Past Keynotes and Plenaries
Each year, PCRG prides itself on bringing in dynamic speakers from across the country to present some of the newest and most challenging ideas to regional community development.
Donald A. Carter
Don Carter is David Lewis Director of Urban Design and Regional Engagement of the Remaking Cities Institute, Carnegie Mellon University. He also teaches in the Master of Urban Design program in the School of Architecture. Prior to joining Carnegie Mellon University in July 2009, Don was President of Urban Design Associates in Pittsburgh where over thirty-six years he led many of the firm’s most complex projects, drawing upon his broad international experience as an architect, urban designer, and developer.
Don has lectured internationally on urban design and architecture and authored the opening chapter of SynergiCity: Reinventing the Post-Industrial City (University of Illinois Press, 2012). His newest book is Remaking Post-Industrial Cities: Lessons from North America and Europe (Routledge, 2016), documenting ten case studies and common themes from the international Remaking Cities Congress that he co-chaired in Pittsburgh in October 2013.
Don currently serves on the board of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, and previously served on the boards of the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Pittsburgh Zoo, Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, Pittsburgh Public Theater, and Leadership Pittsburgh.
Don earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Carnegie Mellon University and did post-graduate study in urban design and regional planning at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
Henry Cisneros is the co-founder and Chairman of the CityView Companies, which work with urban homebuilders to create homes priced within the range of average families. Cisneros’ career began as a politician at the local level, when he served as a City Councilmember in San Antonio, going on to become the first Hispanic-American mayor of a major American city. During his four terms as Mayor, he helped rebuild the city’s economic base and spurred the creation of jobs through massive infrastructure and downtown improvements. In 1992, President Clinton appointed Cisneros to be Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”). As a member of President Clinton’s Cabinet, Secretary Cisneros was credited with initiating the revitalization of many of the nation’s public housing developments and with formulating policies which contributed to achieving the nation’s highest ever homeownership rate. In his role as the President’s chief representative to the nation’s cities, Mr. Cisneros personally worked in more than 200 U.S. cities in every one of the 50 states.
After leaving HUD in 1997, Cisneros became president and chief operating officer of Univision Communications, the Spanish-language broadcaster. He has served as president of the National League of Cities and as deputy chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. He is a former member of the advisory boards of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation. Mr. Cisneros has been inducted into the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) “Builders Hall of Fame” and honored by the National Housing Conference as the “Housing Person of the Year.” Cisneros is a graduate of Texas A&M and holds a Master’s degree from the Kennedy School at Harvard and a Doctorate from George Washington University.
James V. Denova, Ph.D.
Jim Denova is Vice President of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, and has primary responsibility for the Foundation’s Education agenda in West Virginia and Southwestern Pennsylvania. In addition, he directs several economic development projects in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Jim holds a Ph. D. from the University of Pittsburgh with a concentration in social research, and has over 35 years of experience in nonprofit administration and philanthropy. Prior positions include: Program Director for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Research Director for the Community College of Beaver County, Vice President of Research & Planning for the United Way of Allegheny County, Senior Program Officer for the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, and Executive Director of The Forbes Fund.
Over the years, he has served on the boards of Philanthropy West Virginia, Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania, the Women’s Center and Shelter, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, the Andrew Carnegie Free Library, the Remake Learning Council, and the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute of Politics. He also lectures at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Publications include working papers and journal articles on schoolbased health services, adult and STEM education, workforce development, and nonprofit management. He is frequently asked to speak before Pennsylvania public officials and the West Virginia Board of Education on career education, teacher quality, and school leadership.
Jim has received awards from the Children’s Defense Fund, the Harless Center for Rural Education Research and Development, the Mon Valley Initiative, Philanthropy West Virginia, Southwest Pennsylvania Partnership on Aging, and the National Association of Educational Service Agencies.
Writer, scholar, practitioner and advocate Alan Mallach has been engaged with the challenges of rebuilding America’s cities and their neighborhoods for over fifty years. A senior fellow with the Center for Community Progress in Washington DC, he also teaches in the Graduate Center on Planning and the Environment at Pratt Institute in New York. He has been affiliated with the Brookings Institution and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, and served as director of housing & economic development for the city of Trenton, New Jersey. His latest book, The Divided City: Poverty and Prosperity in Urban America, grapples with the challenge of the simultaneous urban revival, decline and polarization in the nation’s older industrial cities, and lays out a path for future cities of inclusion and opportunity. He has authored many other books, articles, book chapters, op-eds, and research and policy reports. He is also a pianist and author of two acclaimed books on 19th century Italian opera. He holds a B.A. degree from Yale College, and lives in Roosevelt, New Jersey.
Ceasar L. McDowell is Professor of the Practice of Civic Design at MIT. His current work is on the design of civic infrastructures and processes to connect the increasingly demographically complex public. His research and teaching interests include the use of social media and technology in promoting democracy and community-building, the education of urban students, the development and use of empathy, civil rights history, peacemaking and conflict resolution. He is the founder of MIT's CO-Lab and the new Civic Design Network and co-initiator of Democracy’s Path Forward. Dr. McDowell served as Director of the global civic engagement organization Dropping Knowledge International, President of Interaction Institute for Social Change, co-founder of The Civil Rights Forum on Telecommunications Policy, and founding Board member of The Algebra Project. You can find out more about him on his website.
Stefani Pashman is the current Chief Executive Officer of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. Before joining the Conference, Stefani served as CEO of Partner4Work and its predecessor, the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board, for seven years. She transformed the organization from a $1.5 million research-based group to a $20 million public-private system that educates the region on labor market dynamics, funds public and private workforce programs and connects local employers with qualified talent. Prior to Partner4Work, Stefani served in Governor Rendell’s Administration for nearly seven years at the PA Department of Human Services as Director of Policy and as Special Assistant to the Secretary. She also worked in private consulting at Avalere Health and Navigant and as an analyst in the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Stefani holds an M.B.A. and a Masters in Health Administration from the University of Michigan and a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis. She is active in national and local organizations and is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh. She resides in Squirrel Hill with her husband and three children.
Nathaniel Smith is the Founder and Chief Equity Officer of the Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE), which advances policies and actions that promote racial equity and shared prosperity for all in Atlanta and the American South. Among PSE’s notable accomplishments are the creation the South’s first equity mapping and framing tool, the Metro Atlanta Equity Atlas. PSE also led a coalition of diverse stakeholders to support a referendum that expanded Atlanta’s transit system into a new county for the first time in 45 years. Smith was instrumental in the ratification of a 15 percent set-aside of Atlanta Beltline Tax Allocation District funds for the development and maintenance of affordable workforce housing within the BeltLine Planning Area - $250 million over the 25-year lifespan of the District. The Huffington Post honored Nate as one of the eight Up and Coming Black Leaders in the Climate Movement in 2017. He was also designated one of the 100 Most Influential Georgians by Georgia Trend magazine and named to the Grist Magazine’s Grist 50 in 2018.
Andrea Batista Schlesinger
Andrea Batista Schlesinger leads the Inclusive Cities practice at HR&A Advisers, where she is a Partner. As a former leader in government, think tanks, philanthropy, and political campaigns, Andrea uniquely understands the capacity and role of government, advocacy, and philanthropy in making cities just and dynamic places. Her current work focuses on supporting equitable economic development and removing barriers to opportunity for all communities in cities, by working to effect change in workforce development, education, criminal justice, racial equity, and other fields. Prior to HR&A, Andrea was Deputy Director of US Programs the Open Society Foundations, George Soros’ global philanthropy. Previously, Andrea served as a Special Advisor to New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and as Executive Director of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, originally founded by an advisor to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Andrea began her career in public policy at age 16 as the Student Advisory Member on the New York City Board of Education, for which she was the subject of an award-winning documentary, “Hear Us Now.” She is the author of the book The Death of Why: The Decline of Questioning and the Future of Democracy (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2009). Andrea received her Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from the University of Chicago and holds Masters degrees in History from Columbia University and the London School of Economics, where she focused her studies on how global cities have constructed their responses to inequality during the latter half of the 20th century. Andrea also serves on the board of The Nation and the New York Women’s Foundation.
Mekael Teshome is vice president and senior regional officer of the Pittsburgh Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Mr. Teshome is responsible for managing relationships with regional stakeholders in western Pennsylvania, southeastern Ohio, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia. He is also responsible for monitoring the region’s economic environment and conducting economic research and analysis.
Before joining the Cleveland Reserve Bank, Mr. Teshome was an assistant vice president and economist at the PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh where he contributed industry-focused, regional, national and international economic analyses and forecasts. Prior to PNC, he served as an assistant director and economist at Moody’s Analytics. He is a founding board member of the Bethel Environmental and Agricultural University and Training Center, a member of the board of economic advisors of the North Carolina Chamber Foundation, and a board member of the Economic Club of Pittsburgh. He is also a member of the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) and the Ethiopian Economics Association.
Mr. Teshome holds a BA in political science from Taylor University and an MA in economics from Vanderbilt University.