Debra Campbell

May 8th, 2019


Debra Campbell comes to Asheville from the City of Charlotte, where she was employed in many strategic roles including her most recent position as Assistant City Manager. Prior to joining the Charlotte City Manager’s office, Campbell served as the city’s Planning Director from 2004-2014, a time of booming redevelopment for the Queen City.

Campbell’s list of accomplishments and strategic initiatives during her tenure as Charlotte’s Assistant City Manager include supporting the development of the Housing Charlotte Framework, a 10-year strategy for community collaboration to increase the supply of affordable housing. She initiated expansion of a public engagement effort in which city employees of all levels were asked to take 10 minutes to engage a person of a different race in a face-to-face conversation about city issues and concerns.

 Campbell also led an interdepartmental group to identify and address issues related to safety, trust and accountability, good paying jobs and affordable housing.  And she had a hand in coordination with federal and state officials on the funding and development of a rapid transit system resulting in the construction of 19.3 miles of light rail and millions of square feet of transit oriented development being built at the various transit stations in Charlotte.


Kimber Lanning

February 13th , 2019


Kimber Lanning is Founder and Executive Director of Local First Arizona, a statewide organization implementing innovative strategies for new models of economic development that create vibrant local economies. Kimber's talk will begin at 6pm; doors will open at 5:30pm. 

Lanning is an entrepreneur, business leader and community development specialist who works to cultivate strong self-reliant communities and inspire a higher quality of life for people across Arizona. Lanning’s passions, which are seen throughout her work, include fostering cultural diversity and inclusion, economic resilience and responsible growth for Arizona.

Lanning has grown Local First Arizona into a widely respected organization that is leading the nation in implementing systems and policies to ensure a level playing field for entrepreneurial endeavors of all sizes. With nearly 3,000 business members and four statewide offices, Lanning leads a team of 17 who work on a diverse array of programs ranging from healthy local food access, entrepreneurial development in underserved communities, and rural community development, each of which plays a part in building sustainable and resilient local economies.

Lanning is consistently recognized and has received numerous awards for her diverse work and extensive leadership. In 2014, Lanning was recognized as the Citizen Leader of the Year by the International Economic Development Council, a pivotal moment in recognizing the use of Localist policies as a force for economic development. Her work in promoting adaptive reuse in Phoenix’s urban core was recognized by the American Planning Association, who presented Lanning with the Distinguished Citizen Planner Award in 2013. Lanning has also been named one of the “50 Most Influential Women in Arizona” (Arizona Business Magazine, 2011), was the recipient of the Athena Award by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce in 2013, and was the 2014 Leader of the Year in Public Policy (Arizona Capitol Times). 

Video Coming Soon.


Mitchell Silver

November 13th, 2018


A renowned planner and urbanist, Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver has lead the New York City Parks Department since 2014. He oversees management, planning and operations of nearly 30,000 acres of parkland, including parks, playgrounds, beaches, marinas, recreation centers, wilderness areas and other assets. Mitchell is continually developing tools for local governance and 21st century urban planning on an international scale; this zealous dedication is reflected throughout his career in his publications and leading role in shaping the built environment

Mr. Silver’s insight is invaluable to Asheville. This visit will focus on the impact of planning and placemaking on physical and mental wellbeing.  He will also share learnings from a variety of projects during his role in New York, such as the Community Parks Equity Initiative, Parks without Borders, and Cool Pools and Creative Courts.

Before returning to his hometown of New York City, he served as Chief Planning and Development Officer and Planning Director for the City of Raleigh, North Carolina. He also holds the prestige of being president of the American Planning Association (APA) between 2011 and 2013, and was the first African American to hold the title.

In the past decade, Silver has been recognized across a multitude of platforms as an international thought leader: Planetizen’s “100 Most Influential Urbanists” (2017); in the Urban Times as a top international thought leader of the built environment (2012); and in UBM Future Cities’ “Top 100 City Innovators in the World” (2013).

“[Silver] is a visionary - He has a passion for fairness and equality, and he brings it to the work of government, and understands that we have to ensure that parks and open spaces are available in every community, and are well-maintained in every community in this city.” ~ Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYC 


Michelle Mapp

August 28, 2018


Michelle Mapp serves as the CEO of the South Carolina Community Loan Fund, a nonprofit, mission based lender that has facilitated the development of more than $246 million in community development projects throughout South Carolina.  A certified Housing Development Finance Professional, Michelle has been with SCCLF for 11 years and has served in her current capacity for the past 6 years.

She currently serves on the board of directors for Business Development Corp., Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Charlotte Branch, Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation, SC Community Capital Alliance, TogetherSC, and on the SC Rural Action Plan Taskforce. She is a Liberty Fellow and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. A 2012 executive finalist for the Charleston Regional Business Journal’s Influential Women in Business, Michelle was recently named one of Charleston Magazine’s 50 Most Influential.

Michelle holds a Master of Public Administration from the College of Charleston and University of South Carolina, a Master of Engineering Management from George Washington University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering Analysis with a concentration in Industrial Engineering from Clemson University.


dennis pieprz

May 9, 2018


Dennis Pieprz is Principal, Sasaki Associates, Watertown, MA. Dennis plays a key role in the planning and urban design practice with specific emphasis on international work. His 25 years of both national and international experience encompass diverse project types including urban districts, new communities, campus environments, waterfronts, and urban regeneration. Through his design practice, Dennis focuses on strategic thinking and creating value for clients. He approaches his urban design work collaboratively, integrating landscape, planning, and architecture with a critical understanding of the forces that shape contemporary cities.

Educated at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the University of Toronto School of Architecture, Dennis speaks regularly at conferences and academic institutions and has participated on several international design competition juries. At the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Dennis teaches in the Executive Education program and in 2010 taught a studio focused on the Boston Innovation District. Dennis leads remarkable teams that have been honored with more than 45 design awards, including national recognition from the American Institute of Architects, the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the Society for College and University Planning. Dennis has been inducted as an honorary member of ASLA—a title bestowed upon only a handful of professionals nationwide. Dennis also served as the youngest president of Sasaki from 2004 until 2011.


Hunter Franks

April 3, 2018

Hunter Franks creates ways for people to share introspections, hear other people’s stories, and reimagine social norms. His practice encompasses community-based public art, visual work, writing, and installation. He shares cultural commentary and conducts actions that display that we are all far more similar than we are different. As people begin to contemplate their own role in shaping culture, they begin to reimagine the possibilities present for connection, empathy, love, and joy within their own lives, their neighborhood, and their city.

His projects include a 500 person dinner on a freeway, a storytelling exchange to connect disparate neighborhoods, a swing on a subway, and a year of creative daily lists. His Neighborhood Postcard Project has been carried out in 26 communities around the world from Chennai, India to Santiago, Chile and he is the founder of the League of Creative Interventionists, a nationwide network of community catalysts using art and culture to reimagine their cities.

His work has been carried out in public spaces and venues around the United States including the de Young Museum, Mural Arts Program, Asian Art Museum, 111 Minna Gallery, Akron Art Museum, Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, and Detroit’s Eastern Market. His work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, Fast Company, Curbed, and Univision.

In 2014, Franks was named to GOOD Magazine’s GOOD 100, an annual showcase of individuals at the cutting-edge of creative impact. In 2016, he was chosen to participate in the Studio Residency Program at Root Division, a San Francisco arts non-profit. In 2017, Franks received a Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Fellowship to address equity. In 2018, his idea to transform a freeway into a forest won the Knight Cities Challenge, a nationwide call for civic ideas.

Franks is currently an Alumni Studio Artist at Root Division, resides in Northern California, and speaks about his work around the country.

Hunter was recently hired as a national creative placekeeping/placemaking expert to consult on the Broadway Cultural Gateway planning project.


Ellen Dunham-Jones

March 7, 2018


Ellen is Director of the Master of Science in Urban Design degree at the Georgia Institute of Technology, an authority on sustainable suburban redevelopment, and a leading urbanist. Author of over 60 articles linking contemporary theory and practice, she is co-author with June Williamson of Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs, (Wiley, 2009, 2011) Its documentation of successful retrofits of aging big box stores, malls, and office parks into healthier and more sustainable places received a PROSE award as the best architecture and urban planning book of 2009 and has been featured in The New York Times, Time Magazine, Harvard Business Review, NPR, PBS, TED and other prominent venues. She serves on several national boards and committees, is former Chair of the Board of the Congress for the New Urbanism, lectures widely and conducts community workshops. In both her teaching and research she focuses on helping communities address the 21st century challenges that they were never designed for – whether that’s through her unique database of successful suburban retrofits or studio classes on anticipating autonomous vehicles, coping with climate change or suburban blight.  She taught at UVA and MIT before joining Georgia Tech as Architecture Program Director from 2000-2009.


Tony garcia

November 30, 2017


Tony Garcia is a Principal of Street Plans Collaborative, and leads the firm’s Miami office. Anthony is a nationally recognized architect, writer, speaker and advocate in the in the field of transit, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. 

As a writer and advocate, Tony’s work has appeared in or been featured by The Daily Business Review, Atlantic Cities, Next American City Magazine, New Urban News, The Real Deal, Momentum Magazine, Streetsblog, the Miami Herald, the El Paso Times, and The Miami New Times, among other publications. Tony is a coauthor of the globally acclaimed series Tactical Urbanism: Short-Term Action, Long-Term Change Vol. 1-4, and together with Mike Lydon is the recipient of the 2017 Seaside Prize and co-author of Tactical Urbanism, published by Island Press in March 2015. Tony was also awarded with the 2017-2018 CINTAS Foundation Fellowship for Architecture & Design. 

He is a part-time adjunct faculty member at the University of Miami School of Architecture, and is the past Chairman of the Green Mobility Network, the largest bicycle pedestrian advocacy organization in South Florida. He co-founded the Ludlam Trail project, which will result in the addition of over 50 acres of new park space in Miami-Dade County. Among the many professional organizations he is active with are the Association of Bicycle and Pedestrian Professionals, the Congress for the New Urbanism, the Dade Heritage Trust, and the Urban Environment League. He lectures and leads workshops on the topics of architecture, urban design, smart growth, tactical urbanism, and complete streets/active transportation.

Prior to launching the firm’s Miami office, Tony was Project Director for six years at the Dover Kohl & Partners affiliated architecture firm Chael Cooper & Associates, and from 2008 to 2012 he was the Publisher and Managing editor of the transportation blog, an award winning web journal dedicated to public participation and discourse in South Florida.

Tony holds a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and Urban Design from New York University and a Masters in Architecture from the University of Miami.


Charles Marohn

May 17, 201

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Charles Marohn - known as "Chuck" to friends and colleagues is the Founder and President of Strong Towns and the author of the forthcoming Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity. He is a Professional Engineer (PE) licensed in the State of Minnesota and a land use planner with two decades of experience. He holds a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning, both from the University of Minnesota.

Marohn is also the lead author of Thoughts on Building Strong Towns — Volume 1Volume 2  and Volume 3 — as well as the author of A World Class Transportation System. He hosts the Strong Towns Podcast and is a primary writer for Strong Towns’ web content. He has presented Strong Towns concepts in hundreds of cities and towns across North America. He was named one of the 10 Most Influential Urbanists of all time by Planetizen.

Marohn is a long time commentator on KAXE Northern Community Radio. He currently co-hosts KAXE's Dig Deep program, a monthly examination of public policy issues affecting Minnesotans.

Chuck grew up on a small farm in Central Minnesota. The oldest of three sons of two elementary school teachers, he joined the Minnesota National Guard on his 17th birthday during his junior year of high school and served for nine years. In addition to being passionate about building a stronger America, he loves playing music, is an obsessive reader and religiously follows his favorite team, the Minnesota Twins.

Chuck and his wife live with their two daughters in their hometown of Brainerd, Minnesota.

Video Coming Soon.