Keynote Speaker Dr. Lyle Foster

Passionate about community, Dr. Lyle Foster is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Missouri State University. In addition, he is the founder of Tough Talks and supports the office of Diversity and Inclusion as a faculty trainer. Dr. Foster is also active in the local community as a community organizer and entrepreneur. As a certified diversity executive, Lyle conducts workshops and training sessions on issues related to diversity and inclusion. He has provided consulting services to non-profit organizations, faith groups, community leadership, corporations, and colleges and universities who are interested in developing more inclusive strategies to be vibrant and thriving 21st-century institutions. 

Recently, Dr. Foster was chosen as "12 People You Need to Know-2019," by the Springfield Business Journal and received the Missouri State University Board of Governor's Public Affairs Award for his inclusion work in the community. Currently, Dr. Foster is serving as the Grants Administrator for the Greene County CARES Program, which is responsible for allocating over 34 million dollars back into the community. He lives by the motto: Loving Life, Loving People, and Serving Community.

Erin Barbaro

Erin Barbaro, MA, brings a holistic perspective and nearly 20 years of experience with technology and data for social impact. Erin’s interest is at the intersection of qualitative and quantitative data and moving from insight to action to make meaningful and lasting change. In her work, Erin has applied spatial data and analyses toward a broad range of topics such as social determinants of health, education, disaster response, food access, and public policy. Erin has served as Product Manager at the Institute for People, Place, and Possibility (IP3) since 2011. 

Elizabeth will co-present the session, "Community Commons: Planning for Healthy, Equitable Communities."

Amy Blansit

Amy Blansit serves as program director for the Northwest Project, a poverty alleviation initiative in Springfield, Mo. In addition, she is chairman of the Drew Lewis Foundation and operates The Fairbanks, a renovated grade school that now serves as a center for community betterment programs in Springfield's Grant Beach neighborhood. Initially based at The Fairbanks, the Northwest Project uses a community-driven development model that couples family support with neighborhood development and sustainability to help families overcome the challenges that have kept them living in poverty. The success of the Northwest Project is the result of a five-year grant from The Community Foundation of the Ozarks and partnership of Missouri State University, Drury University and the Drew Lewis Foundation. 

Blansit founded the Drew Lewis Foundation in memory of her husband, who shared a vision of community betterment. Focused on asset-based urban development, the Foundation's mission is to improve the quality of life in under-served neighborhoods. In addition to her leadership role on the Northwest Project, Blansit is an instructor in the Kinesiology department at Missouri State University. She completed her doctorate in Health Science from A. T. Still University. She received a master's degree from Adelphi University and a bachelor's degree from Drury University.  

Amy will speak during the mobile workshop, "Back to School: Re-purposing Vacant Historic School Buildings as Community Resource Epicenters."

Tim Breihan, A.AIA

Tim Breihan, A.AIA, is a principal and project manager with H3 Studio. Tim has 17 years of professional planning, urban design, and architecture experience. Since 2014, Tim has led H3 Studio's coding, design guidelines, complete streets, and bicycle and pedestrian, comprehensive, and neighborhood planning. Tim has led the development of over 60 successful district and neighborhood master plans; corridor plans; bike-walk plans; and comprehensive plans including the Cherry Street and National Avenue Corridor Study completed by H3 Studio for the City of Springfield, MO (as part of the Rountree Neighborhood Plan Update). Tim holds both a Master of Urban Design and a professional Master of Architecture from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts / Washington University in St. Louis (M.Arch/M.U.D.).

Tim will co-present the session, "Neighborhood Planning & Placemaking: Articulating and Implementing the Community's Vision."

Mandy Buettgen-Quinn

Mandy Buettgen-Quinn works for the City of Springfield, Public Works. She will present the session, "SGF Yields - Springfield's Pedestrian Safety Campaign."

Chris Chiodini, AICP

Chris Chiodini is the Director of Community Development for the City of Grandview. He has 29 years of professional engineering, planning, economic development, and land development experience.

Chris will present the sessions, "APA's Community Planning Assessment Team (CPAT) Program in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands;" "Creative housing solutions for any Missouri community;" and "How Can My City Obtain Professional Planning Technical Assistance?"

Krista Evans, PhD

Krista Evans, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Human Geography and Planning at Missouri State University. Her research interests include the tiny house movement, rural community planning, and historic preservation.  

Dr. Evans will speak during the mobile workshop, "Eden Village: Confronting Homelessness with Tiny House Villages."

Michelle Garand

Michelle Garand is the Vice-President of the Community Partnership of the Ozarks (CPO) in Springfield and oversees their Affordable Housing and Homeless Services functions. She is also the Director of the O'Reilly Center for Hope, a community-centered hub for affordable housing and homeless prevention services and education housed in a 100 year old school building.

Michelle will speak during the mobile workshop, "Back to School: Re-purposing Vacant Historic School Buildings as Community Resource Epicenters."

Brendan K. Griesemer, AICP

Brendan Griesemer is the Assistant Director of Planning and Development for the City of Springfield, Missouri. In this role, he leads the program areas of neighborhood planning and revitalization, comprehensive planning, affordable housing, and grants administration. Brendan has 30 years of community planning experience and has led numerous citywide planning efforts to promote affordable housing, improve housing conditions and revitalize neighborhoods within Springfield. Brendan holds a professional certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). He has previously served in various planning capacities for the City of Nixa, Missouri; the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri; the City of Shawnee, Kansas; and the Kansas Department of Transportation. Brendan holds a Bachelor's degree in Community and Regional Planning from Missouri State University and a Master's Degree in Urban Planning from the University of Kansas. 

Brendan will speak during the mobile workshops, "Back to School: Re-purposing Vacant Historic School Buildings as Community Resource Epicenters" and "Eden Village: Confronting Homelessness with Tiny House Villages."

Amy Haase, AICP

Amy is a Principal and Project Manager with the Community and Regional Planning group at RDG Planning & Design. Over her 21-year career, she has been involved in dozens of housing studies from small, rural communities to multi-county regions. Her work has included an 11-county regional housing study for the Indiana Uplands and a four-county study for the Lake of the Ozarks region, and numerous county level housing strategies. A trusted leader in her field, Amy has been a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners since 2004, and she became a Certified Public Facilitator in 2011.

Amy will present the session, "Regional Approaches to Housing."

Olivia Hough

Olivia Hough is a Senior Planner and the Brownfields Coordinator for the City of Springfield, Missouri. With nineteen years of experience in city planning and economic development, Hough manages various federal grants and works with state, local, and federal partners to incentivize Brownfields redevelopment in the Springfield community. Springfield's Brownfields program began in 2001 and Olivia has managed the Assessment and Revolving Loan Fund programs as well as site specific environmental cleanups involving more than 300 brownfields sites and leveraging more than $400 million in public/private investment. Hough's role as Brownfields Coordinator includes providing technical assistance, leveraging incentives, working with funding partners, property owners, brownfields developers, and facilitating extensive community engagement to grow a healthier more vibrant and attractive city. Hough has a Bachelor of Science in Community and Regional Planning from Missouri State University and is currently is a member of the American Planning Association. 

Olivia will speak during the mobile workshop, "Back to School: Re-purposing Vacant Historic School Buildings as Community Resource Epicenters."

Stephen Ibendahl

Stephen Ibendahl, Principal of The i5Group, brings over 22 years of experience in community and urban planning, public affairs, landscape architecture, and project management. Stephen brings a context-sensitive approach to problem solving by engaging a wide range of stakeholders. Past clients include communities, state and federal agencies, neighborhood organizations, and businesses. Stephen brings trusted public engagement and facilitation experience in working with community groups, whether it is a committee of 10 or a standing room only crowd of over 100. Stephen is an advocate for walkable communities, sustainable design, and green infrastructure. He has served on the OneSTL Steering Committee, the Forest Park Advisory Committee, the Lafayette Park Advisory Board, FOCUS St. Louis Sustainability Roadmap Task Force, MSD's Stormwater BMP Work Group, and AIA's Sustainable Design Team. Stephen is a member of the American Planning Association (APA) and served as the St. Louis Trustee on the national board of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

Stephen will present the session, "Place-Based Economic Development."

Sara Ivey

Sara Ivey is a public health and urban planning professional based in the Pacific Northwest who specializes in healthy community planning, assessment and advocacy. She’s a researcher, writer, designer, facilitator and data wonk with experience promoting health and equity in communities around the world.

Sara will co-present the session, "Community Commons: Planning for Healthy, Equitable Communities."

AICP Exam Prep Trainer Bonnie Johnson, PhD

Bonnie J. Johnson, PhD, FAICP is Director and Associate Professor in the University of Kansas’ Urban Planning Program within the School of Public Affairs and Administration.  She teaches planning theory, land use, and politics, planning, and administration courses.  Research focuses on the profession of city planning and the roles and ethics of being a planner. Contributions to the field include the use of new media for neighborhood organizing, creation of the civic bureaucracy model, groundbreaking research on staff reports, and comparative studies of public service professions and their codes of ethics. Before returning to school for her doctorate, Johnson was a practicing city planner for eight years designing citizen engagement processes for neighborhood, corridor, and city/countywide plans.  While at the City of Liberty, Missouri, she was project manager for Liberty’s award winning Blueprint for Liberty: Land Use Plan.  The plan was awarded the American Planning Association’s “Outstanding Planning Award” for the best plan in the country. She is also the Professional Development Officer for the Kansas Chapter of the American Planning Association and member of the American Institute of Certified Planners’ Ethics Committee.

Mary Kromrey

Mary Kromrey is the Executive Director of Ozark Greenways, a 501(c )3 nonprofit whose mission is to build a trail system that connects and enhances the community.  With 76 of the 140+ miles of planned trails built, Ozark Greenways strives to "ungap the map" for a connected trail system that provides for the enjoyment and economic development of the region. 

Mary will speak during the mobile workshop, "Introduction to Ozark Greenways: Jordan Creek Greenway."

Beth Letscher, AICP

Beth Letscher is an experienced major projects lead in planning, real estate development, and construction management. Working with the Cortex Innovation Community since 2016, Beth has helped shape the physical environment of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. As Director of Strategic Initiatives, Beth has had roles  in the development of the Cortex Metrolink Station, Innovation Hall, Vicia, The Chocolate Pig and several infrastructure initiatives, as well as developed operational procedures for management of district assets. Beth works directly with developers, institutions, non-profits and government entities to guide overall district development and bring new projects to fruition. Beth has been working in the fields of economic and community development for 18 years. A St. Louis native, Beth spent seven years in Chicago at Loyola University Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago where she earned her Master's in Urban Planning and Policy. In Chicago, she developed her passion for cities and how they work, which led her back to St. Louis to help guide development in her hometown. Beth is also a certified Planner through the American Institute of Certified Planners, and volunteers her time mentoring high school students on urban development through the Urban Land Institute's UrbanPlan curriculum.

Beth will co-present the session, "Innovation Districts & Innovation Ecosystems."

Robert M. Lewis, FAICP, CEcD

Bob became a professor of urban planning and development at Saint Louis University in the summer of 2018 after retiring from Development Strategies, a St. Louis-based planning and development consulting firm. Bob is a former principal and part-owner of Development Strategies where he was employed for 30 years.  Prior to that, he was a planner with the consulting firm of Team Four and with the St. Louis County Department of Planning. The focus of Bob's professional work was and remains the analysis of the market, economic, and organizational forces that influence urban development and economic growth. Bob continues to consult, as well. He presently serves as vice president of the Missouri Main Street Connection Board of Directors. A native of Glencoe, Illinois, in the Chicago area, Bob holds a master's degree in city and regional planning from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville (1976) and a bachelor's degree in business economics from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio (1973). He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners and is a Certified Economic Developer.

Bob will present the session, "Does the Main Street Program Increase City Economics?"

Steven Lucas

Steven holds a J.D. from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a Master of Urban Planning Degree from the University of Kansas. He has served as a Planning Commissioner and elected Council Member for the City of Mission Kansas and he has served municipalities as special counsel and as City Attorney. Steven focuses his practice on land use and zoning. He provides educational training for public officials, commissions, planners, and attorneys regarding planning and land-use law.

Steven will co-present the session, "Planning and Land Use Law Update."

Steve Miller, AICP

Steve has 30 years experience in the planning, architecture, and engineering industry. His consulting practice now focuses on building better cities through servant leadership. Steve also works as a community engagement expert and lead planner for a respected, regional architecture, engineering, and landscape architecture firm, and he serves as advisor to a couple of firms in the GovTech industry which focus on engagement technology. Steve has worked as Planning Director at a national community development services company and before that he was responsible for day-to-day operations at a regional architecture studio. He began his career as a public sector city planner in the Kansas City metropolitan area and then became a city planning consultant. Steve has a passion for community engagement and public participation and was one of the founders of an online community engagement technology company.

Steve will present the session, "What the Gig? Private Practice in the Gig Economy."

Jon Nelson

Jon Nelson is the Assistant to the State Highway Safety and Traffic Engineer for MODOT. In this role, Jon oversees the department's highway safety efforts, including the development and implementation of the state's strategic highway safety plan. This plan provides a comprehensive framework for reducing the number of fatalities and serious injuries on Missouri's roadways through both infrastructure and behavioral solutions, including education, public policy, enforcement, engineering, and emergency services. Jon has worked for MoDOT in a variety of positions since graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2003.

Jon will present the session, "Show-Me Zero:  Missouri's Strategic Highway Safety Plan."

Gary Newcomer

Gary Newcomer currently serves as the Director of Operations for the Community Builders Network of Metro St. Louis (CBN). Through his role, he serves as the lead facilitator for numerous cross-sector collaborations including the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Coalition. He holds a Masters in Urban Planning & Development from Saint Louis University. 

Gary will present the session, "Affordable Housing Trust Funds Are Coming To Missouri: What's Next?"

Alana Owen, AICP

Alana Owen, AICP, has been with the City of Springfield Planning Department since February 2001, serving 15 years with the Development Review Office and over 4 years with the Planning and Neighborhoods Team. Alana graduated from Missouri State University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Community and Regional Planning. 

Alana will co-present the session, "Neighborhood Planning & Placemaking: Articulating and Implementing the Community's Vision."

Jason Ray, AICP

Jason Ray, AICP is the Executive Director of the Southwest Missouri Council of Governments (SMCOG), the 10-county Regional Planning Commission in Springfield. He is also the Director of Missouri State University's Center for Resource Planning and Management and currently serves as APA Missouri Chapter President and Chair of APA Chapter Presidents Council's Policy and Advocacy Committee.

Jason will present the session, "2020 Legislative Review - Legislative Activities at the State and Federal Level."

Jonathan Roper

Like you, Jonathan has a passion for city planning. As the President of the American Planning Association St. Louis Metro Section, Jonathan Roper and the awesome team of board members serve the region's planners, communities, and people to make better our communities. Jonathan serves as the Planner and Geographic Information Systems Coordinator for the City of Olivette in Saint Louis County, Missouri, where he works with residents to keep properties safer from stormwater, comfortably connect residents to the main streets and parks, maintain land uses, and enliven the public and commercial areas. Jonathan's enthusiasm for people and neat spaces spurs from his family small barbecue business Roper's Ribs, where people, food, and community triumph. Jonathan proudly holds a Masters In Urban Planning and Real Estate Development from Saint Louis University. 

Jonathan will co-present the session, "Innovation Districts & Innovation Ecosystems."

Nate Schlueter

Nate Schlueter serves as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Eden Village. He has years of experience working with homeless populations in both Missouri and Texas. 

Nate will speak during the mobile workshop, "Eden Village: Confronting Homelessness with Tiny House Villages."

Ashley Schnake

Ashley is an Urban Wildlife Biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). Her degrees were earned at Missouri State University: BS Wildlife Conservation and Management, minor Agronomy; and MS Natural and Applied Science. Ashley joined MDC over ten years ago; during the past six, she has assisted communities and landowners with managing their urban wildlife populations. She provides assistance to communities by developing wildlife habitat plans for urban green spaces and works to provide information to prevent nuisance wildlife issues. Ashley also administers the Southwest Missouri Community Conservation Grant and manages four managed archery hunts in Springfield, Missouri.

Ashley will present the session, "Managing Two Common Urban Wildlife Species: Canada Geese and White-tailed Deer."

Jon Skinner

Jon is a Community Forester with the Missouri Department of Conservation. He will present the session, "Great Places with Trees, What Does it Take?"

Shaun Tooley, AICP

Shaun Tooley is a Transportation Planning Specialist with the Missouri Department of Transportation. He has worked in the field of transportation planning for nine years with more than two at MoDOT and six in transit. Shaun is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a Master's of Science in Community and Regional Planning and is certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is enthused to be sharing the St. Louis District's story of active transportation and represents MoDOT on both the St. Louis region's Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee and Gateway Bike Plan Working Group.

Shaun will present the session, "Active Transportation Practice with Missouri Department of Transportation."

Chayton True

Chayton True is the first-ever City Planner for the rural university town of Kirksville, located in Northeast Missouri. His main focus during his time with the City has been a Comprehensive Plan update, a downtown form-base code, and a plan to add 30 miles of bike lanes within the community. Kirksville is also his hometown where he returned after obtaining a degree in Urban Planning & Design from the University of Missouri at Kansas City in 2014. He has played an active role in serving local Main Street programs in both Missouri and Iowa in an effort to strengthen historic downtowns. For more information or to contact Chayton, please visit his website at

Chayton will co-present the session, "The Impact of Decision-Making on Diverse Audiences."

Melissa Vancrum

Melissa Vancrum holds a J.D. and Master of Urban Planning Degree from the University of Kansas and focuses her practice on land use and zoning. Prior to returning home to the Kansas City area, she practiced land use and environmental law for five years in San Francisco. Melissa's work has been recognized and published by regional and national publications.

Melissa will co-present the session, "Planning and Land Use Law Update."

Tyler Waldorf

Tyler Waldorf is an architect with a background in planning and urban design. Tyler leads Shockey's Planning Co-Lab urban design studio to develop award-winning plans. Tyler uses his skills in data analysis and mapping to guide communities through the development of key recommendations for future land use. Tyler also develops innovative, highly visual community engagement techniques that engage diverse stakeholder groups. He is an expert at synthesizing community input and policy recommendations to update plans with well-defined goals, objectives, action steps, and measures, resulting in effective community-based solutions that are not only aligned with the community's vision, but are tangible and based in reality. 

Tyler will co-present the session, "The Impact of Decision-Making on Diverse Audiences."

Randall Whitman

Randall Whitman is a Principal Planner with the City of Springfield's Planning and Development Department and Division of Planning and Neighborhoods. Randall has been with the City of Springfield for 15 years, currently assigned to managing the department's Neighborhood Planning staff, coordinating the development of the City's annual Capital Improvements Program, and all long-range planning activities, which currently includes the development of the Comprehensive Plan: Forward SGF.

Randall will speak during the mobile workshop, "Introduction to Ozark Greenways: Jordan Creek Greenway" and will co-present the session, "Neighborhood Planning & Placemaking: Articulating and Implementing the Community's Vision."

Paul Wojciechowski, PE, AICP, LCI

Paul Wojciechowski is the Complete Street Manager for Transportation at Horner and Shifrin in St. Louis. He is a transportation planner and engineer with over 35 years of experience in planning and designing innovative transportation facilities, and integrating these facilities to function with adjacent land-uses. Paul has dedicated his career to public projects that enhance communities and regional systems, and has contributed ideas for development projects that achieve community goals, including award-winning projects such as the regional Gateway Bike Plan in St. Louis and the City of Woodson Terrace Comprehensive Plan. 

In a consultant role, his work has included street design, bikeway and pedestrian facility design, transit projects, land-use planning, program management, transportation planning, and utility relocation. In addition, he has served in public official roles as Director of Public Works/City Engineer for the City of Clayton, and at the Missouri Department of Transportation, where he has dealt with client responsibilities first hand.  In his 17 years at MoDOT, he was involved in a variety of positions such as the Transportation Planning Manager responsible for all transportation planning activities in the St. Louis Metro District, programming of state and federal funds, and the main point of contact with the East-West Gateway Council of Governments. He also served in highway design, traffic engineering, utilities engineering, and project management capacities.

Paul will present the session, "What's in a Name - Creating Great Spaces for People."