Keynote Speakers

Bennett-Jamie-ArtPlace-300x225Jamie Bennett is the executive director of ArtPlace America, a partnership among 14 foundations, 8 federal agencies, and 6 financial institutions dedicated to strengthening the field of creative placemaking, in which the arts work as part of a community’s efforts to plan and develop its social, physical, and economic future. To date, ArtPlace has invested $56.8 million through 189 grants in 122 communities of all sizes across 42 states and the District of Columbia.

Until December 2013, Bennett was Chief of Staff and Director of Public Affairs at the National Endowment for the Arts, where he oversaw the national rollouts of the “Our Town” grant program and of new partnerships with the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development.

Previously, Bennett was Chief of Staff at the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs during Mayor Bloomberg’s administration, where he oversaw the agency’s partnerships with the NYC Departments for the Aging, of Education, and of Youth and Community Development.

Bennett has also provided strategic counsel at the Agnes Gund Foundation, served as chief of staff to the President of Columbia University, and worked in fundraising at The Museum of Modern Art, the New York Philharmonic, and Columbia College.

Before entering the public sector, Bennett served on the board of directors for Art21 and HERE Arts Center; Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation’s Foot-in-the-Door Committee; and Studio in a School’s Associates Committee. He received his B.A. from Columbia College in New York City.

Bracy-Catherine-225x300Catherine Bracy is the director of community organizing at Code for America, a nonprofit organization that helps residents and governments harness technology to solve community problems. Code for America encourages and empowers residents to take an active role in their community, fosters forward-thinking approaches to solving city problems, and supports civic-minded entrepreneurs and startups. Bracy is particularly involved in overseeing Code for America’s community network-building initiatives, including the Brigade – a citizen volunteer program – and Code for All – an international partnership program. She’s also on the board of directors at the Citizen Engagement Lab and the Public Laboratory.

Prior to joining Code for America, Bracy served as an event curator for Google, where she led the creation of the program for Google’s Political Innovation Summit, a gathering of 150 leading political operatives, technologists, funders, academics and journalists to discuss the role political technology could play in advancing non-partisan civic engagement.

Bracy also spent several years with Obama for America, most recently as Tech4Obama program manager. During the last two months of President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, Bracy was responsible for expanding the broad membership base, both by geography and demographics.  She acted as an online community organizer, building and managing a group of high-influence supporters whose goal was to encourage others to take action through online tools, and to spread the campaign’s message through social media channels.

Previously, Bracy managed the Knight Foundation’s 2011 News Challenge, a grant competition that funds digital innovation in journalism. She also served as administrative director for the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, where she developed strategy, managed finances and oversaw all operations for the world’s premier Internet research center. Bracy earned a Communication from Boston College.

Bracy is a Michigan native who grew up in Ann Arbor.

Breakout Session Speakers

Click on a speaker’s name to read a short professional biography.

Richard Anderson, Co-Founder & Partner, Innovation Network for Communities, and
Board President, Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Trust

Thomas Baldini, Vice Chair
Charter Commission, Marquette

David Bleau, City Clerk

Edward Bradford, Chief Financial Officer
City of Manistee

Andrew Burnham, Senior Vice President
Burton & Associates

Sara Cambensy, Commissioner

Amy Clickner, CEO
Lake Superior Community Partnership

J. Michael Coyne, Commissioner

Sarah Craft, Program Coordinator, Information & Policy Research
Michigan Municipal League

Katharine Czarnecki, Director of Community Development
Michigan Economic Development Corporation

Mathieu J. Dubé, CPA, Fiscal Health Specialist
Michigan Department of Treasury

Scott Erbisch, County Administrator
Marquette County

Brad Garmon, Director of Conservation and Emerging Issues
Michigan Environmental Council

Jeff Gray, Superintendent
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Kathie Grinzinger, Executive Search Program Manager
Michigan Municipal League

Al Hansen, Director, Parks and Recreation
City of Petoskey

Samantha Harkins, Director, State Affairs
Michigan Municipal League

Ali Hijazi, Assurance Associate
Plante Moran

Nheena Weyer Ittner, Director
The Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum

Robert Kulisheck, Chair,
Charter Commission, Marquette

John LaMacchia II, Legislative Associate, State Affairs
Michigan Municipal League

Carl Lindquist, Executive Director
Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Trust

Amy Mangus, Manager, Plan Implementation Group
Southeast Michigan Council of Governments

Steven Mann, Attorney
Miller Canfield

William Mathewson, General Counsel
Michigan Municipal League

Jennifer James-Mesloh, Assistant Professor & Coordinator
Northern Michigan University

Summer Minnick, Director, Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs
Michigan Municipal League

Glenn Oliver, Founder

Suzanne Schulz, Managing Director of Design, Development and Community Engagement
City of Grand Rapids

Teresa Schwalbach, PEM, Emergency Management Coordinator
Marquette County

Scott F. See, Executive Director
Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission, Calumet

Greg Seppanen, Commissioner
Marquette County

Eleanor “Coco” Siewert
Professional Parliamentarian

James Tischler, AICP, PCP, Director
MSHDA’s Community Development Division

Kathryn Lynch Underwood, City Planner
City of Detroit City Planning Commission

Ebrahim Varachia, Co-Founder & Director of Operations

Michelle Walk, Extension Educator, Sustaining Community Prosperity/Tourism
MSU Extension

Kent Wood, Director of Government Relations
Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance

Mark Wyckoff, Professor and Senior Associate Director
Land Policy Institute, Michigan State University