The Department of Urban Planning Alumni Advisory Board was formed to:

  • Leverage the experiences, expertise, and knowledge capital represented by urban planning alumni in an effective way to benefits students, faculty, and other alumni;
  • Integrate alumni directly into the departmental programs through guest lectures, symposiums, review sessions, and curriculum review;
  • Embrace a life-long learning agenda that facilitates continuing education, certificate programs, online learning, and conferences that position the department as a resource and knowledge portal;
  • Foster partnerships between professional organizations, community advocates, and civic leaders to leverage department assets to the benefit of these partners;
  • Engage the alumni in promoting the department and the professions represented by assisting in the recruiting of students; and
  • Expand existing resources to facilitate initiatives and support department objectives.

Board Members

Department of Urban Planning Board


Gina Andersen is the community relations manager for Cisco’s RTP campus. She leads giving and volunteering for the site, ensuring that employees are active citizens within the local community. Additionally, Gina spearheads the operations of Cisco’s matching gifts program, facilitating global donations of nearly $23M annually. Prior to joining Cisco, Gina spent seven years with Triangle Community Foundation where she oversaw the foundation’s scholarship program, played a key role in developing and implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies, and created and managed the first community development and environmental grant programs. After graduating summa cum laude from Ball State University, Gina received her master’s degree and Nonprofit Leadership Certificate from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. With an education in urban planning, real estate, and community development, her areas of interest and expertise are affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization, environmental sustainability, and caring and planning for the aging population


Brad Beaubien is director of destination development at Visit Indy where he works to implement a regional tourism master plan to promote the quality of life and quality of place for residents and visitors alike. He is an award-winning certified urban planner who previously served as the administrator for long-range city planning for the Department of Metropolitan Development at the City of Indianapolis, where he was responsible for leading the long-range planning functions of the city-county. He holds an undergraduate degree in urban planning from Ball State University as well as graduate degrees in urban planning and natural resources from Ball State University and Oregon State University.


Ehren Bingaman is a passionate executive leader driven to improve lives and communities through collaboration and equitable, innovative mobility infrastructure. He serves as a principal with TransPro Consulting, a national management consulting practice serving the transportation, government, and education sectors. Ehren leads business development for TransPro and supports transit clients across the country. He has a track record of leading transformation and success in the public and private sectors. Ehren and his family have recently relocated back to Central Indiana after a few years living and working Atlanta, Ga. He holds undergraduate degrees in urban planning and development, environmental design, and political science from Ball State University. He was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2018 from BSU’s Department of Urban Planning where he can often be found teaching studio classes and transportation electives.


Keith Broadnax joined Cinnaire in 2002 and serves as senior vice president-business development for Illinois and Indiana which includes originating low-income housing tax credit equity and multifamily debt. Mr. Broadnax has been in the community economic development field for 31 years and also has experience as an underwriter of multi-family developments. Mr. Broadnax has underwritten over $188,000,000 in debt and equity (4,110 units); and originated nearly $450,000,000 in debt and equity (3,751 units). He holds a bachelor’s degree from Northern Kentucky University and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from Ball State University.

Mr. Broadnax serves on the boards of the Illinois Housing Council-Board Treasurer; Indiana Affordable Housing Council; Board Secretary for Prosperity Indiana; Board Chair for the Coalition for Homeless Intervention & Prevention; Hamilton Area Neighborhood Development; First Pathway Community Development Advisory Committee; Ball State University Planning Alumni Advisory Board; and the City of Indianapolis Advisory and Redevelopment CDE.  Mr. Broadnax’s personal life vision is servant leadership to community and family, and “to love what I do, and to know that I am making a positive difference in the lives of people around me.


Tammy Butler is a proven leader with a strong background in housing and community development, expertise in public finance and management, and a deep commitment to improving communities and the lives of women in Indiana. As a managing principal with Engaging Solutions, she has successfully led and managed the company’s call center business and co-managed the firm’s planning and community outreach sector. Prior to that, Tammy spent over a decade in state government as a fiscal analyst for the Indiana House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee; assistant director of the Indiana State Budget Agency; director of Claims Management for the Family and Social Services Agency; and data director for the Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning. Tammy has a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from Ball State University as a HUD Fellow and a Bachelor of Arts in English/cognate in political science from the University of South Carolina. She is also a certified training consultant by Ball State University.


Lauren Day is principal at CityStrategies, LLC, a planning firm with expertise in strategy development and strategic planning, research and data analysis, project management and urban mobility planning. Previously she was responsible for public relations and strategic partnerships for IndyGo, the public transit agency serving Indianapolis. She oversaw communication, outreach and involvement efforts around all aspects of IndyGo’s five-year transit plan, and worked to further mobility initiatives including partnerships, integrated payment, and mobility district planning. Lauren has also worked for Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Inc. where she helped launch the Pacers Bikeshare program. 


Jake Dietrich is vice president of acquisitions and development for Onyx+East where he leads land acquisition, entitlement, and development in the Columbus and Cincinnati markets. In these markets, the company is focused on delivering built-to-rent homes alongside its award-winning townhome and single-family products. Over his career, Jake has led the acquisition, entitlement, and development of over 3,000 multi-family and single-family housing units valued at more than $700M.

Jake is actively involved in the Urban Land Institute as a member of the U.S. Commercial & Retail Product Council (Platinum Flight) and the ULI Columbus District Council, serving on the Programs Committee. Jake serves as board chair of the Executive Committee for the Department of Urban Planning Executive Advisory Board at Ball State University, where he frequently serves as a guest lecturer and mentor to students. In 2021, Jake was named a Ball State University College of Architecture and Planning Graduate of the Last Decade. Jake graduated cum laude from Ball State with his Bachelor’s in Urban Planning and Development, and a minor in Real Estate Development. He also received his Juris Doctorate degree from Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law.


Ellen Forthofer is the urban planning manager at Downtown Denver Partnership (DDP). A recent addition to the team in September 2021, she focuses on mobility and land use projects that improve downtown Denver and create strong community, such as the 5280 Trail. Prior to working at DDP, Ellen was a senior city planner with the City and County of Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI). On the Transportation and Mobility Planning team, she was project manager for transit- and bike-supportive infrastructure, planning, and design. She also focused on multimodal neighborhood planning efforts and bus stop improvements. Previously, she worked at Indianapolis’ transit agency (IndyGo), where she led community partnerships and programs such as Food in Transit and the Transit Ambassador Program. She has also worked for the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization, and a Nashville-based anti-hunger nonprofit called Community Food Advocates.

Ellen held a national leadership position in the American Planning Association for six years (2014 – 2020), serving as a regional representative, chair, and past chair of the Student Representatives Council, as well as an APA Board Director and contributor to several task forces and committees. Under her leadership, the Student Representatives Council launched the first nationwide student design competition and supported the development and launch of two nationwide initiatives to benefit young professionals: the AICP Candidate Program and a new membership pricing structure. She graduated from Ball State University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Urban Planning and Development and in 2016 with a Master of Urban Design.


At HDR, Dan Haake helps clients navigate infrastructure and policy challenges to improve their competitiveness in today’s global marketplace. He uses his national and local experience to inform others about strategic transportation solutions and multimodal approaches.

On any given day, Dan could be working in Washington D.C. to improve federal policy, collaborating with states and regional governments to develop actionable transportation strategies to improve economic development, or working with local governments to solve complex transportation issues using innovative techniques. Before joining HDR, Dan worked as a principal planner at MORPC where he built a reputation for developing pragmatic solutions for a diverse range of projects. One of his most impactful projects was a multi-jurisdictional partnership that alleviated congestion threatening the Rickenbacker Inland Port, which now supports 20,000 jobs. His portfolio also includes playing a significant role in the development of over 30 transportation plans, leading scenario planning initiatives in three countries and two states, and securing significant discretionary funding for clients. He is an active member of APA’s national Legislative and Policy Committee, vice chair of ITE’s Urban Goods Movement Committee and was recently appointed the chair of TRB’s Truck Size and Weight Committee. Dan has written articles for Planning Magazine, ITE Journal, TR News and Governing, and was a co-author on the American Planning Association’s policies on freight, smart cities, and connected and autonomous vehicles.


Since 2008, Corey Hull has been employed by the Southern Georgia Regional Commission where he and his staff operate the 18-county regional Coordinated Transportation System. He is also involved with the daily activities of the Valdosta-Lowndes MPO including MTP and TIP development, implementation of a $500 million regional transportation sales tax, freight, transit and other environmental, multimodal, and land use planning activities for the 18-county region. Corey received his Bachelor in Urban Planning and Development from Ball State University in 2002 and his Master of Arts in Community Development in 2004 from North Park University.


Growing up outside of Dayton, Ohio, with roots in Tidewater region of Virginia and Chicago, Beth Johnson quickly developed a deep appreciation and love for American and architectural history. These interests drew Beth to the field of historic preservation at an early age which led her to go to Ball State University to get dual degrees in urban planning and history with a minor in historic preservation. Beth went onto Cornell University to get her Master of Arts in Historic Preservation Planning. In 2006, Beth took a job with the City of San Antonio in their Neighborhood Planning Division working with conservation districts and neighborhood plans. In 2007, Beth took a job with the City of Covington, Kentucky, to run the historic preservation program and establish and implement small area studies. In 2015, Beth was recruited to the City of Austin to become their deputy historic preservation officer, however, the Queen City and its amazing collection of late 19th and early 20th century architecture was hard to stay away from, so Beth was ecstatic to return home to Southwest Ohio in 2016 to take the position of urban conservator for the City of Cincinnati. In spring 2022, she became executive director of the Cincinnati Preservation Association.


Adrienne Keeling has been with the City of Carmel since 2001. She is a planning administrator specializing in long range planning, including the management and implementation of the Carmel Clay Comprehensive Plan and the Carmel Unified Development Ordinance. In addition to maintaining planning documents and ordinances, Adrienne oversees educational and training opportunities for Carmel’s elected and appointed officials, leading field study tours of peer cities, workshops and dialogue dinners. Over the years Adrienne has also managed numerous strategic plans, special studies and concept plans throughout the city, including Midtown, Monon Greenway, and the US 31 Corridor. She currently serves on the Impact & Engagement Committee for HAND Incorporated, a nonprofit housing and neighborhood development organization serving Hamilton, Boone and Tipton Counties. Prior to working for Carmel, Adrienne was a staff planner for the Grant County Area Plan Commission in Marion, Indiana. She is a member of the Urban Land Institute and the American Planning Association.


Caroline (Diamond) Kimmel has been with Herman & Kittle Properties, Inc. for over six years. In her time at HKP, she has been partially responsible for the completion and submission of over 20 rental housing tax credit applications resulting in 13 successful allocations in six states, as well as several market rate multi-family developments. For nearly two years, Caroline has been the development director for Michigan and Ohio, and has received an allocation and closed a transaction in Columbus, Ohio, which will provide affordable housing for 248 families. Through her work during this process, HKP became only the second developer in Ohio to receive a 15-year, 100 percent property tax abatement after the passing of new legislation to create a Community Reinvestment Area. Recently, she has also added Maryland and Virginia to her territory. She believes passionately that everyone deserves a safe, decent place to call home and is proud that her work helps make that dream a reality for people across the country.

Caroline has a bachelor’s degree in public affairs from Indiana University as well as a Master of Urban and Regional Planning with a Real Estate Development Certificate from Ball State University.


Carmen Lethig is the administrator for long-range planning at the City of Indianapolis. In this role, she works strategically with the long-range planning staff and partners to create forward-thinking plans and implementation steps for defined areas of the city. Prior to this position Carmen worked at the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority for over eleven years in three different roles. Her first two roles focused on affordable housing. Her last role was as the state’s first placemaking manager where she focused on fostering developmental and organizational capacity for creating communities where people want to live, work, and play throughout the State of Indiana. She is most proud of bringing the state’s first “crowdgranting” public space implementation program, CreatINg Places, to Indiana communities. Carmen is an AICP certified urban planner and earned a BA from Purdue University in Communications and a Masters in Regional and Urban Planning from Ball State University. She also serves in an elected position on the Indiana chapter of the American Planning Association.


John Marron is principal at CityStrategies, LLC, a planning firm with expertise in strategy development and strategic planning, research and data analysis, project management and urban mobility planning. He was previously the director of strategic planning at IndyGo, Indianapolis' public transportation corporation. He is a certified professional planner with a specific interest in how housing, mobility, and employment contribute to the creation and preservation of vibrant neighborhoods, communities, and regions for individuals of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. Within that framework, Marron has considerable policy research, application, and administration experience, mostly within the fields of planning, community development, housing, and transportation. Marron has experience in GIS-based spatial analyses, statistical analyses, data acquisition and aggregation, and qualitative evaluation approaches; he has taught GIS and urban/regional science at IUPUI's O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs.


Nikkitta McCoy is a development associate at Preservation of Affordable Housing’s Chicago office, assisting the team with all aspects of the nonprofit’s goal of preserving affordable housing through acquisition, rehabilitation and financing. She coordinates projects with contractors, architects, local officials and property management to ensure smooth operations. She also manages the redevelopment process with HUD, state housing agencies, lenders, and investors to successfully complete phases of the redevelopment on time and on budget.

Nikkitta has been active in the real estate sector for nearly 18 years, beginning her career as a real estate salesperson. She then ventured into planning while finishing up her bachelor’s at Western Illinois University and while interning in the municipality’s planning department. She completed many courses in Ball State’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning program. From there she has continued her work in preserving affordable housing and sales with positions at Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Kiser Group and Genesis Housing. She has worked on award winning projects Roseland Place and Woodlawn Station and serves on the board of Women in Planning and Development in Chicago.


Jennifer J. Mielke is the director of local and community affairs for Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, advising and supporting the institution on Baltimore city policies and legislative priorities, and providing mutual beneficial programs and resources to community stakeholders.

Prior to joining Johns Hopkins’ Office of Government and Community Affairs in 2012, Jennifer worked 15 years for local governments serving in various capacities. From 2005-2012 she was employed with Baltimore Housing focusing on neighborhood revitalization initiatives and affordable housing development. Before her tenure at Baltimore Housing, she was in the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods where she served as a liaison between communities and city government and served on the Baltimore City Planning Commission. Jennifer began her career as a neighborhood planner for the Department of Community Development in South Bend, Ind., before moving to Baltimore in 2001.


Edward Mitro is deputy mayor of Zionsville, Ind. He coordinates and directs all town operations, administers and enforces ordinances, policies, directives, and the annual budget of the mayor. Previously he worked as a land use consultant for Baker & Daniels (now Faegre Baker Daniels) and before that as a principle planner and land use planner for the Department of Metropolitan Development in Indianapolis. Originally from the Gary/Merrillville area, Ed has always taken a keen interest in the built environment and the role government plays in its development. He is a member of the American Planning Association, Indiana Planning Association, National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Trust Main Street Center, and the Indiana Municipal Management Association.


Derek Naber is vice president of acquisition and portfolio management at New City Development. Previously he worked as a development manager at Ambrose Property Group where he assisted with development projects including Waterside, the redevelopment of the former 102-acre GM Stamping Plant in downtown Indianapolis. Prior to joining Ambrose, Derek worked as a developer at Holladay Properties where he oversaw the redevelopment of Central State, a 150-acre former state psychiatric hospital campus.

Prior to working at Holladay, Derek worked for the City of Indianapolis and City of Columbus as a project manager and city planner respectively. At the City of Indianapolis, Derek managed several city initiatives including the redevelopment of Market East, a +$300 Million district development featuring a new downtown transit center, 360 Market Square and the new Cummins HQ. Derek is an accredited LEED professional of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system. He graduated from Butler University with his MBA in 2018 and from Ball State University in 2010 with a Bachelor in Urban Planning and Development degree


Chris Palladino serves as the assistant director of capital planning and real estate management at Ball State University where he leads many of the university’s planning, real estate, financing, and community development activities for future campus projects. Prior to joining the Ball State staff, Chris spent 10 years as a director for Mansur Real Estate Services Inc., one of the Midwest’s leading private development companies. Chris served as Mansur’s primary manager for affordable housing, commercial, and mixed use development projects. While at Mansur, Chris led over $150 million of completed redevelopment projects throughout Indiana, including the nationally recognized Fall Creek Place community development in Indianapolis.

In 2006, the Indianapolis Business Journal named Chris as one of the recipients of its “Forty under 40” awards, which recognize leaders in Indianapolis who have made a significant impact on the community prior to age 40. Chris received a bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning and Development from Ball State University and a Master’s of Business Administration from Butler University. Chris is also an adjacent faculty in the Department of Urban Planning, teaching classes in community development and in private development principles.

LAUREN James, BUPD 2011

Lauren (Petersen) James, an inaugural Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation Fellow, graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2011 with a degree in Urban Planning & Development from Ball State University and upon graduation received a Fulbright Scholarship to Poland as a cultural and educational ambassador. James returned to Indiana in 2012 as a “Hoosier by Choice” to pay forward the mentorship and investments she received with the dream of making a positive place-impact on the state of Indiana. She spent her early career at the Indianapolis Colts, ExactTarget/Salesforce and most recently at TechPoint before being named executive director of the Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation in 2022.

Lauren is an experienced community engagement professional with a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit sector and technology industry. Skilled in team leadership, relationship management, fundraising, project management, public speaking, event planning and marketing. 


Urban planning for Bithia Ratnasamy is a means of pursuing justice through policymaking, intergovernmental coordination, and meaningful community engagement. Bithia works to employ processes and policies that move communities toward more accessible and equitable futures. She currently serves as director of housing at the Atlanta Housing Authority. Bithia has also served with the Georgia Deputy Commissioner of Housing, University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, City of Phoenix Planning Department, Phoenix Council District 5, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., and Charis Community Housing. She received her Bachelor of Urban Planning and Development from Ball State University and Master of Urban Planning from the University of Michigan with a concentration in Housing and Community Development. She is active with New Leaders Council.


Lisa Roberts has worked as a planner for 23 years. She is the assistant director of community development for the Village of Wilmette, a Chicago suburb of 28,000 located along Lake Michigan. Over the course of her career, Lisa has worked in the areas of housing, historic preservation, comprehensive planning, and zoning. Currently she is the staff liaison to the Zoning Board of Appeals and oversees the building permit process. As assistant director, she assists with department budgeting and personnel management. Lisa graduated from Ball State University with a Bachelor of Urban Planning and Development and Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design. She earned a Master of Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her professional interests include zoning, housing policy, and planning history. She was attracted to urban planning as the study of the intersections between people and all aspects of the built environment. In her work, she most enjoys helping people and serving the Wilmette community.


Like any good storyteller, Craig Sklenar, senior urban designer at Stantec Urban Places Group, sees the big picture—he knows the context and has the foresight of where the story is going. As an urban designer, storytelling plays a big role on his projects. He uses stories from residents, clients, and stakeholders to help craft a design that is a physical manifestation of their biggest ideas and their immediate needs. Craig has extensive experience across North America with conceptual site planning, urban design, and streetscape design projects ranging in complexity from brownfield redevelopment to transit oriented developments, urban regeneration projects, and new communities. Craig’s focus of work informs clients on their near-, mid-, and long-term goals for development and translating this into actionable design outcomes. Craig’s international expertise focuses on projects that prioritize placemaking, urban regeneration, and vibrancy of the urban realm at a variety of scales and scopes, but always prioritizes the outcomes and works with an interdisciplinary team to execute these ideas. Craig received his Bachelor of Urban Planning and Development from Ball State University and a Master of Urban Design and Master of Urban and Regional Planning from University of Colorado.


Mallory Thatch is program manager of commercial revitalization at Brownsville Community Justice Center in Brooklyn, NY. She previously worked as a planner at HWC Engineering where she helped communities throughout Indiana to plan for their futures. Mallory has experience with comprehensive and thoroughfare plans with some exposure to economic development plans as well. She works closely with public sector employees to create the most effective plan for each community she works with. She served as the student representative for APA-Indiana during her third year at Ball State and looks forward to more professional development opportunities with the organization. As a recent Ball State graduate, Mallory is still trying to get more involved with volunteer and special interest groups in Indianapolis.


Adam D. Thies was appointed assistant vice president for capital planning at Indiana University in August 2015. In this role, Thies advises the vice president for capital planning and facilities on matters of university master planning for all IU campuses, including Indiana University Bloomington, IUPUI, and all of IU’s regional campus locations. Prior to coming to Indiana University, Thies was director of the Department of Metropolitan Development for the City of Indianapolis where he managed a professional staff of 75 city planners, redevelopment officials, transportation planners and design review/zoning professionals with an annual department budget of $32.3 million dollars. In this role, he served as the executive leader of the City’s Community Development division, Planning and Zoning division, Historic Preservation division, Redevelopment Authority and Brownfields Program. Additionally, he served as the administrative leader of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, authorized all tax abatement compliance, directed the city’s new markets tax credit program and served as a cabinet member to the mayor on economic development projects and strategy.

Before working for the City of Indianapolis, Thies was the founder and president of EDEN Collaborative, a boutique real estate, landscape architecture, and city planning consulting firm. While at EDEN, he created the City of Indianapolis and Central Indiana’s first Transit-Oriented Development Strategic Plan to leverage an anticipated $1.2 billion dollar investment in transit in the next 20 years through the Indy Connect transportation initiative. Additionally, he led and managed many of Indiana’s premiere planning and design projects including planning for the 2012 Super Bowl Legacy Neighborhood Project, the redesign of Indianapolis’ Monument Circle, and the creation of a plan for Midtown Indianapolis. He was named one of “Forty under 40” by the Indianapolis Business Journal in 2009, has been named Ball State University’s Graduate of the Last Decade, and was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award from BSU’s Department of Urban Planning in 2013.


Ben Thomas is national manager, environment, for The GPT Group, one of Australia’s largest diversified property groups that owns and manages an AUD$24 billion portfolio of retail, office and logistics property assets. Ben is responsible for delivering GPT’s environment, social and governance strategy and creating long-term value for investors, communities and the environment. GPT has been recognized as a global leader in sustainability for over a decade and next year its Wholesale Office Fund will be one of the first property funds globally to operate all of its managed property assets carbon neutrally through a strategy involving energy efficiency, on-site generation, renewable energy procurement, demand management, battery storage and beyond.

Since graduating from Ball State, Ben has become an instrumental player in the Australian property industry, drafting the initial framework for the Green Star Communities rating, defining new standards for waste management and reporting, developing commercial leasing frameworks that have been accepted as global best practice for delivering sustainability collaboratively by landlords and tenants. He chairs the Waste and Resources Technical Working Group for the Better Buildings Partnership and has served on reference committees for industry rating systems NABERS and Green Star, as well as for the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark. Ben holds a master’s degree from the University of New South Wales in sustainable development, was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award from BSU’s Department of Urban Planning in 2015, and was a finalist for the Green Building Council of Australia’s Future Green Leader award.


Meagan Tuttle is the director of the Office of City Planning for the City of Burlington, Vermont. In this role, she oversees both the city’s long-range planning program and its cross-departmental data and analytics initiatives, and provides professional and technical advice to the mayor, city council, and other city departments. She previously served as the city’s principal planner for comprehensive planning. Before moving to Burlington, she worked as a planner for State College, Pa., and as an adjunct instructor in the Department of Urban Planning at Ball State. Meagan holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees in urban planning from Ball State and was involved in CAP’s Community Based Projects program as both an undergraduate and graduate student. Meagan is the president of the Northern New England Chapter of the American Planning Association (NNECAPA), past-president for the Vermont Section of NNECAPA, a board member for the non-profit that hosts the annual Vermont City Marathon, and is a frequent collaborator for community development and public administration classes at the University of Vermont.


John Urbahns joined Greater Fort Wayne Inc. in 2014. Prior to his appointment as CEO in 2019, he served as executive vice president of economic development. In that role, he led an economic development team that assisted with 132 business expansions and relocations in Allen County, resulting in more than 7,800 new jobs and $335 million in new annual payroll. John has managed and negotiated aspects of transformational downtown investments including The Landing, Electric Works, and Provenance Hotels’ boutique hotel (breaking ground in2019). He co-led the Road to One Million (regional cities initiative) plan which resulted in a $42-million award from the State of Indiana for quality-of-place improvement projects throughout the region. Under his leadership, the GFW Inc. team has provided counsel to community leaders throughout northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio, coaching them on setting a community vision, historic preservation, real-estate finance, and private-sector investment strategies.

Prior to joining GFW Inc., John served as the director of community development for the City of Fort Wayne, where he managed the city’s strategic planning, land use, redevelopment, housing, economic development, and neighborhoods services operations and an 80+ member team dedicated to excellence in public service. He led and assisted with high-profile projects at the direction of the mayor including Harrison Square, the Legacy Fund, Ash Skyline Plaza, and others. John has facilitated comprehensive, downtown, and neighborhood planning processes. He has spent much of his career engaging with local residents, neighborhood groups, elected officials, and business leaders to cast a visionary future for Allen County’s communities. John has served on numerous community boards. He was a founding board member of the Fort Wayne Downtown Development Trust, the Fort Wayne New Markets Revitalization Fund, and Fort4Fitness.


Lynette Boswell Washington, PhD, is the chief operating officer for Baltimore City Public Schools. She oversees every aspect of building maintenance, renovation, and construction and will oversee several departments, including facilities, maintenance, operations, design and construction, facility planning and real estate, transportation, and sustainability. She joined city schools six years ago as the executive director of school and facility planning.

Previously, she was the division chief of strategic planning in Baltimore City’s planning department, where she was responsible for research, policy, market analysis, and strategic planning efforts to support city agencies. While in this role, she led the development of the citywide sustainable communities plan, used to support and prioritize redevelopment initiatives in the city. Lynette’s background has crossed numerous planning related disciplines, from a focus on vacant properties and challenges in postindustrial Flint, Michigan, as a resident research fellow for the Genesee Institute; to economic development as a program manager in the Performance and National Program Division in the Economic Development Administrative at the Department of Commerce. As a program manager, she worked with the assistant deputy secretary of the EDA on the Strong Cities, Strong Community (SC2) Visioning Grant under the Obama Administration SC2 initiative. The initiative was established in 2011 under the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities, to bring together 19 federal agencies with the mission to implement economic development assistance in economically distressed cities. She received her Doctoral Degree of Urban and Regional Planning and Design from the University of Maryland. She was awarded the Distinguished Alumna Award from BSU’s Department of Urban Planning in 2016.


Amy Williams is a principal at Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group. Her experience includes a range of planning and outreach projects, including comprehensive planning, corridor and transit planning, land use development, small area studies, trail feasibility design as well as zoning policy development. Blending traditional community and land use technical skills with effective public outreach is a hallmark of her design and planning process. These skills help to ensure the outcome is consistent with the public input and recommendations are integrated are firmly rooted with a local community’s vision.

Amy is a certified planner through the American Institute of Certified Planners and has served in several positions for the Kentucky Chapter of the American Planning Association since 2007, including president in 2015-2016. She is a frequent speaker at state and regional conferences with topics ranging from public involvement, elements of successful plans, ethics in the profession and planning in small downtowns and neighborhoods. Amy holds a as Masters of Urban and Regional Planning and a Bachelor of Urban Planning and Development from Ball State University College of Architecture and Planning. She has served as a guest lecturer at the University of Louisville and frequently teaches portions of the Kentucky AICP study course.

Honorary Board Members

Honorary board members serve on the R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning’s Executive Alumni Board.


Cynthia Bowen is director of planning at Rundell Ernstberger Associates. She is a certified planner with tremendous public facilitation and policy-oriented experience and has worked with many organizations and neighborhoods to develop strategic organization plans and neighborhood focused image plans. She began her career in a small firm in Chicago in 1996 and later moved into the engineering world working for two large engineering firms leading large, high profile, multi-discipline work for more than 17 years.

Cynthia has expertise in land and use planning, neighborhood and subarea planning, corridor and transportation planning, standards and regulations, public participation, and the development of implementation strategies. She is an experienced and successful grant writer with a diverse portfolio of international work. She is recognized for her commitment to planning, leadership skills, and knowledge of planning and has served as the Region IV Director on the American Planning Associations Board of Directors and the Secretary before becoming president of the organization in January 2016. Cynthia has served on APA’s Membership, Governance Policy and Legislative, and Audit committees and chaired the Leadership Task Force. She was awarded the Distinguished Alumna Award from BSU’s Department of Urban Planning in 2012.


Rebecca Leonard, founder of Lionheart Places LLC, has over 20 years of experience in landscape architecture, community planning, urban design, stakeholder engagement, and facilitation. She has designed significant projects in the realm of parks and plazas such as the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center and the Lafitte Greenway in New Orleans. She has led redevelopment and mixed use projects such as Destination Bell Boulevard in Cedar Park, Texas, and Broadmoor in Austin, Texas. She has master planned and designed large master planned communities, corporate campuses and resorts. A national leader in performance-based design, Rebecca’s desire to balance the environmental, community, and economic benefits in every project creates successful results. She works closely with her clients to ensure that the plans she helps create are implemented.


Jennifer Milliken is senior director of Urban Land Institute, Indiana. She earned her Bachelor of Urban Planning and Development from Ball State and holds a Master of Public Administration from Florida Atlantic University, where she was a graduate fellow in Environmental Growth Management. In her early career Jennifer gained experience in developing comprehensive plans, zoning ordinances and other planning studies while working as a consultant and as a project manager in the Community Based Projects program.

She then spent more than a decade in housing development, both market rate and affordable. From 2009-2012 she worked for the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. In 2012 she joined the Urban Land Institute as its senior staff person in Indiana. In this capacity she works with local volunteers to lead the strategic development and sustainable operations of the ULI Indiana District Council including membership development, finance/sponsorship, and community impact activities. Jennifer’s professional interests include housing choice, suburban densification and adaptive reuse. She is on the board of HAND which develops and preserves affordable housing units and educates residents and businesses on community housing needs. Jennifer is also passionate about research and using data to drive decision making. She is known for her balanced perspective on land use and real estate, bridging the interests of community, land and private interests.