Jonathan Berk: Director, Patronicity
Jonathan has worked as an attorney focusing on real estate development projects across Massachusetts for several years helping developers and investors realize their creative visions for development projects and communities. Working on these projects he realized there was always something missing. You can build “utopia” within the four walls of the building you’re working on but once you step outside, you’re reliant upon cash strapped municipalities to foot the bill. These community spaces are where innovation happens, where relationships are built and where cities and towns become a “community.” Today he leads the New England region of the civic crowdfunding platform Patronicity which pairs hyper-local crowdfunding campaigns with large matching grant dollars in a process termed “crowdgranting” to effectively implement capital to improve the quality of life in cities and towns across the region.
Jonah Berman: Site Program Manager, Google
Jonah Berman is Site Program Manager for Google Cambridge. In that role, he oversees employee programming and development and manages a variety of Google’s community partnerships in Cambridge and greater Boston. Prior to this role, Jonah worked for 5 years in Large Customer Sales at Google, consulting some of Google’s largest clients in the healthcare space on their digital advertising strategies. Jonah holds an MBA from the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, and a Bachelor’s Degree from Oberlin College & Conservatory. He lives with his wife and two sons in Medfield, MA.
Cory Bolotsky: Community Manager, Underscore.VC
Cory is a passionate entrepreneurial community builder who manages a community of experienced entrepreneurs and operators at Underscore.VC, a Boston-based early-stage venture firm. Prior to Underscore.VC, Cory was Director of Global Operations at MassChallenge, the most startup friendly accelerator on the planet, where he helped build and scale the community and operational infrastructure to support of over 800 startups during his tenure. In 2012, Cory co-founded MassChallenge Israel and more recently led the MassChallenge office launch in Mexico City. Formerly, Cory was the Director of Startup Massachusetts, part of the Obama Administration’s Startup America Partnership. Within Startup Massachusetts, Cory launched Startup Summer, a program that provided the region’s college students with startup internship opportunities, similar to the experiences he had at his alma mater, Northeastern University.
Vicky Wu Davis: Founder & Executive Director, Youth CITIES
An “accounting major-turned entrepreneur in the video game industry who considered becoming a social worker to work with orphans,” Vicky Wu Davis is the Founder and Executive Director of Youth CITIES. Vicky created Youth CITIES to introduce teens to the concept of entrepreneurship and innovation, and to leverage that in ways to improve the fabric of society. Vicky is determined to shift the mindset that entrepreneurship is only for “business-minded people”; she firmly believes that an entrepreneurial mindset embodies critical skills are applicable in all areas of life. Her desire is to reach as many teens as possible…and as many different types of teens as possible…challenging them to think critically, and inspiring them to act innovatively.
Outside of Youth CITIES, Vicky runs a program that teaches Chinese as a second-language to very young kids — leveraging the natural curiosity of children, and the inquiry-based/hands-on learning from STEM experiments. She started this program when her older son rejected traditional classroom-style learning in Chinese school. In addition, Vicky is also a member of Beacon Angels, a Boston-based angel group that makes investments in the $100,000 to $300,000 range in small fast-growing companies.
Bob FitzPatrick: Government Affairs Director, MA Clean Energy Center
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) is a publicly-funded agency dedicated to accelerating the success of clean energy technologies, companies and projects in the Commonwealth—while creating high-quality jobs and long-term economic growth for the people of Massachusetts. Since it began operating in 2009, MassCEC has helped clean energy companies grow, supported municipal clean energy projects and invested in residential and commercial renewable energy installations, creating a robust marketplace for innovative clean technology companies and service providers. Bob has been Director of Government Affairs at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center since 2012. In addition to his duties as Director of Government Affairs he also recently took over as the chief point of contact for international affairs at MassCEC.
Prior to joining MassCEC he worked in the legislature for 10 years, most recently as Chief of Staff to Senator Patricia Jehlen (D) Somerville. Originally from Cambridge MA he now lives in Medford with his wife, Ellen FitzPatrick. Bob has his undergraduate degree in philosophy from Northeastern University and a JD from Suffolk Law.
Tyler George: General Manager, Lyft
Tyler is General Manager of Lyft in New England. Lyft is working to provide the world’s greatest transportation service with safe, convenient, and affordable rides. Tyler is a veteran of the sharing and transportation technology segments with ten years at Zipcar, first in new market launches and finally as its Fleet Operations Director.
Brian Gregory: Designer, Gamble Associates
Brian Gregory is an architectural and urban designer who is passionate about the built environment, urban revitalization, and transportation. In his position as Lead Designer at Gamble Associates, he has overseen projects focusing on the rehabilitation of post-industrial waterfronts, civic masterplans, and institutional planning efforts. He is the founding member and co-chair of the newly formed Boston Society of Architects Infra\tecture Committee, which seeks to act as a convener of design excellence by bringing together the professions that plan, design, and engineer Boston’s infrastructure. A strong believer in civic engagement, Brian serves on the Board of Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH), the Boston Society of Architects Civic Task Force, East Boston 2030, and has recently joined the North-South Rail Link Working Group. He has presented at the Architecture Boston Exposition, the Southern New England Regional Planning Conference, American Planning Association Northeast Conference, and American Institute of Architects Student Forum on topics focusing on public transportation, multi-modal systems, and positively harnessing growth within existing urban fabrics. Brian holds both a Bachelor of Science and Masters degree in Architecture from Northeastern University.
Nigel Jacob: Co-founder, Office of New Urban Mechanics, City of Boston
Nigel Jacob is the Co-founder of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, a civic innovation incubator and R&D Lab within Boston’s City Hall. Nigel’s work is about making urban life better via innovative, people-oriented applications of technology and design. Prior to joining the City of Boston in 2006, Nigel worked in a series of technology start-ups in the Boston area. He was also previously the Urban Technologist in Residence at Living Cities, a philanthropic collaboration of 22 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions, is currently a board member at organizations such as Code For America and coUrbanize, and is an Executive-in-Residence at Boston University.
Jennifer James: Global Readiness Program Director, Smart Cities Council
Jennifer leads the Smart Cities Council’s acclaimed Readiness Program, which provides educational resources, competitions, action planning workshops, roadmaps, and project acceleration tools to help cities and regions implement technology to achieve a more livable, workable and sustainable world.
Jennifer was previously Smart Cities Solution Lead with global engineering company, Black & Veatch, and Director of Smart City Solutions with its data analytics subsidiary, Atonix Digital, where she helped communities leverage technology to become more sustainable, resilient and successful. Jennifer has worked directly with and as an advisor to start ups within the data analytics, energy, telecom and government economic development areas.
Andrew Kieve: co-founder and CEO, Tolemi
Andrew is the co-founder and CEO of Tolemi, which delivers property and neighborhood analytics for smart city governments. This application aggregates, cleans, and standardizes data from across siloed departments, and gives city leaders an easy-to-use analytics tool to better run their city. Their first product, BuildingBlocks, launched one year ago to help cities triage and prevent nuisance properties. Tolemi is backed by Y Combinator and Lightspeed Venture Partners, and they count New York City, Philadelphia, and Louisville among their 30+ customers.
Sam Klar: Portfolio Manager, GMO
Sam Klar is a member of GMO’s Event-Driven investing team, focusing on merger arbitrage and other corporate actions. Prior to his current role, he held a variety of positions in GMO’s Global Equity group, engaging in investment research, portfolio management and strategy for U.S. and Global Equity portfolios. Sam joined GMO in 2006 after graduating summa cum laude from Northeastern University with a degree in Finance. At Northeastern, he served in student government and was a member of the school’s elite business strategy case competition team. Sam’s extensive experience in connecting the dots between companies and markets will bring a broad perspective to Leading Cities’ mission.
Malia Lazu: President, EpiCenter
Upon completing a two-year fellowship at MIT, Malia Lazu returned to Boston to build nonprofit models for the 21st century. With over two decades of experience establishing grass roots involvement in political advocacy and civic engagement, Malia felt the nonprofit industry is no longer creating safe spaces for humans to create change together and is in need of disruption. This lead to the creation of Future Boston Alliance and currently Epicenter Community, organizations working to change the world by being intentional when building diverse communities and celebrating the beautiful ways we are different. Over the last few years Malia has created and led several signature programs. For example, Accelerate Boston, a startup accelerator encouraging entrepreneurs in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan to start their business. Now on its fourth year Accelerate Boston has helped 16 businesses open and thrive. June tenth at the MFA, a celebration of African American freedom. This annual event attracts 4000 diverse people.
Chad O’Connor: Professor, Northeastern University
Chad O’Connor teaches courses in Advertising, Organizational Culture, and Crisis Communication in undergraduate and graduate programs at Northeastern University, where he is also a startup advisor for IDEA, Northeastern’s venture accelerator program. He is the former contributing editor of the Global Business Hub blog on The Boston Globe’s Boston.com site. He now consults for public, private, startup and nonprofit clients globally in areas such as internal and external communication, executive messaging, and strategic partnerships. Chad is a graduate alumnus of Emerson College and undergraduate alumnus of The University of Massachusetts at Amherst. When not teaching you’ll find him globetrotting, seeing old punk bands in dingy clubs, stopping to pet everyone’s dogs, and discussing all things Boston sports over craft beer.
Ryan Pace: Director of Real Estate Legal Services, MIT
Ryan Pace is Director of Real Estate Legal Services for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Investment Management Company. Ryan is a transactional real estate attorney whose work focuses on permitting, leasing, acquisition and development matters with a particular focus on the life science and educational sectors. Before joining MIT, Ryan was a partner at Anderson & Kreiger LLP, where he founded the firm’s real estate practice, and he has over 18 years of experience as a real estate attorney.
Ryan is an active member of the Urban Land Institute’s Real Estate Advisory Committee where he has served on a number of Technical Assistance Panels which bring ULI members into communities to advise on a range of land use challenges. Ryan has co-chaired TAPs addressing the housing challenges of Provincetown and redevelopment challenges in Worcester.
Susanne Seitinger: Global Public Sector Segment Manager, Philips
As the Global Sub-segment Manager for Parks and Plazas in Professional Systems at Philips Lighting, Susanne Seitinger is responsible for leading the strategy on smart cities for safe, inviting and responsive urban environments. She recently published Light for Public Space which provides an extensive overview of recent city lighting design trends. Seitinger received a BA from Princeton University and a PhD, MS and MCP from MIT. Her PhD dissertation—Liberated Pixels: Alternative Narratives for Lighting Future Cities—explored the aesthetic and interactive potentials for future lighting and display infrastructures.
Dan Sketee: Principal, Meradia Group
Dan is a seasoned consultant with 20 years of experience assisting innovative start-ups, venture capital/private equity firms and large Fortune 500 companies with solving strategic and tactical global problems. Dan’s hands-on experience, creative thinking and large network of personal contacts provide him with the capability to deliver exceptional process and solution designs to any project.
Dan earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science from Amherst College and spent summers interning on Capitol Hill and at CNN. Now he brings that big picture, global perspective to all his endeavors.
Michelle Wu: City Council President, City of Boston
Michelle Wu has been a voice for accessibility, transparency, and community engagement in city leadership. First elected to the Boston City Council in November 2013 at the age of 28, Wu is the first Asian-American woman to serve on the Council. In January 2016, she was elected President of the City Council by her colleagues in a unanimous vote, becoming the first woman of color to serve as Council President.
Michelle Wu graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. She is fluent in Mandarin and Spanish, and lives in Roslindale with her husband Conor and her two year-old son Blaise.
Nan Zhao: Cofounder, Changing Environments
Nan Zhao is a Ph.D. candidate in the Responsive Environments Group at the MIT Media Lab, where she works on Internet of Things that promote wellbeing and sustainability. Her work spans from intelligent building control to smart urban furniture and borrows from a variety of fields, including sensor technologies, wearable computing technology, and psychology.
Nan is also co-founder of Changing Environments Inc, a venture backed start-up developing technology for smarter cities. CE’s first product Soofa, a solar charging bench for public spaces, has received love and support from around the world.
Before joining the Media Lab, Nan conducted research in smart grid and vehicle-to-grid technology. As a fellow of RWE AG, a leading electricity and gas company in Germany, she was closely involved in the development and kick-off of a smart grid project in collaboration with IBM. She is a graduate in electrical engineering from RWTH Aachen University in Germany.
Nan Zhao’s work has been covered by Reuters, Spiegel, FAZ, The Boston Globe, CNN, MIT News, Engadget, and others.