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Abir Ali is a designer whose work spans architecture, furniture, publication and philanthropy. She is the creative director and co‐partner of Ali Sandifer Studio, a design studio and workshop that is focused on hand‐crafted furniture. The practice was established in 2004 and moved from Chicago to Detroit in 2011. Ali Sandifer Studio’s work has been recognized in a number of on‐line and print publications, including Y‐Living, Modern Midwest, Detroit Home, CS Interiors, Azure, American Craft Magazine, and Accesorios de Madera. The studio is part of the Detroit Creative Corridor Center initiative, Artifact Makers Society.

Parallel to Ali Sandifer Studio, Abir held positions in both architecture and philanthropy. She gained her practical experience in Chicago at Landon Bone Baker Architects, a firm specializing in the new construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing. She expanded her experience to philanthropy through her work at the Hudson‐Webber Foundation, a private foundation investing in improving the vitality and quality of life in Detroit.

In addition, Abir has been involved with publications narrating and imagining cities. Most recently, she led the first edition of 7.2 SQ MI: A Report on Greater Downtown Detroit, on behalf of the Hudson‐ Webber Foundation and alongside the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, D:hive, Downtown Detroit Partnership and Midtown Detroit, Inc. Previous to this publication, she was assistant editor to Site Unseen: Laneway Architecture and Urbanism in Toronto. The work of Site Unseen emerged from a graduate studio at the University of Toronto and received the 2003 City of Toronto, Visions and Master Plans Award.

Abir received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture at the University of Michigan (2000) and a Master of Architecture from the University of Toronto (2004). She is a native Detroiter who returned to the city as part of the first cohort of Detroit Revitalization Fellows, a two‐year professional development program of Wayne State University (2011‐13). Abir lives in Detroit’s historic Boston Edison neighborhood with her husband, Andre, and their three sons.

befordPaul J. Bedford Urban mentor and former chief planner for the City of Toronto, Paul Bedford is a member and fellow of the Canadian Institute of Planners, with more than 40 years’ experience in urban planning and city building.

Since retirement in 2004, Mr. Bedford has been appointed adjunct professor at the University of Toronto and Ryerson University planning schools. He also serves on the Waterfront Toronto Urban Design Review Panel and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Property Committee in Toronto, and served two terms on the Metrolinx board of directors.

A frequent public speaker on numerous planning issues, he is a passionate advocate of urban life.



blackettMatthew Blackett is the publisher, creative director and one of the founders of Spacing magazine.

As publisher, Blackett has helped shape the magazine into one of Canada’s top small magazines: Blackett was named Editor of the Year for 2007 by the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors and Spacing was named Canadian Small Magazine of the Year in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Blackett was awarded a 2007 Canadian Urban Leadership Award for “City Soul” by the Canadian Urban Institute for his part in creating Spacing. Under Blackett’s artistic direction, the magazine has also been awarded international design awards for its layout, photography and TTC-inspired subway station buttons. Matthew often speaks at urban issues and magazine conferences, while his articles on a variety of city-oriented topics can be found on Spacing Toronto, the magazine’s daily blog. He has also contributed to The Toronto Star, The National Post, Eye Weekly, and Azure.

From 2004 to 2006, Blackett was a member of Toronto’s Roundtable on a Clean and Beautiful City, a citizen advisory committee to Mayor David Miller. Blackett was awarded a 2007 Canadian Urban Leadership Award for “City Soul” by the Canadian Urban Institute. From 2006-2009 Matthew was a member of the board of directors for The Friends of the Greenblelt Foundation. Matthew is currently a member of the City of Toronto’s Pedestrian Committee, and member of the board of directors of The Friends of Fort York.

Since 2001, Blackett has been a freelance graphic designer and communications strategist for a variety of organizations like the Car Free Day, The Sierra Club of Canada, Conservation Council of Ontario, Toronto Atmospheric Fund, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, and the Toronto Transit Commission. Matthew also taught publication design to journalism students at Humber College in Toronto from 2005-2008.


AlanBroadbentPortrait copyAlan Broadbent is Chairman and Founder of Maytree, and Chairman and CEO of Avana Capital Corporation. He co-founded and chairs the Caledon Institute of Social Policy, Tamarack – An Institute for Community Engagement, Diaspora Dialogues, and the Institute for Municipal Finance and Governance at the Munk Centre, University of Toronto. In addition, Alan is a Director of Sustainalytics Holdings B.V., a Director of Invest Toronto, a Director and past-Chair of Tides Canada, Senior Fellow and Governing Board member of Massey College, Member of the Governors’ Council of the Toronto Public Library Foundation, and Member of the Order of Canada and recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. Alan is the author of Urban Nation:  Why We Need to Give Power Back to the Cities to Make Canada Strong, and co-editor of Five Good Ideas: Practical Strategies for Non-Profit Success, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Ryerson University in 2009.



claysonMatt Clayson is Director of both the Detroit Creative Corridor Center at College for Creative Studies and Business Leaders for Michigan. He is one of the drafters of the Detroit Declaration, the former founding Chair of United Way Leadership Next, and a founding member of Michigan Children’s Leadership Council. He has served on various advisory boards and taskforces, including the 2009 Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce Mackinac Advisory Committee, the Detroit Renaissance “Road to Renaissance” creative economy work group,  The Center for Michigan’s “Michigan’s Defining Moment” campaign, the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit, Detroit Synergy and the Detroit Yacht Club. A licensed attorney in the State of Michigan, Matt managed promotion/marketing/privacy legal compliance for a portfolio of Fortune 500 clients while at Michigan-based ePrize.

“I want a Detroit that is not just globally renowned, but is globally competitive.  I want a Detroit that does a few things, and does those few things better than anyone else in the world. Detroit can be a leader in design, urban development, greenbelts and mobility. I look forward to advancing solutions that can help us be a leader in these areas.”

Matt lives in Detroit’s Indian Village with his wife and daughter, and is restoring their historic 101 year-old home.

markdMark Denson currently serves as Business Attraction, Manager with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, specializing in downtown, retail, office, and commercial attraction. He is also responsible for the Creative Corridor Incentive Fund; the purpose of this $2.5 million dollar program is to create a dense cluster of knowledge-based businesses, and a talented, qualified workforce in greater downtown.

Recently, Mark served as Director of North American Marketing with the Detroit Regional Economic Partnership responsible for marketing the ten county Southeast Michigan Region, and the City of Detroit throughout the United States and Canada. This economic development marketing program was designed to attract new business and capital investment to Southeast Michigan.

Before joining the Chamber’s economic development team Mark served as Vice President of Economic Development with the Livonia Economic Development Partnership responsible for managing and directing a multi-year economic development effort. Primary duties were developing and implementing business retention & assistance programs. Mark was also responsible for developing business attraction, and workforce development programs.


david_egnerDavid O. Egner was named executive director of the New Economy Initiative in 2009. Under Egner’s leadership the New Economy Initiative has targeted resources to grow and sustain an inclusive entrepreneurial culture that drives economic development for the Detroit region through coordinated entrepreneurial and place-making activities.  In addition, Egner continues to serve as president and CEO of the Hudson-Webber Foundation, a position he has held since 1997.

Egner has more than 25 years of experience working with nonprofits and foundations, from early years as executive assistant to the chairman of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek to guiding the Michigan Nonprofit Association, a Lansing-based coalition, through its development and mergers.

Egner serves on the boards of the Downtown Detroit Partnership, Invest Detroit, among others and is chair of the Michigan Future board of directors and leadership council. Egner is a graduate of Leadership Detroit Class XIX and chaired the Leadership Detroit Trustees from 2007-10. In 2006, Egner was appointed by Governor Jennifer Granholm as a member of the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs and in 2009 he was named one of Crain’s Newsmakers of the Year for his work with both the Hudson-Webber Foundation and NEI.

Egner has an M.B.A from Western Michigan University and a B.A. from Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. He lives with his wife Tammy and their four children in metro Detroit.


chicksCharity Hicks is a native Detroiter, and was raised on Detroit’s lower eastside right off of the Detroit River which contributes to her love for the environment. Her interest and public service include: economic development, environmental justice, food justice, urban agriculture, place making, design, health disparities, Africana culture, and restorative justice growing the Beloved Community. She is a Master Gardener through Michigan State University- Extension, a member of Sierra Club, the Great Lakes Water COMMONS group, and several other environmental/ecological groups.

She works as a Policy Fellow with the Everyone at the Table for Health (EAT4HEALTH) initiative of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation (New York) and the Praxis Project (Washington D.C.) working on equitable food & agriculture policy for urban communities. Embedded in her food system work, she is a community engager/organizer of the Detroit Food Justice Taskforce a collaborative of 10 community based groups, and local activists in Detroit formed in 2009 to work in the food system and urban agricultural movement to promote a justice centered food system. She is also the Policy Director at East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) helping to empower the Detroit community to protect, preserve, and value the land, air and water. One of her current frames is climate.

Charity has an extensive background in public service and is currently serving with several boards and committee groups some of which includes: Detroit Public Schools Health Council, Peoples Water Board Detroit, and the Future’s Taskforce of the Community Development Advocates of Detroit. She is an alumna of the Center for Whole Communities (2011) and The Rockwood inaugural group of Upper Midwest Leadership (2011/2012). Due to her significant skills and leadership she represents several grassroots groups in the People’s Movement Assembly (PMA) in Detroit and served as the grassroots community presence on the Detroit WORKS: Mayors Advisory Taskforce since December 2010 and the W K Kellogg Civic Engagement Fellows of Detroit 2011/2012. She has significant training in the New Economy Initiative via The Land Policy Institute of Michigan State University on Place Making and regional economic development.

cmacdougCynthia MacDougall is a partner with McCarthy Tétrault and head of the Municipal Group in Toronto. Her practice focuses on the areas of municipal, land use planning and environmental law.

Ms. MacDougall is a member of the Municipal Section, Canadian Bar Association (Ontario). She is Chair of the Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation, past-president and past-director of the Neighbourhood Information Post, as well as a former director of the Wood Green Community Centre, the Scarborough Distress Centre and Sistering.

Cynthia practises extensively in front of the Ontario Municipal Board, Committees of Adjustment and Land Division Committees; frequently makes deputations to local and regional Councils and their committees; and works with members of Council and senior governmental staff.

Cynthia received a B.A.A. in Urban and Regional Planning from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in 1980 and her LL.B. from the University of Toronto in 1984. She was called to the Ontario Bar in 1986.

MMMichael McClelland is a registered architect and founding partner of ERA Architects and has specialized in heritage conservation, heritage planning, and urban design for over 25 years. Having begun his career in municipal government, most notably for the Toronto Historical Board, Michael continues to work with  a wide range of public and private stakeholders to build culture through thoughtful, values-based heritage planning and design.

Well known for his contribution to the discourse surrounding heritage architecture and landscape architecture in Canada, Michael speaks regularly in the media and at public and professional events, has published numerous articles and edited several books, and has received numerous awards and honours.


micallef2Shawn Micallef is the author of Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto (Coach House, 2010) and a senior editor and co-owner of the independent, Jane Jacobs Prize–winning magazine Spacing. In 2002, while a resident at the Canadian Film Centre’s ­Media Lab, he co-founded [murmur], the location-based mobile phone documentary project. Begun in Toronto’s Kensington Market, the project has spread throughout the city and to more than twenty cities globally. He teaches at OCAD University, started the Toronto web magazine Yonge Street, and is a 2011–2012 Canadian Journalism Fellow at University of Toronto’s Massey College. He writes and talks about cities, culture, buildings, art and politics in books, magazines, newspapers, websites and even in front of real live people.




nickitaMark Nickita, AIA, CNU, APA, BSArch, BArch, MArch is an urbanist, architect, retail entrepreneur, developer, educator and an elected municipal leader and President of Archive DS, an award-winning, multi-disciplinary design firm in Detroit and Toronto. Archive DS has distinct expertise in the development, enhancement and the regeneration of existing, pedestrian-oriented urban environments including downtowns, neighborhoods, developed corridors, mixed-use areas and underutilized districts of post-industrial cities.

Mr. Nickita is a City Commissioner and has served as Mayor of Birmingham, Michigan, and is co-owner of urban retail establishments in Downtown Detroit, including the Pure Detroit Stores, The Rowland Cafe and Stella Cafes.


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Mark Noskiewicz is a partner and the head of Municipal and Land Use Planning Group at Goodmans.  He practices administrative law with a focus on municipal and land development matters.

His expertise in this field is evident in his counsel to some of the country’s leading real estate development firms.  Mark has appeared before municipal councils and at Ontario Municipal Board hearings to obtain approvals for a variety of large urban and suburban developments, including The Eaton Centre, the CBC Broadcast Centre, the CN Tower expansion, Bay-Adelaide, numerous downtown residential projects (including Spire, Tip Top Lofts and Radio City), the ongoing development of the Square One Shopping Centre, and greenfield development in new communities such as Brampton’s Credit Valley area and Milton’s urban expansion areas.  He has been involved in the redevelopment of a number of brownfield sites including the restoration and redevelopment of the historic Gooderham & Worts Distillery site, as well as the redevelopment of the St. Lawrence Starch site in Port Credit.  He also has significant experience with respect to development charge and infrastructure financing matters.  Mark has been consistently recommended by The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory as one of the leading practitioners in land development work.

Mark shares his experience on municipal and development matters, delivering lectures on a variety of land use, infrastructure financing and municipal matters.  In 2009, Mark was named the District Council Chair of the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit research and education organization dedicated to the advancement of land use and real estate development disciplines, working in private enterprise and public service.  He was previously on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of Urban Development Institute/Ontario, and continues to provide regular advice and assistance to GTHBA/UDI on land use policy and legislative matters.  Mark has also volunteered as a director for The Creche Child and Family Centre.


polkKyle Polk is serving as Detroit Future City’s Economic Growth Vertical (EGV) Lead and provides strategic planning, prioritization and evaluation services related to the Economic Growth Action Plan. Prior to Detroit Future City, Kyle was a researcher manager at the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC). ICIC was founded by HBS professor Michael Porter with a focus on leveraging strong economic clusters in distressed urban economies across the country.

Prior to ICIC, Kyle was a Bank Examiner for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY). In the wake of the financial crisis of ’08-’09, Kyle managed a series of financial stress tests, credit analysis and risk ratings for nations largest investment banks.

Kyle started his career in the Merger’s & Acquisitions group of Europe’s largest investment banking institution, Deutsche Bank. He is a graduate of Morehouse College with cum laude honors.


b.rebainBrian Rebain joined Kraemer Design Group in the spring of 2006 after a series of diverse experiences spanning architecture, construction, and community service. He graduated from the University of Michigan’s College of Architecture and Urban Planning in 1998, and continued his experience in Montreal, Vermont, Italy, and the Northwoods of Ontario. After completing his Master of Architecture degree in 2002, Brian embarked on his most formative experience: building homes for three years as an AmeriCorps member and House Leader with Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity. At Habitat, Brian saw firsthand the ways in which buildings, even the simplest of ones, can change people and places in significant ways.

As Studio Director at KDG, Brian has an eye for detail and an endless capacity for knowledge. These qualities have led him to be a specialist in some critical disciplines within the firm.  Brian is the team leader for product selection and specification writing, and maintains membership in the Construction Specifications Institute, giving him access to the latest research in building materials and construction technology. He is also a 36CFR Part 61 Qualified Historic Architect, and has extensive experience, as both designer and consultant, on numerous historic adaptive re-use projects both in Detroit and throughout the region. This passion for historic preservation is a natural fit as Brian works to revitalize his hometown of Detroit. He is fully committed to life in the city, and currently lives in a 100 year old home in Detroit’s historic Indian Village. Brian is proud to serve his hometown both personally and professionally, and is inspired by the challenges of working in such a dynamic and energetic place.

stintzCouncillor Karen Stintz, first elected in 2003 represents Ward 16 Eglinton-Lawrence.

Before being elected City Councillor, she acquired seven years of experience in the public and private sectors, managing and delivering multi-million dollar programs in the healthcare sector. Earlier, she graduated with an Honours BA from the University of Western Ontario and a Master’s of Science in Journalism from Boston University.  She also earned a Master of Public Administration degree from Queen’s University.

Councillor Stintz is the Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission.  With well over 500 million riders per year, the TTC is behind only New York and Mexico City as North America’s busiest public transit system.

Karen sits on the City’s Planning and Growth Management Committee, the City’s Employee and Labour Relations Committee and the City’s Striking Committee.

Karen is also a member of the Providence Healthcare Foundation and the GTAA’s Community Environment & Noise Advisory Committee .  In Ward 16, Councillor Stintz sits on the Board of Directors for the North Toronto Memorial Arena and the Larry Grossman Forest Hill Memorial Arena, and is also a member of the Yonge-Lawrence Village BIA, The Uptown Yonge BIA and the Eglinton Way BIA.

Karen was born and raised in Toronto and lives in Ward 16 with her husband and two children.

kmstolarickKevin Stolarick, PhD, dubbed the “Official Statistician of the Creative Class”, combines a depth of knowledge with an appreciation of the importance of finding and sharing the knowledge or “pearls of wisdom” gained from his comprehensive understanding of the Creative Class and the Creative Economy.

He is the Research Director at The Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto and the Inaugural Walton Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Sustainability at the School of Sustainability, Arizona State University.  He has held faculty positions at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA and for over a decade worked with technology in the insurance industry as a manager of strategic projects. He holds a PhD in Business Administration and an MBA from the Tepper School of Management, Carnegie Mellon University and a BS in Honors in Applied Computer Science from Illinois State University. He has taught numerous courses in Statistical Analysis, Information Systems and Regional Economic Development. His research interests include the relationship between firm performance and information technology and the impacts of technology, tolerance, talent, and quality of place on regional growth and prosperity.

Kevin provided quantitative research and analytical support for several of Richard Florida’s books including The Rise of the Creative Class and Rise Revisited (the 10th Anniversary Edition).  He continues in collaboration with Richard and others researchers. This research includes primary development of measures, indicators, and benchmarking approaches with significant impact on the growth and development of the Creative Class and Creative Economy theory. Kevin is one of the few statistical analysts who has the complete works of Edward Tufte and Donald Norman on his shelves.

weirScott Weir M. Arch LEED AP CAHP is a Principal at E.R.A. Architects Inc., and holds a post-professional Master’s degree in Architecture. Scott has been with the firm since 2000 and specializes in heritage conservation, adaptive reuse, new design, heritage planning, and advocacy for heritage buildings, cities, and the built environment, with a particular interest in the custom design and renovation of residences and cottages.

An avid photographer, bibliophile, and writer, Scott’s interest in cultural theory and North American urbanism has led to his work being published in a variety of architectural periodicals, including an award-winning column on architecture, urbanism, and conservation for the National Post. He has been formally trained in Canada, Italy, and the U.K., and he regularly guest lectures for various programs at the University of Toronto, York, Ryerson, and Carleton Universities, as well as being a mentor at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. Scott also enjoys getting his hands dirty on his own conservation and construction projects, and harbours an obsession with his hometown, Detroit.

kwongtamCouncillor Kristyn Wong-Tam 
has championed the expansion of green public spaces, farmers’ markets, community gardens including improvements to parks and ravines as a tireless community advocate. She has led efforts to defend the rights of tenants to obtain affordable and decent standards of rental housing and helped create a neighbourhood association to preserve and protect heritage buildings and historical landscapes in the ward.
Councillor Wong-Tam has a distinguished track record of human rights advocacy and was a co-founder of Asian Canadians For Equal Marriage, and the past president of the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter that successfully lobbied the federal government for the head tax apology and redress.

Prior to being elected to City Council in 2010, Councillor Wong-Tam was an accomplished real estate professional and supporter of the arts. She has curated art installations for Scotiabank’s Nuit Blanche and is the principal of a Toronto-based contemporary fine art gallery. As a founding member of the Church-Wellesley Village Business Improvement Association, her business advocacy and entrepreneurship focusing on urban economic development, earned her a seat on the Mayor David Miller’s Economic Competitiveness Advisory Committee which produced the Agenda for Prosperity in 2008.


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