Partner City Speakers

Amber Bill Wellington, New Zealand

Amber Bill
Wellington, New Zealand

Amber Bill is Programme Manager for Our Living City – a Wellington City Council initiative to strengthen the City’s urban nature connections and further improve Wellington’s reputation for providing a great quality of life. Amber has worked for the City for eight years, mainly as a parks and biodiversity manager. She has written the Wellington City Council Biodiversity Action Plan, Reserves Management Plans, contributed to open space planning across the City, and is currently working on a number of new showcase projects including Wellington’s Blue Belt project, Two Million Trees programme, Project Halo (an ecological protection zone buffering the City’s wildlife sanctuary) and Smart Energy Capital. Amber completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in Ecology with distinction at the University of Otago specialising in forest ecology, and her undergraduate degrees were in social psychology and ecology at Victoria University of Wellington. Prior to working at the City Council Amber worked on conservation projects and environmental policy issues across central government, local government and for a private consultancy.

Peter Brastow San Francisco

Peter Brastow
San Francisco, California

For twenty years, Peter Brastow has worked to restore nature and biodiversity in the city. On the heels of stimulating graduate work in geography at UCLA, Peter returned to San Francisco and discovered ecological restoration and stewardship at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Peter worked for ten years for the National Park Service at the Presidio of San Francisco, restoring dunes, wetlands and coastal grasslands for rare plants and wildlife. After back-to-back stints as the ecological stewardship coordinator for Crissy Field and then for the whole Presidio, Peter founded Nature in the City, the first and only organization wholly dedicated to restoration and stewardship of the Franciscan bioregion and to connecting people and nature where they live in San Francisco. A child of the San Francisco peninsula, Peter’s passion is to witness a revolutionary transformation of our culture to one where we restore our ancient relationships with nature as a foundation for a truly environmentally sustainable society. Peter’s work with his organization, Nature in the City, has had a focus on cultivating community-based neighborhood stewardship and saving and preserving the indigenous habitats and natural areas that remain in San Francisco. Among the projects that Peter has founded and led are the Nature in the City MAP and Guide to San Francisco’s Natural Heritage, the Green Hairstreak Butterfly Ecosystem Corridor Restoration, the Nature in the City Symposium at World Environment Day 2005, McLaren Park Earth Day, and negotiating for millions of dollars for nature and trail restoration in the 2008 and 2012 park bonds. As the latest major step in the local urban nature movement, Peter was recently hired as the first ever Biodiversity Coordinator for the City of San Francisco, working at the City’s Department of the Environment. With your help, Peter is tasked with building a biodiversity program for the city, whereby taking care of local nature rises to the top of the priorities of urban living.

Matt Burlin Portland

Matt Burlin
Portland, Oregon

Matt Burlin is an Environmental Program Coordinator with the City of Portland, Oregon’s Sustainable Stormwater Division of Environmental Services. The agency is responsible for operating and maintaining the sewer and stormwater systems to protect Portland watersheds, rivers, and streams.Since 2008 Portland has boosted the implementation of green infrastructure projects as part of the Grey to Green Initiative, a city-wide shift towards more integrated and sustainable strategies that protect natural resources and save money. Matt coordinates collaboration between city planning, design, and permitting staff and private sector professionals to address barriers to these emerging technologies.Matt holds a B.S. Environmental Resource Management from Virginia Tech (1995) and a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning from Portland State University (2004). He has loved exploring the outdoors in Oregon since moving to Portland in 1999, but he hasn’t experienced anything as wonderful as fall in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Matt now lives in the St. Johns neighborhood of Portland, at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. He’s an avid musician, gardener and bike commuter, and would love to take you on a tour of Portland’s microbreweries when you come to visit.

Lena Chan Singapore

Lena Chan

Lena Chan is the Director of the National Biodiversity Centre (NBC), National Parks Board of Singapore. She leads a team of 30 officers who are responsible for a diverse range of expertise relevant to biodiversity conservation. Some of the initiatives that Lena has been working on include a) the development of the City Biodiversity Index, also known as the Singapore Index on Cities’ Biodiversity, b) the Pulau Tekong Coastal Protection and Mangrove Enhancement project, c) infusing biodiversity into urban landscapes, d) biodiversity and health, and e) access and benefit-sharing of genetic resources. Her current official duties also include being the National Focal Point for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), a member of the Genetic Modification Advisory Committee of Singapore, a member of the Governing Board of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, a member of the Advisory Committee for the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook of the CBD. Her experiences are an eclectic mix of conservation biology, ecology, primatology and parasitology. Lena researched parasitology at the Institute of Parasitology, McGill University, for her M.Sc. Her work on the design of cost-effective chemotherapeutic soil-transmitted parasite control strategies for an urban slum community in Kampung Pandan, Kuala Lumpur, earned her a Ph.D. from Imperial College, London. Lena co-authored the User’s Manual for the City Biodiversity Index and wrote a section in “Cities and Biodiversity Outlook” published by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

 Sabine Courcier Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Sabine Courcier
Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Sabine Courcier has a university education in both biology and urban planning. She holds a PhD in urban planning from the University of Montréal. As planning adviser at the Ville de Montréal’s Direction des grands parcs et du verdissement (large parks and greening department), a position she has held since 2008, Sabine Courcier has been working on implementing the Policy on the Protection and Enhancement of Natural Habitats, as well as on issues related to biodiversity and urban agriculture. Prior to that, she held the positions of research officer at the Chair in Landscape and Environmental Design and of visiting lecturer at the University of Montréal. She also worked as a research officer for private firms, in France.

Rebeca Dios Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain

Rebeca Dios
Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain

Rebeca Dios is an Architect, with a Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Postgraduate Specialization. Rebeca has completed the Doctorate Program on Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Navarre, where she has worked as a researcher and teaching assistant in those fields. Also a researcher and planner at the Environmental Studies Centre of Vitoria-Gasteiz for years, she has focused her work on the planning, policy and design of the Green Belt and the Greenways Network, improving accessibility and promoting the human-nature relationship. As one of the coordinators of Vitoria-Gasteiz´s Landscape Urban Forum she has fostered new sustainable planning ideas through several international workshops and conferences. Also a contributor to Timothy Beatley´s Green Cities of Europe (2012), one of her latest works is on setting the basis for the implementation of an Urban Green Infrastructure in Vitoria-Gasteiz to regenerate the urban environment into a more nature friendly one by increasing its resilience, biodiversity and community values. Her dissertation research, in progress at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, is focused on Green Belts and their evolution as key planning strategies to connect cities and nature, and she is working to bring Vitoria-Gasteiz´s experience and lessons into the academic field.

First Last Affiliation

Scott T. Edmondson
San Francisco, California

Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, is a planner-economist at the San Francisco Planning Department working in the Information and Analysis Group, which supports the Citywide Planning Division with research on long range planning challenges and development of its information system. The Department’s exploration of biophilic city planning and design through partnership last year with Professor Beatley and his Biophilic Cities Project (and the growing Peer Network) is part of the Department’s larger Sustainable Development Program, which is taking an EcoDistrict approach to sustainability planning customized for five types of places. The Department’s Urban Forest Master Plan and Green Connections Program are the two biophilic case projects. Ultimately, this work will extend and integrate planning practice into the emerging new planning paradigm of regenerative planning, design, and development. The Department is also collaborating with SF Department of Environment on development of their urban biodiversity program. In addition to integrating restoration and stewardship on San Francisco’s publicly owned land through best management practices, the initiative seeks to provide the scientific basis for an ecosystems approach to the built environment and economy.  Scott has over 25 years of experience in strategic sustainability planning (see here, here, and here), CEQA/NEPA environmental review, facilities planning, and long-range planning. He also pursues his interest in leading-edge strategic sustainability through independent projects and collaboration with the APA California Northern Sustainability Committee, the APA’s new national Sustainable Community Division, and other initiatives. He has a Master’s Degree in Architecture and Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Development Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

First Last Affiliation

Nick Grayson
Birmingham, United Kingdom

Nick Grayson, Climate Change and Sustainability Manager, Birmingham City Council, has been with Birmingham for over 30 years, Europe’s largest municipality. Nick began on the practical side qualifying with a Master of Horticulture (Royal Horticultural Society) in 1989 with a Distinction and Awards which helped fund a month long study tour of Japan, including the World Expo in Osaka, in 1990. Nick qualified as a Landscape Architect – (from Birmingham City University) in 1993 with his final year piece – suggesting a new city centre park – the idea was accepted -now built and opened as Eastside City Park; study tours of France, Netherlands and Spain. Nick gained a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Policy, University of Birmingham 2000. Nick has European experience through European Urban Greening Project -URGE- (2000-2004); EU-Adapt (2012-13); study visits to:- Helsinki, Budapest, Leipzig, Amsterdam, Genoa, Dresden, Sfantu-Georghe and Bonn. Nick is the author of Birmingham’s Green Living Spaces Plan 2013.Nick is currently on several UK Government working parties:

  • the National Ecosystem Assessment Review Group;
  • chairs the Local Delivery Green Infrastructure Partnership for Defra;
  • leading on a Natural Capital City Model for Defra;
  • EPSRC funded Liveable Cities Project (2012-17);
  • Farrell Review of Architecture and Built Environment 2013.

John Hadidian Washington, DC

John Hadidian
Washington, District of Columbia

John Hadidian is Senior Scientist for The Humane Society of the United States’s wildlife program, which addresses a broad range of issues in advocacy for wildlife and the protection of the habitats that sustain wild animals. His specialization is urban wildlife.

Hadidian serves on the technical advisory committee of the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust as well as the Harmony Institute’s Community Advisory Board. He is past chair of the urban wildlife working group of The Wildlife Society and a member of the Washington Biologists’ Field Club.

He has served on the USDA-Wildlife Services national advisory committee and on U.S. Department of State Man and the Biosphere Program’s Human-Dominated Systems Directorate. He has also served as an associate editor of the Journal of Urban Ecosystems, chair of the Montgomery County, Md. white-tailed deer task force, and as an adjunct professorial lecturer in Virginia Tech’s Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability.

Hadidian received a master’s degree in Anthropology in 1975 and a doctorate in Primatology in 1979, both from Pennsylvania State University. He received a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, with a minor in psychology, from the University of Arizona in 1969.

Kelly Hare Wellington

Kelly Hare
Wellington, New Zealand

Kelly Hare is a Research Advisor at Victoria University of Wellington. She manages key relationships with external organisations and strategic partners, the most significant of these being: 1) the Our Living City initiative with Wellington City Council; and, 2) the Enhancing the Halo campaign, which involves 10 organisations spanning government, private business, not-for-profit, and education. Prior to her current position, Kelly trained at Victoria as a research scientist with a focus on biology and a passion for conservation. She was awarded her PhD in 2005 and since then has held research positions at Victoria and Otago Universities, and has been a consultant for the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

Cecilia P. Herzog Rio de Janeiro

Cecilia Polacow Herzog
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Cecilia Polacow Herzog, Landscape architect, Msc. in Urban Environment Preservation and in Urban Planning, is the president at INVERDE Institute. She is Associate Professor and Lecturer at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio). Her research is focused on biodiversity, waters and people in urban areas. She has just released the book in Portuguese “Cities for All: (re)learning to live with NATURE” (Cidades para TODOS: (re)aprendendo a conviver com a NATUREZA). She contributes to the collective blog The Nature of Cities. She has close relation with several research groups around the world and serves as associated editor for the Scientific Journal LabVerde – published by the School of Architecture and Urbanism of the São Paulo University (Universidade de São Paulo – FAU-USP).

Matt Howard Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Matt Howard
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Mayor Tom Barrett appointed Matt Howard as Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Environmental Sustainability Director in June 2010. Mr. Howard is leading the City’s efforts to improve the sustainability of City government operations; promote sustainability as a best practice for area businesses; and work with the community to improve and enhance the City’s natural assets. Mr. Howard currently oversees a portfolio of programs that has resulted in $33.2 million in private capital raised; $17.6 million in economic activity stimulated; 4:1 return on investment to the tax payer dollar; nearly 2,000 residential homeowners assisted and over 150 businesses improved. Mr. Howard currently serves on the Board of Directors for the UW-Milwaukee Industrial Assessment Center and is a Steering Committee Member of Milwaukee’s Green Corridor. He was recently named by the Milwaukee Business Journal as a 2012 Milwaukee Regional Power Broker and a 2013 Forty Under 40 Winner as a person of influence in the region. He has a B.A. in international economic and cultural affairs from Valparaiso University and an M.A. in international economic and trade policy from The George Washington University and is a LEED accredited professional.

First Last Affiliation

Jana Soderlund
Fremantle, Western Australia

Jana Soderlund is a PhD student with Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute based in Fremantle, Western Australia, and supervised by Prof. Peter Newman. Her research, using an action-based methodology, focuses on Biophilic Urban Design, particularly building-integrated vegetation, and the global social motivators and responses to the implementation of biophilic projects. Her research is project based with projects extending into related innovative areas. Jana is currently involved in a Restorative Justice and Sustainability in Penal Institutions project, focussing on stress reduction through integrated vegetation. She is working with a major developer in reducing stress in site offices through biophilic design initiatives along with smaller, locally-based case studies. The challenging local climatic conditions in Fremantle, Western Australia led Jana to initiate green wall trials. As well as collecting scientific data around water and temperature, the trials are monitoring the social response with an on-line survey and have attracted significant interest.
With an honours degree in Environmental Science, Jana tutored in philosophy before working to pioneer environmental education initiatives in Western Australia. She spent some years living a sustainable lifestyle in rural Western Australia during which she was an environmental consultant, environmental educator, relief laboratory technician for the local high school, arts director and performer, café studio owner and professional fire twirler.


Michaela Accardi | University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Julia Africa | Center for Health and the Global Environment, HSPH, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Suzanne Allan | US Courts, Washington, DC, USA
Rafael Balanzo-Joue | Sustainability Institute, Polytehcnical University Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain
Thomas Barrie | School of Architecture, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
Brian Bidolli | GBRC, Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA
Robert Bowman | VMDO Architects, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Karl Bren | GreenVisions Consulting, Henrico, Virginia, USA
Carol Brighton |, Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA
William Browning | Terrapin Bright Green, Washington, DC, USA
Amanda Burbage | Albemarle County, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Sarah Burr | University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Tom Cain | Impact + Amplify, Roanoke, Virginia, USA
Katherine Cairoli | UCSF, Houston, Texas, USA
Pia Carrasco | FAU-IU UCV, Washington, DC, USA
Reverand Carroll Carter | St. Paul United Methodist Church, Roanoke, Virginia, USA
Benjamin Chambers | Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA
Katherine Childs | NAVFAC Washington, Washington, DC, USA
Patricia Cornelison | Arrowstreet, Somerville, Massachusetts, USA
Keith Crawford | University of Virginia Darden School of Business, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Diane Dale | AECOM, Alexandria, Virginia, USA
Theodore Eisenman | University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Patrick Farley | Watershed Architects, Richmond, Virginia, USA
Deborah Frank | Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Joanie Freeman | Healthy Food Coalition, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Dan Frisbee | City of Charlottesville, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Jennie Gault | University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Chris Gensic | City of Charlottesville, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Leah Gibbons | EISD, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
Alejandro Gomez | Dibufala, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Alex Gonski | Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Alexandria, Virginia, USA
Ashley Griggs | Blacksburg, Virginia, USA
David Hadidian | Blacksburg, Virginia, USA
Sheffield Hale | San Francisco Department of the Environment, San Francisco, California, USA
Kelly Hare | Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Mike Henrietta | University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Elizabeth Hiebert | Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA
Katie Hillgrove | University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Mike Houck | Urban Greenspaces Institute, Portland, Oregon, USA
Mary Ellen Lemay | Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Ethan Feldman | University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Brian Flynn | BCFD, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Jett Jackson | Fremantle, Western Australia
Tiona Johnson | Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA
David Kamp | Dirtworks Landscape Architecture, PC, New York, New York, USA
Helene Littke | Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden
Chen Lu | University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Alise Martinez | University of Virginia, Scottsville, Virginia, USA
Kevin McCollom | University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Kate McCullough | Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Washington, DC, USA
Chad Miller | University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Lois Milone | Virginia Nursery & Landscape Associaton (VNLA) and VCU, Richmond, Virginia, USA
Tamara Mittman | US EPA, Washington, District of Columbia, USA
Andrew Mondschein | University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Nina Morris | University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Jennifer Nielsen | NEWH, Associate Member; ASID Student, Richmond, VA, USA
Douglas Olson | Ecovillage Charlottesville, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Mike Osteen | CardnoTEC, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
David Phillips | University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Jeff Rainwater | Center for Resilient Cities, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Cristina Ramirez | University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Kristel Riddervold | City of Charlottesville, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Dave Redding | Healthy Food Coalition, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Alastair Reilly | William McDonough + Partners, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Catie Ryan | Terrapin Bright Green, New York, New York, USA
Jakob Scheidt | University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Mingwei Shen | University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Mike Signer | Madison Law & Strategy Group, PLLC, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Nadine Skaff | Global Development Organization, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Dede Smith | Charlottesville City Council, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Mi Sun | University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Stella Tarnay | City Wildlife/Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy, Washington, DC, USA
Elyssa Twedt | Department of Psychology, University of Richmond, Richmond, Virginia, USA
Helena van Vliet | Helena van Vliet Architect LLC, Kimberton, Pennsylvania, USA
David VanDerveer | Greenbarn Suites, Standardsville, Virginia, USA
Anna Cait Wade | University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Chupei Wang | University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Ryan Wang | Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA
Elizabeth Waters | Charlottesville Tree Commission, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Henry Way | James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA
Catherine Werner | City of St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Kennon Williams | Kennon Williams Landscape Studio, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Nathaniel Wooten | Joeb Moore & Partners, Greenwich, Connecticut, USA
Tamim Younos | The Cabell Brand Center for Global Poverty and Resource Sustainability Studies, Salem/Blacksburg, Virginia, USA
Aipu Zhang | University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Erik Zydervelt | Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand