Past Speakers

KATHARINE BURGESS – August 12, 2019

“Harvesting the Value of Water”

Katharine Burgess is the Vice President of Urban Resilience at the Urban Land Institute (ULI), a global non-profit and membership organization committed to the responsible use of land. At ULI, Katharine leads research, advisory services, convenings and outreach related to urban resilience and was the primary author of Harvesting the Value of Water: Stormwater, Green Infrastructure and Real EstateULI’s urban resilience work addresses how buildings, communities and cities can be more prepared for the impacts of climate change.


OLIVIA GUDE – June 21, 2019

“The power of public art to transform communities.”

Can public art really benefit the public? Can it create engaging and meaningful places for visitors and residents? Can intergenerational arts projects form new communities of understanding, interest, respect and affection?

“Absolutely,” says Olivia Gude, who teaches art education at the School for the Art Institute of Chicago. For her talk with the Tomorrow Plan Speaker Series, she discussed how public art projects can create vibrant public spaces and transform community life for all ages.


ADIE TOMER – April 22, 2019

“Transit is key underpinning of place-based economies”

Adie Tomer is a fellow at the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program and leads the Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative. His work focuses on metropolitan infrastructure usage patterns, including personal and freight transportation, and the intersections between infrastructure and technological development. Prior to his work at Brookings, Adie was a Senior Analyst at the New York County District Attorney’s Office where he advised senior executives on policy-relevant matters. He holds a master’s in Public Policy from American University and a B.A. from the University of Florida.


Mike Curtin – Tuesday, March 26

“DC Central Kitchen feeds people — and strengthens the community”

Mike Curtin is CEO of DC Central Kitchen, the nation’s first and leading community kitchen that successfully fights hunger by offering pathways out of poverty. Mike will share insights on the innovative approaches his organization takes to combating food insecurity through school nutrition programs, providing healthy and affordable food options in areas designated as food deserts and providing more than 5,000 community meals daily. He will also provide information on DC Central Kitchen’s Culinary Job Training program and how the organization has successfully adopted a social enterprise model that is more than 50 percent self-supported.


RUE MAPP – November 2, 2018

“Where Black People and Nature Meet”

Rue Mapp is the founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro, a national not-for-profit organization with the motto “Where Black People and Nature Meet.” Through personal stories, Mapp will share the motivation behind Outdoor Afro, its evolution, and its social impact to date. She will also outline the urgency for why more diverse audiences need to build a local and relevant relationship with the outdoors as a pathway toward greater community health and environmental sustainability.


JAMES CHUNG – October 4, 2018

“Next Frontiers for a Standout City”

James Chung didn’t find Greater Des Moines – Greater Des Moines found him.

Chung is the president of Reach Advisors, a strategy, research and predictive analytics firm. Among his clients are U.S. cities wanting to peer deep into his datasets – he says he extracts data even the U.S. government doesn’t have – to flush out weaknesses, identify opportunities, and gain competitive advantages over other cities.

And among those “other cities”? Greater Des Moines, the statistical overachiever.



Jeff Goodell – July 20, 2018

“The Water Will Come”

Investigative journalist and Rolling Stone contributor Jeff Goodell, author of “The Waters Will Rise: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Reshaping of the Civilized World,” spoke in Des Moines July 20 at the State Historical Building of Iowa.



Andrew Zolli – April 25, 2018

“Learning to Bounce Back: Creating Resilient Communities”

In an era of constant disruptions, what gives communities the ability to bounce back in the face of new challenges? What does it mean for the way we build—and rebuild—cities, neighborhoods, industries and networks? In times of change, why do some people, communities, companies and systems thrive, while others fall apart?

These were some of the questions asked and answered by international resiliency trainer and speaker Andrew Zolli, co-author of “Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back.”