2015 Urban Innovation Symposium

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Chicago's leading planners--in one room.
UPPSA's annual Urban Innovation Symposium showcases planning knowledge from across Chicago. During a daytime session, professionals from around the region provide insight into cutting-edge ideas in physical planning, design, housing, and economic development.  At an evening event, young professionals deliver presentations in the fast-moving, visually-oriented PechaKucha®  (PK) format, and an informal atmosphere encourages attendees to get to know each other and enjoy some food and drink.  

Open to the public.

5th Annual Symposium: "AuthentiCity"

January 30, 2015

Michael Pagano 
Dean of College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs , University of Illinois at Chicago

Michael A. Pagano is Dean of the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs and Professor of Public Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, former co-editor of Urban Affairs Review (2001-14), and Faculty Fellow of UICs Great Cities Institute. He is Principal Investigator on a 3-year grant from the MacArthur Foundation to examine city fiscal behavior . He was Principal Investigator on the Pew Charitable Trust’s Government Performance Project to grade the states on Infrastructure Management. He edited Metropolitan Resilience in a Time of Economic Turmoil (2014) and coedited of The Dynamics of

Federalism in National and Supranational Political Systems (2007). He

co-authored Terra Incognita: Vacant Land and Urban Strategies (2004) and Cityscapes and Capital (1995). Since 1991, he has written the annual City Fiscal Conditions report for the National League of Cities. 


He has published over 80 articles on urban finance, capital budgeting, federalism, transportation, infrastructure, urban development and fiscal policy; he has delivered over 100 papers and speeches; and he has been awarded grants from numerous foundations and agencies. He earned a B.A. from the Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.

Anijo Punnen Mathew 
Associate Professor, Illinois Institute of Technology, Institute of Design

Anijo Punnen Mathew is an Associate Professor at IIT Institute of Design. His research looks at evaluating new semantic appropriations of place as enabled by technology and media convergence. Anijo has a PhD in Computing from the Open University in the U.K.; Master of Design Studies (MDesS) from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design; and a professional Bachelor of Architecture (BArch) from Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi (India). Anijo has consulted and

conducted research for several organisations including the City of Chicago, Choose Chicago, Hyatt, Hong Kong Design Centre, Singapore Urban Redevelopment Authority/Singapore River One, Chicago Tribune, Accenture, Godrej & Boyce, Chicago Loop Alliance, and the Chicago Architecture Foundation. He has over 60 publications; his research has led to experience design for the City of Chicago’s 2012 cultural plan, and the re-branding of Chicago’s State Street. He currently serves on an Executive Committee for The Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau (Choose Chicago), and is on the Advisory Boards of the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF), and the Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA).

Amy Coffman Phillips 

Founder & Project Coordinator, B-Collaborative

Amy Coffman Phillips is a founding owner of professional development firm PrairieLab, LLC, where she designs and facilitates experiential workshops that provide innovation tools for designers working in cutting-edge sustainable design. Amy’s particular expertise is in biomimicry and increasing resilience in human systems. She co-created the “BEND, Don’t Break” Natural Resilience workshop for business, community, and organizational leaders looking to embed resilience and restorative design into their strategic planning and has expanded that work to include communities and infrastructure. She is also the co-founder of Biomimicry Chicago, a local node of the Global Biomimicry

Network, and spearheads their “Prairie Project” where they use

biomimicry methodology to learn from Chicago’s native organisms and ecosystems to inform locally-attuned, sustainable design. Amy is a licensed architect, LEED BD+C, MBA, and founder of The

B-Collaborative, a design consultancy serving to catalyze and facilitate projects inspired by nature.

Yonah Freemark 
Project Manager, Metropolitan Planning Council

Yonah Freemark is a project manager at Chicago’s

Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC). He currently focuses on policies to promote equitable transit-oriented development and transportation investment. He co-managed the Corridor Development Initiatives MPC undertook in Chicago’s Uptown and Logan Square communities to engage the public on the future of several important development sites. He led MPC’s research on the Illiana Expressway and on the existing conditions of the public transportation network in Northeastern Illinois, in association with the state’s 2013 Transit Task Force. 


Yonah attended Yale University as an undergraduate,

receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, with distinction. He later received masters’ degrees in city planning (MCP) and

transportation (MST) from the Massachusetts Institute of

Technology. He spent two years researching community

engagement in Paris, where he studied the planning and

construction of the Rive Gauche project, which is a model for neighborhood involvement in development decision-making. He also founded the national blog The Transport Politic, which has received dozens of mentions in the press and an award from



Yonah is a native of North Carolina, but he thoroughly enjoys Chicago’s beautiful lakefront and its residents’ friendliness and intellectual curiosity. In addition to his work at MPC, he is an adjunct professor at Roosevelt University. He is a resident of Hyde Park.

Keith Hayes 
Founder, beintween

As a designer and social entrepreneur, Keith Hayes is informed by interfacing with resources, landscape, and language. ln 2010, he founded beintween, a social and spatial organization improv(is)ing leftover spaces in the City of Milwaukee. Noteworthy accomplishments include a successfully funded Kickstarter for matireal, the imagination of a linear park called the artery, a public installation of swings under a viaduct, and the organization of a design/build coopetition. He is now pursuing partnerships to develop a takerspace model called the do-op. Hayes, who received a master’s of architecture in ecological

design at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and a bachelor’s of architecture from the University of Miami, is now informing his practice through a technique he refers to as sp/acement,

whereby arts and cultural development become a retainer of community rather than a token to displace it.


Pete Saunders 
Urban Planning Consultant, 
Editor/Publisher, The Corner
Side Yard

Pete is an urban planning consultant to municipalities, nonprofits and community organizations interested in developing solutions to community development and redevelopment challenges, with emphasis on land use, economic development and neighborhood planning. 


Pete is also the editor/publisher of the Corner Side Yard, anurbanist blog that focuses on the Rust Belt city and the African American experience within it. Subjects raised in the blog include gentrification, the impacts of migration on economic development, and the enduring legacies of racial inequality. Pete’s writings have been published in traditional media outlets such as the Detroit Free Press, Crain’s Chicago Business and the (London) Guardian, as well as in online outlets like the Huffington Post, New Geography, Planetizen, Rust Wire and the Urbanophile. 


Born and raised in Detroit, Pete earned a bachelor's degree in urban planning from Indiana University and a master's degree in urban planning and policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago.  

Daniel Hertz 

Blog Writer, City Notes

Daniel Kay Hertz is a writer and student at the University of

Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. He has published on

segregation, public transit, and other urban issues at Next City, the Washington Post, City Lab, and elsewhere.

Pechakucha Presentations

Joey Mak 

Director of Innovation & EconomicDevelopment, 

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 


Kyle Smith

Economic Development Project Manager, 

Center for Neighborhood Technology 


Tristan Hummel

Project Manager & Curator, 

Chicago Loop Alliance


Lauren Nolan

Economic Development Planner,

Vorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement 

Claire Thomison & Danielle Costantini

U.S Environmental Protection Agency,

ORISE Fellows


Jocelyn Hare Fellow

Harris School of Public Policy, 

University of Chicago 


Martin Menninger

Associate Planner, 

Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning 


Mark Messing

Executive Director,


Planned with the help of the 2015 Urban Innovation Symposium Committee

Aaron Jenkins   Allison Roddy   Jason Miranda

 Jeffrey Griffin    Jose Requena    Kyle Terry

 Lauren Klabunde   Madeline Shepherd    Megan Fair 

Rudy Moreno    Sidney Kenyon    Sydney Blankers 

 For more information or questions, contact urbaninnovatesym@gmail.com.