The Department of Urban Planning Executive 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 Executive Advisory Board


Brad Beaubien is Director of Destination Development at Visit Indy where he works to make Indy a must-live, must-visit destination through implementation of a destination vision plan that focuses on quality of life and place investments. He 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, as well as directing CAP’s Indianapolis Center. His work has earned three National Planning Awards from the American Planning Association and he is a member of the Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Series Class XXXVIII as well as the Indianapolis Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 Class of 2013. Brad holds an undergraduate degree in urban planning from Ball State as well as graduate degrees in urban planning and natural resources from Ball State and Oregon State University.


Ehren Bingaman is the Managing Principal of TransPro Consulting. Based in Indianapolis, Ehren joined TransPro in 2019 and is passionate about collaborating with public transportation agencies and leaders in creating meaningful transformation through strategic planning, performance management, leadership development, customer experience, transit planning, executive recruitment, and TransDASH which measures the value transit agencies provide to the communities they serve. A 15 year veteran of the transit industry Ehren was the first executive director of the Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority and is formerly with HNTB working out of their Indianapolis and Atlanta offices.

Prior to working in transit, Ehren held leadership roles in the public and nonprofit sectors, including executive director of the award winning Fort Harrison Reuse Authority. Ehren is recognized nationally for his work in regional transit planning initiatives including Indy Connect as well as master plans in metro Detroit and Atlanta. Additionally, Ehren serves as an adjunct instructor in the College of Architecture and Planning at Ball State University, of which he is also a proud alumni. Ehren has been engaged with APTA since 2008 and is an alumni of Leadership APTA 2015. He is the father of three brilliant daughters, Reese, Jack, and Darian.


Cheria Caldwell is the Vice President of Communications & Engagement at Community Alliance of the Far Eastside. Cheria obtained a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from Ball State University in 2015. Within the last five years at CAFE Cheria has spearheaded in partnership with community members the Far Eastside Festival, Community Clean-ups, murals, the Kaboom Playground + Greenspace and the Far Eastside Orchard. Cheria has also leveraged over 1 million in grant funding. Prior to her position at CAFE Cheria was the Community Engagement Coordinator at Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, some of the notable Greenspace projects she assisted with are Shelton Heights and Flanner House. She also managed the adopt-a-block program which reached 1000+ participation under her leadership.

In 2014 Cheria helped launch Groundwork Indy in the Riverside Community, which focused on beautification and urban farming while employing teens. Cheria later became a Groundwork USA National Ambassador and facilitated trips to national parks and worked on restoration projects at Yellowstone. She also was Urban Planning Fellow for Big Car Collaborative which involved data collection and launched the creative placemaking project Spark on Monument Circle and Spark at the City Market in 2015. That early work laid the foundation for the current Spark Monument Circle activation. Additionally, Cheria served as a Plan 2020 Intern and worked on the Comprehensive Plan for the City of Indianapolis.

She has extensive experience working in communities on sustainability and growth. In total she has participated in three Quality of Life plans, which include the Northwest Area, Southside and the Northeast Corridor. Cheria also participated in Great Places 2020 initiatives, Oaktree redevelopment with the City of Indianapolis and the Purple Line BRT Committee with IndyGo. 


Jake Dietrich is Vice President of Acquisitions and Development for Onyx+East where he leads a team responsible for land acquisition and new housing developments throughout the Midwest.  Over his career, Jake has led the creation of more than 3,200 housing units valued at over $800M. Jake is actively involved in the Urban Land Institute, including as a member of the U.S. Commercial & Retail Product Council (Platinum Flight).

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 Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law.


Aletha serves as the Director of Economic Development for the City of Indianapolis at Develop Indy. In this role, her team serves as the front door to economic development, which includes leading proactive land strategy, working with projects seeking property or incentives, and managing business attraction, retention and expansion efforts throughout the City.

Aletha is a certified planner with experience in economic and community development, grant writing, and nonprofit strategic planning in 100+ communities. Most recently, she served as the Executive Director of the Fort Harrison Reuse Authority (FHRA) to help solidify the ‘Rising Tech City’ MIRA award-winning cultural campus known as ‘Fort Ben’ on Indy's northeast side. Additional past experiences include the management of the State’s CDBG grant program, 8 years as a city planning director, and helping communities throughout the country with various planning and development challenges.

She is passionate about creating great spaces and preserving great places, and has served on the boards of several downtown and Main Street organizations. She serves as the current Chair of the the Urban Land Institute (ULI) of Indiana and is a proud graduate of the Ball State University College of Architecture and Planning, where she will be returning to teach this Fall. She continues to support programs that move Indiana and the Midwest forward by bringing best practices back to the Indianapolis region.


Ellen Forthofer is the Senior Manager of Urban Planning + Design at Downtown Denver Partnership (DDP) where she leads visionary programs like ¡Viva! Streets and the 5280 Trail to support a thriving downtown. Prior to working at DDP, Ellen was a Senior City Planner with the City and County of Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI). She has also worked at Indianapolis’ transit agency (IndyGo), where she created community partnerships such as Food in Transit and the Transit Ambassador Program, and has additional experience with the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization, and a Nashville-based anti-hunger nonprofit called Community Food Advocates.

For six years, Ellen held a national leadership position in the American Planning Association. Under her leadership, the Student Representatives Council launched the first APA student design competition and supported the development and launch of two nationwide initiatives: the AICP Candidate Program and an updated membership pricing structure. She graduated summa cum laude with departmental honors and academic honors in writing from Ball State University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Urban Planning and Development and in 2016 with a Master of Urban Design. Ellen was awarded the Graduate of the Last Decade Award in 2021 from the Department of Urban Planning where she now teaches a transportation planning elective.


At Cambridge Systematics, Dan Haake works to empower project managers as the firm’s Director of Project Delivery. A transportation planning leader, Dan has helped clients in 25 states and four countries navigate infrastructure and policy challenges to improve their quality of life and economic competitiveness. He has chaired two Transportation Research Board committees and led several initiatives for APA, ITE, and the National Academies. Involved locally, Dan serves on the Indianapolis Board of Public Works.


Eddie is a Principal Planner II in the Department of Metropolitan Development at the City of Indianapolis, IN. Prior to Eddie’s current role, he held several other positions with the City.  Eddie graduated from Ball State University with a Bachelor’s of Urban Planning & Development in 2012.


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, a nonprofit advocacy and education organization focused on the preservation of the Cincinnati regions historic resources.


Kyle Miller is a Senior Urban Designer with Jacobs - Advance Planning Group (APG). He has garnered a decade of multidisciplinary experience through his time in both the public and private sector. He has served in the public sector as a Comprehensive Planner with the City of Marion, Indiana and as the Principal Urban Designer with the City of Wilmington, North Carolina. His work with Jacobs has led an adventurous, international experience developing new and regeneration master plans across the globe, having worked in countries ranging from Japan to Azerbaijan to Saudi Arabia. Between 2015 to 2017, he lived in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to help stand up a fledgling urban design and planning office for Jacobs.

He applies a systems based approach to his work that integrates complex natural and man-made systems to achieve social, environmental and economic sustainability. He works at various scales – from the suburban town center to the small town and the urban core – with sensitivity to the components which ultimately define these areas. He strives to design vibrant, mixed-use environments that support desired densities and respond to market conditions, and he leverages important elements such as public open space and transit to create value and attract people. Kyle holds a Bachelor of Urban Planning and Development from Ball State University as well as a Master of Urban Design from Ball State University.


Urban planning for Bithia Ratnasamy is a means of pursuing justice through policymaking, intergovernmental coordination, and meaningful community engagement. She currently serves as Director of Equitable Housing Solutions for Enterprise Advisors, the mission-driven nonprofit consultancy of Enterprise Community Partners.

In this role, Bithia works to employ processes and policies that move communities across the country toward more accessible and equitable futures. Bithia has also served with the Atlanta Housing Authority, City of Atlanta Mayor's Office, Georgia Deputy Commissioner of Housing's Office, 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.  


Ben Thomas is National Manager - Sustainability Integration and Portfolio Manager of the GPT Nature Fund for The GPT Group, one of Australia’s largest diversified property groups that owns and manages more than AUD$30 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. In addition, he has recently taken on the role of developing the portfolio strategy, development and management of nature-based assets which contribute to carbon sequestration and biodiversity benefits, in line with GPT’s strategy and for investors. GPT has been recognized as a global leader in sustainability for over a decade, including being ranked first in the real estate sector globally in the S&P Global Corporate Sustainability Assessment, which assesses the ESG performance of listed companies. GPT’s Wholesale Office Fund was the first major property portfolio to deliver and certify its operating portfolio as carbon neutral through a strategy involving energy efficiency, on-site generation, renewable energy procurement, demand management, battery storage and beyond, and GPT commenced delivery of delivering certified upfront carbon neutral developments from January 2023, decades ahead of most peers and major commitment requirements.

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. Ben was awarded the CAP Outstanding Alumni Award in 2023 for his contribution to sustainability and the property sector.


Jill (Trendler) Willis is a Senior Manager for Crowe LLP’s Consulting Public Sector Strategy & Management Advisory practice and based in Chicago. Jill has over two decades of experience serving in the state and local government and non-profit sectors in several capacities, including strategic planning, financial leadership, stakeholder engagement, organizational transformation, project management, training/coaching, and change management. From the early days as an intern at the Urban Land Institute and Chicago’s Office of the Mayor, to Chief Financial Officer at a prominent Chicago-area non-profit, to serving clients such as the State of Illinois, Chicago Public Schools, and the City and County of Denver today, Jill remains a highly analytical professional with excellent communication, leadership skills and with a track record for managing large, complex projects in a thorough, thoughtful manner.

Additionally, Jill has a strong commitment to Chicago-area non-profits, as a donor, volunteer, member and teaching her two children the importance of serving their community. Jill is a proud CAP grad, with undergraduate degrees in urban planning and development, environmental design and sustainable development from Ball State, and an MBA from the Alliance Manchester Business School (England). Jill is also both a certified Project Manager and Change Management Professional.