John Cerniglia is the Vice President of Downtown Madison, Inc. (DMI), where he oversees events, communications and operations to help sustain and grow a vibrant and welcoming downtown Madison for all. Prior to this role, John served the organization as Senior Director of Programs and Communications from 2013-2020 and Director of Programming from 2005-2013. John received a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree in Marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Puneeta McBryan is the new Executive Director of the Downtown Business Association of Edmonton. Previously, she spent 9 years as a marketing & communications consultant for public & private sector clients. Puneeta recently concluded a tenure on the Advertising Club of Edmonton board of directors where she most recently served as President and Past President. She’s also a new mom, having just reentered the workforce into a brand new role and a dramatically changing world.
Jonathan is a sustainable business professional experienced leading organizations, building and implementing effective strategies, and leading high-performing teams. He brings strong analytical and systems-thinking experience to interconnected business, social, and political opportunities. His experience includes a decade managing political campaigns and organizations, working in startups in the cannabis industry, and leading non-profit organizations. He has an MBA in Sustainable Business Systems, and bachelor’s degrees in Natural Resource Ecology/Conservation Biology, and Spanish.
My name is Suzy Godefroy, and I have been working in the management of a number of downtowns in Peel and Halton Region of Ontario Canada (Downtown Brampton, Oakville & Burlington.) Currently, I am working at the Downtown Brampton BIA as the Executive Director. My experience spans several years of downtown management specifically working on integrated marketing & communications strategies as well as special events and placemaking to build a strong and vibrant downtown destination.
As the Social Impact Director of the Atlanta DID, I focus on building an inclusive and cohesive stakeholder network while promoting solution-focused efforts to address key quality of life issues. I recently launched a mobile response homeless outreach initiative dedicated to the area within our DID. I believe in taking an active role in social issues affecting stakeholders and those in need as partners to positively impact challenges related to equity, diversity, and inclusion in all spaces.
A lifelong Saint Paul resident, Emma Burns is a motivated startup specialist who has devoted her career to serving her community. As director of operations for the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance, she works to increase the vitality and economic success of downtown Saint Paul for everyone. She planned, launched, and executed the Streets of Summer program, and was critical to the research and coordination of the successful effort to petition for the Saint Paul DID.
John Owens is the Downtown Redevelopment Specialist for the City of Chandler. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Tulane University and Master’s degrees in Urban Planning and Public Policy from Arizona State University. John is active in the community – he is President of the Board for Swift Youth Foundation and is a past participant of Valley Leadership Advance, a program for emerging leaders in the Phoenix metro area.
Blage serves as San Jose’s lead for downtown issues and relationship management, working closely with community stakeholders. She coordinates policies and programs that impact employers, workforce, residents, and visitors. From 2004 to 2016, she was Deputy Director of San Jose Downtown Association, providing leadership for SJDA’s government relations, advocacy and events, and leading the formation of the PBID. Blage holds a bachelor’s degree from UC Davis and an MBA from the University of San Francisco.
Eleni has over a decade of experience working in the non-profit sector, working in workforce development, education, foster care, social enterprise, and most recently place management. She has dedicated her career to making positive impact in the Los Angeles community. Passionate about the intersection of business, government, and community, Eleni attended USC Marshall School of Business to earn her Master’s Degree in Social Entrepreneurship. She has a B.A. in American Studies from Occidental College.
The common denominator in 18+ years as downtown revitalization executive director, professional water skier at Cypress Gardens, and dolphin trainer at Orlando’s Sea World is yours truly, Karen Thompson who is both the Lake Wales Main Street Executive Director and the Lake Wales CRA Assistant Director. While my bio appears dissimilar, what is constant is my passion, tenacity and commitment that challenge me and actualize my success as a downtown revitalization director.
Phillip Dodge is the Executive Director of the Downtown Columbia Partnership. He has a background in fund development, communications, marketing, and non-profit leadership. Previously, Mr. Dodge led in the creation of a foundation affinity group, the Health and Housing Funders’ Forum. He serves on the Howard County Library System’s Board of Trustees, the board of Bright Minds Foundation, the Planning Advisory Committee for HoCo By Design, and is a 2020 graduate of Leadership Howard County.
Andrew Iltis is Senior Manager of Mobility and Transportation at the Downtown Denver Partnership and Director of the Downtown Denver Transportation Management Association. Andrew is known for his ability to bring people together to collaborate around the complex transportation challenges and opportunities of dense urban environments, and is thoughtful of key linkages between mobility, resilience, and economic development. Andrew has advanced degrees in Geography and GIS, and a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning.
Sunny Lee has worked for several business communities in San Diego including East Village, Old Town and Pacific Beach. She served as President of the Business Improvement District Alliance from 2019-2020 and currently sits on the Executive Board of the organization. Sunny’s most memorable moments working in San Diego Communities have been serving on the Downtown Parking Management Board and contributing to events; including the Opening Day Block Party and Día de los Muertos.
Alicia is the Planning and Advocacy Manager for the Toronto Financial District BIA (FDBIA). Alicia manages and implements the FDBIA’s planning and advocacy efforts to support economic development, access, and quality public space. Alicia is a member of the BOMA Toronto Return to Work Committee and advocates for Toronto’s business communities and economic recovery to support a better and stronger city post-COVID-19. Alicia earned a Master of Planning in Urban Development from Ryerson University.
Madeleine Odendahl is the Director of Operations for District Bridges where she ensures the organization’s sustainability and oversees programming. Previously, Ms. Odendahl served as the Executive Director of Eastern Market Main Street, and held positions at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Birmingham Museum of Art. Ms. Odendahl holds a Master of Arts in Arts Administration from SCAD and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Birmingham-Southern College.
Kristine has a diverse background in woodworking, film/television, advertising, and event production and is the founder of the Philadelphia Kite Festival and CiderFest in Fairmount Park. In 2017 she began working with the group that formed the NLBID and was hired as its executive director in May of 2019. She holds a B.A. in Media Study from SUNY Buffalo.
Michael Monestime is the Executive Director at the Central Square BID. An accomplished marketer, entrepreneur, urban planner and community-builder. Monestime works to maintain and uplift what makes Central special, leveraging longstanding, intergenerational relationships to create spaces and opportunities for local residents, artists, and entrepreneurs to benefit from the richness of Central Square’s Cultural District. In addition to our programming and popups, the BID manages a team of ambassadors and outreach workers.
I am a Membership and Events professional with an interest in Urban Place Management. I have been with the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association for almost four years. I hold a Master’s degree in Economy and Law in Businesses. I enjoy exploring the world accompanied by my four-legged friend Theo and seeing all the beautiful things it has to offer.
Ted Jutras is an urban planning professional who has spent the last decade working to build a more interesting, lively, and inviting urban environment in the District of Columbia, in service of creating a more robust and equitable local economy. Jutras joined the Capitol Riverfront BID to apply those goals while working in a rapidly-growing neighborhood within walking distance of his home. Jutras previously served as the Golden Triangle BID’s Director of Placemaking and Activation.
Chris Boss joined the Union Square Business Improvement District (USBID) in 2019. He has over 7 years of experience with property-based business improvement districts. He has served as the Operations Supervisor and later the Operations Manager for the USBID before joining the organization as Director of Services. In his current role, Boss manages the overall clean and safe programs and member services dispatch center along with a district wide security camera network program.
Brandon Stam is from Albuquerque, New Mexico and graduated from the University of New Mexico with Master’s Degrees in Community & Regional Planning and Public Administration. Brandon has served as the Executive Director at Downtown Grand Junction since 2016 and oversees three special districts which consist of a DDA, BID and Creative District. Brandon also serves as a Board Member for Downtown Colorado, Inc. He also enjoys exploring all the beauty Western Colorado offers.
Jennifer Kitson Jelenek
Jennifer arrived in Kalamazoo from New York, where she served as Director of the City’s Business Improvement District Program. Prior to NYC, Jennifer spent two years in the Peace Corps in Moldova, consulting for a regional development agency. She has 10+ years of public/nonprofit experience, including roles with NYC Economic Development Corporation and Phoenix City Council. She holds a Master of Public Administration from NYU and a bachelor’s in Political Science from Arizona State.
Kristen Vails currently serves as the Director of Placemaking for Downtown Oklahoma City Partnership. Previously, she served as the Director of Community Outreach for Fowler Holding Company and the Executive Director of the Plaza District Association. She received her BFA in Painting from the University of Oklahoma and has shown her artwork in galleries across Oklahoma. Most recently, her community involvement includes ULI Oklahoma and Fresh Start, an art program serving her homeless neighbors.
Heather Schroeder is Director of Economic Development for the Downtown Committee of Syracuse, Inc. She cultivates the downtown district’s growth through funding, programming, market research, and collaboration. Heather volunteers as President of the University Neighborhood Preservation Association and Trustee of the Everson Museum of Art. She earned a B.S. in Policy Analysis and Management from Cornell University and a Master of City and Regional Planning from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Currently the Director of Operation with Soma West CBD, Matt Allen created the cleaning operation. He brings over 20 years of managing teams in various industries. While working at downtown Berkeley BID, he grew the operation from only 8 Ambassadors to a successful team of 17 Ambassadors, which became an extension of the city of public works. With Soma West, he helped develop the software that brings analytics to the CBD.
Shifra de Benedictis-Kessner
Shifra is the Executive Director of the Temescal Telegraph Business Improvement District, managing diverse programs to create a beautiful, welcoming, and prosperous commercial district, including events, district-wide cleaning and maintenance, and marketing. Shifra brings over 10 years of experience in economic development and community building to her work, specializing in communication and community outreach, with a focus on supporting the small businesses that sustain vibrant cities.
As President & CEO of the Downtown Lincoln Association, Todd Ogden brings 15 years of BID organization experience, which he utilizes to supervise staff, implement the budget, and serve as the primary liaison to the DLA board, property owners, and the City of Lincoln. Todd is a Lincoln native and UNL graduate with degrees in Advertising and Political Science. Todd currently serves on several Boards and organizations, including YMCA, FES and IDA.
Ebony P. Walton
Ebony Walton is a passionate and creative professional with 15 years’ experience in the place management industry and has served in various roles in communications to most recently operations. Ebony has produced a video series, opened a pop-up retail shop, led trainings and team performance evaluations and her voice is on the company’s voicemail. This former beauty queen graduated from Howard University. She is a beloved wife, adored mom, and daughter of the King.
Katy is the Built Environment Community Relations Manager for the U District Partnership and the U District Business Improvement Area in Seattle, WA. Katy is responsible for engaging, convening, and educating public and private stakeholders on the development and public realm initiatives taking place in the district. Previously, Katy was with EcoDistricts, where helped communities implement sustainable and equitable neighborhood projects. Katy has a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Washington.
Amy Geren has analytic, statistical, and evaluative experience in government, nonprofit, and private business. Amy develops, manages, and evaluates programs in support of Portland Downtown’s clean and safe initiatives, with a focus on making data informed decisions. Amy holds a Master’s Degree of Community Planning and Development, and an Applied Research and Evaluation Methods Graduate Certificate from the Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service; and a non-profit management certificate from the Maine Association of Nonprofits.