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Regina Romero

In 2007, Regina Romero became the first woman to represent Tucson’s Ward 1 on the Tucson City Council. While on the Council, Regina helped lift Tucson out of the Great Recession to its most prosperous decade in recent history, helping spur the creation of thousands of high-wage, long-term jobs. In November of 2019, Romero was elected Mayor, becoming the first woman and first Latina Mayor of Tucson, as well as the only Latina Mayor in the 50 largest U.S. cities. Romero has proven herself to be a champion for issues such as acting boldly on climate change, affordable housing, infrastructure investment, immigrant and workers rights’, and access to a high-quality education. 

Mayor Romero has laid out a strong vision for the region’s post-pandemic economic recovery that is reflective of Tucson’s innovation and resilience. In 2020, Moody’s Analytics ranked Tucson among the Top 10 U.S. Cities “Best Positioned to Recover From the Coronavirus” and the Site Selectors Guild identified Tucson among top mid-sized cities for new projects.

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Grady Gammage

Grady is one of the founders of Gammage and Burnham Law Firm and has had a varied and diverse 40 year career in law and public policy in Arizona. His practice has focused on the political aspects of real estate, development and public policy. As a zoning lawyer, he has represented dozens of major commercial projects including high rise offices, major industrial and office parks, retail shopping centers of all sizes, and tens of thousands of acres of residential projects, including some of Arizona’s most iconic master planned communities. In the early 1980s, he was the primary private sector representative in working on the innovative Urban Lands Act, which made state trust land available for commercial and residential development. As a result, he has represented more transactions with the State Land Department than any other lawyer in Arizona. He has also been at the forefront of urban development in Maricopa County, including deals with such public private projects as the Tempe Town Lake and Arizona’s unique approach to redevelopment incentives. He has also represented cities and towns in revising their development and land use ordinances, and has litigated land use and election issues related to development.

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Nan Whaley

Mayor Nan Whaley’s career is distinguished by her commitment to public service, civic involvement and interest in local government. First elected to the Dayton City Commission in 2005, Nan was the youngest woman ever chosen for a commission seat. She was proud to be elected as Dayton’s mayor in 2013, winning 56 percent of the vote. In 2017, she was unopposed for reelection, making it the first uncontested mayoral race in the city’s history since voters have elected the office separately. Nan is a national leader among her peers serving as the Second Vice President for the US Conference of Mayors as well as the Chair of the International Committee for the conference.  

Whaley has placed significant emphasis on reviving the economy and culture of the Downtown Dayton area. She has done so through drawing in over $200,000,000 in downtown investments and in a refocus of the region into new ventures. As a result of her new renewal efforts, new businesses have begun to move into the downtown area, including a number of small businesses and startups. In March of 2021, Mayor Whaley welcomed the opening of a 95,000-square-foot innovation hub that includes shared and private office spaces, meeting rooms, conference areas, learning labs and classrooms and pop-up retail spaces. Nearly five years in the making, this new venture is a joint effort between the Entrepreneurs Center and University of Dayton’s Crotty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. 

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Levar Stoney

Levar M. Stoney was sworn in as Richmond’s 80th Mayor in 2016. He is the youngest mayor ever elected to serve the city and was re-elected to a second term in 2020. 

As mayor, Stoney has made education his top priority by consistently fighting for additional resources and reform in Richmond Public Schools including an over $30 million increase in funding. This amounts to the greatest investment in public education in over a generation. Stoney has maintained fiscal responsibility and financial stability while bringing in major change to city government. Under Levar’s tenure, Richmond city saw its credit rating increase to AA+, and the city saw a $15 million surplus in 2019, all while the city paved over 500 miles in new road lanes, invested over 6 million in the city’s eviction diversion program and affordable housing trust fund, and expanded healthcare access to city residents.

Mayor Stoney has initiated the Monument Avenue Commission, which, along with citizen input, will determine the best way to tell the full story of Richmond’s Civil War history. During the summer of 2020, Mayor Stoney ordered the immediate removal of 12 Confederate statues throughout Richmond, citing a need for healing in a city still grappling with its legacy as the Capitol of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Since the people of Richmond elected Mayor Stoney, Richmond has been named the #2 Top Place Millennials are Moving by Time Magazine and a Top 25 Best Place to Live by U.S. News and World Report. Southern Living also named Richmond one of the South’s Best Cities. The Richmond Times Dispatch recognized Mayor Stoney as the 2016 Person of the Year. In June 2017, he was named a Politico Rising Star.

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Josh Goodman

Josh Goodman helps lead research on fiscal management and place-based economic development programs as part of Pew’s state fiscal health project. Goodman has served as a primary author for Pew studies that examine how states should evaluate tax incentives and maintain budget discipline when implementing those incentives. Goodman was previously a staff writer for Stateline, a Pew initiative that provides daily reporting and analysis on trends in state policy.

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Sofia Song

Sofia is the global leader of cities research at Gensler’s Research Institute, where she leads a cross-disciplinary team to generate new insights and data that position Gensler as a thought leader, working to influence change at the city scale. Sofia led the research and publication of Gensler’s article “Rise of the Second Tier Cities.” Sofia’s background includes leading research at proptech and real estate companies as well as roles in transit, community, and public space planning in various U.S. cities. Sofia is helping to shape the national discussion on how to redefine the future of cities in a post-pandemic world by leading a cross-disciplinary team at Gensler that includes designers, architects, planners, economists and technologists, to generate new insights and knowledge that extend beyond a single building to communities, neighborhoods, and cities.

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Bruce Katz

Bruce Katz is the Co-Founder of New Localism Advisors. The mission of the firm is to help cities design, finance and deliver transformative initiatives that promote inclusive and sustainable growth. Katz regularly advises global, national, state, regional and municipal leaders on public reforms and private innovations that advance the well-being of metropolitan areas and their countries. Katz is the co-author of The New Localism: How Cities Can Thrive in the Age of Populism and The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy. Both books focus on the rise of cities and city networks as the world’s leading problem solvers.

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Jennifer Vey

Jennifer S. Vey is a Senior Fellow and the Director of Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking at the Brookings Institute. Jennifer’s work primarily explores how place-based policies and practices can support economic, social, and built environments that benefit more people in more places. She is the author or co-author of numerous Brookings publications, including “Transformative placemaking: A framework to create connected, vibrant, and inclusive communities,” “Where jobs are concentrating and why it matters to cities and regions,” “Assessing your innovation district: A how-to guide,” and “Building from strength: Creating opportunity in Greater Baltimore’s next economy.” She also co-edited Retooling for Growth: Building a 21st Century Economy in America’s Older Industrial Areas

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Mick Cornett 

After a two-decade career in journalism, Mick Cornett was elected to the Oklahoma City Council in 2001 and Mayor of Oklahoma City in 2004. He was the longest-serving mayor in the United States in 2018 and spent one term as president of the United States Conference of Mayors. In 2012, Newsweek Magazine named him one of the five most innovative mayors in the country. In 2011, London-based World Mayors listed him as the No. 2 mayor in the world and Governing magazine named him the Public Official of the Year. When Fortune magazine released their 2018 list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders,” Cornett was ranked as the 25th greatest leader in the world, citing his creativity in leading Oklahoma City’s advancements in school revitalization, public transit and downtown improvements. The month Cornett left office after 14 years as mayor, Oklahoma City was named the #1 city in the United States to start a business.

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Carlos Cubillos

As a global leader in Gensler’s Cities & Urban Design practice, Carlos brings expertise in architecture, urban design, and master planning, with a focus on mixed-use projects. A Principal and Design Director, Carlos has participated in projects in numerous international locations, including Russia, Mexico, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Dubai, China, Malaysia, and Singapore. His experience includes site planning, residential projects, resorts, office, and institutional buildings. Carlos holds a Master of Architecture and Master of City Planning/Urban Design, from the University of Pennsylvania, which he attended under a Fulbright Scholarship, and a B.Arch. from Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Carlos is a frequent juror for international design and planning competitions and a speaker at forums related to planning and urban design.