Managing Director, KC Digital Drive
Aaron Deacon is the founder and managing director of KC Digital Drive, a nonprofit civic organization with a mission to make Kansas City a digital leader and help cities adapt to disruptive technology change. He works with mayors, entrepreneurs and civic leaders in Kansas City and around the world to help build ecosystems that connect infrastructure, emerging technology and social impact. He combines a high-level strategic approach with boots-on-the-ground project implementation and management in smart cities, civic tech, digital inclusion, digital health, and education. He earned a master’s degree in social science from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Dallas.
Senior Training Manager, dvLED, LG Electronics USA Inc.
Adam run LG’s North American Learning Academy, which is focused on expanding education as well as product awareness and enablement. He is a 20-year A/V veteran, with 10 years of experience supporting global manufacturers. He has produced multiple corporate training programs with an unwavering focus on the learner. Adam has extensive experience in training, both in classroom as well as in the field.
Director of Conscious Design Development, The Centre for Conscious Design & Lab Lead, Hume
Aishwarya is an architect, experimental psychologist, and poet who works in the delta of Conscious Design, Neuroaesthetics, and Phenomenology. Currently, she’s the Lab Lead at Hume, where she is developing multimodal systems that facilitate an enactive dialogue between people and space to create science-informed, aware, and responsive design. As the Director for Conscious Design Development at the Centre for Conscious Design, she is fostering extensive cross-cultural strategies for scaling pedagogical and community engagement programs that are riveted on transdisciplinary research in Architecture and Conscious Design. In life, she hopes to collate and spark advancements in the paradigm of human-space interaction to evolve experience-enriched and empathic design geared towards holistic wellbeing.
Prototype Engineer, Magic Leap
With a hybrid background between design and technology, Alessio Grancini is a prototype engineer at Magic Leap. He is interested in AR and VR meeting human interaction. He taught Unity workshops internationally, exhibited work in art galleries, and published multiple articles about AR/VR on platforms such as DesignBoom, Archdaily and Forbes.
Ashley Z. Hand, AIA
Ashley Z. Hand, AIA, LEED AP BD+C is Co-founder and Partner of Cityfi, an urban change management practice. A licensed architect and urban sustainability professional, Ashley advises across sectors on the future of smart cities and new mobility in an era of rapid change. Her award-winning work incorporates a systemic approach to change management and civic innovation, from public policy and performance management to urban design, organizational change and human behavior as new technologies are reshaping our cities. Starting with a people-first approach, Ashley’s work is centered around ensuring that urban change improves outcomes for everyone in an equitable, transparent and sustainable way. Previously, Ashley served as the Transportation Technology Strategist for the City of Los Angeles where, as a fellow, she developed and is now implementing one of the nation’s first strategies to address the future of shared mobility and autonomous vehicles. The framework, “Urban Mobility in a Digital Age,” includes public policy, a transportation happiness metric to benchmark user experience across all modes, an action plan and pilot program recommendations to help Los Angeles meet its goals for a more equitable, accessible and safer transportation network. Prior to her role with the City of Los Angeles, Ashley served as the first Chief Innovation Officer for the City of Kansas City, Missouri where she created the nation’s most comprehensive smart city. She convened multiple stakeholders across sectors and silos to work together to problem-solve and meet the city’s goals. She created partnerships with local universities and young civic leaders, developed the city’s first digital roadmap, and launched the Innovation Partnership Program to bring entrepreneurs to work with city hall. Prior to her work in the public sector, Ashley worked for Eric Owen Moss Architects and AECOM as a designer and program manager and has led a variety of grassroots initiatives to advance sustainability, public education and Vision Zero in cities across the country. In addition to raising three children with her husband, Ashley is currently serving as the Board Chair for the Urban Movement Labs (Los Angeles), Board Secretary for AIA Kansas City, Vice Chair of the Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance, Board Secretary for BikeWalkKC, Board Member of the Kansas City Center for Architecture and Design, Commissioner on the KCMO Brownfields Commission, and Advisor to the Carnegie Mellon University Mobility 21 Center. Ashley has a bachelor of arts in political science from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec and a master of architecture from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.
Senior Partner, Strategy of Things
Benson Chan is a senior partner at Strategy of Things, a Silicon Valley-based innovation firm that brings science, breakthrough strategies and disruptive digital technologies to help cities become smarter, safer, and more responsive and resilient. He developed San Mateo County’s (USA) smart region strategy, created and launched its innovation lab (SMC Labs), and completed a smart streetlight strategy for a major regional utility company. Over the past six months, and in response to COVID-19, Benson has been working to use smart city technology and other innovative technologies to create safe cities. Benson has 25+ years of working with innovative technologies in engineering, operations and business roles at organizations like NASA, Hughes Space and Communications, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Cisco. His last seven years have been focused on IoT and “smart” technologies. He is also on the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Global Cities Team Challenge (GCTC) Wireless, Smart Buildings and Smart Regions superclusters, and the CompTIA IoT industry advisory council. Benson is an industry recognized expert and thought leader in IoT, smart cities, and innovation management. In September 2020, Benson was recognized as a Top 10 influencer in IIoT/Smart Cities. Benson holds a BS in Aeronautical Engineering from California Polytechnic State University, a MS in Engineering from Purdue University and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Casey Mahon, AIA
Regional Delivery Director, North America, Willow
Casey Mahon is a registered architect (New York) and member of the AIA Seattle Chapter who has been focused on the role that technology plays in the delivery of complex projects for over 15 years. He is the Director of Delivery (Americas) for Willow, a digital twin software development and consultancy company, where he is responsible for the implementation and delivery of Digital Twins for the world’s largest Commercial Real Estate developers, owners, and operators. Educated at the New Jersey Institute of Technology where he graduated with a B.Arch w/Honors and was later invited to join the faculty, his interests lie specifically with the overlap between computation, IoT Systems, big data sets, and project delivery. In 2006 Casey joined Davis Brody Bond where he was a part of the National Sept. 11th Memorial & Museum team. In 2011 he became the Director of Design Technology at Carrier Johnson + CULTURE and led the implementation of BIM, Design Technology, and IT. In 2019 he joined Willow as a Digital Project Manager responsible for the delivery of Digital Engineering services for Microsoft, Walmart, and Hollywood Park construction projects.
Cory Brugger, Assoc. AIA
Principal & Chief Technology Officer, HKS, Inc.
Cory Brugger is a Principal and Chief Technology Officer at HKS. He is an industry recognized expert in the development and integration of advanced technology in architecture and the built environment. Specializing in the implementation of building information modeling (BIM) and virtual design and construction (VDC), Cory has successfully overseen integrated project delivery on award winning buildings globally. As Chief Technology Officer he directs the vision and team dedicated to the development and application of innovative technology and the implementation of new processes for design and construction.
Program Manager, The Accelerator Hub at The Ion Houston
Courtney Cogdill is the Program Manager of the Accelerator Hub at The Ion. She is a Texas native with a touch of West Coast flare. While Courtney grew up in California, her goal was always to come back home to Texas. That goal was accomplished about four years ago when she moved to Houston to work in the up and coming innovation scene in the healthcare industry. After managing events and operations at an accelerator for the Texas Medical Center, she set her sights on the tech industry and made the switch! Throughout her career, Courtney has seen over 100 startup companies come to Houston. Applying her background and expertise in project management, Courtney continues to guide startups as they navigate their ever-changing life cycle. She can’t wait to see what the future holds for Houston. As the saying goes, “Don’t mess with Texas!”
Experiential Marketing Lead, LG Electronics USA Inc.
Damaris Toma is the Experiential Marketing Lead for LG Business Solutions US. A passionate marketer with over 10 yeas of experience, Damaris has led Social, Digital, Experiential, and Brand Sponsorship activations in various roles at Samsung Electronics, TOMS, simplehuman, and currently LG Electronics. She is a graduate of University of Illinois at Chicago, with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Business Administration.
Principal, Agatewood Consulting & Executive Director, 2030 District Network
Dave Low is the Founder and Principal at Agatewood Consulting. Currently the company is actively engaged in several green building and sustainability projects including the 2030 Districts Network. 2030 Districts are high performance building Districts located in urban centers. Owners and managers commit to meeting the Architecture 2030 goals for energy, water and emissions reduction. As the 2030 Districts Network Executive Director, Dave is responsible for working with the existing 2030 Districts around the country and Canada while also expanding the Network to include new Districts and partners. He is also active in the Portland, Maine 2030 District. Prior to his work at Agatewood, he was the Director of Sustainability Practices at Kidder Mathews. In this role, he was responsible for directing internal and external sustainability efforts for the Pacific Northwest’s largest commercial real estate firm. He worked with the Property Management Division, Brokerage Division, Valuation Division and Senior Corporate Management to write and adopt a corporate sustainability position statement and educate employees on the importance of sustainability throughout the commercial real estate sector. He engaged with the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance to embark on a two year consulting agreement to help operationalize sustainability throughout the firm, primarily working with the Property Management Division. He was a founding member and Vice Chair of the Board for the Seattle 2030 District. He has experience working with the Green Globes ad WELL Building certification programs and has been the primary consultant for over 2.8 million square feet of LEED certified spaces. His LEED projects have been certified at all levels including Platinum through Certified and he has worked on projects using most LEED programs including New Constriction, Commercial Improvements, Core and Shell and Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance.
Vice President of Engineering, LG Electronics USA Inc.
Gianni Restaino is vice president of technology for LG Electronics U.S.A., Inc. Restaino is responsible for business development for digital signage and commercial products in the United States. Restaino is also responsible for setting the technology vision for the digital signage and hospitality products. He joined LGE in 2009 and served in product development leadership role prior to being elevated to his current role. Previously, in a 16-year career at Teradyne, Inc., Restaino held a variety of key management, engineering and manufacturing positions. Restaino also held software leadership roles at Advanced Fibre Communications Inc., including the rollout of Fiber to the Home. Restaino earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the DeVry University.
Co-Founder & Executive Director, Dark Matter Laboratories
Indy Johar is an architect, co-founder of 00 (project00.cc) and most recently Dark Matter, Studio Master at AA. Indy, on behalf of 00, has co-founded multiple social ventures from Impact Hub Westminster to Impact Hub Birmingham, along with working with large global multinationals & institutions to support their transition to a positive Systems Economy. He has also co-led research projects such as The Compendium for the Civic Economy, whilst supporting several 00 explorations/experiments including the wikihouse.cc, opendesk.cc. Indy is a non executive director of WikiHouse Foundation & RIBA Trustee and Advisor to Mayor of London on Good Growth. Most recently he has founded Dark Matter – a field laboratory focused on radically redesigning the bureaucratic & institutional infrastructure of our cities, regions and towns for a more democratic, distributed great transition. Dark Matter work with institutions around the world, from UNDP (Global), McConnell (Canada), TFL, GLA (London) to Bloxhub (Copenhagen). He has taught, lectured at various institutions from the University of Bath, TU-Berlin; Architectural Association, University College London, Princeton, Harvard, MIT and New School. He writes often on the https://provocations.darkmatterlabs.org
Sr. Solution Archtitect, LG Electronics USA Inc.
Jay has 20 years of extensive experience in consumer electronics industry which includes digital signage and display solutions. Jay is working as a Sr. Solution Architect for signage display products in LG Electronics and his duties include solution design, pre-sales, technical support and project management. He also has a skill of product marketing, business strategies and product development from major electronics companies, which allows him to hold comprehensive knowledge in B2C and B2B project management, directing cross-functional and cross-cultural international team environment.
Product Designer, Magic Leap
Jessy is a Product Designer at Magic Leap and independent researcher interested in the participatory design of near and far XR futures. Her independent research centers around decolonizing XR prototyping practices and deploying the AR co-visioning mobile app PLANNAR in urban communities. She has worked with Acumen, Sidewalk Labs, IDEO CoLab, Autodesk, and the City of LA on a variety of digital products and strategic work, and has presented her work at Primer Conference, APF FuturesFest, and Refactor Camp. She holds an MFA in Media Design from ArtCenter College of Design and a BS in Architectural Studies from USC.
Jonathan Ward, FAIA
Design Partner, NBBJ
Jonathan Ward has dramatically advanced building design and the experiences they create, leading to unique and unexpected beauty. His body of work — which includes projects for Samsung, Tencent, Microsoft, Alipay, Reebok, Wellcome Trust, Telenor and UCLA — challenges client expectations and uses a combination of research and intuition to uncover compelling design solutions.
Kim Walker LaGrue
Chief Information Officer, City of New Orleans
Kimberly Walker LaGrue, Chief Information Officer (CIO), heads the Office of Information Technology and Innovation for the City of New Orleans. She and her team deliver stable, IT services to city government and strategies for equitable growth and expansion of technology services throughout New Orleans. As co-lead of the City’s digital equity strategy, she has a responsibility to improve New Orleans’ positioning as a tech-savvy, smart city, able to address challenges with 21st-century technology. A New Orleans native with over 25 years of experience in IT operations, telecommunications and data management, she’s spent most of her career modernizing and advancing technology in local government. Kimberly is the North American President of the Cities Today Leadership Institute, and an advisory board member of the Internet of Things Consortium. A fierce advocate for local broadband adoption, she is personally committed to digital equity, digital literacy and technology opportunities for all New Orleanians.
Founder & Principal, Shoup Strategies & Interim Executive Director, Urban Movement Labs
Lilly takes a partnership-led approach to sustainable transportation. With a background in transportation policy and planning that spans private, private, and nonprofit sectors, Lilly founded Shoup Strategies to create space for creativity and collaboration. Lilly currently serves as interim Executive Director of Urban Movement Labs accelerating the deployment of public-private solutions to solve urban mobility challenges and reconnect communities throughout Los Angeles. She is also advising the State of California on integrated transit payments and trip planning. Previously she led transportation policy, partnerships, and community engagement teams at Lyft and served in the Office of Policy at the US Department of Transportation in Washington, DC where she managed the Partnership for Sustainable Communities and related livability initiatives. Lilly has authored numerous national publications on the topic of national infrastructure policy; has been featured in the New York Times, Bloomberg, and CityLab; and is a regular speaker at conferences and events on the topic of sustainable mobility and innovation. She is an Adjunct Faculty member at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy and holds a Master in City and Regional Planning from the University of Maryland at College Park and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Public Policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Product Designer AR/VR, Facebook
Lucia Tahan leads an architecture practice based in London that deploys experience design in spatial and digital systems. Since its founding in 2017, the studio has produced work across a wide range of scales, from software to construction to critical writing, while developing architecture projects and exhibitions. Her research work was part of the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale and in 2019 she was awarded the Housing the Human fellowship with a research project focused on Augmented Reality and domesticity. She is currently working as a spatial computing designer at Facebook Reality Labs and was a co-founder for a cloud 3D software incubated by the New Museum in New York. Previously, her work has been presented at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Lisbon Architecture Triennale, Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, Istanbul Biennale, and MAXXI Museum in Rome, and published in magazines such as Bartlett’s Lobby.
Manfred J. Zapka
Co-Founder and COO, Great Places and Spaces LLC
Dr. Manfred Zapka has worked in the Environmental Technology and R&D field, with an emphasis on sustainable systems, for more than 20 years. For the past ten years he has been Principal of Sustainable Design & Consulting LLC, a Honolulu engineering consulting company. In 2019 he co-founded Great Places and Spaces LLC, which specializes in consulting and online assessments of healthy and productive workplaces. His clients include commercial real estate developers and operators, governmental agencies and hotel operators. During the current COVID crisis Manfred, through Great places and Spaces LLC, has been providing support to companies and the public to improve health and safety in buildings. Besides his work for private clients, he has conducted research as well as has taught at the University of Hawaii, School of Architecture, in the field of sustainable building systems, building simulations and occupant health & comfort. For the past eight years Manfred has worked with Environmental Research and Design Laboratory (ERDL) and Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), on the investigation of natural and mixed mode ventilation of buildings, occupant comfort and healthy in buildings and innovative HVAC technologies.
President & CEO, Leading Cities
Michael Lake is the President and CEO of Leading Cities, headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Leading Cities’ mission is to achieve a sustainable planet by leading with Smart Cities. As President and CEO, Michael establishes and develops relationships with municipal governments, businesses, non-profit organizations and universities around the world, creating a global network dedicated to implementing Smart and Resilient City solutions. Leading Cities provides tools and programming for Smart City leaders and facilitates the sharing of best practices within the industry. Michael’s career in public service spans from serving three United States Presidents as Special Assistant for White House Operations and Presidential Advance to serving the former Prime Minister of Ireland as a policy research analyst. Michael has helped build entrepreneurship ecosystems in cities around the world. The work he led at Leading Cities informed the development of Boston’s Innovation District, he established the very first Bridge to MassChallenge program connecting MassChallenge and the city of Zapopan, Mexico. Through this effort, Reto Zapopan was launched and became recognized as the most successful entrepreneurship program in Mexico in its first year. Now, Michael has created a new program for Leading Cities—AcceliCITY—which is a Smart City specific accelerator. AcceliCITY has received more than 1,500 applications from over 40 countries and provides a 2-month web-based curriculum and a week-long Smart City Boot Camp in Boston to connect urban tech startups globally with investors and customers resulting in revenue generation and long-term success. Michael also serves as a world-renowned keynote speaker at Smart City congresses and events globally.
Director, Project Management, Sidewalk Labs
Nerissa Moray bridges the urban-technology divide, with ten years of experience in the project management of urban planning and multi-disciplinary building engineering teams, at BuroHappold Engineering and as Director of Planning and Design at NYC’s Lowline project, and another ten years of experience leading global software development teams as a consultant at Deloitte Consulting and in-house for financial services companies. She is a certified Project Management Professional, earned an M.F.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and completed the Japanese Studies program at Nanzan University.
Director of Project Management, Sidewalk Labs
Rachel has led end-to-end product development in sustainability, housing, fintech, and e-commerce, with a particular passion for promoting access to opportunities. Currently, she is a Director of Product Management at Sidewalk Labs, an Alphabet company, which works to make cities more sustainable and affordable. She leads Mesa, an energy optimization engine and building IoT product to help commercial building owners, tenants, and managers tackle energy efficiency. Before working on the product team at Sidewalk, she spent many years building products globally. She split her time between India and Kenya as the Chief Product Officer at Shortlist, a job opportunities platform. During her tenure, she led the Product, Design, Data, and Assessments teams. Prior, she was the Associate VP at Housing.com. She led 65 people to develop features to help people find homes, like recommendation engines, search, matching, and personalization. She’s also led product development in fintech and e-commerce companies, worked on financial applications at IBM, and co-found a multimedia storytelling company. Her tech focus stemmed from her work on a grassroots portfolio at the International Finance Corporation, where she witnessed the scalable impact achievable by tech-enabled businesses. Rachel loves urban planning, which she studied in undergrad alongside public policy at Princeton University. Not surprisingly, also loves tech 🙂 and took as many engineering courses as possible while at Harvard Business School. She can also recommend great corner chai from her four years of living and working in India.
President & CEO, Umanity, The Philanthropic Marketplace
Winner of Station Houston’s Demo Day and graduate of The Ion Smart and Resilient Cities Accelerator, former MIT Programer Ryan-Alexander Thomas is an award-winning data scientist, keynote speaker, and business strategist. With a background in jazz and music theory, he was offered his first CS job in Cambridge, MA while working for St. Theresa Catholic School in Houston, TX as a Music Teacher and Band Director. After leaving MIT, Ryan worked for multiple Data Analytics startups with a focus on Data Aggregation, Topic Modeling, and Natural Language Processing. In 2017, after Hurricane Harvey ravaged his hometown of Houston, TX, he assembled a team to research how Big Data could help ensure that more community needs could be met with fewer resources. Umanity is currently working with municipalities across the US creating Social Marketplaces for organizing and building community resilience. “We started Umanity because we believe humans are inherently good and have an innate desire to make life better for ourselves and others. Our goal is to leverage technology to help every community efficiently establish social equity at scale.” Ryan currently serves as Umanity Inc.’s President and CEO and enjoys teaching music in his spare time.
Director of Technology, US Ignite
Scott Turnbull is the Director of Technology for US Ignite and is a key member of the Smart Gigabit Communities team. He brings twenty years of experience in academic, scholarly and public sector IT to the team. Prior to joining US Ignite, Scott served as the Technology Section Chief for the joint State and Federal public safety force managing the UCI Road Race event in Richmond Virginia and managing IT planning for public safety applications and infrastructure with Henrico County Virginia. From 2011 to 2015 he served as the Head of Technology of the Academic Preservation Trust and collaborated on the technical architecture of the Digital Preservation Network, both piloted at the University of Virginia as a joint digital archive for a consortium of 17 to 50+ major research universities nationally. Prior to 2011 Scott worked as the Head of Software Engineering at the Emory University Libraries helping to start the Digital Scholarship Commons, and managed or developed dozens of projects for Digital Scholarship or Scholarly support. He is also a veteran of the US Army, having served in the Intelligence Corps.
Associate Director, Planning & Delivery, Sidewalk Labs
Siqi is an urbanist, technologist, and designer with experience that bridges the development and technology industries. As Associate Director of Planning & Delivery at Sidewalk Labs, he works with developers around the world to use design and technology innovations to improve urban development and enhance urban quality of life. He is also a leader in Sidewalk Labs’ innovation incubation process, and currently oversees technology development and pilots focused on innovative street design and new mobility. Previously, Siqi worked at Boston-based Utile and Sasaki, where he provided planning and design consulting services for a number of national and international urban development projects; and led product design at Envelope, a NYC-based startup focused on zoning and real estate development. He is also active as a teacher and community member in the urban technology community, and his urban data visualization work has been exhibited at the National Museum of Singapore and the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum.
National Sales Manager, Public Sector, LG Electronics USA Inc.
Victoria holds almost twenty years of experience in government and corporate operations, public affairs, and crisis management. She began her career in Washington DC, operating the legislative offices of three Members of Congress, and continued her work off Capitol Hill in a variety of roles deploying regulatory, legislative, and business development plans to aid heavily regulated firms in renewable energy, defense, health care, and high-tech manufacturing. For the past four years at LG Electronics, Victoria has worked with governments and educational institutions to help them leverage the power of the “One LG” ecosystem. The whole team ensures the end users, designers and contractors driving “Smart City” projects are provided access to LG technology and innovations to enable connection and collaboration, optimization of space, and deployment of sustainable and grid resilient assets in communities.