Robert Bell is co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum, where he heads its research, analysis and content development activities. He directs the multi-stage analysis of communities for the annual Intelligent Community Awards program and authors the in-depth profiles of the Top Seven Intelligent Communities that are core to ICF's mission. Robert developed and leads the Intelligent Community Master Class and Community Accelerator programs, as well as ICF's advisory services for communities, and is a frequent speaker at municipal and telecom events. More
Rodolfo Bellesi is Principal and Founder of Ikove Capital. Ikove is a venture development company founded to pursue early-stage investments with an emphasis on technology commercialization. Through its proprietary Startup Nursery, in partnership with multiple U.S. research institutions, Ikove identifies and validates developing high-impact technologies, providing capital and commercialization resources to bridge the gap between R&D and VC funded rounds.
Prior to Ikove, Rodolfo was Senior VP of Technology at MB Capital Group, a Private Equity and Real Estate Group focused on proprietary deals in Northern Brazil. He was also Founder and President of BR Trading Consultoria LTDA, and acted as General Country Manager for the mining conglomerate Energold Brasil. Additionally, he worked at Teradyne in Boston, MA as an Application Engineer and Project Manager. Rodolfo earned his M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Ohio State University, and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Federal University of Para.
Erin Bender is founding Executive Director of The Point at Otterbein University – a new collaboration, education and innovation center made possible by public officials at all levels of government, local business and community leaders, public schools, and creative faculty and students at Otterbein. It’s offers student-centered collaboration and cross-disciplinary, high-impact learning that bridges learning with doing, students with professionals, in one shared space at 60 Collegeview Road, west of Otterbein’s main campus. It is a conduit between abstract learning and concrete practice, blurring the lines between time spent in school and time building a career. As a result, it prepares students for success in a new economy.
Bender came to Otterbein after working at OSU, where she held various positions within the Office of Technology Commercialization. The office facilitates the transfer of university research to licensees for development of new products and services that benefit the public good, foster economic growth and generate revenue. Her past roles with the office include associate director, senior licensing officer and licensing associate. Prior to joining OSU, Bender was an associate at Kremblas, Foster, Phillips & Pollick, a boutique intellectual property law firm that serves small enterprises, large corporations, individual inventors, universities and research institutions. She also worked as a legal assistant at the Chemical Abstracts Service, a division of the American Chemical Society.
In 2006, her family established C.A.B.B. Farms, LLC, a 65-acre family farm in Lexington, Ohio, that specializes in natural grass-fed and finished Angus cattle and hay production.
Mandy joined the City of Columbus in July 2017 to lead the Smart Columbus program. She uses her 21 years of industry experience with an emphasis on complex project management to deliver the USDOT and Vulcan grant funded programs. Mandy has led transformative projects including Governor Strickland’s 21st Century Priorities Task Force and Dublin’s Bridge Street District redevelopment. Transportation is a passion of Mandy’s and earned a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from the Ohio State University.
Kristy Campbell leads operations for Rev1 Ventures, the investor startup studio providing strategic services and capital to help startups scale and corporates innovate. She supports cross-team delivery of client services – including talent programs, corporate partnerships, infrastructure (via Rev1 Labs’ innovation center), and access to investment capital. Kristy also leads Rev1’s Inclusive Entrepreneurship efforts, focused on reducing bias and improving access to resources and capital for women and minority inventors and entrepreneurs.
Prior to joining Rev1, Kristy spent her career working within multiple high-growth, venture-backed startups, helping to build their brands, organize effective teams, grow revenue and scale. She held leadership positions at Manta Media – where she helped to grow the company into one of the largest, most trafficked websites in the U.S. – and Saama Technologies, a global leader in Big Data and analytics. She is also an advisor to the START Fund, the Columbus region’s first entrepreneur giving fund, launched by Rev1 in 2016 to encourage entrepreneurs to give back to the community that supports them. She holds a BS in Journalism from Ohio University and an MBA from Ashland University. Kristy is a frequent speaker on startup, marketing and inclusion best practices and has been featured in Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, Axios, Venture Beat, Yahoo and other top entrepreneur media outlets.
Joel Carnes is a proven leader and an operations and innovation expert, who optimizes organizations and propels them to exponential growth in quarters, not years. He built new levels of success while leading operations and strategy at XPRIZE, driving the global leader in open innovation from $50M to $200M in three years. Joel then took the reigns as COO of SecondMuse, a global design firm that creates and operates purpose-driven business incubators and accelerators. In this role he led the Partnership group through the complete redesign and relaunch of the company, including creation of a new product that now accounts for 80% of revenue. His other accomplishments include executive leadership positions in operations and strategy for Activision Publishing and The Walt Disney Company, where he lived out a life-long dream as Sr. Strategist in R&D at Disney Imagineering. Joel has preached the power of innovation and the effectiveness of Human-centered Organizations around the world, in locales as diverse as Dar es Salaam, Tokyo, Budapest, and Washington DC. Audiences have included global business leaders, philanthropists, the general public, and the US Congress.
Moez Chaabouni serves as a Major Business Development Executive for Accela, provider of a robust, cloud-based platform of solutions that increase engagement, improve efficiency and deliver transparency to strengthen governments interaction with communities. He is a senior IT executive, a strategic and creative thinker with a global perspective and an expert in enterprise architecture, data management, governance, software development processes and industry best practices. In addition, he serves as ICF as Chair of the international jury that helps select the Intelligent Community of the Year.
Before he joined Accela, he served as senior account executive for Informatica, and as Deputy CIO with the City of Columbus, where as a member of the Director's office, he participated in the overall operations and administrative management of the Department of Technology by directing the activities of the applications, GIS, Quality Assurance, Database, and Architecture groups. Moez also lead the nomination team for Columbus to win the Intelligent Community of the Year in 2015, laying the foundation for Columbus to win the US-DOT Smart City Challenge in 2016.
Moez received his bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from The Ohio State University and a master’s degree as well as postgraduate PhD-track studies in Computer Science from Wright State University. Moez resides in Upper Arlington, Ohio with his wife Kathryn.
Craig Chambers develops and delivers executive education for emerging public sector leaders in innovation management and smart government. The Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs is a catalyst for regional, state and national collective impact in the areas of entrepreneurship, energy and the environment, and public and social engagement policy. Craig has also served as Deputy Chief, Small Business and Entrepreneurship at the Ohio Development Services Agency, Senior Advisor on Commercialization to the US Department of Homeland Security and Co-Founder and President of Zone214, a nonprofit social learning platform for military veterans and their families.
Bill helps communities make the connection between telecommunications and economic development. As principal in Community Technology Advisors since 2000, he assists clients develop and implement programs of broadband infrastructure investment and technology promotion and training. Coleman believes that both are required for community technology and economic vitality. Prior to forming Community Technology Advisors, Bill managed Onvoy’s (now Zayo) Integrated Community Network (ICN) rural market development efforts. ICN, a Nortel Networks sales process, was a superb market development strategy to link a community’s economic development planning to telecom providers’ broadband infrastructure business planning, creating a win-win environment for providers and communities. Earlier, Bill staffed the MN Department of Trade and Economic Development Star City and Business Retention and Expansion Programs, working with local community teams to vision, strategize and implement local economic development programs. Bill is a current board member of PCs for People, a non-profit dedicated to getting computers into the hands of those without. He is a former board member of the Economic Development Association of Minnesota and the Midwest Institute for Telecommuting Education.
Since 1916, the City of Westerville has operated under a Council-Manager style of government establishing City Council as the legislative and executive body and provides for professional management through an appointed administrator.
Westerville was the first village and second municipality in Ohio to adopt this form of city government. Day-to-day operations are the responsibility of the City Manager, who serves as the chief executive of the City. Westerville government functions are carried out by the City Manager and ten appointed department or division directors, including Administrative Services, Electric, Finance, Fire, Information Services, Parks & Recreation, Planning & Development, Police, Public Service and Water. These directors provide leadership and guidance to their respective staffs, update City Council on various aspects of city business, coordinate respective budgets and oversee long-range planning efforts.
Michelle Crandall was named Hilliard’s first city manager in December 2019, after serving for many years as assistant city manager for the City of Dublin, where she was responsible for the divisions of information technology, facilities management, court services, fleet management, parks and open space, recreation services, and events management. Additionally, she was responsible for coordinating city-wide sustainability initiatives.
Crandall earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Wittenberg University in 1990 and a master of public administration from Ohio State University in 1993. She has been with the city of Dublin for 20 years: seven years in her current position and several years as assistant city manager and management assistant. In 2006, she was named as a “40 Under Forty” award recipient by Columbus’ Business First.
Executive journalist and specialist in global communication partnerships, teacher, impact investor and economic development innovator. Eli is an award-winning veteran journalist, teaching and consulting for international news media companies and universities following a 24-year career at CNN. He is a global leader in multi-platform news management, team-builder, teacher and coach with over two decades experience training international news organizations, directing breaking news coverage and developing ethical, highly motivated leaders in global journalism.
Eli also co-founded Sugarbush Valley (SBV) Impact Investments - A Social Impact Development Company and has joined the board of an Ohio-based renewable energy finance technology company called New Resource Solutions (NRS). On the NRS board, Eli taps into his background in environmentally sustainable economic development to connect non-profits and philosophically motivated for-profits and individuals to mission-aligned investment opportunities in renewable energy projects.
For more than a decade Eli has served as a director of the Sugar Bush Foundation, a supporting organization to the Ohio University Foundation. The Sugar Bush Foundation works with Ohio University and local communities to improve the quality of life in Appalachian Ohio by encouraging civic engagement and by fostering sustainable environmental and socioeconomic development, funding jointly-designed projects in the areas of zero waste, environmental protection and restoration, local foods and agriculture. An avowed tree-hugger who grew up on a beautiful wooded farm in Athens, Ohio, Eli practices sustainable forestry with family timber businesses in Texas and Ohio.
Roberto Gallardo is Assistant Director of the Purdue Center for Regional Development and a Purdue Extension Community & Regional Economics Specialist. He holds an electronics engineering undergraduate degree, a master's in economic development, and a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration. Gallardo has worked with rural communities over the past decade conducting local & regional community economic development, including use of technology for development.
He has authored more than 70 articles including peer-reviewed and news-related regarding rural trends, socioeconomic analysis, industrial clusters, the digital divide, and leveraging broadband applications for community economic development. He is also the author of the book “Responsive Countryside: The Digital Age & Rural Communities”, which highlights a 21st century community development model that helps rural communities transition to, plan for, and prosper in the digital age. Dr. Gallardo is a TEDx speaker and his work has been featured in a WIRED magazine article, a MIC.com documentary, and a RFDTV documentary. He lives in West Lafayette with his wife and two daughters. Listen to Dr. Gallardo on The Intelligent Community podcast.
Joseph Garrity serves as MORPC’s chief government affairs officer. He oversees the execution of the agency’s state and federal government affairs strategies and promotes the active participation of MORPC members in public policy and advocacy. He also provides support throughout the agency and to local governments on related strategic initiatives and collaborative efforts.
Garrity has worked at MORPC for five years, in varying capacities. Prior to that, Garrity served as a legislative aide in the Ohio General Assembly. He also served as a congressional intern in the U. S. Senate. In his free time, Garrity serves as a board member of the Central Ohio National Kidney Foundation and as the vice chair of the Columbus International Visitors Council.
Garrity has a bachelor’s degree in specialized studies from Ohio University and a master’s degree in applied politics from The Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at The University of Akron.
Beni Gradwohl is the Co-Founder and CEO of Cognovi Labs. Beni is a senior finance executive, institutional investor and fintech innovator. By combining an analytical discipline with keen business acumen, he has successfully transformed or created new businesses that spanned the consumer finance, institutional securities and investment management disciplines.
Before pivoting into business innovation and fintech, Beni was an EVP at Citi, where he helped stabilize the firm’s residential mortgage business during the financial crisis. Among various responsibilities, he oversaw the company’s $280B mortgage portfolio, the organization’s analytics functions and the development of a new digital acquisition channel. Prior to Citi, Beni was a Managing Director, Institutional Securities at Morgan Stanley and an award-winning Portfolio Manager at investment management firms. Beni currently serves as an advisor to start-ups and has been invited to several Boards of Directors. In addition to his corporate career, Beni previously held research and teaching assignments at multiple leading academic institutions. Beni received his Ph.D. and M.S. in Physics, and B.S. in Mathematics and Physics from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.
Todd Jackson is a member of the executive management team as Chief Information Officer for the City of Westerville, Ohio. With more than 22 years in information technology, Todd’s background began with GIS and led to providing strategic perspective and direction in organizational technology investments and major capital improvement projects. He approaches IT as an ally of the business and brings a diverse background for leading the development and deployment of enterprise-level IT for a wide variety of business environments. By utilizing an 'ally' approach, Todd’s team helped the City realize business value through the use of strategic technology solutions - including the creation of WēConnect, the nation's first municipally owned community data center and fiber network, a project that has had a role in helping the Community receive recognition as a 2019 Top7 Intelligent Community by the Intelligent Community Forum.
ICF co-founder John G. Jung originated the Intelligent Community concept and continues to serve as the Forum's leading visionary. Formerly President and CEO of the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance and Calgary Economic Development Authority, he is a registered professional urban planner, urban designer and economic developer. He leads regular international business missions to US, European, Asian, Indian and Australian cities, and originated the ICF Immersion Lab program. John is a regular speaker at universities and conferences and serves as an advisor to regional and national leaders on Intelligent Community development. More
Nasir serves as CIO for the City of Markham, part of the Regional Municipality of York north of Toronto. He has served the City since 2004 as a senior analyst, manager of applications and GIS and, since 2006, CIO. His experience includes strategic leadership for successful development & implementation of corporate digital and technology strategies that align with corporate goals/objectives; demonstrated experience in spearheading and championing business transformation initiatives with corporate impact; leadership in digital innovation including smart technologies. Prior to his work for Markham, he worked for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation as a senior remote sensing specialist.
Faith Knutsen has served the Voinovich School since 2008. Faith directs the Social Enterprise Ecosystem (SEE) project, funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission. SEE has a dual mission: bringing venture development services to regional social enterprises, which combine a market-based approach with a mission for social good, and capacity-building for philanthropic funders interested in impact investment. Faith lectures on entrepreneurship and venture development and aids in regional K-12 and college pitch competitions. Before joining the Voinovich School, Faith worked for 12 years in an executive role at Sunpower, Inc., an Athens Ohio-based, 60-employee research and development engineering firm. Her early career in international development began with a tour as a Peace Corps volunteer in Central Africa and segued into international consulting. Faith holds a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and a master's degree from Ohio University.
As Assistant City Manager, Kyle partners with the City Manager to oversee city operations, including labor relations, procurement, sustainability, human resources, risk management, healthcare administration and oversight of the administrative services department. Prior to joining the Delaware staff, he worked as an economic development administrator for the City of Dublin, a two-time Top7 Intelligent Community, and led development of its Historic, Bridge Street and Perimeter Commerce districts. He also spent three years with the two-time Top7 Intelligent Community of Westerville, where he worked in administrative services overseeing human resources, procurement and city-owned facilities and construction projects.
Originally from Rochdale, England, Paul Leedham currently serves as the City of Hudson’s first Chief Innovation Officer/Director of IT, where he is responsible for network operations and security, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and digital communications. Since 2014, Leedham has been deeply involved with bringing municipal broadband services to the businesses of Hudson and currently serves in an advisory capacity for the City’s Velocity Broadband program. With previous work as an independent consultant and for the County of Summit GIS Department, Leedham boasts more than 20 years of experience with current initiatives that include: IoT Smart Lighting, deploying an enterprise document management system, continuous improvement, wireless fire detection and exploring various virtual dispatch and Intelligent Traffic Management/Parking solutions.
Rob McCann is the founder of Clearcable Networks and the President of the Hamilton Technology Centre. He has been working with advanced broadband service deployments in mid-market and rural cable and telephone systems since 1998. He is responsible for building and maintaining technical, network, and application intelligence. Rob works closely with several carriers, cable systems, municipalities, and network service providers in Canada, the US, and the Caribbean providing them with the technology, integration, and business practices required to effectively operate voice, video, and data services in the changing broadband service provider industry.
Most recently Rob represented Clearcable as an inaugural board member of The Intelligent Community Forum Canada, a member of the Seneca College Communications Advisory Committee, and previously has served as a Director with the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers Ontario Chapter, a contributor to the CRTC Interconnection Steering Committee, and a frequent keynote speaker at the Canadian Cable System Alliance, Canadian Independent Telephone Association, and National Cable Telephone Cooperative annual trade shows.
Rob’s active projects include work with ICF recognized Intelligent Communities by chairing the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Digital Infrastructure Working Group and providing technical insight to Sarnia’s Bluewater Regional Network. He was named the Canadian Independent Telephone Association’s 2016 Supplier of the Year and holds degrees in Mathematics from the University of Waterloo and Economics from McMaster University.
Andrea McKinney is a community builder focused on system transformation. Passionate about the public service and supporting positive change, she has a demonstrated history of successful delivery of major initiatives in the private and broader public sectors including provincial government, municipal government and health care.
As General Manager of Corporate Services, Andrea is accountable for digital transformation and government modernization at the city. Previously, she served as chief innovation officer for the Top7 community Hamilton, Ontario, and at eHealth Ontario from 2010-2016 as the Senior Director of Regional Integration and Provincial Partners. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto.
As Digital Equity Officer, Geoff works with a team to ensure equity and inclusion play a central role in 21st century economic development, leveraging Chattanooga’s unique technological assets to develop, test and scale next-generation solutions. He is responsible for program and project management for gigabit application development, digital equity infrastructure and inclusive Smart City strategies.
Prior to joining The Enterprise Center, he managed innovation and technology programs at the Public Education Foundation and was a project coordinator for the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund’s portfolio of startups in Chattanooga.
Pat Schou is the executive director of the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network (ICAHN), the first state-wide critical access hospital (CAH) network established in 2003 comprised of 53 CAHs providing a number of hospital support services and educational programs as well as managing the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Grant, Small Hospital Improvement Program and several other grant programs on behalf of the Illinois Department of Public Health. As Executive Director, Pat has the overall accountability and responsibility for the organization and its subsidiaries and reports directly to the ICAHN Board of Directors. She is also responsible for our Accountable Care Organization / IRCCO (Illinois Rural Community Care Organization), and she represents the organization and its members, serving as Chief Officer.
Prior to this, Schou was the state CAH program coordinator since the program inception in 1999 and instrumental in Illinois being one recognized as of the most successful state CAH programs. Schou has more than 35 years of clinical and rural hospital administrative experience, where her last hospital position was as the Vice President for Perry Memorial Hospital, Princeton, IL for 10 years.
David Staley is Director of the Humanities Institute and Director of the Center for the Humanities in Practice (CHiP). He is an associate professor in the Department of History – where he teaches courses in digital history and historical methods – and holds courtesy appointments in the departments of Design – where he has taught courses in Design History and Design Futures – and Educational Studies, where he leads the "Forum on the University."
He is the author of Alternative Universities: Speculative Design for Innovation in Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019); Brain, Mind and Internet: A Deep History and Future (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), Computers, Visualization and History, 2nded (Routledge, 2014) and History and Future: Using Historical Thinking to Imagine the Future (Lexington Books, 2007).
Among his recent publications, he is author of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) reports "Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians: Higher Education in 2025," and "Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians: Scenarios for the Future of the Book," and "Futuring, Strategic Planning and Shared Awareness: An Ohio University Libraries' Case Study" in The Journal of Academic Librarianship.
He is host of the "Voices of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences" podcast. In addition to his written work, he has designed and curated both online and physical exhibitions and has published numerous visual compositions in digital media. From 2003-2008, Staley was the Executive Director of the American Association for History and Computing (AAHC).
Tiit Terik has been Chairman of the Tallinn City Council since 2019, having first been elected to the Council in 2009. Previously a member of the Estonian Parliament and a City District Governor of two legislative districts, he serves as Chairman of the Board of the Association of Estonian Cities and Municipalities, Vice President of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions, and is a member of the European Committee of the Regions.
Mayor Allan Thompson brings a unique brand of passion to municipal leadership and a strong commitment to citizen engagement, collaboration and service delivery innovation. His vision is a connected, sustainable and inclusive community where we are all #CaledonProud.
He was first elected to public office in 2003 as a Caledon area Councillor and then elected as a Regional Councillor in 2006. On December 2, 2014 he was sworn in as the seventh Mayor of the Town of Caledon and is currently serving his second term.
Mayor Thompson is the Regional representative on the Board of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and is the Chair of the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA), advocating for and providing leadership to, 444 municipalities across Ontario.
Mayor Thompson is a lifelong resident of Caledon, a proud husband, father and multi-generational farmer.
Tom has been helping entrepreneurs build great companies for most of his career. He’s formed multiple venture capital funds, founded angel groups, and is an active angel investor. As the CEO of Rev1 Ventures, Tom has built an experienced team that has invested in more than 75 startups and added more than $70M in capital to the Columbus, Ohio region in under five years. This growth has helped Columbus to be named one of the fastest-growing startup cities in the US according to the Kauffman Foundation and Rev1 named the Most Active VC in the Great Lakes region, according to Pitchbook. Before forming Rev1, Tom spent much of his career focused on innovation, startups and early stage capital – first from the corporate sector within Battelle – and then regionally, building innovation and startup support systems in Oklahoma, Ohio and advising several regions of the United States and the United Kingdom. He feels strongly that in order to fuel startups, you must connect the assets in your own back yard. This includes corporations, service providers, academic and research institutions, and public sector entities. He’s the author of The Entrepreneur’s Path: A Handbook for High-Growth Companies.
Jim is a Co-owner of Small Town Tech. He has a PHD in Land Resources, a Masters in Ecological Anthropology, and a Bachelors in Human Factors Engineering.
He has also spent four years in Madagascar, two of which he spent living with a hunter gatherer tribe. All of this seems like overkill to own a computer store.
Louis Zacharilla helped found the Intelligent Community movement. He is the developer of the Top Seven and Intelligent Community of the Year Awards programs. He helps the New York-based think tank communicate the importance of developing viable and innovative communities and cities audiences worldwide and oversees the new Institutes of the Intelligent Community Forum around the world. He is a frequent keynote speaker and a moderator at conferences and events. He appears regularly in the media to discuss the impact of broadband and access technologies on the rebirth of the world’s communities. More