In Business Improvement Districts


Janet Attarian, AIA, is a Principal at SmithGroup and has over 25 years of experience in creating beautiful, livable cities with a focus on multi-modal mobility, placemaking, and ecological infrastructure. She helps craft SmithGroup’s vision for smart, sustainable urban neighborhoods that are focused on people and planet and has a gift for synthesizing the multiple disciples it takes to create vibrant communities in partnership with residents. Previously she was Deputy Director for the City of Detroit’s Planning and Development Department and Complete Streets Director for the Chicago Department of Transportation.

Philip Barash is a writer and community design expert. He advises public and institutional clients on activating the public realm through meaningful engagement with stakeholders. He has worked with the Chicago Architecture Center, Barack Obama Foundation, National Park Service, and the Walton Family Foundation on transformative placemaking initiatives. The equitable place management work he led in Boston is recognized as a model by the Brookings Institution and other venues. His critical writing is published in Crain’s, Building Design and Construction, Landscape Architecture Magazine, and Places Journal. Barash is on faculty at Boston University and serves on the board of the International Downtown Association. 

Gina Cavaliere is the Chief Community Impact Officer and BIZ Director for the Downtown Detroit Partnership. She is responsible for leading the operations of Detroit’s BIZ and oversees its program development in close coordination with the BIZ board of directors, particularly the Downtown BIZ Ambassador program. Previously, Cavaliere served as Wayne County Economic Department’s deputy director. She has led numerous publicly funded capital improvement projects. Cavaliere received her juris doctor from Wayne State University Law School and Bachelor of Arts from Michigan State University.

Simon David, PLA, is the Founder & Creative Director of OSD, a multidisciplinary design group with offices in New York City and New Mexico. OSD is a national and international award winning design firm building resilient and equitable communities with a focus on urban design, planning, architecture and landscape architecture. Simon lectures and presents on resilient urban communities, and how streetscapes and public space can enrich local communities — most recently at Walk, Bike, Places, and Urbanism Next. Simon is currently teaching a project about the future of Detroit’s streetscapes in partnership with the University of Michigan.

Meagan Elliott is the Deputy CFO in charge of Development and Grants for the City of Detroit and looks for opportunities to collaborate with partners in the State and Federal government as well as philanthropic partners on transformational initiatives that will impact Detroiters lives. In her previous role, she was Chief Parks Planner with the City of Detroit for seven years. She earned her PhD in Sociology and Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Michigan. Meagan is interested in the meaning of public access and how we measure the impact of park space on things like public health, political agency, and collective identity.  

Tadd Heidgerken, is an Associate Professor of Architecture at University of Detroit Mercy where he advises the Dichotomy Architectural Journal, teaches the professional practice course and runs an upper year design studio focusing on localized redevelopment. Tadd is a Founding Principal of Et al. Collaborative, a Detroit-NY based architecture firm and President of Block Party, a community-based development group in Detroit. His research focuses on current urban social conditions, testing means of community-based slow growth development, and creating design methods for socially built structures that use local skills to integrate buildings into their communities. Tadd earned his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Detroit Mercy and a Master of Architecture from the Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Conrad Kickert, PhD, has a background in urbanism and architecture from the TU Delft (Netherlands) and holds a PhD in architecture from the University of Michigan. He has worked as an urban researcher and designer for various design offices, property developers and non-profit organizations in The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. His research studies the evolving relationship between urban form, urban life and the urban economy. Dr. Kickert has authored award-winning articles and books, including the monograph “Dream City – Creation, Destruction and Reinvention in downtown Detroit” and two upcoming books on retail and street-level architecture.

Barbara Knecht, RA, has worked at the intersection of people and designed environments for more than 35 years. In the 1980‘s Ms. Knecht worked for the City of New York managing the development and design of several thousand units of housing and public space. In the 1990‘s, she continued her development work in the not-for-profit sector, adding research, evaluation and training projects. Subsequently she was the consulting Director of Design at the Institute for Human Centered Design in Boston and the co-director of IHP Cities in the 21st Century, a multi-disciplinary program for university students studying “people, planning and politics” in four cities across the world. Since 2012, Ms. Knecht has been immersed in the introduction of urban farming into cities.

Kenneth Kokroko, PLA, ASLA, wasborn and raised in Tucson, Arizona, Kenneth adores the people, cultures, and natural landscapes of the Sonoran Desert borderlands. As a trained anthropologist and registered landscape architect exploring the intersection of urban design and equitable development, Kenneth spent several years working for SmithGroup on public works projects in Detroit, Michigan. Kenneth possesses unique professional experience leading community-based planning and design processes for transformative open space and neighborhood planning projects. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Arizona where his research focuses on inclusive processes of community engagement and collaboration in planning and design projects.

Andreas Luescher, PhD, is a Swiss architect, who is currently Professor of Teaching Excellence, Professor of Architecture and Chair of Architecture and Environmental Design at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. His research is on design processes in architecture, design and urban design from an aesthetic, social, public policy, sustainability as well as visual culture perspective. He has published four books; the latest book (with co-author Sujata Shetty), “Urban Shrinkage, Industrial Renewal and Automotive Plants” (2019) published by Palgrave Macmillan. 

Tricia Meehan is an architect (BArch University of Detroit) with a PhD in Architecture (Université de Paris 8). She has taught for both American and French Schools and is currently an Associate Professor at the ENSA Normandie in Urbanism and Urban Design, member of the research unit ATE (Architecture, Territory Environment) and teaches with Boston University Paris. Her research and teaching interests include critical discourse in architecture and urbanism, questions of governance explored through institutional and administrative histories, as well as studies of more recent urban evolutions linked to deindustrialization and/or metropolitanization processes, with a particular focus on public space.

Jerry Mitchell is Professor of Public Policy in the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College, The City University of New York.  He conducted the first national study of business improvement districts in 1999 with financial support from the Pricewaterhouse Coopers Endowment for Business and Government.  His research culminated in the 2008 SUNY Press book Business Improvement Districts and the Shape of American Cities. In his teaching and research, he seeks to apply ecological concepts to the analysis of public policy and administration.  He has a forthcoming publication in the International Review of Public Policy, “Sorting Out Animal Policy: Ideas, Problems, and Solutions.” Professor Mitchell is currently completing a study of parks conservancies.

Dorin Moore, FAIA, is an architect, urban designer, teacher, civic leader, and retail entrepreneur who uses his practice in the post-industrial cities of Detroit and Windsor, Canada to serve as an international resource for transforming urban environments. Mr. Moore also teaches in Visual Arts and Built Environment joint degree program between the University of Detroit- Mercy and the University of Windsor. He has spent many years traveling to, studying, and documenting the urban character of more than 400 cities worldwide. He draws from this research to inform his design practice as a partner in Archive Design Studio, his public lectures, interviews, and university courses.

Glenda Puente, AIA is an award-winning architect based in Miami, Florida. Puente has a Master of Architecture from the University of Florida and is currently a Lecturer at University of Miami. Other roles include Chapter President of DOCOMOMO US/Florida, cofounder of the Miami Architecture and Design Film Festival, and US coordinator for the Bienal Panamericana de Arquitectura de Quito. Puenta was named Citizen Architect by AIA Florida in 2017, Young Architect of the Year by AIA Miami in 2019, and received two Design Awards by AIA Florida in 2021.

Brian Rebain, RA, Brian joined Kraemer Design Group in the spring of 2006 and has quietly become one of the leading historic architects in the region with over 70 historic tax credit projects under his wing, the majority of which are located in the City of Detroit. He is a 36CFR Part 61 Qualified Historic Architect, and has extensive experience, as both architect and design consultant, on numerous award winning historic adaptive re-use projects in Detroit and throughout the region. This passion for historic rehabilitation is a natural fit as Brian works to revitalize his hometown of Detroit.

Noah Resnick, AIA, teaches and practices in the city of Detroit, Michigan, where he is a Professor at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture and Community Development, and currently serves as the Associate Dean.
Noah grew up in Miami, Florida, where he attended the Design and Architecture Senior High magnet school. He earned his BArch from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, where he was awarded the AIA Henry Adams Medal of Excellence. He completed his SMArchS at MIT in the Architecture + Urbanism stream.  In addition to Detroit, Noah has practiced in Chicago, Boston, and New York, as well as Berlin, Germany where he worked in the studio of Daniel Libeskind.

Haley Schultheis is a graduate of the University of South Florida with a degree in Behavioral Healthcare. She is currently pursuing a Master of Community Development at University of Detroit Mercy. Haley is a participant in Challenge Detroit, an immersive community-based fellowship, and currently works at Community and Home Supports, a nonprofit homeless service agency, as a Client and Operations Support Coordinator. Haley is interested in understanding and validating the human experience. She is curious about the ways people interact with the world around them. New to Detroit, Haley is excited about creating connections for positive change within her community.

Sujata Shetty, PhD, is Director of the Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center and a professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toledo.  Her research focuses on the challenges faced by old industrial cities experiencing deep population loss and her research explores the role of urban planning in these under-resourced communities from multiple perspectives, including land use, housing, urban design and neighborhood-based community planning. 

Virginia Stanard is an educator and urban designer. She holds positions of Associate Professor of Architecture and Community Development at the University of Detroit Mercy. She is also a Principal at City Form Detroit, a research-based, collaborative urban design practice. Her teaching, research, and practice focus on community-based design and planning. Virginia received her Master of Architecture and Master of Urban Design from the University of Michigan and her Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Virginia.

Brett Weidl, PLA, is a landscape architect and urban designer with SmithGroup’s Chicago office and has 16 years of experience shaping urban spaces and strengthening communities towards increased equity, accessibility, and beauty. She incorporates her passion for community engagement and inspiring public spaces into her day-to-day work, and continuously seeks opportunities to strengthen communities by focusing on the people who reside there and the spaces in which they inhabit. Her work ranges from large urban public spaces to transformative tactical urbanism, marrying place making with design excellence to move communities forward.

Mark Wallace is the president & CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. Prior to joining the Conservancy in August 2014, he taught in the Detroit Public Schools for three years and was a director with Hines Interests LP from 2003 to 2014 where he served as project manager of the River Point development in Chicago, a 50-story, state-of-the-art tower located on the Chicago River. The project includes a 1.5-acre public park that opens the West Loop neighborhood to the main branch of the Chicago River. In 2014, Wallace launched Wallace Detroit Guitars, which manufactures guitars using reclaimed wood from abandoned homes in Detroit.