Economic Development PanelName: Economic Development PanelDate: May 29, 2019Time: 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM EDTRegistration: Register NowEvent Description:
A presentation of the state of economic development in Amherst and a panel discussion of our community's strategic advantage as well as a vision for the future of economic development in the Amherst Area. A reception to continue the conversation with bites from the Award-Wining UMass Dining will follow!
$10 Members $20 Non-Members. RSVP required.
ANN BURKE holds a BA from Miami University, Oxford OH and Masters of Urban and Regional Planning from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Ms. Burke has over 30 years of professional experience with downtowns specializing in downtown revitalization and strategic planning, management district organizational development and operations, economic development, community engagement and project management. Ms. Burke co-authored enabling legislation to create Business Improvement Districts in Massachusetts, authored a Guidebook for forming Business Improvement Districts in Massachusetts, led the successful planning and development of BIDS in MA, and advised numerous other communities considering downtown management district organizational structures.
JOHN DELCONTE is a Doctoral Student in Regional Planning at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His main topic of study relates to creative placemaking— measuring its effects and testing its relationship to other outcomes, such as revitalization. His experience in arts administration includes chairing of the Hillsborough Arts Council of North Carolina for 10 years while having a simultaneous career in the health sciences as a medical writer. He has taught courses on community planning, world cities, and creative economy and placemaking at Westfield State University, the University at Albany, the University of Massachusetts, and the New Hampshire Institute of Art. He received an MS in sustainable tourism from East Carolina University, an MS in psychology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a BS in biology from Union College.
JENNIFER GANNETT is the Director of Community Development at W.D. Cowls Inc., responsible for developing and managing the diverse WDC real estate portfolio. She is also the representative for W.D. Cowls in building relationships with Town Halls, Boards, Committees and being involved in public engagements. Jennifer has a BA from the University of Massachusetts in Culture and Communications. She graduated with honors as a non-traditional student in the UWW program. Prior to the University of Massachusetts, Jennifer attended Mount Holyoke College. She has worked in Amherst for the past 8 years, most recently with The Town of Amherst’s Building and Planning Department, as The Permit Administrator. Bridging the gap between the public and private sectors was her proudest achievement.
Jennifer resides in Granby MA with her two children, Hannah and Joshua and with her chocolate lab, Karma. Hannah attends college at MCLA while Joshua is a Junior in High school. Jennifer was born in India and had lived in several countries before moving to Hadley as a teenager. She has been in the Pioneer Valley with her family since then but still loves to travel and explore.
“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots” — Marcus Garvey
GEOFF KRAVITZ was born and raised in Amherst. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Colgate University in 2002, where he majored in Computer Science. He also holds a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law. After graduating from law school, Geoff became the Government Affairs Director for the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce for two years. He then moved to Boston where he served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. In that role, he worked with municipal officials to launch the Newton-Needham Innovation Corridor and drafted economic development legislation. As the Deputy Director of Cabinet Affairs for Governor Deval Patrick, Geoff focused on policy initiatives in education, labor and workforce development, public safety, and economic development where he resolved high priority issues including audit responses, federal waiver requests, implementation of legislation, and international collaborations.
In 2016, Geoff returned to his hometown as Amherst’s first Economic Development Director. He oversees business recruitment, retention, and expansion efforts, advises on the economic impact of policy decisions, and conducts economic research for the town. Current initiatives include town-gown relations, creating an economic development strategy, participating on the Steering Committee for the Amherst Center Cultural District, leading parking management efforts, and coordinating the local implementation of legal marijuana.
SARAH LACOUR is the Executive Director of the Amherst Business Improvement District (BID) and President of the Amherst Center Cultural District. Sarah is a landscape designer and planner with over 25 years of experience in landscape architecture, regional and urban planning and historic preservation. She has been the Executive Director of the Amherst Business Improvement District since 2013. Sarah previously worked as the Director of Conservation and Planning at W.D. Cowls, Inc. Land Company, and was a Partner at Conservation Works LLC. Prior to joining Cowls in 2008, Sarah worked for seven years as a Senior Project Manager at Dodson Associates, Ltd. Landscape Architecture and Planning. Sarah’s work has ranged from scenic resource analysis and historic mill village master plans to large-scale conservation restrictions and urban design projects across New England and New York State. From 2008- 2014 she also served as adjunct faculty in the UMass Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning teaching graduate level courses in watershed planning and green infrastructure. She is a full member of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
In addition to her professional work, Sarah has served on the Board of Directors of several not-for-profit organizations including the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, the STAR Program at The Hood Center for Children at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Chesterwood Museum and the Hitchcock Center for the Environment. Sarah currently serves on the Board of Directors for Common Capital and the Rotary Club of Amherst. Also, in November 2016 she was appointed by then-Senate President Stan Rosenberg to the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. She currently serves as Treasurer for the Commission.
Sarah received her Masters of Landscape Architecture from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1990 and is a 1985 graduate of Mount Holyoke College. She has lived in Amherst, Massachusetts since 1997 with her husband and two children.
AELAN TIERNY is the Owner and Principal of Kuhn Riddle Architects. Intrigued with how Architecture permeates every aspect of our lives, from our homes to school and our work environments, Aelan, a LEED AP, strives to create unique and beautiful spaces for her clients while integrating the latest sustainable design elements. Aelan became president of Kuhn Riddle Architects in 2018, and the firm is now certified as a Women Business Enterprise (WBE).
She has worked in the professional design field since 1992. In addition to being the managing partner of the firm, she is principal-in-charge, and project architect on a wide variety of educational, commercial, and residential projects. Her greatest strength and satisfaction comes from her artful ability to coordinate the collaboration between the client, design professionals, and builders to realize a client’s vision.
Aelan has a Bachelor of Architecture with a minor in Architecture History from Carnegie Mellon University and began her career as a Community Development Peace Corps Volunteer in Guinea, West Africa. She is the Chair of the Central Business Architecture Committee of Northampton; and Co-Chair of the WMAIA Committee on the Environment; and also, a Board Member of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Architects.