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Keynote Speakers and Plenary Panels

2018 AARP Livable Communities National Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina

Sessions are listed in alphabetical order. The bracketed text indicates the conference track.

CM indicates the number of certification maintenance credits approved by the American Planning Association.

Tuesday, November 13

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Transportation and Mobility

Keith Benjamin has led the city of Charleston, South Carolina’s Department of Traffic and  Transportation since April 2017.  In this position, he oversees all transportation maintenance, planning and partnerships at the local, county and state level. Benjamin previously served in the Office of Policy Development, Strategic Planning and Performance as well as led the Office of Public Liaison at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Prior to his federal service, Benjamin was the community partnership manager for the Voices for Healthy Kids Community Consortium with the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. At the national, regional and local level, he provided technical assistance to policy campaigns in underserved communities, built coalitions, increased leadership capacity, engaged elected officials, created advocacy resources and led the Nation Active Transportation Diversity Task Force. Benjamin has also previously represented the Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO, advocating on behalf of 200,000 members and retirees. He has also served on Capitol Hill, working for former Senator Carl Levin (Michigan), the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, the Committee on House Administration, former Representative Kendrick Meek  (Florida), and the late Representative Donald Payne, Sr. (New Jersey).

A 2018 Next City Vanguard Fellow, Benjamin has served as a member of the National League of Cities Advisory Panel on Health Disparities, the Better Bike Share Partnership Equity Panel, the National Working Group on Healthy Food Access with the Food Trust and the National Urban League and the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board, Citizens Advisory Committee. He is a graduate and deans awardee of Swarthmore College.  [CM .75]

Twitter: @RKBtwo

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PLENARY PANEL (Engaging People)

Building Livable Communities through Citizen Engagement

Engaging citizens to enhance where they live through their skills and life experiences is essential to creating livable communities, and older adults — the “Experienced Class” — are leading the charge. People age 50-plus are involved in their communities and with causes they champion. In this session, city leaders will share how the contributions of “experienced” residents and people of all ages are helping to solve challenges and inspire change. [CM .75]

  • Myung J. Lee, Executive Director, Cities of Service | Twitter @CitiesOfService, @MyungLee

The nonprofit Cities of Service helps mayors build stronger cities by changing the way local government and citizens work together. Myung Lee previously served as a deputy commissioner with the City of New York Administration for Children’s Services. She has extensive nonprofit management experience and has led organizations focused on homeless assistance, domestic violence and early childhood development. 

  • Byron W. Brown, Mayor, Buffalo, New York | Twitter @MayorByronBrown

The four-term mayor of New York’s second largest city, Byron W. Brown has directed and delivered on major projects in every section of the city, improving and strengthening neighborhoods throughout Buffalo. His goal is to make Buffalo a place “where no one is left out, and no one is left behind.”

  • G.T. Bynum, Mayor, Tulsa, Oklahoma | Twitter @GTBynum, @CityOfTulsaGov

Prior to being elected mayor in 2016, G.T. Bynum served for eight years on the Tulsa City Council, becoming the council’s youngest chairman ever. Throughout his time in city government, Bynum’s focus has been on fiscal restraint, public safety and infrastructure.

  • Karen Freeman-Wilson, Mayor, Gary, Indiana | Twitter @KarenAboutGary,  @TeamGaryIndiana

As the mayor of her hometown since 2012, Karen Freeman-Wilson is the first woman to lead the city of Gary and the first African-American woman to be a mayor anywhere in the state. A former state attorney general and director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, Freeman-Wilson holds leadership roles with the United States Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities. 

  • Joe Micheli, Head of Commissioning, Early Intervention, Prevention and Community Development City of York Council, United Kingdom | Twitter @JoeMicheli94, @CityOfYork

With a three-decade career in community development, Micheli is a member of the Cities of Service coalition and has led the development of volunteering and social action strategies in York and Barnsley, where as the head of stronger communities, he developed the council’s award-winning community engagement programs. 

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PLENARY PANEL (Engaging Partners)

Conversations with Anchor Institutions

“Anchor institutions” can bring skills and resources that complement efforts to create and encourage livable communities for people of all ages. In this session, representatives from the philanthropic, nonprofit and public sectors talk about their experiences working with anchor institutions. [CM .75]

  • Susan T. Mosey, Executive Director, Midtown Detroit, Inc. | Twitter @MidtownDetroit

Detroit’s University Cultural Center and New Center districts make up the city’s midtown, where the nonprofit Midtown Detroit, led by Susan T. Mosey, works on community improvement projects, real estate and small business development, arts programming and marketing.  

  • Nora Moreno Cargie, Vice President of Corporate Citizenship, Tufts Health Plan President,, Tufts Health Plan Foundation | Twitter @TuftsHealthPlan, @THPFoundation, @NCargie

Leveraging the resources of the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, Nora Moreno Cargie and her team build relationships with nonprofi t organizations, businesses, municipal leaders, community members and older adults in support of stronger, vibrant communities that are great places to work, grow up and grow old. 

  • Alan DeLaTorre, Research Associate, Portland State University, Institute on Aging | Twitter @Portland_State, @akdelatorre

An urban gerontologist, Alan DeLaTorre has been involved in Portland’s age-friendly initiative since 2006. He also serves as coordinator of PSU’s Senior Adult Learning Center, chair of the Environmental Design Committee for the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education and as an appointed volunteer with AARP Oregon.

  • Patrick Pontius, Senior Community and Economic Development Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta | Twitter @AtlantaFed

Prior to recently joining the Federal Reserve, Patrick Pontius  served as the executive director of the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities, where he led an interagency team that piloted an innovative model of federal-local collaboration. 

Wednesday, November 14

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Placemaking and Public Spaces

An internationally recognized planner, Mitchell J. Silver specializes in comprehensive planning, placemaking and implementation strategies. 

As New York City’s parks commissioner since May 2014, he oversees the management, planning and operations of nearly 30,000 acres of parkland, which include parks, playgrounds, beaches, marinas, recreation centers and wilderness areas. 

Prior to returning to his native New York City for the position, Silver served as the chief planning and development officer and planning director for Raleigh, North Carolina, where he led the comprehensive plan update process and a rewriting of the development code to create a vibrant 21st-century city. His career has included roles as a policy and planning director for New York City’s Department of Planning, a principal of a new planning firm, a town manager in New Jersey, and deputy planning director in Washington, D.C. He is a past president of the American Planning Association.

Silver is a contributing author and editor of the International City/County Management Association’s (ICMA) latest edition of Local Planning: Contemporary Principles and Practice. He’s been elected to Planetizen’s list of the 100 Most Influential Urbanists and named an honorary member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, a fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences, an honorary fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia and an honorary lifetime member of the Royal Town Planning Institute. He has been honored as one of the top 100 City Innovators in the world by UBM Future Cities. In 2012, the Urban Times named Silver one of the top international thought leaders of the built environment. 

Silver has taught graduate planning at Hunter College, Brooklyn College, Pratt Institute and North Carolina State University and is the Dunlop Lecturer in Housing and Urbanization at Harvard University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Pratt Institute and a master’s in urban planning from Hunter College. [CM .75]

Twitter @Mitchell_Silver, @NYCParks

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Rapid-Fire Presentations about Making Communities More Livable 

During this LOR Foundation-hosted session, conference attendees will deliver rapid-fire presentations about ways their communities are becoming more livable. [CM .75]

  • LaMonte Guillory, Chief Communications Officer | LOR Foundation | Twitter @LaMonteG, @LORFoundation

LaMonte Guillory drives the LOR Foundation’s external presence within the philanthropic and rural communities by ensuring that LOR represents the people who make up the vibrant, growing and culturally significant rural towns of the American West. He advances important discussions about the future of rural livability and the need for community-driven solutions to leaders, policy makers, the media, funders, nonprofits and national associations. 

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Looking Forward: The Issues That Matter for Cities 

Nancy LeaMond of AARP and Bryan K. Barnett — mayor of Rochester Hills, Michigan, and vice president of the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) — discuss several of the key issues being faced by city leaders and how local governments and residents are working together on solutions. [CM .75]

  • Nancy LeaMond, Executive Vice President | Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer, AARP | Twitter @NancyLeaMond

With responsibility for driving AARP’s social mission on behalf of Americans 50-plus and their families, Nancy LeaMond’s team includes 650 staff members across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. She leads major AARP issue areas, including the AARP Livable Communities initiative. 

  • Bryan K. Barnett, Mayor, Rochester Hills, Michigan | Twitter @MayorBarnett @RochesterHills

When he won a historic third term in 2015, Bryan K. Barnett became Rochester Hills’ longest-serving mayor. His administration has been nationally recognized for innovation, fiscal responsibility and environmental leadership. Barnett will become the president of the USCM in June 2019. 

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Putting It All Together: A Focus on Age-Friendly States

Three states have enrolled in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities. Representatives from Colorado, Massachusetts and New York explain how they’re working to make their states livable for residents of all ages, life stages and abilities. [CM .75]

  • Mike Festa, State Director, AARP Massachusetts | Twitter @michaelefesta, @aarpma

Mike Festa leads AARP’s programs, advocacy and outreach to his state’s more than 800,000 AARP members. From 2007 to 2009, Festa served in Governor Deval Patrick’s cabinet as the Secretary of Elder Affairs. An elected legislator in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007, Festa began his career as an assistant district attorney in Middlesex County and served in local Melrose government for 12 years as an alderman-at-large and school committeeman. 

  • Wade Buchanan, Senior Advisor on Aging, State of Colorado

As an advisor to Governor John Hickenlooper, Wade Buchanan takes a holistic, visionary and cross-departmental approach to tackling aging issues within the state government and collaborating with private, public and nonprofit partners. Buchanan played a critical role in bringing Colorado to age-friendly state status. He previously served as the executive director of the Bell Policy Institute, AARP Colorado’s key partner in work-and-save legislation. 

  • Robin Lipson, Chief of Staff and Chief Strategy Officer Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs | Twitter @Mass_EOEA

Along with Secretary of Elder Affairs Alice Bonner, Robin Lipson works on initiatives to help older people remain in their communities. Lipson has been the lead staff person supporting Governor Charlie Baker’s Council to Address Aging and serves on the Executive Committee of the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative.

  • Greg Olsen, Acting Director, New York State Office for the Aging | Twitter @NYSaging

Greg Olsen oversees the office of aging’s day-to-day operations and the administration of federal and state-funded programs that assist the state’s more than 3.7 million older adults and their families.

2018 AARP Livable Communities National Conference 

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