Attend the Sustainable Urban Systems Seminar at Stanford

The SUS Seminar series features speakers from academia, practice, industry, and government who are on the forefront of research and innovation in sustainable urban systems. The SUS Seminar is open to the public; students have the option of obtaining 1 unit of course credit. Limited lunch will be provided for enrolled students. 

WINTER 2018 series

This list will be updated as more speakers are finalized.


Joe Distefano, Principal and Co-Founder, Calthorpe Analytics
March 1, 2018, 12-1:20pm @ Y2E2 292A

Joe is Principal and Co-Founder of Calthorpe Analytics. He leverages 20+ years of experience in urban planning and design in leading the development and deployment of UrbanFootprint, a new web-based software platform built to address the challenges of sustainable urban planning. Intuitive features and streamlined workflows eliminate the constraints planners face daily—outdated tools, disorganized data, inadequate analytics, inefficient processes, and ineffective reporting. UrbanFootprint serves the planning practitioner with actionable data, tools, and cutting edge models that bring critical information to land use planning decisions, energy and water resource choices, and the environmental, public health, and social equity challenges of our times. 

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Susanna Kass, Executive Vice President, Innovation and Sustainability Strategy, Baselayer
With Brian Janous, General Manager of Energy, Microsoft
March 8, 2018, 12-1:20pm @ Y2E2 292A: "
Disruptive Innovation: Edge and Cloud Computing and the Strategic Role of the Electric Utility"

Susanna is Executive Vice President, Innovation and Sustainability Strategy at Baselayer. Baselayer is a startup company, known for its new innovation in modular data center design; it is adopted across the globe by clients like Goldman Sachs, numerous premier cloud providers and colocation providers such as IO. Susanna is instrumental in conceiving the company growth strategy in the energy sector. Electric Utilities across the nation, and in selected international countries, are adding the Baselayer modular data center in their power asset portfolio to simply change the way how electricity is deliver to data center customers in a sustainable fashion. See videos: "Baselayer/SRP Animation" and "90 Day Data Center Deployment".

Kass headed up New Innovation & Strategic Development at NextEra Energy Resources in 2014, NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE) is a leading clean-energy company, headquartered in Juno Beach, Fla., with 2013 consolidated revenues of $15.1 billion, total assets exceeding $70B and a credit rating of A-; it has more than 42,000 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity, all in clean energy from wind, solar, natural gas in North America as of year-end 2013. Susanna led a customer-centric framework to build her growth strategy and captured premier clients like Google, Equinix, Kaiser Permanente to contract over 1GW of renewable energy to achieve their sustainability goals in data center energy use.

Kass received Distinguished Entrepreneur awards from Stanford University for her Clean Energy project, Distinguished Entrepreneur awards from New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Innovation Center and received her Presidential Award from San Diego State University. She is a visiting speaker at Graduate School of Business at Stanford and UC MBA program in the Disruptive Thinking lecture.

Kass has more than 30 years experience in global product management and data center operations. She has domain knowledge in next gen IT and e-commerce product launch, managing cloud computing operations and a co-inventor in smart grid mesh network and clean technology. Kass launched her international career at Hewlett Packard and Sun Microsystems, where she focused on new product innovation, new patent invention, and managed data centers product operations of over $Billion revenue. She led large deal technology negotiations, venture investments, mergers and acquisitions. She accumulated hands-on experience in working with customers and strategic partners to develop customer-centric strategy and successful new product designs as the COO of eBay International and Trilliant Network, where she led global operations from the ground up and scaled new venture to global operations in $Millions revenue.

Kass completed the Stanford Executive Program at Graduate School of Business. She received her MBA in international business management from Pepperdine University, where she is a distinguished alumni award recipient. Kass holds a bachelor's degree in computer science and business administration from San Diego State University where she is a distinguished alumni recipient. She can be reached at; twitter: @Kass_Susanna;

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Brian is responsible for leading the development and execution of Microsoft’s global data center energy strategy. These data centers provide the foundational cloud infrastructure for over 200 Microsoft online and cloud services for consumers and businesses worldwide. His responsibilities include oversight of all energy supply agreements, distributed generation, and strategic partnerships to ensure a power supply that is reliable and sustainable. As General Manager of the Energy Strategy and Research team, he creates end-to-end strategies that will drive innovations in the next generation of Microsoft data centers, and supports efforts to establish energy market policies that will foster end-user innovation.

Brian joined Microsoft in 2011 after 12 years in the energy industry where he worked as a Sr. Consultant at Brubaker & Associates, assisting Fortune 500 companies with energy procurement, policy and sustainability matters. Brian holds an MBA from Webster University, a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Missouri and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Missouri.

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Eric Baczuk, Designer, Sidewalk Labs
March 15, 2017, 12-1:20pm @ Y2E2 292A

Eric is a Designer-in-Residence at Sidewalk Labs, where his work explores the relationship between digital technologies and building-scale fabrication. He believes that rethinking construction process, from design to materials and methodologies, is fundamental in our drive towards more sustainable and equitable urbanism.

A former product designer at Google, Interaction Designer at Frog, and Research Fellow at MIT's SENSEable City Lab, Eric holds a Master's degree from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, and a Bachelor degree in Environmental Science.


Past Events

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David Zetland, Assistant Professor, Leiden University College
January 18, 2018, 12-1:20pm @ Y2E2 180: "The economics of sustainable urban systems: institutions, information and incentives"

David Zetland is an assistant professor at Leiden University College, where he teaches various classes on economics. He received his PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics from UC Davis in 2008 (Dissertation: Conflict and Cooperation inside a Public Corporation: a Case Study of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California). He was a S.v. Ciriacy-Wantrup Postdoctoral Fellow in Natural Resource Economics and Political Economy at UC Berkeley (2008-2010), a Senior Water Economist at Wageningen University (2011-2013), an Instructor at Simon Fraser University (Spring 2014), and a Visiting Fellow at KAPSARC in Riyadh (May 2014). He blogs on water, economics and politics at, has written two books (The End of Abundance: economic solutions to water scarcity, and Living with Water Scarcity) and edited two (Life plus 2 Meters, Volumes I and II). David gives many talks to public, professional and academic audiences, and writes for popular and academic outlets. David lives in Amsterdam.

Talk Abstract: Economics can help us understand market interactions, but the economics of the commons and institutional evolution are more helpful for understanding, explaining and improving on non-market systems that define and reflect urban (and other variations of) sustainability. In this talk, I will explain these ideas using a case study of the evolution of drinking water systems in the Netherlands, apply the same framework to transportation, energy use and housing density, and host a discussion of any and all questions. 

"The evolution of the Dutch drinking water sector" (with Bene Colenbrander)
Abstract: Dutch drinking water companies now deliver safe affordable water to the entire population, but this result was not planned. It emerged, rather, from an evolutionary process in which various pressures on the commons resulted in changes to drinking water systems that addressed old concerns but uncovered new problems. Our analytical narrative traces this problem-solution-new-problem pattern through four eras in which a common-pool dilemma is addressed by a private-good solution (1850-1880), a club-good solution (1880-1910) and public good solution (1910-1950) before returning to a private-good solution in the last 1950-1990 era. Actions, like the dates just given, were not always exact or effective, as the process was shaped by changing social norms regarding the distribution of costs and benefits from improved water services. This Dutch history, while unique, supplies insights for improving drinking water services elsewhere.

Zetland, David (2017). "Desalination and the commons: tragedy or triumph?International Journal of Water Resources Development 33(6):890-906. [pdf]
Abstract: A policy is more likely to be economically efficient when its costs and benefits fall on the same group, but politicians can allocate costs and benefits to different groups within their jurisdictional commons. This article examines the distribution of costs and benefits from desalination projects using examples from San Diego, Almeria and Riyadh. The examples illustrate how mismatches between costs and benefits can persist or change as politicians adjust the policy portfolio to balance inefficiency and political risk.

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Stephen Zoepf, Executive Director, Center for Automotive Research at Stanford
January 25, 2018, 12-1:20pm @ Y2E2 180: "Shared, autonomous, and electric vehicles in urban systems"

Dr. Stephen Zoepf is the Executive Director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford.  He holds a Ph.D., M.Sc. and B.Sc. from MIT and has fifteen years of experience in transportation and mobility. Dr. Zoepf led U.S. Department of Transportation efforts to integrate confidential data into national vehicle energy policy modeling, and previously worked as an engineer and product manager at BMW and Ford.  He was an ENI Energy Initiative Fellow, a Martin Energy Fellow, and a recipient of the Barry McNutt award from the Transportation Research Board and the Infinite Mile award from MIT. His research has been covered in numerous popular press articles, initiated a Congressional probe, and has been lampooned in The Onion.

Talk Abstract: The traditional automotive industry is rapidly evolving into a personal mobility industry as shared access begins to replace private sales, electric vehicles begin to replace gasoline, and automation begins to replace human driving ability. As these trends begin to shape the industry, the way that we use vehicles is also evolving, and traditional benchmarks and measures of success no longer apply. In this talk we will discuss specific ways in which the automotive fleet is changing and specific questions which automakers and suppliers should take into account in the next decade.

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Nishit Mehta, Exelon Corp
February 1, 2018, 12-1:20pm @ Y2E2 180, "Innovation and Sustainability- Electric Utility and Global Commercial perspectives" with Susanna Kass, Baselayer

Nishit is an energy industry veteran with corporate, start-up and investing experience in the space. He trained as an electrical engineer and started out at Siemens in the business development and sales of its industrial automation solutions. He later helped set up Siemens’ solar business in India, before moving to the states to do his MBA at Kellogg. Nishit has experience working in the cleantech venture capital space with Siemens VC and later ClearSky, NextEra Energy’s VC fund. He then co-founded SiNode Systems, an advanced battery materials tech company. Subsequently Nishit joined Exelon as part of the newly set up Corp. Innovation team. Over the last couple of years Nishit has set up the Exelorate Growth program to discover, validate and build new growth businesses across the company’s wide scope of industry verticals.


Carilee Pang Chen, Associate Director, Rebuilding Together Peninsula
February 15, 2018, 12-1:20pm @ Y2E2 180

Cari joined Rebuilding Together Peninsula (RTP) in August 2008, currently serving as the Associate Director. Cari has worked for a variety of nonprofit and philanthropic organizations since 1993, including Team-Up for Youth, the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University, The San Francisco Foundation, and The Nature Conservancy of Hawai`i. Building relationships and leveraging resources to improve the quality of life in local communities has been a constant theme in her career, which drew her to the mission and work of RTP.  She continues to be an active community volunteer, and was honored by California State Senator Jerry Hill in May 2014 with a "Community Champion" Award for the 13th Senate District. The award was given in recognition of her work with Rebuilding Together Peninsula, Friends of Mandarin Scholars in San Mateo Foster City School District, and the Sterling Downs Neighborhood Association. She currently serves on The San Francisco Foundation's Koshland Committee, as well as the Vestry and Social Ministry Committee of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Redwood City.  Cari has a BA in Urban Studies/Community Organizations and a MA in Education/Policy Analysis & Evaluation from Stanford University. A Peninsula resident, Cari lives in Belmont with her husband and two children.

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Shaun Fernando, Future Cities Strategy Consulting, PwC
February 22, 2018, 12-1:20pm  @ Y2E2 180: "The radical low carbon transformation needed for US cities: economic solutions to an environmental problem"

Shaun is a strategy consultant with PwC's Future Cities practice, serving State and Local Government clients on issues at the intersection of economics, innovation, technology and sustainability. He has 10 years global experience, being based in London and Abu Dhabi prior to moving to the Bay Area in 2015. His experience has included the development of Los Angeles' pLAnEthiopia's Urbanization Strategy, and the UAE's Green Growth Strategy. In May 2017 he was instrumental in rapidly assembling a coalition of 400 Climate Mayors in response to the current Administration's move to withdraw US participation in the Paris Agreement. Closer to home, Shaun recently led the work to develop Climate Smart San Jose, the first Paris-aligned decarbonization strategy of any major US city. He is now also leading the development of the City's IoT Strategy. Shaun holds a Bachelors degree in Physics and Masters degree in Environmental Systems Design Engineering from University College London.

Talk abstract: When we think of a city in the US context, the images that come to mind are dense, vibrant downtown cores. A more accurate depiction is a patchwork of suburbs connected by highways and anchored by big box retail. This pattern of post-WW2 urban development has locked in a dependency on fossil fuel consumption that disproportionately contributes to its climate footprint. This talk outlines the radical transformation that US cities will need to undertake by the middle of the century; it includes what technological and policy innovations are needed, how their economic rationale needs to be made, and how cities can help address the behavioral economics of scaling adoption.


autumn 2017 series


Disney Research China
October 5, 2017, 12-1:20pm @ Y2E2 180: "Disney City: Exploring a Framework for Integrated Infrastructure & Sustainability"

Speaker Bios: Ben Schwegler is Chief Scientist at Disney, director of Disney Research China (DRC), and a Consulting Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. Helen Chen is a researcher at DRC. Kevin Hsu is a researcher at DRC; he teaches in Urban Studies and at the Stanford Both Kevin and Helen are proud Stanford alumni!

The Disney City talk will also feature three Stanford summer research interns at DRC, Yadanar Hnin, Antariksh Mahajan, Robert Young. They were part of an interdisciplinary, multinational team led by Kevin and Helen.

About the Talk: As cities grow and evolve, they can provide greater access to useful services and resources, or they can put up barriers and limits; they can promote the integrity of human communities, or undermine social well-being. These choices impact prospects for local and global sustainability.

The “Disney City” project aims to develop scientific and engineering knowledge of the synergies in infrastructure, to create better urban design and improve quality of life. Using collaborative approaches that bridge urban planning, infrastructure design, and economics, the Disney City team aims to describe, define, and quantify the interactions of an integrated infrastructure system and the communities it might serve, with the goal of producing human-oriented and sustainable designs for neighborhoods.

This talk will introduce Disney Research China (DRC) and the Disney City project, with a focus on recent work related to heating systems and grey water reuse at the neighborhood and district scales.

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Robert Horn, Visiting Scholar, Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University
October 12, 2017, 12-1:20pm @ Y2E2
180: "Social Messes, Wicked Problems, and Emerging Mega-Messes"

Horn is perhaps best known for his development of information mapping, a method of information development called structured writing suited especially for technical communication. His latest contributions to the presentation of information have been in the field of visual language. Horn has extended the use of visual language and visual analytics to develop methods—involving large, detailed infographics and argument map murals—for exploring and resolving wicked problems.

About the Talk: I have spent the last couple of decades working with task forces around the world on some of the most difficult messes and wicked problems.  Ordinary problem solving helps, but often doesn’t work in these situations.  I will introduce how we might address ordinary urban size messes and present one method – mess mapping, a small group visualization process– that has been used in the urban systems course to address some of these issues.  I will then expand this framing of wicked problems to work on mega-messes of a more national and global scope in what is being called the Anthropocene Era.  I will present briefly two of these projects I’ve worked on with task forces – the Global Business Council for Sustainable Development (Geneva) Vision 2050 project and the European Commission on resource efficiency.  Finally, I will introduce some of future global mega-messes that are challenges emerging now and invite us to consider how we might begin to address them and what impact they will have on cities.

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Bry Sarté, Founder, Sherwood Design Engineers
Riki Nishimur
a, AIA, LEED AP BD C, Director of Urban Strategies, Gensler
October 19, 2017, 12-1:20pm @ Y2E2 180

Bry Sarté is an author, professional engineer, academic and nonprofit founder. Fourteen years ago, he started Sherwood Design Engineers, which now has several offices in the United States and has worked on hundreds of leading national and international engineering projects. His work significantly influences contemporary global urban transformation around issues of infrastructure, urban design and ecological systems.  He regularly serves as a lecturer at top universities and conferences around the world, where he discusses applications of ecological engineering to planning, design, and construction. 

As engineer for hundreds of the world's leading sustainable engineering projects, Mr. Sarté’s work responds to global environmental issues addressing the intersection of infrastructure, ecological and urban design. Many of his projects have been the first-of-their kind in applying green infrastructure systems, strategies and concepts. From innovative planning projects on one end of the spectrum to implemented construction projects on the other, much of Sarté's work has been highly integrated, highly collaborative design developed in tandem with the world's leading architecture and landscape architecture firms.

Mr. Sarté has served as the principal in charge for projects that range from the largest private real estate development in the U.S., Hudson Yards in New York, to the award-winning San Francisco Better Streets Plan. Other notable projects include the revitalization of the iconic waterfront Brooklyn Bridge Park, the award winning Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan, and the 35 sq-km award-winning Baietan Urban Area Plan in the heart of Guangzhou, China. Additionally, he has led the engineering design for numerous completed construction projects that have changed the direction of how we build. The projects range from institutional buildings to civic infrastructure.

Mr. Sarté is the author of the published John Wiley & Sons book, Sustainable Infrastructure: The Guide to Green Engineering and Design, which serves as a comprehensive guide to integrating sustainable strategies into infrastructure planning and design with emphasis on water resource management, site design and land planning. Throughout the book Mr. Sarté highlights the central role that creative engineering integrated into collaborative design processes play in developing the complex solutions needed to affect a sustainable transformation of our built environment. He is currently working with Columbia University’s GSAPP Books on his second book Innovations in Urban Water Infrastructure. This book identifies recommendations for innovative approaches to dealing with water in an urban environment with at critical focus on the United Nations Habitat III.

As chair of the Sustainable Landscape and Engineering Committee at SPUR, (San Francisco Planning and Urban Research) Mr. Sarté works with participants from the Department of Public Works, SFPUC, Department of Parking and Traffic, Urban Forestry Council, Department of the Environment, Planning Department, Alliance for a Clean Waterfront, PG&E, Friends of the Urban Forrest, and other non-profit, designers and community groups. The outcome of their workshops and strategy sessions has helped to define priorities to integrate the stormwater management system, increase tree planting and landscaping, improve the pedestrian environment, improve San Francisco’s natural ecosystems, and increase public awareness of green living through eco-revelatory design.

Bry founded the Sherwood Institute in 2009. The institute is comprised of academic, professional, and government advisors from five countries directing research and innovation at the nexus of critical water and energy issues. The nonprofit’s mission is to safeguard and extend the availability and energy efficiency of the threatened vital fresh water resources in the six developed continents. He currently serves as the founder of this nonprofit.

Riki Nishimura is the Director of Urban Strategies at Gensler, a global architecture, design, and planning firm with 46 locations and more than 5,000 professionals networked across Asia, Europe, Australia, the Middle East and the Americas. Founded in 1965, the firm serves more than 3,500 active clients in virtually every industry. Gensler designers strive to make the places people live, work and play more inspiring, more resilient and more impactful.

As the Director of Urban Strategies, Riki directs the planning, landscape, and urban strategies practice area for the north-west region. He is a licensed architect specializing in urban design and architecture with a focus on the psychology of spaces, repairing and future proofing cities, urban mobility futures and solving complex intertwined issues through urban strategies. He approaches projects from an ecological, data-driven, evidence-based design perspective. These projects range from large-scale mixed-use urban regeneration districts, future cities, and next generation waterfronts to urban cultural parks, corporate/tech campuses, university campuses, and institutional buildings. His projects seek a critical balance between visionary design and fiscally responsible economic development to achieve memorable, sustainable, and enduring places for both the public and private realm.

Committed to furthering sustainable strategies and practices, He has been active for over a decade in the Urban Land Institute (ULI), a nonprofit education and research institute with focus on the use of land in order to enhance the total environment. The ULI recently recognized him as a recipient of its 2016 40 Under 40 award, recognizing the best and brightest young land use professionals from around the globe. He has participated in numerous ULI Advisory services panels, he serves on the ULI San Francisco district council executive management board, he is a co-chair of the membership experience committee and a mentor for the ULI Young Leaders Group (YLG) 2016-2018. He is also a member of the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) Urban Infrastructure Council. Riki received a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Toronto and a Master of Architecture and Urban Design from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.


Geoff Boeing, PhD Candidate, Urban Planning, UC Berkeley
October 26, 2017, 12-1:20pm @ Y2E2 180: "Measuring Urban Form with Topological and Geometric Street Network Analysis"

Geoff Boeing is a postdoc in the Urban Analytics Lab at the University of California, Berkeley. He holds a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley. His research revolves around urban data science, urban form, and planning. This includes studying street networks and the relationship between the deterministic nature of urban design and the emergent characteristics of urban form that arise out of complex systems. He is also the creator of OSMnx, a Python package for street network analysis. His research has been covered by The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Discovery News, Forbes, CityLab, and various other media outlets.

Talk Abstract: Street networks underlie city circulation and human dynamics, but it can be difficult to acquire and consistently analyze high-quality street network data. This talk presents OSMnx, a Python-based tool to make the collection of data and the creation and analysis of street networks easy, consistent, and automatable for any study site in the world. OSMnx contributes five new capabilities for urban geospatial researchers: first, the tailored and automated downloading and construction of street networks from OpenStreetMap; second, the algorithmic correction and simplification of network topology; third, the ability to save street networks to disk as shapefiles, GraphML, or SVG files; fourth, the downloading of network elevation and grade data; and fifth, the ability to analyze street networks, calculate routes, project and visualize networks, and calculate metric and topological measures. These measures include those common in urban design and transportation studies, as well as advanced measures of the structure, topology, resilience, and sustainability of the network. Finally, it presents preliminary research that examines 27,000 street networks at various scales across the U.S.


Tameeka Bennett, Executive Director, Youth United for Community Action
November 2, 2017, 12-1:20pm @ Y2E2 180

Tameeka is an experienced organizer and lifelong East Palo Alto resident. Growing up in EPA gave her a strong sense of self, something she wishes to pass on to the youth she works with today, "People hear EPA and the first thing they do is think of all the negative things associated with who we WERE. EPA has made so many strides! We are a strong community. Filled with beautiful stories of resiliency and hard working families.  My city taught me to never give up, to strive after what I want, go after my dreams. I want to pass all of that goodness onto the youth I work with everyday."  

Tameeka joined the YUCA family in 2011. She formerly co-coordinated all leadership development activities with our environmental justice and affordable housing campaign.

Tameeka formerly sat on the East Palo Alto Planning Commission. She is a graduate of the 2015 Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (hosted by Urban Habitat). She also sits on a host of Commissions, Committees and Boards geared at making a difference in the areas of climate change, social & environmental justice, affordable housing, youth leadership development and racial justice. 

She is also the co-founder of a non-profit called Rebooting History, a documentary effort to record East Palo Alto history and lift up the stories of those fortunate enough to experience what was once known as Ravenswood High School (East Palo Alto's only Public High School, closed in 1976). 

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Mark Wolfe, J.D., M.C.P., Founding Partner, M. R. Wolfe & Associates, P.C., Attorneys-at-Law
November 9, 2017, 12-1:20pm @ Y2E2 180: "Urban Land: Valuation, Regulation & Fiscalization"

Mark Wolfe is a lawyer and educator in the areas of land use, environmental law, and urban economics and policy. He has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in urban economics, public policy, and economic history since 1999, first at U.C. Berkeley, and presently at Stanford University. His articles have appeared in Urban Affairs Review, the Cornell Journal of Planning and Urban Issues, and the California Real Property Journal, and he has appeared as a commentator on “The PBS News Hour.” His eponymous law firm, which he founded in 2002, represents non-profit, public interest clients in disputes over natural resources, urban development, and local government administration. He holds a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, a M.C.P. from the University of California at Berkeley, and a BA from Stanford University. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and three daughters.

Talk Abstract: What gives a unit of urban land monetary value?  How do nature, climate, and topography combine with market forces, government regulation, and public and private investment to cause land values to fluctuate - often in the extreme - over time? How does government policy influence the productive capacity of urban land, and how does this incentivize both private sector actors and government planners to regulate land use?

Answers to these and other questions can be found in the 200 year-old theory of Land Rent, which has evolved over time to help explain how urban land is allocated among competing land uses, and how speculation in real estate arises from nominally utilitarian government investment and policy. Today in post-Proposition 13 California, as cities and counties face critical challenges in supplying affordable housing, maintaining decaying infrastructure, and providing essential government services to citizens, the theory of Land Rent helps illuminate some of the narrowly focused, and at times perverse incentives to maximize short-term fiscal gain, while ignoring longer term social costs.

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Darcy Forsell, Zoning Administrator/Principal Planner, City of San Mateo
November 16, 2017, 12-1:20pm @ Y2E2 180: "Innovation in Sustainable Development in San Mateo"

Darcy Forsell is the Zoning Administrator/Principal Planner at the City of San Mateo. She has over 20 years of San Francisco Bay Area urban planning experience focusing on local land use entitlement of infill and large scale sustainable mixed-use transit-oriented developments. She has a broad depth of experience in land use public policy, community engagement, CEQA environmental review, urban design, and master planning. She is passionate about creating new high-density housing, office space, and public open spaces near transit in order to improve the quality of life and reduce the personal carbon footprint of residents and employees. For over a decade, she has served as the City of San Mateo’s overall project manager for the 84-acre Bay Meadows Transit Village near the Hillsdale Caltrain Station. She also served as the Chair and member of the Caltrain Bicycle Advisory Committee and has extensive experience in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure planning, local sustainability policies, affordable housing, and transportation demand management strategy implementation. She holds a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from San Jose State University and a Bachelor of Science in Earth Systems with a focus in Land Systems from Stanford University. She has worked for the City of San Mateo since 2003 and prior to that served as an urban planner in the City of Campbell and at Dyett & Bhatia and Stanford University.

Talk Abstract: The City of San Mateo is a leader in supporting sustainable development and climate change resiliency through urban planning efforts. This talk presents an overview of the important role that urban planning plays in ensuring that cities evolve in a sustainable manner. Public policies that regulate the location, type, and features of development are essential to reduce the total carbon footprint and ensure resiliency of cities facing climate change. In San Mateo, the growth pattern is focused on creating high density, livable, mixed-use transit-oriented development through land use policies that support new development near the City’s three commuter train stations and major bus routes. The integration of sustainable design features into new development through the site layout and building design will be discussed, along with the important role of the creation of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, vibrant public urban spaces, and transportation demand management strategy implementation to ensure vehicle usage is minimized. The challenges in creating these fundamental public policy shifts from both a community and political perspective will be addressed. The regional issues related to growth, housing affordability, and transportation will be discussed. The 84-acre Bay Meadows Transit Village will be presented as a case study as a key bay area example of new master planned transit-oriented development at the Hillsdale Caltrain Station with many sustainable features. This development includes nearly 1,200 housing units, 1 million square feet of office space, 93,000 square feet of community-focused commercial space, 15 acres of new public parks, 3 acres of urban open spaces, and the 2.75-acreNueva Upper School that will be presented as a specific example of an innovative sustainable design. 

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Stu Townsley, Chief, Operations & Regulatory Division at South Pacific Division, US Army Corps of Engineers
November 30, 2017, 12-1:20pm @ Y2E2 180: "Can an academic design exercise translate into a real project?"

Stu Townsley is the Chief of Operations and Regulatory for the South Pacific Division, a $200M annual program. He is responsible for overseeing Corps operations and maintenance at 27 federal ports & harbors, 46 dams & reservoirs, 2,300 miles of federal levees, and 211 recreation areas with 16 million annual visits. The Regulatory program processes over 8,300 annual permit applications actions. He is also leading a national team revamping budget development protocols for approximately $3B in annual O&M appropriations. From 2009-2015 he served as the Flood Risk Program Manager. His duties included integration of flood risk activities across Corps Communities of Practice and with outside agencies and stakeholders. He also served as the Flood Risk Business Line Manager, and the Regional Asset Manager. Other duties included participation in Climate Change Adaption, and several USACE Infrastructure Strategy project teams. Previously he was Chief of Water Management for Sacramento District from 2005 to 2008. Sacramento Water Management is responsible for directing water operations at 17 Corps dams, and overseeing partner flood operations at an additional 28 Section 7 dams in California, Utah and Colorado. Prior to joining the Corps in 2001 and after attending grad school at UC Davis from 1997-1999, he worked as a hydrologist for David Ford Consulting Engineers. Significant duties included developing a digital version of the Sacramento County drainage manual, and working on a number of automated flood warning systems in Montana, Kansas, Missouri, Texas and California. Mr. Townsley also spent several years working as IT specialist for the Washington State Legislature. During his time at the Legislature, he worked on transitioning the bill making process from paper-based to web-based and developed databases and security protocols.

Talk Abstract: Although engineers have historically designed to meet a broad range of physical conditions and loadings, 21st Century infrastructure planning efforts must encompass a broader spectrum of dynamic systems.  We use "resiliency" as the catch phrase to capture that broader spectrum. Most water-focused infrastructure is part of five different systems- the current engineered system, the remnants of the original natural watershed system, an ecosystem that typically extends beyond the proposed infrastructure footprint and watershed, an economic system, and our governmental system(s). Throw climate change into the mix, add the uncertainty around all and we have an intractable, although not an insolvable challenge. As a result, planning, construction and operations of large water infrastructure projects typically relies on a broad spectrum of consultants to navigate the complex network of interested parties. This talk, with a rational dose of cynicism, will offer some navigational insight into the public project delivery process.


Clayton Nall, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Stanford
December 7, 2017, 12-1:20pm @ Y2E2 180

Clayton Nall is an Assistant Professor of Political Science.  His research focuses on American political geography, with an emphasis on the role of the state and public policy in the creation of place-based interests.  Clayton's book manuscript, The Road to Inequality, examines how the largest public works project in US history created Republican suburbs, increased the urban-suburban political divide, and led to reduced investment in urban infrastructure.  The dissertation version of this manuscript won the Harvard Department of Government’s Toppan Prize for best dissertation in political science and the American Political Science Association's William Anderson Award for the best dissertation in the general field of federalism or intergovernmental relations, state and local politics.  Clayton's other research projects encompass public policy, causal inference, political geography, and American political development.  His peer-reviewed articles have appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of PoliticsStatistical Science, and The Lancet.

Co-organized by Stanford ASPIRE (Association of Students Promoting Innovation in Real Estate).


Past Series

spring 2017 series

Michael Tubbs, Mayor of Stockton
April 10, 2017, 11:15-11:45am @ Y2E2 270: "From the Farm to City Hall"

Michael Tubbs is the first African-American Mayor of Stockton, California, and the youngest mayor in American history of a city of more than 100,000 people. Before being elected Mayor in November 2016, Michael served as the City Councilmember representing Council District 6, the district where he grew up. He is the youngest elected official in Stockton’s history and one of the youngest elected officials in the nation.

Born and raised in Stockton, Michael attended Hamilton Middle School and graduated with the International Baccalaureate diploma from Franklin High School. After Franklin, Michael attended Stanford University graduating with a Master's degree in Policy, Leadership and Organization Studies, plus a Bachelor's degree with honors; he is a Truman Scholar and a recipient of the highest university award, the Dinkelspiel.

While in university, he began to advocate for students and founded The Phoenix Scholars and the Summer Success and Leadership Academy at the University of the Pacific to increase access to higher education for underrepresented students.  

As a Councilmember, he championed the creation of the City's Office of Violence Prevention, founded the Reinvent South Stockton Coalition, and led the South Stockton Promise Zone planning efforts. Tubbs also served as a college course instructor for Aspire Langston Hughes Academy and as a fellow and lecturer at the Design School at Stanford University.

As Mayor, he plans to work tirelessly to reinvent Stockton into a community of opportunity for everyone by focusing on violent crime, economic development, collective impact strategies, and partnering with school districts to improve education.

Readings: Stockton General Plan“There’s No Better Test for Millennials than the American City”

Sarah Jo Szambelan, Research Manager, SPUR
April 13, 2017, 12:00-1:20pm @ Y2E2 382
: "Climate policy leadership in California and the Bay Area"

Sarah Jo's research career began in applying taxes and other market-based tools to achieve climate policy goals. Her work was implemented in the design of California’s groundbreaking cap-and-trade program to limit greenhouse gas pollution. Sarah Jo’s research has also spanned other ares of economics and public policy. Her work has contributed to what California knows about the range in conditions of its public school buildings, and how the design of municipal finance policies affects the services California cities can provide. She currently brings an economic lens to SPUR’s research and oversees SPUR’s data science and GIS work. 

Readings: Fossil Free Bay Area, “California Extends the Most Ambitious Climate Change Law in the United States”

Leslie Norford, Professor, Director, Building Technology Group, MIT
April 20, 2017, 12:00-1:20pm @ Y2E2 38
2: “Interactions of Buildings with the Urban Environment and Electricity Grid"

Leslie Norford is the George Macomber (1948) Professor in Construction Management in the Department of Architecture at MIT. His research focuses on reducing building energy use and associated resource consumption and carbon emissions and his teaching includes project-based efforts to improve schools in developing countries and promote the use of simulation-enhanced building design workflows. He has developed fault detection and optimal control strategies for HVAC equipment and conducted measurement campaigns and numerical analyses of building energy consumption in Russia, China, Pakistan, the UK and Norway. The ongoing research of his group in the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) includes measurements and models of urban microclimates, with a focus on identifying strategies to reduce the urban heat island effect and improve urban air quality. Working with mechanical and electrical engineering students at MIT, he is identifying how control of HVAC systems can help electric utilities mitigate the impact of power fluctuations associated with wind and PV systems through provision of such services as power reserves and frequency regulation.

Readings: “The urban water generator”, “Demonstration of HVAC chiller control for power grid frequency regulation” part 1 and part 2

Lisa Fisher, Sustainable City Team Lead, San Francisco Planning Department
April 27, 2017, 12:00-1:20pm @ Y2E2 270: 
“Amplifying Sustainability at the Neighborhood Scale”

Lisa Fisher leads the Sustainable City Team at the San Francisco Planning Department – fostering a vibrant, regenerative, and adaptive urban environment through bold efforts at the building, neighborhood, and citywide scale. Although focused on “environmental” sustainability (climate, ecology, resources, et al), the initiative also seeks to embed a more comprehensive sustainability lens into Department-wide efforts (e.g., neighborhood plans, land use, housing, and transportation policies; public space and urban design; community engagement, et al). Currently, Lisa is developing sustainability policies and implementation measures for several of the City’s Sustainability Districts, including Central SoMa and three major waterfront developments. This work is also informing a next-generation neighborhood-scale sustainability framework, targeted for roll out later this year. She also co-leads the City’s biodiversity work and district-scale utility explorations, and helped author the City’s Sea Level Rise Action Plan.

Previously, as an Associate Principal with AECOM (EDAW) for ten years, she managed complex urban regeneration projects in Latin and North America. Favorites include the 45-block Nova Luz neighborhood in central São Paulo, 35-acre Pier 70 in San Francisco, and a 350-acre mixed-use waterfront vision for North Vancouver. Lisa holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from Columbia University and serves on the Board of Directors for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, the City’s largest advocacy organization.

Readings: Central SoMa Plan (Intro, Goal 6) and Implementation Matrix

Wendy Tao, Intelligent Traffic Systems, Mobility Division, Siemens
May 4, 2017, 12:00-1:20pm @ Y2E2 382: "
Real Transportation Solutions for Smarter Sustainable Cities"

The confluence of increasing urbanization, global concern about climate and energy, and ever- tightening budgets to finance infrastructure development is driving the need for new models in transportation and traffic management. Although much media attention here in Silicon Valley is focused on Uber and Google’s self-driving cars and Elon Musks’ Hyperloop concept that are decades into the future, many smart transportation solutions have already been deployed today using Siemens technology – and they are done in partnership with the public sector. This talk will provide real life examples of smart traffic solutions - from adaptive signal technologies used in many US cities, the first Connected Vehicle test bed in Ann Arbor, Michigan and a large deployment in Tampa, Florida, dynamic tolling in Israel, a traffic management center that includes an integrated mobility platform and mobility monitor in Berlin, and low emission zone traffic enforcement in London.

Wendy Tao leads business development and strategy efforts in the Intelligent Transportation Systems group at Siemens Mobility. She works with partners and city and regional agencies on Siemens Smart City solutions, connected vehicle applications, active and adaptive traffic management and the emerging field of mobility as a service. She has spent the last 15 years working on transportation, energy and climate change issues in the Bay Area, nationally and internationally. While in Germany on a Robert Bosch fellowship in 2013, she joined Siemens to bring new insights and new technologies deployed in Europe and elsewhere to the US.

Readings: GAO Report, “The Economic Case for Connected Vehicle Infrastructure”, “Ann Arbor SCOOT Mobility Study”, WIRED Article


Zac Shore, LEED AP, Director of Development, Panoramic Interests
May 18, 2017, 12:00-1:20pm @ Y2E2 382: "Modular Construction in San Francisco"

Zac is Director of Development at Panoramic Interests. He manages everything from acquisitions, entitlements, financing, construction, to lease-up of the properties. Zac just completed a 160 unit high- rise in downtown San Francisco, which was 100% leased to California College of the Arts and San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Recently, he completed entitlements for a 200 unit workforce housing building in San Francisco, which was the first State Density Bonus project approved in the City. Zac has completed modular projects in the past, and has spent the past couple years researching steel modular construction. These modular construction efforts have resulted in the MicroPAD concept, an innovative solution to much needed supportive housing for the homeless. Zac holds a Masters in Real Estate Development from MIT. Prior to joining Panoramic Interests, he was a general contractor in Southern California and Hawaii.

Readings: The Modularity is Here, Reinventing Construction, The Farmer Review

Lydia Tan, Senior Vice President, Head of Development, Bentall Kennedy
May 25, 2017, 12:00-1:20pm @ Y2E2 382: "Real Estate Development and Investment in the Urban Environment"

Lydia Tan is Senior Vice President, Head of Development of Bentall Kennedy in the United States, overseeing real estate development activity for the company, which is comprised of a variety of asset types throughout the U.S. Lydia also serves on the U.S. Management Committee. 

Prior to joining Bentall Kennedy in 2014, Lydia was EVP, Director of Northern California Operations at Related California where she spearheaded the development of a $2 billion pipeline of mixed income, mixed use projects. Prior to that, she was EVP in charge of Development at BRIDGE Housing Corporation, where she oversaw the production of $2.4 billion in assets, participated as part of the executive management team, and co-led an investment partnership with CalPERS. With more than 30 years’ experience, she has had key involvement in conceptualizing, entitling, financing and constructing several large-scale public/private redevelopment efforts in the Western U.S. 

Lydia holds an AB Architecture degree from University of California, Berkeley and an MBA from Stanford University, and is a registered Architect in California.  She is a member of the Stanford Real Estate Council and ULI, and serves on the board of directors of Habitat for Humanity Greater SF, SPUR, and the S.H. Cowell Foundation.

Readings: BK Perspective Real Estate 2017

Claudia Preciado, Sr. Transportation Planner, Remix
Tamara Lima, Transportation Planner, Remix
June 1, 2017, 12:00-1:20pm @ Y2E2 38
2: "Transforming Transit Planning"

Claudia Preciado is a Senior Transportation Planner at Remix and passionate about improving sustainability, livability, and mobility in cities. In her role at Remix, Claudia connects metropolitan transit agencies agencies across the world with technology that is transforming the traditional transit planning process, enabling collaboration and communication between internal and external stakeholders. 

Previously, Claudia worked at Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates where she specialized in transit, multimodal planning, and sustainable land use integration - working with cities and transit agencies on general plans, citywide and corridor transit plans, complete streets projects, and transportation demand management. She also worked at LA Metro in Countywide Planning for two years on capital projects (LA Streetcar, Purple Line extension, East San Fernando Valley Corridor). Claudia holds a Master in Planning with honors from USC and a B.A. in Urban Studies from Stanford University.

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Tamara Lima is a transportation planner and engineer, with a focus on project management. At Remix, Tamara provides full support to customers and one-on-one customization to ensure an exciting and successful onboarding with Remix. She ensures all users understand the basics in Remix and, through project-assisted training, Tamara works with agencies to complete a transit work in the platform. Her expertise is in training, transit planning, and working with agencies to implement their transit planning concepts.

Education: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA, B.S. Civil Engineering with a concentration in Transportation

Readings: The Future of Cities, The Transit Ridership Recipe, Be on the way!, Measuring Transit Effectiveness: How Isochrones Could be the New Standard


winter 2017 series

Gil Friend, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Palo Alto
January 12, 2017, 4:30-5:30pm @ Shriram 104: "The Path To A Carbon Neutral City"

Gil is charged to "develop a world class sustainability strategy for the city, and manage the activities that will lead Palo Alto be being the greenest city in America." He is widely considered one of the founders of the sustainable business movement. Gil is a named inaugural member of the Sustainability Hall of Fame (along with Amory Lovins, Karl-Henrik Robert, Bob Willard and the late Ray Anderson) by the International Society of Sustainability Professionals, and "one of the 10 most influential sustainability voices in America" by The Guardian.

Gil is a systems ecologist and business strategist with over 40 years experience in business & policy innovation. As founder & CEO of Natural Logic Inc, he helped companies in a wide range of industries design, implement and measure profitable sustainability strategies. Gil's work combines broad business experience in management consulting, business strategy, systems ecology, economic development, management cybernetics, and public policy. 

"Natures' ecosystems have nearly 4 billion years of experience in the development of efficient, adaptive, resilient, and sustainable systems. Why should companies reinvent the wheel, when the R&D has already been done?" (Gil Friend, 1991)


Rashmi Sahai, Assessments Program Manager, Office of Sustainability, Stanford University
January 19, 2017, 4:30-5:30pm @ Shriram 104: "Climate Action at Stanford"

Rashmi Sahai currently manages the sustainability assessments program at Stanford University. She leads the tracking and reporting of Stanford’s sustainability metrics, and heads Stanford’s Green Labs and Sustainable IT programs. Prior to her role at Stanford, Rashmi served as the Sustainability Specialist at the University of California (UC) Office of the President, where she supported implementation of the UC Sustainable Practices Policy across the ten UC campuses. Rashmi is a certified energy manager and received her M.S. in Energy and Resources from UC Berkeley and her B.S. in Environmental Science from UCLA.

Talk Abstract: Situated on 8,180 acres, Stanford requires a significant amount of energy to support its academic mission and the research functions housed within more than 1,000 campus buildings. Efficiently managing energy supply and demand, as well as the corresponding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, is therefore critical to the university’s future. Since the 1980s, Stanford has employed best practices to minimize the cost and environmental impact of its operations. However, given that climate change caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions is the greatest environmental and socioeconomic challenge and opportunity of our time, Stanford accepted the challenge to go beyond these efforts and raise the bar through a program known as Stanford Energy System Innovations (SESI). SESI represents a transformation of university energy supply from 100 percent fossil-fuel-based combined heat and power plant to grid-sourced electricity and a more efficient electric heat recovery system. This new system, along with Stanford’s solar procurement, reduces campus emissions approximately 68% below peak levels, and saves 18% of campus potable water. In her talk, Rashmi will provide an overview of climate action planning at Stanford, framing it within the international context of climate policy. She will share what it took to implement SESI, from inception to completion, and how the university measures its sustainability performance on an ongoing basis.


Ronita Bardhan, Visiting Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
January 26, 2017, 4:30-5:30pm @ Shriram 104: "The 3P’s of Design: Is design a product, process or philosophy?"

Dr. Ronita Bardhan, PhD, is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Stanford Urban Informatics Lab (UIL) and Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering. She is an Assistant Professor at the Centre for Urban Science and Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India and has been awarded the Building Energy Efficiency Higher & Advanced Network Fellowship supported by the Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India, and the Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) for her research in the field of Sustainable Built Environment. She has a PhD from University of Tokyo, Japan where she was a MEXT Scholar in the Environmental Systems Lab at the Department of Urban Engineering. She holds a Master in City Planning from Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and a BArch from Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology.


Allison Albericci, AIA Associate, Skidmore Owings & Merrill
February 2, 2017, 4:30-5:30pm @ Shriram 104: "Deconstructing Density"

Allison Albericci is an Associate with the City Design Practice in the San Francisco office of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP, where her recent projects include India Basin, the Broadway Corridor Framework Plan, and the Alameda Point Town Center, among others. With over a decade of professional, research and teaching experience, Allison’s work focuses on the design of complex, mixed-use, hybrid, campus, and transit-oriented development projects in urban centers worldwide. A passionate proponent of sustainable urbanism, she brings an integrated and holistic approach to optimizing performance at all scales. Allison earned Masters Degrees in Architecture Studies and in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she helped teach multiple courses on Urban Design and Planning, and guest-lectured on the subject of sustainable urbanism. Allison also holds a Master of Architecture degree from Tulane University, and a Post-graduate Diploma of Urban Design from Oxford Brookes University. Allison is a registered Architect, a certified Planner, and a LEED Accredited Professional.

Talk Abstract: As city planners across the US and abroad advance development models to spur economic growth, fund infrastructure enhancements, improve quality of life and restore environmental integrity, Density has emerged as a critical planning tool. Yet communities are often wary of development intensification – for many, the very word “density” conveys connotations of “Manhattanization.” This session will explore the complex and often controversial topic of density, using pioneering research and case studies from the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere to demonstrate how trends in mixed-use, multi-family, transit-oriented neighborhood development are shaping more sustainable and livable communities. Participants will gain an understanding of the role density can play in achieving neighborhood goals (such as affordability) and the thresholds necessary to support amenities and services. They will also discover strategies to re-focus development conversations on community needs and benefits, and develop indirect means of addressing the issue, in situations where it is too contentious to tackle head-on.

Alan Lewis, Open Space Practice Leader, Skidmore Owings & Merrill
February 9, 2017, 4:30-5:30pm @ Shriram 104: "Look Both Ways", a series of project case studies that examines the creation of urban resiliency in public realm design

Alan Lewis is a licensed Architect and the firm-wide Open Space Practice Leader for Skidmore Owings & Merrill in San Francisco. He has over 30 years of experience in the design and construction of large scale projects and has lectured extensively on the interdisciplinary issues fusing architecture and sustainability with urban and landscape design in both professional and academic venues. Much of his work maintains a concentrated focus on the improvement of the public realm and urban environments while addressing integrated flood management and the role of open space and landscape systems in response to growing climatic threats.

As a practicing Architect at the New Orleans firm of Eskew Dumez Ripple, Alan led the Reinventing the Crescent Riverfront Master Plan project which addressed the strategy of re-inhabiting the river’s edge following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. During that time he was also a co-founder and the Director of the Tulane City Center at the Tulane School of Architecture where he assisted the University in its response to the recovery after the storm.

Following these first hand experiences of testing urban and landscape resiliency, he has provided leadership working with SOM for several award-winning master plans of waterfront parks and ecologically challenged urban districts. These include the Jinan CBD Central Park network, the Tianjin Haihe Ribbon Park, the San Jose Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant Master Plan and Houston’s Kingwood Marina. Through these unique experiences of working in flood prone districts in the US and Asia, Alan focuses much of his energy towards illustrating how landscape and public realm forward approaches and responses can play a critical role in project development, flood control and protection and resource conservation strategies.

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Eric Klinenberg, Professor of Sociology, Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge, New York University
February 16, 2017, 4:30-5:30pm @ Shriram 104:
"Cities and Social Infrastructure"

Eric Klinenberg is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. He is the author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone (The Penguin Press, 2012), Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America’s Media (Metropolitan Books, 2007), and Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago (University of Chicago Press, 2002), as well as the editor of Cultural Production in a Digital Age and of the journal Public Culture. His scholarly work has been published in journals including the American Sociological Review, Theory and Society, and Ethnography, and he has contributed to The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, Time Magazine, Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, The Washington Post, Slate, Le Monde Diplomatique, The London Review of Books, and the radio program, This American Life.

Talk Abstract: When someone asks what makes a city work we usually think of hard infrastructure: roads, bridges, airports, and train stations; electrical grids and communications networks; supply chains for food and fuel; underground systems for water and waste. All of this is necessary for a functioning city, let alone a flourishing one. But so, too, is the social infrastructure: the network of sidewalks, parks, commercial corridors, public spaces, civic organizations, and neighborhood institutions that, when robust, promote social interaction and community-building activities or, when flimsy or degraded, discourage interaction and leave families to fend for themselves. It’s urgent that we understand this: Today the United States is primed to make a massive investment in rebuilding infrastructure for the 21st century. If we fail to recognize the value of social infrastructure, we will miss a historic opportunity to strengthen our collective life.

** CANCELED ** Kip Harkness, Deputy City Manager, City of San Jose
February 23, 2017, 4:30-5:30pm @ Shriram 104

Kip's purpose is to Awaken talented people to the spark of their full potential, and enable them to change themselves and the world, by creating spaces for people to gain insight and make wise decisions, experiences that challenge people to achieve real success, and practices which guide people to enduring happiness. His career journey has taken him from Timbuktu to Silicon Valley. Along the way Kip has advised farmers on the edge of the Sahara, created the national award winning Strong Neighborhoods Initiative, managed complex real-estate deals, and led a network of top technology leaders.

Kip is an accomplished change agent transforming communities and organizations by creating opportunities for people to have autonomy over their work and lives in connection with a greater purpose. He is a master facilitator with proven ability to connect diverse leaders in crafting wise agreements on complex, politically charged, issues. He is a proven implementer with over $300 M+ portfolio of successful projects ranging from pocket parks to residential high-rise. He is an inspiring leader and exceptional communicator with the ability to retain and attract talent needed to build capacity and sustain complex initiatives. He is married to the fantastic Anne Ehresman, Executive Director of Project Cornerstone, and together they are the parents of two emerging leaders; Anya (age 16) – motto “think, paint, touché”, and Finn (age 12) “What if I was the god of Mathematics?”.


Rich Gordon, Former California State Assemblymember
March 2, 2017, 4:30-5:30pm @ Shriram 104

Rich Gordon has spent his life in service to others. First as a minister in the United Methodist Church and later in the nonprofit sector he worked with young people and families. He would eventually spend twenty-four years in elected office. From 2010 to 2016, Rich Gordon served as a member of the California State Assembly. As a member of the Assembly he held a leadership position, serving as Chair of the Rules Committee for three different Speakers. He saw 70% of the legislative ideas he pursued signed into law. He did significant work in the areas of the environment, election law and transparency, and water policy. Most significant was his work on sea-level rise that led to adaptation planning being recognized and funded as a state priority. As a member of the Assembly, Rich Gordon earned the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

Prior to service in the Assembly, Rich Gordon served for thirteen years on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. As a County Supervisor, Gordon worked to achieve government accountability by leading in the development of the County’s outcome-based budgeting and was instrumental in the formation of regional partnerships including the Housing Endowment and Regional Trust. Gordon was actively involved in the creation of the Children’s Health Initiative that guarantees health care coverage for children. In 2008, Gordon served as the President of the California State Association of Counties, which represents all of California’s 58 counties.

Mr. Gordon also served as a member of the San Mateo County Board of Education for five years. Prior to public service his work was as a minister in the United Methodist Church and for twenty years he worked in the nonprofit sector where he was the founder and Executive Director of Youth and Family Assistance. Rich Gordon is a fourth generation Californian – born and raised in San Mateo County. He completed high school in Orange County and graduated from the University of Southern California. He has a Masters in Divinity from Garrett Theological Seminary at Northwestern University. He resides in an unincorporated neighborhood in Menlo Park with his husband, Dr. Dennis McShane. Mr. Gordon and Dr. McShane have been in a committed relationship since 1982 and were married on August 16, 2008.

Juliana Gonzalez, Executive Director, The Watershed Project
March 9, 2017, 4:30-5:30pm @ Y2E2 180: "Greening Urban Watersheds: How can we partner to make our cities work like a forest.

Juliana became the Executive Director for The Watershed Project in January 2015, after serving as the Deputy Director for three years. Before taking the executive role Juliana managed the Watershed Project's Community Programs. Prior to joining the Watershed Project back in 2008, Juliana was the Watershed Coordinator for the San Pablo Watershed Neighbors and Education Society - SPAWNERS and a founding member of Groundwork Richmond. She holds a PhD in Geography from Kings College London and an M.S. in Environmental Sciences from the State University of New York. Juliana is originally from Colombia, where she worked on watershed planning and policy development for the Andes of South Western Colombia. Juliana has a passion for community based projects and is a true believer of the importance of education and community based stewardship. Juliana lives with her husband and her two children in the Baxter Creek Watershed in El Cerrito, CA.

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Dana Harvey, Executive Director, Mandela MarketPlace
March 16, 2017, 4:30-5:30pm @ 
Y2E2 180: "Food Systems as an entry point strategy in building community-driven inclusive social, health and economic systems" 

For over a decade Ms. Harvey has guided the development and growth of an award winning non-profit organization, Mandela MarketPlace, to create an alternative, community-driven food access and economic development model that integrates local entrepreneurship, business incubation, nutrition education, and access to healthy, fresh and affordable foods.

Under her direction and leadership, Mandela MarketPlace incubated a for-profit, worker-owned grocery retail, Mandela Foods Cooperative, a Healthy Retail Program, Zella’s Soulful Kitchen, Mandela Foods Distribution, and Ladder Up Finance Fund and Entrepreneurship training programs. These programs have generated over $5M in new revenue, distributed over 600,000 lbs of local, fresh produce into a community that previously had no access, created over 25 sustained jobs and business owners, and provide job and business training to tens of residents annually, and increased local farmer income by more than $250,000.

Ms. Harvey holds a B.S. Degree in Conservation Ecology and Natural Resource Economics, and an M.S. Degree in Soil Science/Sustainable Agriculture from UC Berkeley. She received the 2009 Women of Greatness Award from Mayor Dellums, 2010 Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leader Award and was recognized by President Obama as a 2012 Champion of Change in Food Security. She attributes her systems thinking approach to her community, her education and a lifetime connection with nature.

Talk Abstract: From launching farmers markets and local produce stands to developing a worker-owned grocery co-op; from linking local farmers of color through their food distribution hub to incubating local businesses and investing in youth leadership development, Mandela MarketPlace has shown that it is possible to rebuild an entire food system with local residents driving its development, ownership, and sustainability. With time-tested infrastructure in place and an expanded network of innovative enterprises.

Mandela’s network of enterprises, programs, and partners has created important economic and health impacts, from jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities to access to healthy food for local residents. And yet, even with its rapid growth, the organization’s mission remains true to the plan the community laid out nearly fifteen years ago—now members are equipped with the tools and experience to achieve those goals. 

READ Transforming West Oakland: A Case Study Series on Mandela MarketPlace