Speakers and Panelists

Note that this is a preliminary list of speakers and that this page will be continually updated.


Opening Keynote


Amy Liu

Amy Liu is vice president and director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings and the Adeline M. and Alfred I. Johnson Chair in Urban and Metropolitan Policy. She is a national expert on cities and metropolitan areas adept at translating research and insights into action on the ground. As director of Brookings Metro, which Liu co-founded in 1996, she pioneered the program’s signature approach to policy and practice, which uses rigorous research to inform strategies for economic growth and opportunity. Liu has worked directly on such strategies with scores of public and private sector leaders in regions around the country, including Chicago, Kansas City, Phoenix, upstate New York, and New Orleans. Full bio

Most recently, Liu authored “Remaking Economic Development: The Markets and Civics of Continuous Growth and Prosperity,” in which she argues that city and metropolitan leaders must adopt a broader vision of economic development that can deliver economic growth, prosperity, and inclusion for all residents. 

In 2011, Liu was lead editor of “Resilience and Opportunity: Lessons from the Gulf Coast after Katrina and Rita,” a volume of essays exploring ways to accelerate the region’s recovery. This built on her co-authorship of the New Orleans Index, a multi-year series of reports that tracked New Orleans’ progress in the aftermath of Katrina.

Liu also has extensive experience working with states and the federal government to develop policies and strategies to support cities and metropolitan areas. In 2013, Liu served as a special advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, guiding policy priorities related to trade, innovation, and data. In 2010, Liu co-authored “Delivering the Next Economy: The States Step Up,” outlining a model for states to support bottom-up regional innovation.

Prior to her work at Brookings, Liu was Special Assistant to HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros and staffed the U.S. Senate Banking Committee’s subcommittee on housing and urban affairs. Liu serves as an advisory board member for ACT of Alexandria, a local community foundation, and as a trustee of Hopkins House, a Northern Virginia early childhood education non-profit that serves low-income families. Liu holds a degree in social policy and urban studies from Northwestern University. In 2015, she completed the High Impact Leadership Program at Columbia Business School.


Featured Participants


Karin Brandt

Karin Brandt is the CEO and co-founder of coUrbanize, a digital platform that helps real estate developers and municipalities modernize and simplify community outreach to build better projects faster. Karin holds a master’s degree in city planning from MIT and began her career in urban development working at Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, where she co-edited Infrastructure and Land Policies. Full bio

While in urban planning, she saw development opportunities stymied by NIMBYism at community meetings. Determined to make an impact on how cities grow, Karin launched coUrbanize in 2013 and joined the TechStars Boston accelerator. Since founding the company, coUrbanize has supported over 200 projects across the US and Canada to help residents and project teams build better communities together.


Shirl Buss

Shirl Buss is a designer, educator and urban planner. For more than 25 years, Shirl has worked with children and adults on architectural, interpretive design and community development projects, with a specialty in consensus-based participation in the design process. Shirl holds an M.A. in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College, and an M. Arch. and Ph.D. from UCLA Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning. Full bio

She is an award-winning researcher and educator who has lectured in design and architecture at San Francisco State University, UCLA, UC Berkeley, and California College of the Arts. As an educator and designer Shirl has directed programs, facilitated professional development workshops and taught K-college students in schools, museums and informal settings including SFMOMA, Asian Art Museum, Museum of Children's Art and Headlands Center for the Arts.


Ned Cramer

Ned Cramer is editor-in-chief of ARCHITECT, and editorial director of ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING, ECO-STRUCTURE, and METALMAG, published by Hanley Wood, a Washington, D.C.-based business media company. Prior to joining Hanley Wood, Cramer served as the first full-time curator of the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) where he organized public programs and exhibitions such as "A Century of Progress: Chicago's 1933-34 World's Fair" and "New Federal Architecture: The Face of a Nation." Full bio

At CAF, projects under Cramer's direction received support from foundations and corporations such as Altria, Boeing, the Driehaus Foundation, the Graham Foundation, and the McCormick-Tribune Foundation. He speaks regularly on architecture, design, and related issues. The Avery Architectural Index lists nearly 100 articles with Cramer's byline, many written in his former capacity as executive editor of Architecture magazine. The recipient of an Arts Administration Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Cramer has held positions at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Menil Collection in Houston. Cramer is an alumnus of the Rice University School of Architecture. He was born and raised in St. Louis.


Cassandra Di Prizio

Cassandra serves as a consultant in The Alford Group’s East division. She has more than eight years of experience in fundraising, marketing and communications in social service and private education organizations. She focuses on supporting clients’ strategic planning, campaign feasibility and market analysis studies and project management needs. Her experience in working with high profile donors and volunteers in resource development departments of all sizes allows her to customize tools, resources to meet clients’ needs at every level. Full bio

In addition to her Master’s in Nonprofit Management, Cassandra also holds graduate certificates in Fundraising Management, Organizational Development and Nonprofit Governance. Cassandra leverages her extensive practical experience in fundraising as well as her education in nonprofit management best practices to help clients develop creative approaches to maximize opportunities while overcoming organizational challenges. Prior to joining The Alford Group, Cassandra was a development and marketing professional focusing on corporate and foundation relations, large scale event planning and engaging young professionals through junior board service.


Martin Felsen

Martin Felsen, FAIA co-founded UrbanLab in 2000. He is a registered architect in Illinois and New York, and is an Associate Professor in the Illinois Institute of Technology’s (IIT) College of Architecture. After working for Eisenman Architects, Stan Allen Architects and 1100 Architects in New York, he and partner Sarah Dunn established UrbanLab, a collaborative architecture and urban design firm. Full bio

UrbanLab strives to respond to the complexity, growth and unintended consequences of the modern city by developing a catalogue of architectural, infrastructural and urbanistic design strategies, in particular examining natural and artificial systems underpinning the built environment. His research focuses on public space, public infrastructure and public resources in American (and American-style) cities and megaregions.

Martin serves on the Board of Archeworks, a non-profit educational organization working on contemporary community-based urban design issues in Chicago. He also serves on the Board of Places: Design History Foundation and the Editorial Advisory Board of the Architect’s Newspaper.


Thomas Fisher

Thomas Fisher is a Professor in the School of Architecture, Director of the Minnesota Design Center, and former Dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota. A graduate of Cornell University in architecture and Case Western Reserve University in intellectual history, he was the Editorial Director of Progressive Architecture magazine and was recognized in 2005 as the fifth most published architecture writer in the United States. Full bio

He has written over 50 book chapters or introductions and over 400 articles in professional journals and major publications. His books includ Salmela, Architect (2005), Lake/Flato, Buildings and Landscapes (2005), Architectural Design and Ethics, Tools for Survival (2008), Ethics for Architects (2010), The Invisible Element of Place, The Architecture of David Salmela (2011), Designing to Avoid Disaster (2013), and Designing our Way to a Better World (2016).


Eva Franch

Eva Franch is an architect, curator, educator and lecturer of experimental forms of art and architectural practice. In 2004, she founded her solo practice OOAA (Office of Architectural Affairs) and since 2010 is the Chief Curator and Executive Director of Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York. Franch specializes in the making of alternative architecture histories and futures. Full bio

In 2014 Franch, with the project OfficeUS, was selected by the US State Department to represent the United States Pavilion at the XIV Venice Architecture Biennale. Franch has taught at Columbia University GSAPP, the IUAV University of Venice, SUNY Buffalo, and Rice University School of Architecture.


Cathy Crane Frankel

Cathy Crane Frankel is vice president of exhibitions and collections at the National Building Museum and oversees an exhibition team as well as the logistics, schedule, and budget. Frankel leads the curatorial team to develop the Museum’s exhibition program and coordinates the production of the Museum’s exhibitions. Full bio

Among the exhibitions that she has directed during her tenure at the National Building Museum are the acclaimed House & Home, as well as the series of ambitious exhibitions that focused on sustainability and the built environment, and history-based exhibitions such as House of Cars: Innovation and the Parking Garage and Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future. As a member of the Museum’s senior staff team, Frankel also participates in the development of the Museum’s long-term and strategic planning. Prior to joining the National Building Museum in 1999, she held the position of exhibitions manager at the Corcoran Gallery of Art as well as a variety of education program roles. Frankel has an MAT from the George Washington University and a BA from Dickinson College.


Christine Gaspar

Christine Gaspar is Executive Director of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), a New York-based nonprofit whose mission is to use the power of design and art to increase meaningful civic engagement. She partners with designers and community organizations to create visually-based educational tools that help demystify complex issues from zoning law to sewage infrastructure. Full bio

The projects are designed with and for advocacy organizations to help increase their capacity to mobilize their constituents on important urban issues. CUP's print, audio, video, and media projects, along with tactile interactive workshop tools, are in use by dozens of community organizers and tens of thousands of individuals in New York City and beyond.

Christine has over fifteen years of experience in community design. Prior to joining CUP, she was Assistant Director of the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio in Biloxi, Mississippi, where she provided architectural design and city planning services to low-income communities recovering from Hurricane Katrina. She holds Masters in Architecture and in City Planning from MIT, and a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University. In 2012, she was identified as one of the “Public Interest Design 100.”


Juulia Kauste

Juulia Kauste trained in urban sociology and art history with a special interest in issues pertaining to urban architecture and multicultural spaces. Prior to taking the position of Director at the Museum of Finnish Architecture in Helsinki, Juulia was based in New York for a lengthy tenure serving as Executive Director of the Finnish Cultural Institute (1997–2010). At the Institute, she produced, curated, and coordinated touring exhibitions in the fields of art, design, and architecture. Full bio

Juulia holds a Master of Arts degree in Sociology from the Department of Sociology at the New School of Social Research, Graduate Faculty in New York, and a Master of Science degree in Urban Studies from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She earned her bachelor of Art degree in Art History at the University of Helsinki, Finland, where she also pursued studies in Nordic Languages and Germanic Philology. She is a frequent speaker at international professional conferences, and has served as a jury member or advisor for several architecture competitions and prizes, including the Europan 11 competition, the European Union Contemporary Architecture Mies van der Rohe Award (served as advisor in 2011, 2013, and 2015, and served as a jury member in 2017), The Public Space European Prize (2012, 2014, and 2016), and the Spirit of Nature Wood Architecture Award (2012). Juulia has also served as commissioner and curator for the Finnish and Nordic Pavilions at the Venice Architecture Biennale.


Johnston Marklee

Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee are the founding partners of the architecture firm Johnston Marklee. They have taught at major universities including the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Princeton University, the University of California, Los Angeles, the Technical University of Berlin, and ETH Zurich. They have held the Cullinan Chair at Rice University and the Frank Gehry Chair at the University of Toronto. Full bio

Since its establishment in 1998 in Los Angeles, Johnston Marklee has been recognized nationally and internationally with awards and publications. To date, the firm has been awarded over 30 major awards, and a book on its work, entitled House Is a House Is a House Is a House Is a House, was published by Birkhauser in 2016. This followed a monograph on the firm’s work, published in 2014 by 2G.

The firm’s work has been exhibited internationally and is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Menil Collection, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Carnegie Museum of Art, and the Architecture Museum of TU Munich. Johnston Marklee participated in the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2015. 


Jennifer Masengarb

Jen Masengarb joined the Chicago Architecture Foundation in 2000. As the director of interpretation and research she leads CAF’s interpretive focus, serving as the organization’s subject matter expert in architecture – developing new strategies for engaging adult and youth audiences. Her work at CAF crosses several departments, including: volunteers, education, public programs, media, digital, exhibitions, and publications. Full bio

She is also the author of CAF’s three curricular resources for teachers and students in grades K-12 – all of which were awarded a National American Institute of Architects Honor Award for Collaborative Achievement. She regularly appears on WBEZ’s  Curious City investigating architectural mysteries and as a recurring host on the Science Channel’s Impossible Engineering. Trained as an architect and architectural historian, she earned a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Detroit Mercy and a Master of Architectural History from the University of Virginia.


Gabriel Metcalf

Gabriel Metcalf is the president and CEO of SPUR. He is responsible for defining the overall vision and strategy for the organization and has led SPUR through a major expansion of its work. A co-founder of City CarShare and the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition, Gabriel serves on numerous boards and commissions. A frequent write and speaker on planning and policy topics, he earned a Master's degree in city and regional planning from the University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design. Full bio

Gabriel has authored or co-authored such notable articles as "The Northern California Megaregion," "Democracy and Planning," and "The San Francisco Exodus." He is also the author of Democratic by Design: How Carsharing, Co-ops, and Community Land Trusts are Reinventing America (St. Martin's Press, 2015).


Patrick Miner

Patrick Miner is the Director of Marketing Operations at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, where he oversees audience research, communications, advertising, and social media. Patrick’s prior experience includes other nonprofits and news media organizations. He has recently presented on cartography, history, and marketing topics for Esri, Apple, and the American Marketing Association. Patrick has a BA in history and linguistics from Lawrence University.


Oswaldo Ortega

Oswaldo Ortega is a graduate of Syracuse University's School of Architecture and Columbia University, where he earned a Master’s in Science of Urban Design and Architecture.  During that time, he worked for the Urban Technical Assistance Project, where, through a grassroots process that included interviewing community leaders, residents, and store owners, he assisted in designing the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building Plaza in Harlem. Full bio

In 2007, Ortega joined the Washington, D.C. office of HOK, and Ortega became a LEED Accredited Professional in 2009, a licensed architect in the state of Maryland in 2013 and NCARB Certified in 2014. At Gensler, Ortega led mastering planning studies, architectural and interiors projects. 

As co-lead mentor of the Chicago team 6 ACE mentoring program and the President of the Illinois chapter of NOMA (National Organization of Minority Architects), Ortega also develops engaging youth programming. His most notable success has been with his implementation and expansion of I-NOMA’s Project Pipeline Program, which has expose hundred’s of students in the Chicagoland area to architecture. 


Hallie Rosen

Hallie Rosen is the Director of Volunteer Engagement at the Chicago Architecture Foundation. In this role, she is responsible for the recruitment and training of nearly 500 of the Foundation’s volunteers including docents and visitor experience volunteers. Since arriving at CAF, Hallie has trained 150 docents to conduct CAF’s architecture tours. Full bio

Prior to coming to CAF, Hallie created and developed the inaugural volunteer program for the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, which opened in 2009. Throughout her 30 year career in the not-for-profit sector, she has had an opportunity to work with volunteers at all levels – on boards, on committees and in the soup kitchen! She received her bachelor’s degree form UCLA.


Chase Rynd 

Chase Rynd, Hon. ASLA, a nationally recognized leader in the museum and arts communities, has held the position of executive director of the National Building Museum since September 2003. Prior to his work at the National Building Museum, Mr. Rynd was appointed executive director and CEO of the Tacoma Art Museum in 1993, and to the same position at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee in 1998. Full bio

A former longtime Seattle resident, Rynd was the founder of Equivalents Gallery, which he operated for eight years. Appointed by Seattle’s mayor to the Seattle Arts Commission in 1988, Rynd went on to serve two consecutive terms as the Commission’s chairman. In 1990, Security Pacific Bank recruited Rynd to develop a public gallery space that would serve the community with a variety of activities and programs designed to enhance the city’s arts environment. While in Seattle, Rynd served on numerous boards and served as chair of the design committee for St. Mark’s Cathedral.

A graduate of Georgetown University and active in the museum community, Rynd is a member of the International Council of Museums; American Association of Museums; and Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums. He sits on the Boards of the American Friends of Chantilly, France; the Downtown DC BID; Penn Quarter Neighborhood Association; the Richardson Architecture Center, Buffalo; and the Association of Architecture Organizations.


Jamee Telford

Jamee Telford serves as the Vice President for Visitor Experience at the National Building Museum. She is responsible for creating and implementing high quality experiences for the Museum’s visitors. Ms. Telford cultivates external partnerships for creative and collaborative events that greatly enhance the opportunities offered at the Museum. Full bio

Projects include the Museum’s Summer Block Party initiative, Hill Country’s Backyard BBQ on the West Lawn, the Museum’s Concert Series, and Great Hall Yoga Program. As a member of the Museum’s senior staff team, she participates in the development of the Museum’s long-term and strategic planning. Ms. Telford also directs all aspects of the Visitor Services Department for the Museum.

Joining the National Building Museum in 2007, Ms. Telford served as the Teen Programs Manager. She provided leadership for teen initiatives until her promotion to oversee the Museum’s Visitor Services Department in 2011. She has previously held education positions at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art, Washington National Cathedral, and the International Spy Museum. Ms. Telford has a B.A. in History and Communications from St. Gregory’s University and a M.A.T. in Museum Education from The George Washington University.