top of page

Meet the Speakers


Headshot - Brandy Brown_edited.jpg

Dr. Brandy Brown

Dr. Brandy Brown leads the Office of Climate and Energy within the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. She is an experienced energy strategist with deep industry knowledge and demonstrated success in advancing innovative demand-side management programs from conception to implementation. She is focused on building this new office to bridge the state’s successful energy work with achieving aggressive climate action goals.


Dr. Brown holds a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Evaluation from Western Michigan University where she researched the methodological characteristics of energy evaluation and used meta-evaluation to assess quality and validity. Additionally, she earned a Master of Public Administration degree and a bachelor’s degree in Communications, Law, Economics, and Government from American University in Washington, D.C.



Saundra Little



Quinn Evans Architects

 Women in Green Panelist


Leslie Tom

Chief Sustainability Officer

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

 Women in Green Panelist


Natalie Jakub

Executive Director

Green Living Science

 Women in Green Panelist


Lana Crouse

Director of Community, Michigan

U.S. Green Building Council



Janice Means


Professor Emeritus

Lawrence Technological University

 Women in Green Moderator


Todd Scott.jpg

Todd Scott

Executive Director

Detroit Greenways Coalition


Justin Snowden.jpg

Justin Snowden


Smart Mobility Strategist

City of Detroit Office of Mobility Innovation


Lisa V.JPG

Lisa Nuszkowski

Founder + Executive Director

MoGo Detroit Bike Share



Christina Peltier

Joe Louis Greenway Project Manager

City of Detroit General Services Department



Brad Straiter





Screen Shot 2019-10-04 at 2.28.58 PM.png

Richard Ackerman

Resident Informed Open Space and Green Stormwater Infrastructure

Eastside Community Network is pursuing strategies to utilize open space to beautify vacant land, install green infrastructure, and fulfill other community needs, all in collaboration with members of the community. The recently completed Hamilton Rainscape Learning Lab and the soon-to-be completed Canfield Garden of Peace and Unity showcase how residents can be engaged to shape the open space around them and incorporate environmental strategies. These projects used field trips, dialogues with experts, and the use of a 3D visualization tool to generate resident input on open space design.


Nicole Brown

Creating a Green Culture Shift in Detroit Through Collaboration

Driving community change to create a green culture shift takes a collaborative effort. The Land + Water WORKS Coalition is comprised of ten nonprofits leveraging their collective efforts to fuel that movement. This is done through community education and installation of green stormwater infrastructure. The Land + Water WORKS Coalition Ambassador Program brings together engaged Detroiters to push this progressive needle forward. They do this by educating their fellow residents on the Detroit water cycle, stormwater management, GSI and the role we all play in creating a sustainable future.

Image by Brenton Walker

Luke Grange & 

Lisa Perez

Promoting Healthy Urban Watersheds

This EPA-funded, 10-partner collaboration has worked to build student and teacher capacity to steward the water resources of Detroit now and in the future. The 2-year project has engaged 26 teachers at 16 schools, reaching 875 students in becoming stewards of their community’s drinking water. Teachers participated in 5 workshops to understand their local water resources. Students participated in 3 field trips that included visiting the Detroit drinking water treatment plant or water recovery plant, conducting stream health and ecosystem monitoring, and participating in a stewardship project.

Screen Shot 2019-10-04 at 2.56.19 PM.png

Edwin Dowell

Aquaponics and renewable energy

Aquaponic Farm Blends Education and Sustainability

Chalifoux Thumbnail.jpg

John Chalifoux

Remanufacturing: Sustainable by Definition. Responsible by Design.

Remanufacturing is the standardized industrial process of producing high-quality goods – a second time – by reusing materials and conserving embodied energy and labor in existing products. Remanufacturing is sustainable manufacturing. The finished goods have like-new quality, but they deliver better value and they’re better for the environment. Quality. Value. Green. Communities like Detroit will advance due to sustainable manufacturing: utilizes advanced manufacturing technologies; scores high related to people, planet and profit; provides more than 180,000 jobs in the U.S.

Image by Dan Gold

Lindsey Elton & Graham Giovagnoli

Demystifying Green Building Certifications

There are many options to choose from when it comes to residential green building programs, but what’s right for you, your client, and your budget? This session will compare and contrast LEED for Homes, GreenStar, National Green Building Standard, ENERGY STAR, DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes, and Passive House US (PHIUS). You’ll also learn which programs apply for single and multi-family projects, rehabs and new construction, market rate and affordable housing. There’s a certification that will meet your sustainability goals–we’ll help get you there.


Todd Hauser

Food Scrap Composting. You have questions, we have answers!

This presentation will provide an overview of the Food Scrap Management model being utilized by multiple business entities within Detroit as well as the State of Michigan.


Christopher Heine & Brian Wisniewski

Resettling the Urban Prairie: The Midtown EcoHomes

Midtown EcoHomes are a single-family redevelopment of existing brownfields, 2 & 3 bedroom units ranging from 1500-2500 SF. The homes are a proof-of-concept that ecology and economy can coexist. We will explore how the EcoHomes were designed to be a sustainable, resilient model of responsible urban development for the City of Detroit and beyond, including city-scale lots, efficient floor plans, durable materials, and energy and resource conservation mindfully folded into one eye-catching block.

Plant Box

Toni Henry

Treehouses and Learning Landscapes

Children and adults alike can be engaged through participatory design processes to create imaginative spaces to learn about the natural environment around them and in their own backyards. In this case this engagement has fostered awareness of pollinators, stormwater management, energy, and materials. With the support of non-profit organizations the Detroit Collaborative Design Center has been able to design a few of these spaces at different scales and locations to foster a love for learning and stewardship for the earth.


Natalie Lyon

Community-Engaged Green Stormwater Infrastructure

The Detroit Biodiversity Network (DBN) is a student-led organization housed at Wayne State University focused on developing community-engaged green stormwater (GSI) infrastructure best practices using native plant species. Since its inception in 2017, DBN has engaged students, staff, faculty, and community members in native plant production, GSI design and installation, and sustainable landscape practices through hands-on learning. Through outreach, engagement, and applied projects, DBN aims to assist its fellow Detroiters in making the city a greener, healthier, and more sustainable place.

Valerie Strassberg.jpg

Andrew McDowell & Valerie Strassber

Growing Faith in Green Stormwater Infrastructure – Sacred Heart Church

The Nature Conservancy's Urban Conservation Program (TNC) kicked off their first GSI construction project in the City of Detroit in partnership with the Archdiocese of Detroit (AOD). With the help of their hired consultant, SmithGroup, TNC has transformed the Sacred Heart Church property in Eastern Market into a stormwater and community asset. The project reduces the drainage charge fee for the AOD, educates parishioners, provides opportunities for recently trained landscape technicians, and serves as a demonstration project of how to successfully and creatively integrate GSI in Detroit.


Rahul Mitra

#DetroitWaterStories: Trans-Media Oral Histories of Water Insecurity

Starting in 2014, mass water shutoffs have affected more 142,000 families unable to pay high bills, heightening public health fears, even as concerns persist of flooding and lead contamination in old pipes. Detroit Water Stories is an oral history project that gathers and shares community stories to document these experiences of water insecurity. Through multimedia storytelling (e.g., interviews, documentary shorts, blogs, workshops) and advocacy work, our goal is to amplify grassroots voices so that we may enact policy change for water justice in Detroit.

Screen Shot 2019-10-07 at 10.10.41

Justin Schott & 

Dr. Allison Harris

Net Zero For All, Starting Today (F.A.S.T.)

The reality and urgency of the climate emergency is clearer than ever, but the pathways to a carbon free world can seem tenuous. In the hopes of spiriting bold collective action to cut emissions to zero and ensure these actions benefit people of color and impacted communities, EcoWorks developed Net Zero For All, Starting Today (F.A.S.T.) Looking to Project Drawdown, the Green New Deal, and climate commitments from states and municipalities, the initiative aims to catalyze rapid cuts to emissions across Southeast Michigan while keeping equity, justice, and resilience front and center.


Kristin Shaw & Lana Crouse

LEED v4.1: Learn how the newest rating system update can help achieve your building's sustainability goals

Interested in achieving a high-performance building? Learn about USGBC's updated LEED v4.1 rating system and hear a case study about the soon to be LEED Certified TCF Center.


Danielle Todd

Just Eat It: Saving the Planet by Wasting Less Food

Americans throw away about 40% of the food that we grow, despite the fact that 1 in 8 Americans is food insecure. It’s an environmental issue so large that Project Drawdown, the world’s leading source of climate change solutions, lists reducing food waste as the third most effective solution. In this talk, you'll learn where and why we waste food, why wasted food dramatically impacts our planet, and what’s being done in Detroit to keep food out of landfills.


Matthew VanSweden

Design for Democracy

Design can ease us into our parasympathetic system, where we are able to rest, relax, and engage the more nurturing and communal aspects of our nature, or force us into our sympathetic system where we are distrustful, irrational, and highly defensive. One supports democracy and the other erodes it. What if we designed the built environment in a way that supports, rather than oppresses, the noble pursuit of an ever more perfect democracy? Imagine a Detroit (and an America) where all public and private spaces are intentionally designed to support the democratic ideals of fairness, equity, and justice.

Screen Shot 2019-10-04 at 2.30.34 PM.png

Ashley Attar

PizzaPlex Triple Bottom Line Sustainability

PizzaPlex is where people, planet, and pizza napoletana meet to foster an equitable and sustainable city by distributing wealth fairly through worker ownership, providing accessible prices and programs for the local community, and practicing responsible environmental stewardship. This presentation will delve into the approach we have taken to become a social enterprise, discuss the challenges of balancing community and business and showcase PizzaPlex' future plans to raise restaurant industry standards.

Image by Mariana Proença

Shiesha Davis

Solar in the Jefferson Chalmers Community

The Presentation will be on the solar projects in the Jefferson Chalmers Community. Projects Solar Powered Treehouse of Relaxation, Programming and Mental Health using a Holistic Therapeutic Approach. Outdoor Solar Greenhouse ,Emergency power station, Structure of imagination. 25 Homes Rooftop Solar Panels. Talking about how the community has embraced the idea of Solar in the community to help to save our environment and our wallets. This is a conversation that we plan to education the community in through workshops, learning to install, and inviting experts into talk about the benefits.

Valerie Brader_RivenoakConsult.jpg

Valerie Brader

Power Reduction Agreements

When meeting green energy goals, there is a new tool in town! Power Reduction Agreements operate like a virtual power purchase agreements, but instead of buying renewable energy, you are buying offsite energy waste reduction. PRAs can be faster and cheaper than a virtual PPA, and offer new opportunities to target the location or type of project to further enhance the entity’s core mission and local presence. This session will explain how PRAs work and how it can bring new investment to Detroit.


Carmen Dahlberg

Sustainability and Human Capital: Applying Sustainability Models to Workplace Culture

Organizations that want to save the world should start from the inside out. From four day workweeks to proactive approaches to burnout, practices with a smaller environmental footprint create more engaged workplaces - and a bigger positive impact. In this presentation, Belle Detroit will make a case for considering workplace engagement efforts alongside environmental efforts; introduce sustainability efforts to integrate into the workplace and apply to employee engagement; and discuss the intention behind its own conscious workplace to encourage more Detroit businesses to follow suit.

Neem_DTowngard6-TEN (2).jpeg

Naim Edwards

Restoring Detroit Land with Cover Crops

Cover crops are plants that protect the soil from degradation and also improve soil health. This presentation will highlight the Urban Soil Management Research Project being conducted by Michigan State University Extension at the Detroit Partnership for Food, Learning, and Innovation site. After highlighting the findings of year one, I will propose how the City could incorporate cover crops into land management, not only for urban farms, but also into vacant parcels to reduce stormwater runoff, boost pollinators, sequester carbon dioxide, and manage weeds.


John DeRuiter & Keenan Gibbons

Detroit's New Skate Park - A Brownfield Transformed

Situated under the Ambassador Bridge to Canada, this brownfield site was previously characterized by more than a century of heavy industry and stagnant blight, but is now home to vibrant new community-driven facilities including a Tony Hawk skate park, expansive dog park, basketball, soccer, baseball, and playground. Celebrating its recent summer 2019 ribbon cutting, this presentation explores the design process, environmental challenges, and public / private partnerships that helped sculpt Detroit’s newest riverfront attraction.


Nathan D. Griswold, ALSA, GRP, CNSP

Smart Design: The Benefits of Integrating Green Infrastructure into Commercial Development

Green infrastructure offers triple bottom line benefits to all types of development. Inhabitect's founder has played an active role in the design, development, sale and installation of over 1,000+ green roofs in his career and will walk attendees through his experiences with this form of green infrastructure, how it ties into other infrastructure options and how each of these can benefit a project. Attendees will learn how they can reduce their Detroit Water and Sewage Department stormwater fees as well as various financing options for these technologies.


Sarah Hayosh

Navigating through Storm(y)waters

In an effort to help Detroit property owners navigate the drainage charge and understand the process for successfully retrofitting properties with green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) practices for drainage credit, Detroit Future City brought together cross-sector partners to discuss challenges and best practices for implementing bioretention projects. This informed the development of the Detroit Property Owner’s Guide to Bioretention. Learn about the guide and other resources to support small businesses, nonprofits and faith-based institutions with planning and implementing GSI projects.


Aaron Jones, RA


Shine A Light / Off Grid People and Plant Conservatory is an architectural prototype built in the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood of Detroit, MI which integrates various solar technologies such as photovoltaic panels and specialty projection coatings into the architecture in order to produce a greenhouse by day and a movie theater by night, completely off grid and self sufficient. The project was commissioned by the Charles Wright Museum and opened with a short documentary film by acclaimed artist Jullie Dash.

Erin Kelly.jpg

Erin Kelly

Belly Flops and GSI

Is sustainable change possible without pleasure? I propose to explore the role of swimming in Detroit as a form of pleasure and an act of warm weather resilience. Although Detroit is nestled in the heart of the Great Lakes, we only have two public places to swim outdoors. The majority of Detroit children do not know how to swim. Black and brown children are three times more likely to die from drowning than their white counterparts. What does stormwater management mean in this cultural context? How can strategies connect the pleasure of water to the longer term sustainability of Detroit and the region?

Green Roofs

Greg Mangan 

Scaling Green Stormwater Infrastructure in Detroit Neighborhoods

How can CDO's in Detroit neighborhoods create sustainable green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) projects to help mitigate flooding issues and reduce property owner's liability to drainage fees on their water bills? GSI projects are expensive to build and have a terrible return on investment, but what if there was a funding mechanism to help offset and subsidize the cost of these projects? SDBA is looking at a creating a Targeted Redevelopment Area (TRA), similar to a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to help finance GSI projects on a larger scale in Southwest Detroit.


Jessica Minnick

Creating Collaborative Solutions for Detroit's Sustainable Fashion Industry

Introduce your team! Click here to add images, text and links, or connect data from your collection.

Image by Matthew Henry

Brendan O'Leary, Camille Akemann & Colleen Linn

Groundwater in SE Michigan: Understanding groundwater processes for sustainable urban development.

Groundwater (GW) plays a critical role in the vitality of the Great Lakes Basin and is largely overlooked in urban coastal cities in the Great Lakes. This presentation summarizes a project addressing urban GW from a multidisciplinary perspective that combines engineering, pharmacology, and anthropology to holistically discuss GW issues in relation to urban sustainability.


Saundra Little

Celebrating the Past for a Sustainable Future – 20th Century African American Civil Rights Sites in Detroit

Detroit has a rich and significant history of 20th Century African American civil rights activism and achievement that influenced the struggle for black equality in Michigan and the US. Creating a sustainable Detroit includes preserving these stories and places and finding visible ways to share this history. Quinn Evans worked with State Historic Preservation Office and National Parks Service to conduct research and engage the community and historians to identify 30 critical sites. A bike tour is being developed to highlight places around the theme of “resilience” and will include the important site of the 1963 Malcolm X speech.


Joel Howrani Heeres

Sustainability Action Agenda Community Engagement

Community input was central to the creation of the Detroit's Sustainability Action Agenda. Throughout the development of the Agenda, we focused on engaging a diverse array of Detroiters in every neighborhood across the city. In a year, we heard from thousands of Detroiters and their feedback on the challenges faced by residents and businesses, and suggestions on how to build a more sustainable city. In our session we will go highlight our community engagement strategies, lessons learned, and how this model can be applied to future City of Detroit planning processes.


Ian D. Tran, Julian Jones, Tanya Ali & Luis Ali

Detroit Roots and Fruits: Complex Systems Strategy in Community-Led Sustainability

In this session, you’ll learn principles of transdisciplinary and complex systems strategy while engaging leaders from front-line communities with cases at the cusp of economic development pressures, heavy industry, intergenerational leadership and storytelling as applied and navigated across Southwest Detroit, Cody-Rouge, the East Side, and when working with municipal and state-level advocacy through Alkemystery 313, LLC; AGI Construction, LLC; USGBC Detroit’s Advocacy.


Katrina Watkins

GSI in McDougall-Hunt’s Bailey Park

The Bailey Park Project (BPP) is working to develop 'Bailey Park' on 22 contiguous vacant lots in the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood. Through a process that will incorporate resident’s aspirations, professional planning concepts, and universal accessibility features, the final plan for Bailey Park will transform these vacant lots into an environmentally sustainable, multigenerational, green space. Exploring practical strategies for vacant land reuse, creative alleyway improvements, walking/biking trails, opportunities for recreation, and stormwater features.

bottom of page