THANK YOU TO OUR Steering Committee
The Sustainable Cities Institute is grateful for the contributions of our Steering Committee, consisting of local elected officials, city staff, representatives from State Municipal Leagues, and well-respected sustainability organizations and thought leaders. Their guidance and feedback is sought on a regular basis to ensure that SCI continues to meet its goals – to inform, support, strengthen and celebrate city sustainability efforts, – is responsive to the needs of local government, and continues to expand as a leading resource for and about city-led sustainability activities.
City of Boulder, Colo.
Matthew Appelbaum has served on the Boulder City Council since 2007, most recently reelected to a four-year term in 2009 and selected by the city council in November, 2011 to serve as Mayor. He was the interim mayor in 2009, and a previous councilmember from 1987 – 1995 during which time he served as deputy mayor for four years.
During his tenure on council, Matt has been particularly involved with regional, state, and national organizations. Matt currently represents Boulder on the Policy Committee of the Colorado Municipal League. On the national level, Matt serves as Chair of the Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee of the National League of Cities.
Matt has been involved in civic activities for three decades, serving on a wide variety of city boards and committees that advised the council on issues as transportation, budgeting and revenues, affordable housing, and parks and recreation. He has also served on the board of directors and as chair of PLAN-Boulder County and on the executive committee of the local chapter of the Sierra Club. His current interests on council range across a wide variety of issues including land use and urban design, economic vitality, environmental protection, and a more recent emphasis on energy efficiency, potential municipalization of the city’s electric system, and long-term sustainability. Matt is also active in green building activities, having helped design and build their passive-solar house, and as a LEED Accredited Professional.
Senior Program Officer
Institute for Sustainable Communities
Michael Crowley is a Senior Program Officer at the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC), an international NGO that works at the intersection of civil society and the environment. He works with sustainability practitioners at the community scale to expand and accelerate local climate and sustainability solutions. Prior to joining ISC, Crowley was the Assistant Director of the Harvard Green Campus Initiative, where he managed Harvard's Green Building Program, including a $12 million revolving loan fund for energy efficiency.
Michigan Municipal League
Luke Forrest is a Program Coordinator for the Michigan Municipal League. He supports local governments in their efforts to become more economically and environmentally sustainable through two projects: the Center for 21st Century Communities and Michigan Green Communities. Before joining the League, Luke worked for the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the US House of Representatives. He has graduate degrees in Urban Planning and Real Estate Development from the University of Michigan.
Community/ Government Relations Officer
City of Grand Forks, N.D.
Peter has worked for the City of Grand Forks for 14 years, beginning as a communications officer in the city’s Public Information Center. In his current position, Community/Government Relations Officer, Peter works in the Mayor’s Office as an assistant to Mayor Michael R. Brown and Supervisor to the Public Information Center.
As the Community/Government Relations Officer, a primary role is coordinating communications for the City of Grand Forks, involving maintaining transparency and accountability as well as consistent “brand” identity and messaging to the City’s diverse audiences. Another role is as key contact with federal, state and other governmental agencies and community agencies, including non-profit organizations, the Chamber of Commerce, citizen groups and the University of North Dakota.
Peter is currently serving as a Board Member on the Grand Forks/East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce and as the Chair of the National League of Cities University Communities Council. In addition, Peter is serving on U.S. Department of Justice’s Defending Childhood Initiative (Safer Tomorrows) Governance Team and Community Awareness projects and provides leadership with Grand Forks’ Youth Commission, Sustainability Program and Immigrant Integration steering committee.
City of Apple Valley, Minn.
Mary Hamann-Roland has been the Mayor of the City of Apple Valley for fifteen years. Her civic career has been committed to fostering partnerships among individuals, communities, and organizations. One example of a successful collaboration was her very instrumental role in the creation of the nationally renowned School of Environmental Studies, a partnership involving the city, the school district, and Minnesota Zoo. She also spearheaded the BE, Better Energy, collaborative with local utilities and non-profits for a community-wide energy efficiency initiative.
Mary has been a long-time advocate of sustainability since the construction of the pioneering green Municipal Center in 2001 and champion of Green Globes certification for all the City’s building projects for the last six years. She was instrumental in the creation of the Green Steps Cities program in Minnesota, recognizing cities for their efforts in sustainability and creating a roadmap for others to follow. As President of the League of Minnesota Cities, sustainability was her focus, with the capstone development of a documentary for public television on what cities are doing to be more sustainable. She served as Vice Chair of the National League of Cities Energy Environment and Natural Resources Steering Committee and as the city representative on the national Wildland Fire Leadership Council. Mary continues to advocate for sound sustainability policy as a member of the National League of Cities Board of Directors.
Jason Hartke, Ph.D.
Vice President of National Policy
U.S. Green Building Council
For more than a decade, Jason Hartke has been a voice in Washington, D.C. for clean energy and the environment. Jason leads the Council’s efforts to advance a national and integrated green building policy agenda. He helped lead the passage of historic federal investment in green building and a tripling of green building policies at the state and local level.
Jason is also a leader in sustainable and resilient cities. He regularly advises local elected officials and has established partnerships and programs with groups such as ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, the C40 Cites Climate Leadership Group, and Star Communities. He serves as the chair of the World Green Building Council’s Sustainable Cities Initiative.
Prior to USGBC, Jason served in the Clinton Administration, working in the West Wing of the White House in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, the president's liaison office to state and local policymakers. He also worked as a reporter with the Connection Newspapers, winning multiple awards. Jason received his Ph.D. in public policy from George Mason University. He received his master's degree in journalism from the UNC Chapel Hill.
Director of Climate Programs
As Director of Climate Programs for ICLEI USA, Brian Holland oversees the development of ICLEI's climate mitigation and climate adaptation programs. Brian's work at ICLEI has addressed a broad spectrum of climate concerns, including sea level rise adaptation, emissions inventories, climate action planning, transportation strategies, and carbon markets. Brian is a Lead Author on the forthcoming National Climate Assessment and is currently leading the Resilient Communities for America Agreement campaign, to be launched in Summer 2013. His work has been recognized by the American Planning Association, the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the Association of Environmental Professionals. Brian's background is in city planning in the public, private, and non-profit sectors.
Mayor Pro Tem
City of Fort Collins, Colo..
Gerry Horak was elected to the Fort Collins City Council April 5, 2011 to represent the citizens of District 6 (northwest Fort Collins). In April 2013 he was elected Mayor Pro Tem. Since moving to Fort Collins thirty-six years ago, Gerry has resided in the northwest district. He was elected four times to represent the citizens of northwest Fort Collins and served on the city council from 1981-1994. Gerry provided leadership in open, responsive, accountable and fiscally responsible government. He was instrumental in changing the City’s position from opposition to support of the Wild and Scenic Designation of the Cache La Poudre River as well as the establishment of the Natural Areas Program and the expansion of trails and open spaces.
Gerry currently serves on the National League of Cities Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Steering and Policy Committees. He also represents the City Council on the Platte River Power Authority, Poudre Fire Authority, North Front Range Transportation and Air Quality Planning Organization and the Larimer County Open Lands Advisory Board. Gerry has degrees in economics and geography (BS Towson State University), resource economics (MA Johns Hopkins University), and a Ph.D. in wildlife biology from Colorado State University.
Institute for Local Government
Yvonne Hunter is Co-Director of the Institute for Local Government’s sustainability program. The Institute is the non-profit research affiliate of the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties.
Prior to joining the Institute in 2007 to launch the Institute’s Communities for Healthy Kids program, Yvonne was a Legislative Representative for the League of California Cities, emphasizing environmental issues – a position she held for nearly 20 years. Yvonne has over forty years of experience in energy policy and environmental issues, beginning with work at the University of California, Davis.
Yvonne has a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of California, Davis.
Director of Environmental Policy
Virginia Municipal League
Joe is a former local government planner and member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). Before joining the league staff in 2009, he worked most recently as principal planner for the City of Richmond. Joe also has worked as a planner in the City of Fairfax and in Spotsylvania County. He worked as senior land planner for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for seven years beginning in 2001. In addition, he served as a planning commissioner for the City of Fredericksburg in 2004-2006. As director of environmental policy, Lerch represents the interests of member local governments in the Virginia General Assembly, staffs the Environmental Quality Policy Committee and oversees theGo Green Virginia environmental initiative which encourages communities to take innovative steps to reduce energy usage and promote sustainability. He graduated from The College of William & Mary in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in Geology and holds a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from Virginia Tech.
Chief Environmental Officer
City of Kansas City, Mo.
Dennis Murphey has been the Chief Environmental Officer for Kansas City, Missouri since March 2006. He works directly for the City Manager, manages the City’s Office of Environmental Quality, and provides guidance and leadership to City departments on integrating climate protection and sustainability into all city operations. He serves the City Manager, Mayor, and City Council as their primary advisor and source of information on environmental issues relevant to city operations, programs, and policies. He directed the development of Kansas City’s Climate Protection Plan and also oversees implementation of the plan to achieve greenhouse gas reduction goals of 30% by 2020, community-wide and in city government operations. He promotes regional partnerships between the public and private sectors to address environmental issues and to incorporate sustainability principles into decisions made and actions taken across the metropolitan area. Dennis has 36 years of environmental management experience in the public and private sectors.
Assistant Director of Communications for Public Affairs
League of Minnesota Cities
Don Reeder is the Assistant Director of Communications for Public Affairs at the League of Minnesota Cities. He represents the League on the steering committee for the state’s GreenStep Cities initiative -- a voluntary challenge, assistance and recognition program to help cities achieve environmental sustainability and quality-of-life goals. GreenStep Cities is a continuous improvement program, managed by a public-private partnership consisting of seven organizations, and is based on 28 best practices. Don also manages media relations and public relations efforts for the League, and provides consultation on communication issues for League member cities. He has a B.A. in political science from Coe College (Cedar Rapids, IA) and a M.A. in public administration from Hamline University (St. Paul, MN). Don has worked in the areas of communication, public policy, and association management for the past 25 years.
Mayor's Innovation Project
Satya Rhodes-Conway is a senior associate at the Center on Wisconsin Strategies (COWS) and the managing director of the Mayor’s Innovation Project. She works at the state and local level to implement innovative policy that promotes environmental and economic sustainability and builds strong, democratically accountable communities. Satya served three terms on Madison’s City Council, giving her a practical perspective on local government and policy. She has researched and written extensively about energy efficiency and renewable energy at the state and local level, focusing on implementation and equity issues. Before coming to COWS, she analyzed state endangered species programs for Defenders of Wildlife, researched and wrote about progressive environmental policy at the State Environmental Resource Center, and taught undergraduate biology and ecology. She has degrees from Smith College and the University of California – Irvine.
City of Mesa, Ariz.
Elected to the Mesa City Council in June of 2008 and re-elected in August of 2012, Dave Richins serves as the councilmember for District 1. Richins is also the Sun Corridor Legacy Program Director at the Sonoran Institute managing on the ground conservation proposals and research as well as the Institute's Public Policy work.
On a national level Councilmember Richins is currently serving his third term on the National League of Cities Community and Economic Development steering committee. He also serves on the Advisory Board of Smart Growth America's Local Leaders Council and sits on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Local Government Advisory Council.
Prior to his work with Sonoran Institute, Richins was the Executive Director and Founder of the West Mesa Community Development Corporation, where he worked with neighbors, community leaders, business leaders, and other stakeholders to revitalize Northwest Mesa.
Richins earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Sustainable Community Development from Prescott College.
John Robert Smith
President and CEO
John Robert Smith is the former Mayor of Meridian, Mississippi, and a long-time leader on behalf of passenger rail. He is co-chairman of Transportation for America, a former Chairman of Amtrak’s board, and a former member of the transportation committees of the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, as well as former co-chairman of the National Forum on the Future of Passenger Rail. He is a veteran of the station-centered community development movement, and led the drive to renovate the City of Meridian’s Union Station, a $7 million historic restoration project that created a new multimodal transportation center, dramatically increased use of the station, raised property values and city tax receipts, and lowered crime in the station’s neighborhood. He served on Reconnecting America’s board for five years, and was a founding partner and board member of Reconnecting America’s predecessor organization, the Great American Station Foundation.
Chief of the Office of Policy and Sustainability
City of Washington, D.C.
Brendan Shane is Chief of the Office of Policy and Sustainability for the District Department of the Environment, where he oversees issues related to green building, climate change, and cross-cutting urban sustainability. He is a principal staffer for Mayor Vincent Gray’s Sustainable DC initiative, which began in July 2011 and is now in the implementation phase following release of the Sustainable DC Plan in February 2013. In that capacity, he is working across the District Government and with stakeholders throughout the community to define and implement the Mayor’s vision of making the District of Columbia the greenest, healthiest, most livable city in the nation.
Brendan is a watershed hydrologist and attorney by training, with a bachelors in government from Franklin & Marshall College, a masters in geology from the University of Maryland, and JD from the Georgetown University Law Center.
Hilari Varnadore is the Executive Director of STAR Communities, a Washington, D.C. based nonprofit organization advancing a national framework for sustainable communities. She works with local government leaders to empower communities to chart a clear path toward a sustainable future. Previously, Varnadore served as Frederick County, Maryland’s first Sustainability Director in the Office of the County Manager and was a member of the Urban Sustainability Directors Network. She has experience in land use, environmental and municipal planning and was appointed to serve on the STAR Community Rating System’s Planning & Design Technical Advisory Committee in 2008. She has worked extensively in the environmental nonprofit sector and has experience working for state and federal government agencies. Varnadore holds a Master’s of Arts degree from Northern Arizona University in Rural Geography and a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Unity College of Maine in Environmental Policy. She is a 13th generation Marylander and a Girl Scout Troop leader.
City of Flagstaff, Ariz.
Nicole has been the Sustainability Manager for the City of Flagstaff, Arizona since 2007. Her work focuses on the development of effective planning, policies and programs that serve as a catalyst for long-term sustainability in the community and municipal organization. Her programmatic priorities include energy efficiency, climate adaptation and resiliency, open space, waste reduction, community gardens, renewable energy, and community well-being. Recently Nicole directed the City’s Resiliency and Preparedness Study and managed the City’s first renewable energy Power Purchase Agreement.
Prior to joining the City of Flagstaff as the Sustainability Manager, she worked as the Program Manager for the Coconino County Sustainable Economic Development Initiative and the Outreach Director for the Texas Unit of Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic. Nicole holds a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology from the University of Kansas, a Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems and Master’s Degree in Cultural Geography from Northern Arizona University. When not at work, Nicole can be found exploring the great outdoors with her husband and dogs.