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. At this year’s Summit, our keynote speakers bring their skills and experiences as hands-on advocates for equitable change and growth to our conference.

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Alan Mallach

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. 

Nate Smith


Nate 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.