Speakers Announced for the LOCUS Michigan Leadership Summit

The LOCUS Michigan Leadership Summit: Closing the Next [Smart Growth] Deal, occurring June 23 in Detroit, will host over 135 real estate developers and local elected officials to share and discuss new opportunities in smart growth development and advance walkable urban communities across Michigan. LOCUS is excited to introduce our lineup of speakers who will be featured at the event:

Anderson Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America, has been named by Partners for Livable Communities as “One of the 100 Most Influential Leaders in Sustainable Community Planning and Development.” Geoff came to his current position after eight years heading the Smart Growth Program at the US Environmental Protection Agency. He helped to found the smart growth movement as one of the authors of the foundational 10 smart growth principles.
Bais-Disessa Appointed on August 20, 2001 by the Berkley City Council, Jane Bais-DiSessa is the 14th City Manager for the City of Berkley, Michigan. Her career as a Public Administrator has taken her to a total of six cities, where she has held the position of City Manager for three of those communities. Having worked with both large and small municipalities, her experience is diverse, and she has worked in all areas associated with the provision of public service.
Blaszkiewicz David Blaszkiewicz serves as president and CEO of Invest Detroit. He is responsible for the organization’s development and implementation of collaborative economic growth strategies designed for the creation of density and jobs. Additionally, David manages Invest Detroit’s programs and coordinates a number of audiences to support residential, commercial, retail, entertainment, and place-making activity in Detroit’s Greater Downtown and targeted neighborhoods.
Cummings Sam Cummings, Managing Partner of CWD Real Estate Investment, has dedicated the last 25 years of his life to the preservation of Grand Rapids’ history and the revitalization of the community through the built environment. One by one, Cummings has brought back to life some of Grand Rapids’ most historic treasures and long neglected buildings. Today, Sam and his partners are working to bring a new vision, vibrancy, and vitality to the urban core and community.
Gladney Calvin Gladney is the Managing Partner of Mosaic Urban and a trusted advisor to cities and non-profits seeking to sustainably regenerate urban communities. Mr. Gladney is also a nationally-recognized public speaker on the revitalization of cities and urban neighborhoods. Over the years, he has served as a strategic advisor on projects with estimated development costs of over $1 billion, and is currently working on neighborhood revitalization projects around the country.
Heartwell George Heartwell is now serving his third term as Mayor of Grand Rapids. During his tenure, city government has implemented a variety of environmental measures, including the purchase of renewable resource energy, use of alternative fuels, continued attention to water quality in the Grand River, and widespread implementation of energy conservation measures. In 2012 Mayor Heartwell was given the first place Climate Protection Award by the US Conference of Mayors.
Larson In mid-2014, Eric Larson took over the role of CEO of The Downtown Detroit Partnership, an organization whose board he has been a member of since 1995. Mr. Larson has over 30 years of experience in real estate and prior to establishing the Larson Realty Group, served as Vice President of global real estate company Hines, and as a partner and Senior Vice President with Bruce S. Brickman and Associates. He has also served as managing partner at Bedrock Real Estate Services LLC.
leinberger Christopher Leinberger, President of LOCUS, is a land use strategist, teacher, developer, researcher, and author, balancing business realities with social and environmental concerns. In addition to his work with LOCUS, Mr. Leinberger is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at Brookings Institution in Washington DC, professor at the Graduate Real Estate Development Program at the University of Michigan, and Founding Partner of Arcadia Land Company.
Marohn Chuck Marohn, President of Strong Towns, is a professional engineer licensed in the State of Minnesota and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He has both a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Minnesota. Chuck is the author of Thoughts on Building Strong Towns, the primary author of the Strong Towns Blog, and the host of the Strong Towns Podcast.
Ricks Karina Ricks, Principal at NelsonNygaard, has had a 20-year career predominantly in the public sector as planner, visionary, enabler, implementer, and innovator at the national, state, and municipal level. She has led major initiatives to build or revive dynamic, diverse, and prosperous communities. Her experience encompasses disciplines including transportation, public finance, land use planning, economic revitalization, community development, and environmental excellence.
Zimmerman Chris Zimmerman is Smart Growth America’s Vice President for Economic Development, and Director of the Governors’ Institute on Community Design. Much of his work focuses on the economic and fiscal impact of development policies on localities and regions. Prior to joining Smart Growth America, Chris was heavily involved in planning, development, and transportation policy in Arlington County, VA and the greater Washington, DC region for two decades.


June is a busy month for Michigan. In addition to hosting the Michigan Leadership Summit, LOCUS will be releasing the WalkUP WakeUP Call: Michigan, a report highlighting communities across Michigan that are centers of smart growth investment and walkable urbanism.

Registration closes June 18 for the LOCUS Michigan Leadership Summit. Make sure to reserve a ticket by next week to secure your place in Detroit. For more information visit the Summit page and view the full agenda.