featured in the documentary film Owned: A Tale of Two Americans, and was named one of the 10 Most Influential Urbanists of all time by Planetizen.
Kea Wilson serves as Communications Manager for Strong Towns. She's based in the great city of St. Louis, Missouri, but she's lived everywhere from Santa Fe, New Mexico to coastal Maryland to far northern Michigan. She became passionate about the question of what it means to build a better world when she was in college, where she volunteered at a co-op bike collective and studied (most of) the great works of western civilization, roughly in chronological order. She's worked in community outreach and development for six years, most recently at a small independent bookstore where she coordinated a not-so-small author events series. She's also an avid (if somewhat slow) cyclist, an armchair economics nerd, and a novelist.
Are you a blogger, podcaster or member of the press who wants to feature Strong Towns? Please email Kea.
Jacob Moses serves as Community Builder for Strong Towns. After graduating from the University of North Texas, he worked as a technical writer in Boulder, Colorado and, most recent, as a grocer in his neighborhood of Downtown Denton, Texas. Among the topics that Strong Towns covers, Jacob most believes in complete neighborhoods and encouraging his peers to, as he likes to phrase it, live on a neighborhood-level.
Have a question about joining the Strong Towns movement or how to get involved in our work? Please email Jacob.
Aubrey Byron serves as Membership Coordinator and Staff Writer for Strong Towns. She's a writer based in St. Louis, Missouri. Aubrey began engaging with public space as a cyclist and spends much of her free time trying to inspire more people to be comfortable on bikes through the advocacy of a local nonprofit, The Monthly Cycle. She is also passionate about outdoor adventure and reading.
Ivy Vann serves as Strong Towns' Gathering Coordinator. She has been fascinated by streets, buildings and communities her entire life. She has been a member of Strong Towns since 2015, when she invited Chuck Marohn to be the keynote speaker for a new planning and development conference she created in New Hampshire. She is certified as a charrette planner by the National Charrette Institute; as an urban planner by the Congress for the New Urbanism; and as a Form-Based Code practitioner by the Form-Based Code Institute. Ivy is committed to making better, healthier, more financially solvent places for everyone by paying attention to historic development patterns and the necessity for beauty in our everyday lives — a commitment which she shares through her own town planning firm, Ivy Vann Town Planning and Urban Design. Ivy is on Twitter at @ivyvann.
As more presenters are confirmed, we will add their profiles to this page, so please check back frequently!