Annual Summit


February 19-21, 2020

Spotlighting Innovations in Smart and Sustainable Cities

Wednesday, February 19, 2020


Welcome to the Meeting of the Minds 2020 Annual Summit

  • Jessie Feller Hahn, Executive Director, Meeting of the Minds


Emerging Urban Trends and Solutions in Arizona

While some may say that Arizona is the least sustainable place in the US, there’s another story to tell that may shed a different light. This session will unpack the water, development, infrastructure and future city building underway in Arizona that may surprise us all.

  • Moderator: Lev Gonick, CIO, Arizona State University
  • Mayor Jenn Daniels, City of Gilbert, AZ
  • Mark Hartman, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Phoenix
  • Grady Gammage Jr, Founding Member, Gammage and Burnham
  • TBA


Lifespan Communities - The Design Challenge for Cities

The ever-evolving diversity of cities often affects the most innocent of us with disproportionate difficulties and loss of quality of life. Patricia Moore, recipient of The Center for Health Design’s 2020 Changemaker Award and 2019 National Design Award for “Design Mind”, has melded the social sciences with the design arts for nearly five decades to create the field of “Lifespan Design.” Providing innovative solutions for people of every age and level of ability is the inclusive design challenge of our lifetime. Patricia will provide a unique overview of how we can design our cities for the future, today, with empathy, equity, and excellence.

  • Patricia Moore, President, MooreDesign Associates


How Cities Prepare and Design for Electric Mobility

  • Melinda Hanson, Head of Sustainability and Environmental Impact, Bird
  • TBA
  • TBA
  • TBA


Small Group Discussions At Your Table

The person with the longest last name will open the envelope and read the prompt. Follow the instructions for a group discussion at your table.


Coffee Break




Behavior Change Strategies for Urban Challenges

  • Moderator: Kate O'Brien, Senior Writer, Meeting of the Minds
  • Liz Blackwell-Moore, Public Health Strategist, Birch Lane Strategies
  • Erika Anthony, Vice President of Government Relations and Strategy, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress




The Role of Civic Institutions, Design and Well-Being in the Revitalization of Place

The built environment has an undeniable impact on our social infrastructure and well-being. What creates a city that is inviting, compelling, attractive and dynamic? How do we create quality of life for all? Why are certain cities growing and thriving while others are struggling? Cities large and small rely on strong civic institutions to anchor their downtowns and public spaces. What we think of as “civic institutions” might indeed be shifting. How do we prepare our institutions, organizations and companies for imminent and unavoidable change in the future? What are key tools that cities and city leaders can use as we prepare for an uncertain urban future? Regenerative spaces - both physical and institutional - that can evolve as our needs and conditions change might be one piece of a larger set of solutions.

  • Moderator: Janet Tam, Principal, Noll + Tam Architects
  • Shalini Agrawal, Architect, Associate Professor, California College of the Arts, Former Director of the Center for Public Life
  • TBA


Meeting of the Minds 2020 Opening Reception

Join 425+ attendees at the Meeting of the Minds 2020 Annual Summit Opening Reception.

Thursday, February 20, 2020


Networking Breakfast


Welcome to Meeting of the Minds 2020 Annual Summit: Setting the Context

  • Jessie Feller Hahn, Executive Director, Meeting of the Minds


Startups Managing and Innovating the City

  • Managing and Innovating at the Curb
    • Ali Vahabzadeh, Founder, curbFlow
  • TBA
  • TBA


Beyond the Data Portal - Digital Governance, Reaching & Responding to Urban Residents

Dana Berchman came into office as Gilbert’s new Chief Digital Officer and created six new roles in her department without changing the city’s budget including a digital journalist, data analyst, and data storyteller. She is centralizing communications for fire and police to better handle emergencies and disasters. Learn how Gilbert is taking its cues from the private sector in order to innovate and deliver better digital services for its residents.

  • Dana Berchman, Chief Digital Officer, City of Gilbert (AZ)


Humanizing Data for City Leadership

The proliferation of complex data from smart systems poses a meaningful challenge for city leaders, since many are not analysts or technologists. To address this gap, smart city data needs more than slick dashboards and complex visualizations. The data needs to be humanized: repackaged, contextualized and translated, so that all city staff and stakeholders can easily consume, digest and act upon critical findings. Once transformed, these refined insights directly inform urban or regional policy decisions, and can become a powerful weapon in the fight against climate change, housing crises, homelessness, traffic congestion, pedestrian fatalities, sprawl, and a dozen more urban challenges. Kitty will explain the step-by-step approach to “going beyond the dashboard” to humanize the mountains of available smart city data, and convert it into accessible, actionable materials that drive growth and positive change.

  • Kitty Kolding, CEO, Chrysalis Partners


Cracking the Affordable Housing Financing Conundrum

Affordable housing is a thorny problem that affects every city in the country, particularly urban communities with two difficult challenges – the high cost of land, and the high cost of construction.  But creative partnerships and new sources of financing are emerging to help bring affordable units online despite the barriers. New, unlikely affordable housing stakeholders like hospitals, churches, and school districts are stepping up to the challenge. Sophie Hayward will share her insights into affordable housing partnerships and creative financing structures as we identify solutions to provide equitable access to safe and affordable housing.

  • Sophie Hayward, Founder, Urban Praxis


Small Group Discussions at Your Table


Coffee break


Relieving Congestion: The Big 8 Tech Companies and Cities in the San Francisco Bay Area Take on Gridlock

Tech employers in the Bay Area are eager to solve the gridlock in the San Francisco Bay Area because it poses a direct threat to their productivity. Eight companies - Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Tesla, Salesforce, Palantir, Intuit and Genentech - who operate some of the largest private transportation networks have come to the table with eight Bay Area cities across two counties to solve the crisis together and develop a unique Transportation Management Association (TMA). Hear how they are developing, deploying and operationalizing a regional employer-driven, public-private partnership co-op model - the first of its kind in the US.

  • Moderator: Nancy Shepherd, Manzanita Works & Former Mayor of Palo Alto
  • Aaron Aknin, Principal, Good City Co. & Former Assistant City Manager, Redwood City
  • Danielle Glaser, Head of Bay Area Transportation, LinkedIn
  • TBA, Google
  • TBA


Disaster Philanthropy - What We Need to Know Before Disaster Hits our Cities and How to Fund Recovery

  • Robert G. Ottenhoff, President and CEO, Center for Disaster Philanthropy


Global Water Equity - Strategies, Policy & Partnerships

Cities around the world are grappling with water challenges ranging from water restrictions, droughts, unequal access to clean water and sanitation, aging infrastructure, and more. Hear from some of the leading thinkers tackling water equity as we learn about what strategies, policies, and partnerships are moving the needle to ensure that clean water is a right, rather than a privilege, even in the US.

  • Moderator: Sarah Porter, Director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Morrison Institute, Arizona State University
  • Kathryn Sorensen, Director, City of Phoenix Water Services Department
  • TBA
  • TBA


Lunch with the Day's Speakers

Grab your lunch and take a seat at any table with the day's speakers to continue the conversation, ask questions and engage in an intimate and lively dialogue. Each table will have a sign on it that corresponds to the day's sessions. First-come first-served.


Workshop Tours

Workshop tours will bring delegates into local Sacramento and Davis neighborhoods to connect with a rich array of initiatives, living labs, innovators and organizations working at the cutting edge of urban sustainability and technology. The first three hours consist of behind the scenes, on-the-ground tours led by local leaders. The fourth hour consists of a small group brainstorm and workshop to discuss its scalability, transferability and replicability across cities and sectors. Workshop tours will leave the Sheraton Grand at 1pm and return by 4pm for the workshop portion.

Workshop Tour #1: Universal UseAbility - Phoenix Downtown Light Rail, Station Design, and Access

Workshop Tour Facilitators:

  • Patricia Moore, President, MooreDesign Associates
  • Alba Rodriguez, Architect and Urban Designer, METRO Rail
  • Phil Pangrazio, President & CEO, Ability360
Workshop Tour #2: Arizona State University as Catalyst - How a University is Transforming Downtown Phoenix & Mesa
Workshop Tour #3: Urban Heat, Green Infrastructure & Health Outcomes - Approaches, Solutions and Adaptation

Both natural and man-made systems are crucial to cooling as cities get hotter across the nation. There can be an 11-degree difference in Phoenix neighborhoods just two miles apart due to tree canopy and natural systems. This workshop tour will take a systems approach to ecosystem services and infrastructure by highlighting multiple projects in downtown Phoenix, South Phoenix and Eastlake including Heat Action Plans, the use of health indicators, cross-sector heat coalitions, cooling centers, green infrastructure, district cooling, hydration stations, community gardens, shade structures and spaces for opportunity. Phoenix’s downtown district cooling system makes ice in tanks during the night and uses that ice during the day to provide district cooling to the downtown core - a highly cost effective system. All of these projects across Phoenix are tackling heat deaths and illness - a phenomenon that more cities are starting to face as temperatures rise across the US. The workshop to close will provide an opportunity to further share best practices, lessons learned and solutions for cities to measure, justify budgetary allocation and tackle their urban heat island challenges.

Workshop Tour Facilitators:

  • Mark Hartman, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Phoenix
  • Diana Bermudez, Director of Special Projects, The Nature Conservancy
  • Melissa Guardaro, Graduate Research Fellow, Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network, Arizona State University
  • Vjollca Berisha, Senior Epidemiologist, Maricopa County Department of Public Health
  • Jessica White, Public Health Scientist, Maricopa County Department of Public Health


Workshop Tour #4: Roosevelt Row & Eastlake - Place, Preservation, Gentrification, Development, Urban Art, & Design

This workshop tour will take attendees on a short walking tour of Roosevelt Row - -  to see how the art district has become a driver for economic development, transportation, housing, design and the arts. Roosevelt Row is where artists and makers have developed an urban core neighborhood that provides space for new ventures and historic uses. Roosevelt Row is one of the most desirable destinations for millenials interested in buying houses and living in a dense urban environment. This workshop tour will discuss the tension between newcomers and long-residents as developers have flocked to build condos and what that means for the identity, affordability and arts sector. 

This workshop tour will also visit the Eastlake neighborhood - a historically African American community adjacent to downtown. Its history is deep and goes back to when the neighborhood was built out of redlining when it was illegal for blacks to live north of McDowell, which served as the color line. It sits on the edge of development and gentrification downtown but has yet to benefit from affordable and dense development that brings in services to make it a destination. Eastlake Park anchors the neighborhood and is the historical site where MLK spoke in Phoenix. Hear from local activists and long-time advocates - Virgil Berry and Richard Yarbough - who are tirelessly working to preserve a dozen historical buildings in Eastlake. Their team was recently able to rezone East Lake Park with a historical overlay to preserve the oldest park in the city of Phoenix.

Workshop Tour Facilitators:

  • Greg Esser, Founder and Artist, Herberger Institute for Design & Founder, Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation
  • Amy Otto, Program Manager, Roosevelt Row
  • Virgil Berry, President, Berry Realty
  • Elder Richard Yarbough, Administrator, Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church


Workshop Tour #5: Equitable Water & Access - Policy, Distribution, Public Engagement & Culture

This workshop tour will take participants to multiple stops along the Scottsdale Canal Waterfront, the Salt River Reservation, and the Salt River to understand the water policy, practices and projects that have shaped Arizona’s relationship to the water. While some areas have flourished in relationship to the water, others are drying up, particularly in the Salt River Reservation. The arts can be a force for revitalization and cultural stewards to the water. Included in this workshop tour will be stops that include the following:

  • Soleri Bridge and Plaza in Scottsdale
  • Water to Water installation in Scottsdale: as people approach the wall, it springs to life. Sensors along the path trigger large shower heads to begin sprinkling one after the other. A small chorus of faucets also joins in. The high-tech water treatment facility, set in the desert, provides an object lesson: one from which we learn that life can flourish in these unlikely surroundings.
  • Canal Convergence in Scottsdale: art installation bringing together water + art + light, all with a focus on sharing the story of how water, through diverse perspectives, has greatly impacted Arizona’s history.
  • Follow the river to the Salt River Reservation to see how the river transforms, who accesses it and how stakeholders are coming together to address historic inequities.
  • Rio Salado - Once a dried-up riverbed full of trash, the Rio Salado Habitat is now home to over 200 species of birds and animals
  • Salt River Project (SRP) - As one of Arizona's largest utilities, Salt River Project has delivered low-cost, reliable power and water for more than 100 years. Groundwater management, policy and legislation. Public sector success story. History lesson on water management and distribution.

Workshop Tour Facilitators:

  • Gerd Wuestemann, President & CEO, Scottsdale Arts
  • Kathryn Sorensen, Director, City of Phoenix Water Services Department
  • Kim Boganey, Public Art Director, Scottsdale Public Art
  • TBA
Workshop Tour #6: Phoenix Smart Region - Governance, Strategies & Partnerships

Join the consortium of stakeholders across sectors who are co-leading a new smart region effort in Greater Phoenix and learn they are bringing together universities, utilities, 22 local governments and dozens of corporates in a unique governance, financing and smart region approach. This workshop tour will include briefings from the Arizona Commerce Authority, Arizona State University, the City of Phoenix, the City of Scottsdale, Amazon Web Services, Intel, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and Maricopa Association of Governments. This workshop tour will visit the Skysong Cloud Center at Arizona State University which includes Amazon Web Services, the Infosys Lab, and Sprint. This workshop tour will dig into how the City of Scottsdale is using the cloud to improve their water usage and capabilities, showcase Intel’s autonomous driving headquarters, how the region is collaborating around smart transportation, and will end with a visit to Hance Park - Phoenix’s largest downtown park - to hear how they are revamping into a ‘smart park.’ This will be followed by a one-hour workshop to discuss lessons learned, best practices and next steps as more regions around the US and globally are thinking about their smart region approaches.

Workshop Tour Facilitators:

  • Dominic Papa, Vice President, Smart State Initiative, Arizona Commerce Authority
  • Eric Anderson, Executive Director, Maricopa Association of Governments
  • Jason Whittet, Digital Innovation Lead, Amazon Web Services
  • TBA
  • TBA
  • TBA
Workshop Tour #7: Closing the Waste Loop - Phoenix’s Circular Economy

Workshop Tour Facilitators:

  • Joe Giudice, Assistant Director, Phoenix Public Works Department
  • Lucas Mariacher, Zero Waste Coordinator, Phoenix Public Works Department
Workshop Tour #8: From Pre-Seed to Exit - The Entrepreneurial and Innovation Ecosystem in Greater Phoenix

Phoenix is now ranked in the top ten for startup early survival rate among large cities. Join Andrew Lombard from the Arizona Commerce Authority and Zach Ferres, the CEO of Coplex, to see how Phoenix is driving and supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem from pre-seed all the way to scaling companies. This workshop tour will dive into how Phoenix is supporting venture development through the full cycle from idea to funding to exit. Visit Coplex - a Venture Builder that partners with industry experts, entrepreneurs, and corporate innovators to start high-growth tech companies. Downtown Phoenix is looking to the future with the recent launch of PHX Core, a district that brings together various entities to promote innovation and attract and retain businesses. PHX Core includes portions of the Warehouse District, Phoenix Biomedical Campus, Arizona State University downtown campus, and Roosevelt Row Arts District. The innovation district is home to Galvanize - a campus that houses more than 100 tech start-ups. Coplex is one such pre-seed stage accelerator at the Galvanize campus. They are quickly, and capital-efficiently, de-risking the earliest stages of the startup journey. To do this, they implement their proven Coplex Lean Process to rapidly de-risk new business models, drive revenue, and turn concepts into investable enterprises. The tour will then head over to Venture Madness to hear from start-ups in a live pitch, head-to-head competition. End with a workshop roundtable that discusses lessons learned, best practices and next steps for region’s working to increase their startup survival rate, create jobs, skill-up the next generation of talent and attract and retain entrepreneurs.

Workshop Tour Facilitators:

  • Andrew Lombard, Executive Vice President, Innovation and Venture Development, Arizona Commerce Authority
  • Zach Ferres, CEO, Coplex
  • TBA


Workshop Tour #9: TBD
Workshop Tour #10: Transportation and Mobility Innovation in the Greater Phoenix Region - Transit, EVs, AVs, e-Scooters, e-Bikes, Electric Infrastructure and Street Design

The Greater Phoenix Region is experimenting and deploying new transportation and mobility pilots and initiatives in light rail, multi-modal connections, Waymo’s self-driving taxi service, EV connections at the home, e-scooters and more - all with the goal of lowering VMT, easing congestion, supporting a regional economy and protecting the environment. The region’s distinctive blend of accommodating regulations, pro-business climate, arterial grid system, and mild weather all contribute to a robust and thriving focus on innovations in transportation.

The tour will begin with at Valley Metro, the region’s public transit authority. The unique partnership between Valley Metro and Waymo will be featured. Through this innovative collaboration, members of the public are overcoming first mile/ last mile challenges through the assistance of Waymo’s autonomous vehicles. The residents receive a much needed ride, Waymo receives valuable insights from real world applications in the field, and Valley Metro gets more riders to use the traditional transit system.

The City of Phoenix’s innovations in transportation will also be featured. This includes a new scooter pilot project in coordination with Arizona State University. Phoenix, the country’s fifth largest city is partnering with ASU, one of the country’s largest public universities, to implement and refine e-scooter policies and strategies. The innovation and scale of this work offers tremendous insights for others. Bird, a leading e-scooter and recently launched cruiser sharing company, will discuss their latest approaches to city partnerships, scaling, sustainability, electric infrastructure, and more.

The tour will continue with a stop at the Tempe Transit Center. Opened in 2008, the Tempe Transit Center is a 40,000 square foot facility with an exterior shaded courtyard and a transit plaza serving the METRO light rail and local and regional bus patrons. Dozens of bus routes serve the Transportation Center including the free Orbit local shuttle. The ground floor includes retail, the transit store, security office, and The Bicycle Cellar (with bike repair, rentals and accessories). The second floor includes the City of Tempe Transportation Office and Don Cassano Community Room. The third floor houses the Traffic Management Center. Local leaders from the City of Tempe will offer their compelling work. They will be joined by utility leaders to share how they are transforming the application of clean energy in mobility solutions.

Learn from the leading transportation and mobility operators, service providers, and researchers in the region how these modes are interacting, being deployed, managed and what’s next for the region.

Workshop Tour Facilitators:

  • Amy St Peter, Deputy Executive Director, Maricopa Association of Governments
  • Melinda Hanson, Head of Sustainability and Environmental Impact, Bird
  • TBA
  • TBA
  • TBA


Networking Reception

Friday, February 21, 2020


Networking Breakfast


Breakout Roundtables

Choose a small group roundtable discussion to dig into the topic of your choice. After short presentations from subject matter experts, you will have the opportunity to participate in a roundtable dialogue and workshop to share your own challenges and opportunities related to the topic. Sign up in advance at the registration table.


  1. The Smart Region & Public-Private Partnerships – Three Different Large Regional Approaches from Phoenix, San Diego, and the Central Coast of CA
    • Steve Hamilton, Senior Manager, Deloitte
    • Dominic Papa, Vice President, Smart State Initiative, Arizona Commerce Authority
    • Steph Stoppenhagen, Business Development Director, Black & Veatch
    • Jason Anderson, President & CEO, Cleantech San Diego
    • TBA
  2. Small Places, Big Ideas – Bringing Urban Innovation to Small and Medium Cities
    • Emily Edmonds, Membership and Programs Director, Engaging Local Government Leaders
    • Rich Lechner, Vice President, Business Development, UrbanLeap
    • Alana Keegan, Engagement Specialist, Triangle J Council of Governments
    • Lena Geraghty, Director of Innovation and Performance Management City of Portland, Maine
  3. Natural Disaster Funding for Cities
    • Robert G. Ottenhoff, President & CEO, Center for Disaster Philanthropy
  4. How to Humanize and Monetize City Data
    • Kitty Kolding, CEO, Chrysalis Partners
  5. The Future of Cities
    • Kate O'Brien, Senior Writer, Meeting of the Minds
  6. Smart City Street Deployments
  7. Transportation and Mobility Policy and Governance
  8. TBA


Transition Back to the Plenary


Welcome Back to the Plenary






The Next Urban Future - How Medium-Sized Cities are Balancing Resiliency and Economic Development


Lunch with the Day's Speakers

Grab your lunch and take a seat at any table with the day's speakers to continue the conversation, ask questions and engage in an intimate and lively dialogue. Each table will have a sign on it that corresponds to the day's sessions. First-come first-served.


Closing & Next Steps

  • Jessie Feller Hahn, Executive Director, Meeting of the Minds