Dr. Anthony Townsend is an internationally-recognized expert on urbanization and digital technology. He is the founder of Bits and Atoms, a smart cities strategy consultancy and planning studio that works with industry, government and philanthropy on economic development, digital placemaking, and strategic technology forecasting.

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His first book, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers and the Quest for A New Utopia was published by W.W. Norton & Co. in 2013. In 2001, Anthony co-founded NYCwireless, a pioneer in the community and municipal wireless movement. Anthony holds a Ph.D. in urban and regional planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in urban planning from New York University, and a B.A. in urban studies with a minor in physics from Rutgers University. He lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.


Angela Siefer envisions a world in which all members of society have the skills and the resources to use the Internet for the betterment of themselves and their communities. She is the Founder and Director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, a unified national voice for local technology training, home broadband access and public broadband access programs.

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Angela has been working on digital inclusion issues since 1996. Beginning with a University of Toledo sociology graduate school assistantship coordinating a regional community technology network, Angela then moved onto serving as the Executive Director of the Ohio Community Computing Network distributing funds to and supporting community technology centers. Angela was involved with multiple projects of the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program of the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA plus researching and writing best practices for the NTIA Broadband Adoption Toolkit. A profile of her written work is at angelasiefer.com.


Gordon Feller is the Co-Founder of Meeting of the Minds, a global thought leadership network and knowledge-sharing platform focused on the future of sustainable cities, innovation and technology.

He serves as a consultant to Cisco focused on Internet of Things and Talent.

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Gordon has worked in the area of emerging technology for three decades, most recently consulting on projects which harness the power of data (whether in the cloud, pulled via mobile networks from IoT-enabled end-points, or other advanced technologies) for solving complex problems. From 2010-2016, Feller was the Director of Urban Innovation at Cisco Systems headquarters in Silicon Valley where he served in an executive capacity within the company’s programs focused on cities. Prior to joining Cisco, Feller was the CEO of Urban Age Institute, an international non-profit research and training organization which began inside the World Bank and spun off in 2001. For 30 years, Gordon has advised on economic and technology issues with leaders of multinational companies, cities, NGOs, foundations, and national governments. His clients have included The World Bank, UN, German and Canadian national governments, The Rockefeller Foundation, IBM, Reuters, Metropolis, United Cities & Local Governments, among others. Gordon advises leaders on harnessing the power of advanced technologies which can enable them to solve complex problems with a special focus on practical solutions where economics, technology, and sustainability intersect. Gordon’s work has had broad and deep impacts. He’s published hundreds of articles including in CFO Magazine, Urban Land Magazine, TIME, Financial Times. He was appointed as an Abe Fellow by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership. He was formerly the Editor of Urban Age Magazine. Columbia University awarded him a Bachelors and a Masters (cum laude). At Columbia he served as a Lehman Fellow, a Wallach Fellow and a Dean’s Fellow. He serves as a Fellow at the Urban Sustainability Lab within the Smithsonian Institution’s Wilson Center.


Dr. Karen Stephenson was classically trained as an anthropologist at Harvard. She was appointed the H. Smith Richardson Fellow by the Center for Creative Leadership, which operates on five campuses in the Americas, Europe and Asia. She was also the first appointee of the Kathryn Hepburn Fellowship at Bryn Mawr College in recognition of her ground-breaking work in the social sciences.

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Karen has been hailed in Business 2.0 magazine as ‘the organization woman’ and named as one of only four women in Random House’s Guide to Management Gurus. Her innovative research on the workplace and the corporate office was featured by Canadian journalist Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker. She is a pioneer in the field of social networks, an expert on network theory and on the tradecraft of network management. With over two decades of teaching at UCLA and Harvard and Yale University, she lectures at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University.  Dr. Stephenson speaks on many topics related to network science. Network science is an interdisciplinary academic field that studies complex networks in biological, physical and social phenomena. This new science has consequences, both intended and unintended, for leadership, governance, and civic engagement.

Kevin Honomichl, P.E., P.S. is President and co-founder of BHC RHODES, a civil engineering and surveying firm head­quartered in Overland Park, Kansas. He received his Bachelor Degree in Civil Engineering from Kansas State University in 1986 and received a Master of Civil Engineering from the University of Kansas.

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Kevin is a graduate of the 20 II class of Leadership Kansas. He served on the Board of Directors of American Council of Engineering Companies Kansas including a term as National Director, and is currently the ACEC National Political Action Committee Chair for Kansas. He is active in several economic development organizations in Kansas City and is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Wyandotte County Economic Development Corporation. Kevin served 13 years on the De Soto, Kansas Planning Commission including three years as Chairman.
He currently serves on the K-State College of Engineering Advisory Council and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the KSU Foundation. Kevin received the Professional Progress Award from the KSU Department of Civil Engineering and the Distinguished Service Award from Kansas State University.


Gerald Smith is Founder and CEO of Plexpod, a coworking brand that launched in 2014. “Plex”, means multiple units, and “pod”, protective housing. Plexpod is expanding locations, including Kansas City’s Westport Commons, which is expected to be the world’s largest coworking campus once complete (as much as 360,000 sq.ft.).

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Plexpod is part of the new sharing economy, resourcing entrepreneurs, startups and growth-stage companies with access to world-class facilities, including conference rooms, meet-up enclaves, event spaces, theater, digital maker space, coffee shop, fitness & gaming, daily programming – all within a next-generation collaborative workspace.

Best known for fostering a culture of innovation, Gerald describes his success as “riding the digital wave”. He has spent 25 years consulting global brands in marketing, publishing and communications through a unique blend of strategy, creativity and technology. A musician, golfer, sailor and photographer, Gerald’s entrepreneurial tendencies have emerged in a wide variety of ways, including riding a Harley from South America’s tip to Kansas City as a charitable fundraiser. His travels have taken him to 100+ countries, including volunteering at many global disaster sites.

Gerald has served on many boards and committees of philanthropic efforts. He is a lifetime member of the Media Communications Association International (MCAI) and past Board member of Governors for the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s). His work has earned him Telly, Addy, Aurora and BMA awards. Gerald holds Bachelor’s and Master’s in Business and was awarded an honorary Doctorate in 2013. He and his wife Dianna have four children and reside in Kansas City.


Jeannette Eicks is managing director of the Center for Legal Innovation at Vermont Law School where she teaches eLawyering, Building Legal Apps for Social Justice and eDiscovery.

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She engages law students in collaborative legal technology projects with industry partners such as her current computable contract work with Exari, Inc. Professor Eicks authored the “Evidence Challenge,” a serious game published by LexisNexis in 2014. She has been a CEO, CIO and the Chair of a Computer Science department.

Professor Eicks received a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., a J.D. from Vermont Law School, and a Master of Science in Internet Strategy Management from Marlboro College. She enjoys hiking, gardening and winemaking in her spare time.


Dominic Papa is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Institute for Digital Progress (iDP), a not-for-profit organization designed to transform Arizona into a global hub of Smart City/IoT technology driven by collaborative civic innovation.

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iDP’s Smart & Connected AZ Council provides cities with an “Innovation as a Service”(IaaS) model, a platform that allows local governments and the private sector to collaboratively design and develop new innovative technology pilots that advance solutions to public challenges, have a measurable impact, and the potential to scale. This multi-party innovation process generates customized technology solutions to solve specific city issues and real citizens’ needs. All without relying on city or agency budgets.

Dominic founded iDP after working for two years with the city of Phoenix. Prior to the city of Phoenix, he was at the Alliance for Innovation and ASU’s Center for Urban Innovation, where he worked hand in hand with city managers from across the county, helping them to challenge and transform their organizations in the midst of severe fiscal constraints. Dominic has a B.A. in Political Science and Italian, a M.A. in Public Administration, and is currently a J.D. candidate at Arizona State University.

Mehan Jayasuriya is a Program Manager at Mozilla, where he oversees the Wireless Innovation for a Networked Society (WINS) program, a series of wireless innovation challenges which are being sponsored by the National Science Foundation. He has previously worked at start-ups, non-profits and academic institutions, including NYU, Tumblr, General Assembly and Public Knowledge.


Kate Garman is the Innovation Policy Advisor for the City of Kansas City, MO. She is the legal and policy analyst in the Office of Innovation, drafting ordinances and policy recommendations to foster a culture of innovation in Kansas City. In addition, Kate manages Kansas City’s Innovation Partnership Program, a civic entrepreneurship program in which startup companies pilot technology solutions at City Hall.

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She attended the University of Missouri — Kansas City School of Law, and served as the Student Editor-­in-­Chief of The Urban Lawyer, the national ABA publication on state and local governance. Prior to law school, Kate was with the law department of Black & Veatch for six years and has a Journalism degree from the University of Kansas.

Doug Hohulin is a rational futurist with a passion for leveraging technology for making a safer world. He works at Nokia developing next generation 4G/5G mobile technology for the IoT, Smart Cities and Self-Driving Car and Drone Communication.

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As Nokia’s CEO Rajeev Suri said “Using technology, we now have a better chance than ever before to tackle some of the world’s cruelest injustices.  And there can be no greater injustice than when someone dies before their time.” Doug was on the editing team for the 5GAA and NGMN response to the US DOT/NHTSA V2X NPRM. This AV technology can significantly reduce the injustice of lives lost each year. He is part of an Industry Drones Interest Group and is a sUAV Commercial Pilot. He has spoken at the Trillion Sensor Summit and to government officials, community groups and students from 4th grade to college on the topics of Smart City/IoT, the Information Age, as well as the future of transportation and communication.  He graduated from Purdue University with a BSEE degree.  He worked for Motorola where he was at the beginning of the cellular communication revolution and he is excited about being at the beginning of the AV transportation revolution.


Nishal Mohanis the National Community Leader for U.S. Ignite and responsible for implementation of the Smart Gigabit Communities initiative. Nishal joined U.S. Ignite after serving as a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow in the Office of the Assistant Director, Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering at the National Science Foundation (NSF).

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He was responsible for developing and driving national initiatives in Big Data and data science, smart and connected health, smart cities and next generation internet and applications through the NSF U.S.Ignite program.

He previously served as the Director of biology policy for the Federation of American Scientists and Acting Director of Scientists and Engineers for America Action Fund. Nishal also founded and served on the board of directors as the Executive Director of the international multi-organizational Virtual Biosecurity Center. In addition, Nishal founded Pandemic Academic, for emerging technology solutions to global infectious diseases. Nishal received his B.S. in biology at CUNY Hunter College and his Ph.D. in molecular biology at Princeton University.


Chelsea Collier fosters collaboration between public and private sectors to solve civic challenges, leveraging her experience in tech, policy, social impact, civic engagement and entrepreneurship. Chelsea is the Founder of Digi.City, Editor-At-Large for Smart City Connect, Senior Advisor for Texans for Economic Progress, and Co-Founder of Impact Hub Austin, one of 84 community spaces around the world committed to social and civic good.

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Chelsea is a Zhi-Xing Eisenhower Fellow (2016) and became a contributor to Inc.com in March 2017 where she writes about innovation and smart cities.

Chelsea is active in her local and state community and serves on the St Edwards’ University’s Dean’s Advisory CouncilThe Seton 50 and is an advisor to the Austin Chapter of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers.  She was recently named to the Advisory Committee for the 2018-2022 (Texas) State Strategic Plan for Information Resources, is a founding Board Member of the Austin Technology Alliance and the Austin Technology Council’s Policy Coalition. From 2013-2015 she served as Vice Chair and Commissioner for the City of Austin Community Technology & Telecommunications Commission.

Chelsea is an Austin Under 40 Award recipient in Science & Technology (2015) and Leadership Austin graduate (2010). She received her masters and bachelor degrees in Advertising from the University of Texas at Austin.

Tom Chapman is the Managing Principal of Chapman and Company, a Nebraska-based management consulting firm. Tom has worked extensively in the startup community in the Midwest – including time as the business lead of Beehive Industries, a small and medium-sized city asset management software.

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Mr. Chapman has also been an investor, founder and funder of multiple startup software companies.  Prior to these roles, he worked for the Omaha Chamber of Commerce in an economic development role and helped build power plants for two large utilities. He has a J.D./M.B.A from the University of Nebraska and undergraduate degrees from Creighton University.

Christopher Mitchell is the Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) in Minneapolis. Mitchell is a leading national expert on community networks and Internet access.

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Within his ILSR capacity, he also serves as policy director for Next Century Cities, a national collaboration of mayors and CIOs seeking universal access to fast, affordable and reliable Internet connections.

On a day-to-day basis, Mitchell runs MuniNetworks.org, the comprehensive online information clearinghouse about local government policies to improve Internet access. Their interactive community broadband network map tracks over 450 such networks. He also hosts podcasts, including Community Broadband Bits and Building Local Power.

In 2015, the White House used Mitchell’s research as building blocks in a National Economic Council report encouraging community networks. He was honored as one of the 2012 Top 25 in Public Sector Technology by Government Technology, which honors the top “Doers, Drivers, and Dreamers” in the nation each year. That same year, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors named ILSR the Broadband Organization of the Year.


Bob Bennett became the Chief Innovation Officer for the City of Kansas City, Missouri, in January 2016 after a 25-year career in the US Army. Bob leads the Smart City initiatives, a suite of projects including: data analysis, Public Wi-Fi, digital kiosk installation, dynamic traffic light control and smart lighting programs in the city’s downtown core.

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He is currently working on plans to extend Smart City infrastructure throughout the 318 miles of KCMO. Or, as he puts it: Bob is a former army guy who now passes the time by wandering around city hall looking for problems (and frequently finding them) and running all over the city and world looking for innovative solutions.


Deb Socia is the Executive Director of Next Century Cities, a nonprofit that strives to support community leaders across the country as they seek to ensure that all have access to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet.

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More than 150 cities strong, Next Century Cities is committed to celebrating city successes, demonstrating the value of truly high speed broadband, and elevating the importance of next generation broadband as essential infrastructure. Prior to her role as the Executive Director of Next Century Cities, Deb was the Executive Director of the Tech Goes Home program whose mission is to ensure digital equity. Tech Goes Home provides training, hardware, and low cost Internet access to Boston residents and supported nearly 14,000 participants during Deb’s tenure. Previously, Deb spent 32 years as an educator and administrator.  She was the founding principal of the award winning Lilla G. Frederick Middle School, a Boston Public School where she led the one-to-one laptop initiative. Deb has been the recipient of many awards for her work, including recognition as the NATOA Community Broadband Hero in 2013, the 2013 Pathfinder Award from MassCUE (Mass Computer Using Educators), and the 2010 Leadership and Vision award from CRSTE (Capitol Region Society for Technology in Education).


Lev Gonick is an educator, technologists, and smart city architect. He has been teaching, working, and living on the Net for more than 25 years. He is co-founder and CEO of OneCommunity, the award-winning non-profit organization enabling and celebrating innovation, collaboration, and productivity through next generation broadband networks and services throughout Northeast Ohio.

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Lev was CIO at Case Western Reserve University from 2001-2013. He and his colleagues were internationally recognized for technology innovations in community engagement, learning spaces, next generation network projects, and organizational development. Lev’s innovations, including the Case Connection Zone catalyzed national projects, including US Ignite and Gig.U.

Inside Business Magazine named Lev one of their Power 100 in 2015. In 2011 Government Technology awarded Lev one of their “Top 25 Doers, Dreamers & Drivers in Public-Sector Innovation.”​ In the same year Crain’s Business Cleveland named Gonick one of its “10 Difference Makers”​ in Northeast Ohio and Broadband Properties honored him with their Cornerstone Award for “using fiber to build an inclusive society and empower individuals.”​ In 2010 he received recognition as “Visionary of the Year” from NATOA. Lev has been recognized by ComputerWorld as a Premier 100 IT leader and honored by CIO magazine with a CIO 100 Award.


Andy Huckaba is a four term City Councilmember in Lenexa, Kansas. He has been on the forefront of Internet technologies, development, social media, and technology trends for two decades. He is the Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee advising the FCC on issues around broadband deployment and adoption.

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He is a Past-Chair of the Information, Technology and Communications committee for the National League of Cities. Andy is the President of Huckaba & Associates, a management consulting firm focusing on strategy, management, technology and leadership. He is also an instructor with the KU Public Management Center and is a member of the Coaching Faculty for the Kansas Leadership Center.


Allen Meyer is co-founder and CEO of Sherpa Fiber LLC, a company dedicated to bringing high speed broadband services to communities across the United States. Sherpa Fiber is actively researching municipalities where it will build, own, and operate open network fiber networks that are then leased to city and county governments and wholesale providers.

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The goal of Sherpa Fiber’s model is to reduce the cost of entry into new markets for wholesale providers so these companies can increase revenue more quickly and cost-effectively while simultaneously increasing the service and provider choices for community businesses and residents.

Allen’s career in telecommunications spans more than 25 years back to the early days of cellular and paging systems and T1 data lines. Throughout this time, he has worked in various roles and actively worked with new technologies that continue to evolve. Prior to launching Sherpa Fiber, Allen most recently served as a key member of a telecom engineering firm working closely with dozens of carriers including a very large and visible initiative to deploy Gigabit to the Home networks to communities in multiple markets around the country.


Ken Hays is President and CEO of The Enterprise Center, a nonprofit entity tasked with establishing Chattanooga, Tennessee as the first mid-sized city with an Innovation District, leading the development of the Edney Innovation Center and starting Chattanooga’s first digital equity initiative, Tech Goes Home.

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Mr. Hays helped Chattanooga become an original US Ignite Smart Gigabit Community and has forged other national partnerships bringing attention and resources to Chattanooga’s Gig city status.

Mr. Hays served as Assistant Chief of Protocol in the Carter White House; then as Finance Director for the Democratic National Committee. He returned to Tennessee in 1983 to become a partner in the development firm Leonard Kinsey & Associates, which evolved into Kinsey Probasco Hays. when Jon Kinsey was elected Mayor of Chattanooga in 1997, Mr. Hays served as Chief of Staff. During his tenure as President of River City Company, Mr. Hays was the coordinating developer of Chattanooga’s $120 million 21st Century Waterfront Plan, and helped revive the downtown residential market. Mr. Hays attended Auburn University and George Washington University, majoring in public affairs.


Jim Baller is president of the Baller Stokes & Lide, PC, a national law firm based in Washington, DC. He represents clients in a broad range of communications matters nationally and in more than 35 states.

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He is also the co-founder and president of the 450+ member Coalition for Local Internet Choice, which works to preserve and protect local decision-making on critical broadband infrastructure matters. The Fiber to the Home Council has observed that Jim is “widely recognized as the nation’s most experienced and knowledgeable attorney on public broadband matters.” The National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors designated him its Member of the Year in 2001 and its first “Community Broadband Visionary of the Year” in 2007. In 2009, Ars Technica included Jim on its list of the 25 “Top Names in Tech Policy” and FiberToday honored him as its Person of the Year. In 2012, the FTTH Council presented him its Chairman’s Award “for his relentless promotion and pursuit of community broadband and of faster networks for everyone.” In 2014, SEATOA bestowed its Community Broadband Advocacy Award on Jim for “beating back (two years in a row) anti-municipal broadband legislation in Georgia.” In 2016, American Registry recognized him as one of “America’s Most Honored Professionals (Top 1%),” and in 2016 and 2017, Super Lawyers included him in its list of “Washington, DC Super Lawyers.” He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Cornell Law School.


John Burchett is the Head of Public Policy for Google Access and Google Fiber. Before moving to Access/Fiber, John led public policy for Google in the U.S., Latin America and Canada. He is based in Google’s Washington, DC office.

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Prior to Google, he was Chief of Staff to Gov. Jennifer Granholm where he acted as the COO for the State of Michigan. He has also served Governor Granholm as Director of Michigan’s Washington, DC Office, and as the Deputy Director of her Transition Team in 2002.

A Michigan native, John has lived in DC for most of the last 19 years. He was a White House Fellow in 1997-98, Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Assistant Management Officer for the DC Control Board, and management consultant, specializing in state and local government, business planning and business process reengineering.

Before moving to DC in 1997, John was Assistant Wayne County Corporation Counsel. At Wayne County he focused on county real estate and economic development projects. He was heavily involved in the negotiations and development of the two new stadiums in downtown Detroit. Before joining Wayne County in 1994, John was a real estate lawyer for Little Caesars Enterprises and Honigman Miller Schwartz & Cohn. He also was a law clerk to the Hon. Cornelia Kennedy on the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

John received his J.D. from Harvard Law School and his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame.

Alexandra Camesas is the Associate Director of Catalyst @ Health 2.0 where she leads a team that manages pilot programs and innovation challenges to connect technology startups with enterprise healthcare organizations.

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Alexandra consults on global innovation projects for a variety of clients including government departments, charitable foundations and for-profit companies. She is passionate about connecting healthcare organizations with leading technologies and has first hand experience in facilitating sustainable partnerships at the local level in under-served communities. In her previous role in the healthcare division of DigitasLBi, she managed personalized marketing strategy on behalf of Fortune 500 pharmaceutical companies. Alexandra has a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) from Brown University with a concentration in Business, Entrepreneurship and Organizations


Jeffrey Gavlinski is currently Senior Director of Business development for eX2 Technology, and Co-Owner of Mountain Connect LLC, a company facilitating Mountain Connect Broadband Development Conference for the Rocky Mountain Region.

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He also serves as the Chair for Southwest Colorado Local Technology Planning Team, is Board Treasure of Pagosa Community Development Corporation, and Business Advisor at the Small Business Development Center at Fort Lewis College.

Prior to eX2, Jeffrey served as a Executive Consultant to Fujitsu Network Communications as well as owned and operated multiple startup companies focused on Telecommunications infrastructure strategic planning for Governments,
Marketing/Advertising, and Economic Development feasibility planning.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, Jeffrey served, in a consulting role, as Senior Business Architect for Infonet, a British Telecom Company, and had global responsibilities for systems product design and implementation. He also was Chief Architect for a global Siebel CRM implementation and principal director of an international infrastructure merger and acquisition over a two-year period in Europe. Jeffrey began his career in Software Development and is a business executive with multi sector experiences with Fortune 500 as well as startup, small, and medium sized companies.


Tony Luppino is a Professor and Director of Entrepreneurship Programs at the UMKC School of Law and a Senior Fellow with the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at UMKC. In February of 2017, he was named the recipient of the University of Missouri System’s inaugural Entrepreneurship Educator of the Year Award.

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Prof. Luppino teaches business, tax, and entrepreneurship courses, and co-teaches several interdisciplinary entrepreneurship courses. His scholarship and conference presentations focus primarily on legal and policy issues significantly affecting entrepreneurs, and on entrepreneurship education. He was the principal organizer of the Law & Entrepreneurship Special Interest Group of the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE), and has served for several years as lead editor of the Entrepreneurship Law website powered by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. As outgrowths of his work in urban innovation and civic entrepreneurship through an interdisciplinary Law, Technology & Public Policy course, he has become one of UMKC’s principal contacts with the MetroLab Network and a leader of the Legal Technology Laboratory. Prof. Luppino earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Dartmouth College, his J.D. from Stanford Law School, and an LL.M. in Taxation from the Boston University School of Law.


Rachel Hack Merlo is Community Impact Manager for Google Fiber Kansas City, where she manages community affairs initiatives in the company’s first Google Fiber city. In addition to leading strategies related to digital inclusion, entrepreneurial community engagement, and STEM education, she serves as a primary point of contact for several city partners involved in the deployment across the metro.

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Rachel serves on the boards of directors of Central Exchange, Visit KC, Girl Scouts of Northeast Kansas & Northwest Missouri, and the Women’s Center at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. She currently chairs the advisory board of LaunchKC, a grants competition designed to attract tech entrepreneurs locally, regionally and nationally.

Rachel was an honoree in the 2016 class of 40 Under Forty and the 2016 Emerging Volunteer of the Year award from Nonprofit Connect. She was a member of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Centurions class of 2016. She was recognized in 2012 by KC Business Magazine as a Rising Star among Kansas City leaders under age 40, then again in 2014 as an Influential Women honoree, celebrating local women in the creative, entrepreneurial, and nonprofit communities. She was named to the 2015 Kansas City Techweek 100, which identifies community leaders who have made a significant impact on the technology and innovation ecosystem. Rachel was also recognized as a 2013 Verizon Nueva Latina Estrella Community Service Award winner, recognizing emerging professional leaders who embrace diversity, integrity, and creativity while achieving success.

Rachel is a proud lifelong Kansas Citian who lives with her husband in the Brookside area. She makes a habit out of surprising herself on a regular basis. Rachel Merlo’s passion lies in making Kansas City better every day.


Jase Wilson is Founder and CEO of Neighborly, the San Francisco-based fintech startup modernizing access to public finance — the billion dollar per day market that funds vital public projects like schools, parks, and next-generation infrastructure.

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Prior to Neighborly, Jase founded and operated Luminopolis, a civic software firm focused on saving local governments millions of dollars annually by replacing legacy enterprise software with modern open source equivalents. A technologist and urbanist, he studied city planning at MIT and UMKC.


Andrew Rodgers focuss on strategy and technical vision for the Research and Applications Development initiative at The Enterprise Center, a quasi-governmental organization charged with driving innovation in economic development, social equity, and advanced infrastructure in Chattanooga, TN.

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His work at The Enterprise Center involves organizing technical and human resources around initiatives ranging from advanced academic networks to closing the digital divide. Andrew, along with his colleagues in the RAD initiative, are responsible for coordinating technology initiatives across various entities in the greater Chattanooga community. These initiatives support The Enterprise Center’s efforts to elevate Chattanooga’s position as a vanguard of transformation among mid-sized cities.

Raj Jain is a Life Fellow of IEEE, a Fellow of ACM, a Fellow of AAAS, a winner of 2017 ACM Life-Time Achievement Award, 2015 A.A. Michelson Award, ACM SIGCOMM Test of Time award 2006, CDAC-ACCS Foundation Award 2009, IISc Distinguished Alumnus Award 2014, WiMAX Forum Individual Contribution Award 2008, and ranks among the Most Cited Authors in Computer Science.

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Dr. Jain is currently the Barbara J. and Jerome R. Cox, Jr., Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis. Previously, he was one of the Co-founders of Nayna Networks, Inc – a next generation telecommunications systems company in San Jose, CA. He was a Senior Consulting Engineer at Digital Equipment Corporation in Littleton, Mass and then a professor of Computer and Information Sciences at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. He is the author of “Art of Computer Systems Performance Analysis,” which won the 1991 “Best-Advanced How-to Book, Systems” award from Computer Press Association. His fourth book entitled ” High-Performance TCP/IP: Concepts, Issues, and Solutions,” was published by Prentice Hall in November 2003. He has recently co-edited “Quality of Service Architectures for Wireless Networks: Performance Metrics and Management,” published in April 2010.

David Sandel is an accomplished Smart City architect. Recently, David was recognized as the lead author for the St. Louis chapter of the book Smart Economy in Smart Cities; a collaborative effort between ten cities in thirteen countries.

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David also served as an adviser to the Kansas City Google Fiber Mayors Bi-state Innovation Team MBIT, the Mid-America Regional Council MARC of Kansas City and was the co-author of Playing to Win – the Kansas City Google Fiber Playbook. This playbook outlined the civic infrastructure necessary to make a successful Gigabit City and has since become an industry standard for mapping the development of fiber internet communities, Smart and Gigabit cities.
David is the co-founder of The Gigabit City Summit. The Gigabit City Summit is a Telepresence based global round-table which explores the issues of leadership, funding, economic development and collaboration that are central to the success of all Smart and Gigabit City initiatives. Cities that have participated in the global round-table have included San Francisco, Kansas City, St. Louis, Toronto, Amsterdam, Moscow, Barcelona and Singapore.
David was also the co-founder of Datotel, a managed services and Cloud provider. As a result of these combined work experiences, David has significant business development and contractual experience in both the Smart and Gigabit City public and private sectors including utilities, municipal government, education, public safety, healthcare, energy management, data center and service provider infrastructure.
Before returning to St. Louis, David was a senior systems engineer in the Cisco Service Provider division located in Tulsa, Oklahoma where he worked in the product development labs of WorldCom, Williams Communications and Brooks Fiber. During this period, David was the lead designer of WorldCom’s MAE East and MAE West exchange points and Williams Communications private line backbone.
David received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering degree from Washington University in St. Louis where he also attended graduate school. While at Cisco Systems, David received several awards for Excellence, Product Development and Innovation. He has also served on a variety of state and local government, economic development and public safety councils, as well as regional entrepreneurial planning boards.

Amy Zents PMP is a project manager in the wireless division of BHC RHODES, a civil engineering and surveying firm headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas. She received her Masters in Project Management and has a Masters in Information Systems.

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She has 12 years of experience in telecommunications which includes RF Engineering design, analysis, capacity planning and engineering. She has managed many telecommunication projects including public venue DAS and small cells. She is a member of the Project Management Institute, Women’s Wireless Leadership Forum and Toastmasters.

Elizabeth Reynoso is an Assistant Director of Public Sector Innovation at Living Cities where she works on the development of public sector strategies to foster promising public practices and accelerate the uptake of innovation across the country.

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With a background in human rights, workforce development, and farming, Elizabeth served as the first Food Policy Director for Newark, NJ under Mayor Cory Booker to develop policies and programs to increase food security for residents. She continued to serve the City of Newark as the Acting Sustainability Director in the Ras J. Baraka administration. Before municipal government, Elizabeth worked with international, national, and local nonprofits beginning her career in international human rights with Human Rights Watch and then later focused on criminal justice issues with the NJ Institute for Social Justice and her media work. In particular, a Frontline documentary, “The Drug Wars”, earned a Peabody for its telling of the 30-year history of US drug policy and its effect on the world economy and US foreign policy.

Ruthbea Yesner Clarke is the founder and global director of the Smart Cities Strategies practice at IDC. In this practice, Ms. Clarke coordinates the worldwide Smart City research on the strategies and execution of relevant technologies and non-technology best practice areas, such as governance, innovation, partnerships and business models essential for Smart City development.

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Clarke contributes to consulting engagements to support state and local governments’ Smart City strategies and IT vendors’ overall Smart City market strategies.

Ms. Clarke is a frequent speaker and panelist at industry events and contributes to publications such as Government Technology, Government Computer News, CivSource, M2M Evolution, CIO magazine, SmartGrid News, Connected World and FedTech magazine. Ms. Clarke’s publications include a chapter on the first developmental model for smart cities in Smart Cities for a Bright Sustainable Future: A Global Perspective. Her latest publication is on smart city measurements was published in February 2017 in Managing for Social Impact: Innovations in Responsible Enterprise, by Springer.

Ms. Clarke holds a BA from Wesleyan University, and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Boston College with an MBA and MSW joint degree.

Ken Harrington works with, advises, and writes about innovation ecosystems and entrepreneurship. He supports regions, innovation neighborhoods, universities, and organizations that are creating dynamic, high momentum entrepreneurial environments that deliver strong economic outcomes.

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From 2001 to 2014, Ken Harrington served as the Managing Director for the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. During that period St. Louis evolved as one of the US’s fasted growing, up and comer entrepreneurial regions. He has received numerous awards and recognitions for his contributions to entrepreneurship.

Prior to joining Wash U, Ken held senior management positions in seven technology start-up companies. He has an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School and a BS from the University of Vermont.

Meghan Calabro is an electrical engineer and department manager at Burns & McDonnell. She has planned, designed and overseen installation of Enterprise Meter Data Management projects, along other smart system improvements that are yielding valuable data for utility distribution system operations.

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She has served as a senior consultant for the KCP&L SmartGrid Demonstration Project, a $58 million Department of Energy-funded pilot that has affected 14,000 customers in the urban core of Kansas City, Missouri. Meghan participates in a number of working groups within the transmission and distribution industry, focusing on distribution grid management and incorporating emerging standards such as IEC 61850 and IEC 61968-9.

Patrick McKeehan is the Director of Economic Development for the City of O’Fallon, Missouri and responsible for the business attraction, retention and expansion for the second largest city in the St. Louis MSA.

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McKeehan started his professional community/economic development career in 1985 and received his Certified Economic Developer designation from the International Economic Development Council in 1992. Before joining the City of O’Fallon, McKeehan worked at the state and regional levels, including the Missouri Department of Economic Development, St. Louis Regional Chamber, Ford Hazelwood Taskforce, Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois and the Metro East Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at SIU Edwardsville. Over the past five years, McKeehan has become a thought leader on assessing the economic impact of broadband deployment initiatives at the county, community and neighborhood levels. He has advised and/or consulted on a number of broadband deployment projects, including University City (MO), Carbondale (IL), New Market (ON), and Jersey County (IL).

Aaron Deacon is the founder and managing director of KC Digital Drive, a nonprofit civic organization with a mission to make Kansas City a digital leader. He works with mayors, entrepreneurs and civic leaders in Kansas City and around the world to help build ecosystems that connect infrastructure, emerging technology, and social impact.

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He combines a high-level strategic approach with boots-on-the-ground project implementation and management in smart cities, civic tech, digital inclusion, digital health, and education. Through KC Digital Drive, Aaron helps to lead the Code for KC Brigade, the Health Innovation Team, and the KC Coalition for Digital Inclusion. Aaron is a founder and producer of the Gigabit City Summit, an annual conference on how cities build value on technology infrastructure. He also leads Kansas City’s participation in several global initiatives including US Ignite, NIST’s Global City Teams Challenge, the IEEE Smart City Initiative and the MetroLab Network. Aaron’s work in cities and technology began as an instrumental leader in helping Kansas City prepare to be the first market for Google Fiber. He created and led a variety of community engagement initiatives around broadband deployment, including Building the Gigabit City and Give Us a Gig. He continues to help cities develop community playbooks to take advantage of ultra-high-speed broadband. Before working in the civic sphere, Aaron honed his skills in innovation management, design thinking product development, strategic planning and qualitative and quantitative research as a consultant and project director for a variety of Fortune 500 clients. He is the founder and principal of the research and strategic planning firm, Curiolab. He earned a master’s degree in social science from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Dallas and taught high school Latin for two years in between. Aaron was honored as one of Mozilla’s list of “50 People Who Made the Internet a Better Place in 2016,” and in 2017, he was named to a working group on the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee.