Annual Summit


February 19-21, 2020

Spotlighting Innovations in Smart and Sustainable Cities


This event will feature over 90 speakers, including:

Dana Berchman

Chief Digital Officer
City of Gilbert

Mark Hartman

Chief Sustainability Officer
City of Phoenix

Melinda Hanson

Head of Sustainability and Environmental Impact

Erika Anthony

Vice President of Government Relations and Strategy
Cleveland Neighborhood Progress

Ali Vahabsadeh

Founder & CEO

Kathryn Sorenson

City of Phoenix Water Services Department

Sophie Hayward

Urban Praxis

Duke Reiter

Senior Advisor to the President
Arizona State University

Kitty Kolding

Chrysalis Partners

Joe Giudice

Assistant Director
Phoenix Public Works Department

Danielle Glaser

Head of Bay Area Transportation

Alba Rodriguez

Architect & Urban Designer

Janet Tam

Noll & Tam Architects

Robert Ottenhoff

President and CEO
Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Mayor Jenn Daniels

City of Gilbert


The 2020 Annual Summit is made possible by the generous support of these organizations.

Toyota logo
Barr Foundation logo
RWJF logo
Black & Veatch logo
Atonix logo
Microsoft logo
Soofa logo
Cognizant logo
AZ Commerce Authority logo
JobsOhio logo
Ramboll logo
Noll and Tam logo
Arizona Community Foundation logo
Urban Sustainability Summit Photos

Who comes to the Meeting of the Minds Annual Summit?


  • Public Sector 20% 20%
  • Private Sector 51% 51%
  • Non-profit sector 19% 19%
  • Academic 7% 7%
  • Philanthropic 3% 3%


SVP/Director or Higher

What do past attendees of the Meeting of the Minds Annual Summit say?

“A thoroughly unique, cross-disciplinary program and attendee makeup, that made for an excellent forum to share ideas and discuss forward-looking strategies.”

“Incredible speakers, compelling content, and a room full of decision-makers.”

“Meeting of the Minds allowed me to benchmark the progress that my city is making in important sectors related to innovation, sustainability, and social justice.”

“Great people…open, non-pretentious conversations with real decision makers about how we can work together to pursue our shared agendas.”

“There was a great selection of speakers from the public, non-profit and private sectors. And I liked that the talks were not sales oriented.”

“I enjoyed the opportunity to hear from leaders across the region and country about the innovative, cross sector work being done to improve our communities.”

Meeting of the Minds is pleased to announce that our 13th annual summit will convene in Phoenix, AZ from February 19-21, 2020, at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel.

Each year, 425+ urban practitioners convene at the Meeting of the Minds Annual Summit to showcase recent successes and to discuss the ongoing challenges facing the future of smart and sustainable cities. What sets this event apart from others is the inimitable list of speakers and attendees — city leaders, innovators, providers, and practitioners from across sectors and silos who meet at this unique event to share best practices, lessons learned, and new solutions for a sustainable urban future.

Attending the Meeting of the Minds Annual Summit is an outstanding opportunity for anyone seeking cross-disciplinary strategies and partnerships that deliver scalable, transferable, and equitable solutions to urban neighborhoods.


A small number of scholarships for reduced- or no-fee registrations are available for public sector leaders, non-profit executives, community leaders, entrepreneurs and graduate students. Women and people of color are encouraged to apply at this link.

Agenda at a Glance

Full Agenda

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

  • 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


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
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

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

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

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

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
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
Workshop Tour #9: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport – Transportation, Sustainability & Connections to the Region
Workshop Tour #10: Transportation and Mobility Innovation in the Greater Phoenix Region - Transit, EVs, AVs, e-Scooters, e-Bikes, Electric Infrastructure and Street Design


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










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



Venue and Hotel Location

The 2020 Meeting of the Minds Annual Summit convenes at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel.

100 N 1st St
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel

Delegates are encouraged to stay at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel.

100 N 1st St
Phoenix, AZ 85004

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