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Webinar Speakers in 2016

Learn how cities worldwide successfully plan and manage nightlife. A panel of speakers presents a comprehensive, citywide approach to manage a variety of impacts and support opportunities for vitality. 
Representatives from cities with exemplary track records or technical experts from diverse backgrounds will share how they overcame obstacles and made improvements in one or more of the six core elements of hospitality zone development. The case study format of this webinar series provides a level of depth that was previously exclusive to RHI’s conference attendees.

Webinar Moderator: Jim Peters

President, Responsible Hospitality Institute

Jim Peters is the moderator for the Sociable City Webinar Series. He provides introductions, background and probing questions on the webinar topic.

As co-founder of RHI in 1983, he brings extensive background and more than thirty years of experience in researching and facilitating programs on the nighttime economy.

Link to bio

Beth Bagwell, MPA

Beth Bagwell, Executive Director, International Town & Gown Association

Beth BagwellBeth Bagwell is the executive director of the International Town & Gown Association.  She has 15 years of teaching experience and has worked in the nonprofit sector for more than a decade. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from Clemson University. Ms. Bagwell also has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from Lander University in Greenwood, SC.  Her work in the public sector and post-graduate position at the Strom Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs at Clemson University helped prepare her for her current position with the ITGA.

Allison Harnden

Nighttime Economy Coordinator, City of Pittsburgh

Allison Harnden began her position with the City of Pittsburgh the end of 2015 following her role with the Responsible Hospitality Institute where she worked in San Diego from 1996-2004 and designed innovative programs that increased economic vitality and regulatory compliance in eight San Diego nightlife-oriented districts. She continued on with RHI and guided 45 communities in 21 states to co-create safe social space through impact prevention, correcting issues and repairing perceptions that affect patronage. 

In her new position with Pittsburgh she serves as a liaison from the city's administration to multiple districts, neighborhood organizations and hospitality businesses implementing the Sociable City Plan.

Greg Higdon   

Greg Higdon, Captain, Springfield Police Department

Greg HigdonCaptain Greg Higdon is a 20 year veteran of the Springfield Police Department.  Throughout his career, he has progressed through the ranks and has served in various assignments to include Patrol, the Special Response Team, and Criminal Investigations.  Currently, Captain Higdon is the Division Commander for half of the Uniform Operations Bureau, which includes the Community Services Section.  Captain Higdon is a graduate of Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command and is a graduate of the 256th session of the FBI’s National Academy.  He lives in the Springfield area, has been married for 14 years, and has 11 year old twin boys.

Jocelyn Kane

Jocelyn Kane, Executive Director, San Francisco Entertainment Commission  

Jocelyn KaneJocelyn Kane is Executive Director of San Francisco's Entertainment Commission which regulates, promotes and enhances entertainment and nightlife in the city of San Francisco. The seven member commission has authority to accept, review and gather information to conduct hearings for entertainment-related permit applications. Jocelyn supervises the permitting process, building more open and productive communication among stakeholders, and collaborating with other agencies to intervene with businesses engaged in risky practices.


Lutz Leichsenring

Night Mayor, City of Amsterdam

Lutz Leichsenring Since 2012 Mirik Milan is the Night Mayor of Amsterdam. The Night Mayor is an independent non for profit foundation dedicated to ensure a dynamic nightlife and helps to build bridges between the municipality, (small) business owners and residents. By creating a mutual understanding, the Night-Mayor changes the game. Night Mayor Mirik is a spokesman for all things concerning nightlife in the Dutch capital. Amsterdam is a city of innovation. The introduction of 24-hour permits in the Hotel and Catering Industry in 2013 marked a major change.


Mirik Milan

Night Mayor, City of Amsterdam

Mirik MilanSince 2012 Mirik Milan is the Night Mayor of Amsterdam. The Night Mayor is an independent non for profit foundation dedicated to ensure a dynamic nightlife and helps to build bridges between the municipality, (small) business owners and residents. By creating a mutual understanding, the Night-Mayor changes the game. Night Mayor Mirik is a spokesman for all things concerning nightlife in the Dutch capital. Amsterdam is a city of innovation. The introduction of 24-hour permits in the Hotel and Catering Industry in 2013 marked a major change.


Kenneth Peterit

Kenneth Peterit, Sergeant - Tourism & Entertainment Policing Unit, College Station Police Department

Kenneth PetereitKenneth Peterit brings 19 years of experience and a diverse background of experience that contributed to the development of the Tourism Oriented Policing & Protective Services Tourism Oriented Policing & Protective Services. The process includes a dedicated unit with supervision, relying extensively on bike officers and specialized training.



Christopher Roberts

Christopher Roberts, Captain, Columbia Police Department

Christopher RobertsCaptain Christopher Roberts initially began his experience with the Columbia Police Department through the Citizen’s Police Academy while still in college in 1996.  The experience was so positive that Captain Roberts applied to join the Columbia Police Department after graduating from Midlands Technical College with an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice in 1997. Rising through the ranks, working in the five districts of Columbia and was promoted to Captain in 2015


Saswati Sarkar

Saswati Sarkar. Assistant Director of Prevention Programs, New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault

The Alliance is an organization committed to preventing sexual violence and reducing the harm it causes. Through training, advocacy and research, the Alliance has been an active force in fighting for recognition of the magnitude of the problem of sexual violence in New York City and the state. Saswati draws upon experience as a former role as community activist, systems change, and national and local anti-oppression advocacy experience to direct the Alliance’s sexual violence prevention programs that serves all five boroughs in NYC, and provides technical assistance to Rape Crisis and Sexual Violence programs statewide.

Paul Seres

Paul Seres, Founding Trustee, New York City Hospitality Alliance

Paul SeresPaul owns and operates several NYC Nightlife Venues and restaurants in Manhattan. He co-chairs the licensing committee for the Manhattan Community Board 4, which serves Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen area in Manhattan. As President of the New York Nightlife Association, Paul helped create the Nightlife Best Practices Guidelines in conjunction with the NYPD. After serving as President of the New York Nightlife Association, in 2012 Paul became a founding trustee of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, a New York City based trade association and lobbying organization that represents the bars, cafes, lounges, nightclubs and destination hotels that make up the hospitality economic engine for the city.

Janice Solomon

Executive Director,Toronto Entertainment District Business Improvement Area

The Entertainment District BIA was formed in 2008 and is one of Canada’s largest BIAs. As Executive Director, Ms. Solomon oversees the day to day management of this mixed use area – with a mandate to promote and enhance the Entertainment District. Some key initiatives include development and execution of prioritized elements of the BIA’s Master Plan including the “John Street Cultural Corridor”, monitor and write reports on all new residential and commercial developments in the area, implementation of a marketing and community based social media plan, the creation of a nightlife plan to maintain a vibrant and safe nightlife as well as working with the City Shelter Support and Housing Administration – Streets to Homes Program through our Clean Streets Team initiative

Kannu Sahni

Kannu Sahni, Director of Community Relations, University of Pittsburgh

Kannu SahniKannu Sahni brings almost a decade of experience with the University of Pittsburgh and in his current role develops and coordinates relationships and initiatives of University schools and departments with local and regional community groups, governmental entities, business and professional organizations. Facilitates the University's community impact through academic outreach, civic engagement and service. Works with University, community and neighborhood entities, and student organizations to enhance University - community relationships.


Barbara Ursuliak

 Hospitality Destinations Planner, Responsible Hospitality Edmonton, Edmonton, AB

A homegrown Edmontonian, Barb has lived through Edmonton’s boom and bust cycles. The recent growth in Edmonton’s late night economy have sharpened Barb’s community development and project management skills, as well as her entrepreneurial spirit.   Barb will continue to draw on her expertise as projects planned in the downtown core help Edmonton achieve goals set for diversity, livability and vibrancy. Expansion of transit, construction of new public buildings and transforming neighborhoods are examples of some of the City projects expected to be completed by this year. Her multi-dimensional position; with Responsible Hospitality Edmonton keeps Barb young and street wise.

Samantha Wells

 Scientist, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Samantha Wells, Ph.D., is a Scientist and Co-Head of the Social and Community Interventions and Policy Research Group in the Social and Epidemiological Research Department at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She examines male-to-male alcohol-related aggression and the contributing roles of alcohol, drinking contexts, beliefs and attitudes as well as masculinity concerns. She developed and validated a multidimensional inventory of young men’s beliefs and attitudes toward bar aggression. She also studies pre-loading among young adult bar-goers and women’s experiences of sexual harassment and aggression in bars.  

Webinar Speakers in 2015

Kate Becker

Director, Seattle Office of Film and Music

Kate BeckerKate Becker was appointed director of the Seattle Office of Film and Music in February, and most recently served as a strategic advisor and code compliance team facilitator, focusing on nightlife, marijuana and I-502 implementation policy. Prior to working at the city, Becker served in leadership roles at Seattle Theatre Group, Art Share LA in Los Angeles, and The New Art Center in Newton, MA. She also co-founded The Vera Project and the Old Fire House in Redmond, WA. Becker has produced more than 1,000 all ages shows.


John Bodnovich

Executive Director, American Beverage Licensees  

John BodnovichJohn was named Executive Director of American Beverage Licensees (ABL) in 2010. He works closely with ABL’s 35 state and regional affiliates and nearly 20,000 on- and off-premise beverage licensee members on matters of concern to beverage alcohol retailers. John oversees ABL’s federal government affairs efforts, grassroots advocacy, support for sensible retail business policy and public affairs strategies on behalf of “America’s Beer, Wine & Spirits Retailers.”  He is also responsible for outreach and strategic communication between ABL and its affiliates, industry trade associations, suppliers, wholesalers and importers, as well as social responsibility organizations and other industry stakeholders.

Mike Cockburn

Consultant and Former City Centre Manager, Liverpool City Council

Mike CockburnMike has significant experience of night time economy leadership gained through his role as Liverpool’s City Centre Manager over a nine year period (2004 - 2015). Such experience has included preparing Liverpool for Purple Flag in 2010 and subsequent re-assessment in 2013 and commissioning a fundamental root-and-branch review of the city’s night time economy in 2009.

Mike was Liverpool’s City Centre Manager during the city’s renaissance and transformation, which included hosting the European Capital of Culture celebrations in 2008, the opening of an international convention centre and the major retail and leisure development: Liverpool One. During the time Mike was City Centre Manager Liverpool’s fortunes and reputation were transformed with the city becoming an international place of destination, drawing on the Beatles' worldwide appeal and provision of first class accommodation to attract visitors and convention delegates in their hundreds of thousands.  

Mike also chaired the city centre’s community safety partnership which has halved recorded crime and significantly reduced violent, alcohol-fueled crime, through joint initiatives and strong working partnerships. Liverpool’s city centre now boasts a successful and diverse night time economy through the work that Mike and colleagues have put in with stakeholders to broaden appeal and ensure the offer is inclusive and something for everyone.

Paul Davies

Nighttime Economy Consultant, Association of Town and City Management

Paul is Purple Flag and Night Time Economy Consultant to the Association of Town & City Management (ATCM), London, England. He researched and developed the Purple Flag accreditation scheme for better town centres at night with colleagues, initially at the Civic Trust and subsequently at ATCM.

He is currently working on the expansion of the programme overseas in Canada and Sweden and to universities in the UK. His most recent research has been into the diversification of the evening and night time economy and its contribution to a reduction in crime, anti-social behaviour and alcohol health harms.  

Paul originally trained as an architect and town planner. His career progressed from architectural design, master planning and heritage-based renewal to urban and rural regeneration, community-based models, town centre revitalisation, new policy research and development.  

For more than a decade he ran the Civic Trust Regeneration Unit, which pioneered and delivered innovative approaches to local area and neighbourhood regeneration in around 1,000 towns, cities and rural settlements throughout the UK.  

Greg DeShields

Executive Director, PHLDiversity Multicultural Affairs Congress

Greg DeShields currently serves as the Executive Director at PHLDiversity Multicultural Affairs Congress, a division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB), and as adjunct instructor for Temple University School of Tourism and Hospitality and Hospitality Educators  

Greg is a Graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, with an A.S. Degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management; and B.S. Degree in Hospitality Management. His professional certifications include: American Hotel & Lodging Association, Educational Institute – Certified Hospitality Educator – 2013 Asian American Hotel Owners Association – Certified Hotel Owner 2013.

Recently Greg served as Managing Director of Business Development for Temple University Fox School of Business & School of Tourism and Hospitality Management.  Professionally, Greg has been a manager in the hospitality industry for such companies as Hyatt Hotel, Omni Hotels, Sheraton Hotels, Korman Company, General Manager of Philadelphia OIC’s Opportunities Inn: Hospitality Training Institute.

JC Diaz

First Vice President, International Nightlife Association

JC DiazLikeable entrepreneur, facilitator & master connector with 20+ years leadership experience. Coaching in business management & personal development.   Representing artists, brands, corporations, designers, DJs, labels and lifestyle companies. Consulting in SEO, Joint Venture, Marketing Strategies, Nightlife and Hospitality projects. An aggressive community organizer with strong ties in government and political parties.   Passions include helping small business owners & career minded professionals get more publicity, win more clients and obtain more resources. Specializing in Brand Management, Event Production & Promotional Sponsorships. 

Kathie Durbin

Division Chief of Licensure, Regulation and Education, Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control  

Kathie DurbinKathie Durbin began her career has a Responsible Beverage Instructor for the State of Maryland. In addition to her training responsibilities, Kathie spent 8 years as a contractor for Montgomery County Health and Human Services actively working on substance abuse prevention techniques with key stakeholders and community organizations. She managed several sizable state grants, a county program of mini-grants and the substance abuse prevention network.  As the Executive Director of the Montgomery County Restaurant Association in the early 90's Kathie assisted the business community with legislative issues and local policies. 

Suzanne Geyer

Associate Executive Director, Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association

Suzanne Geyer is the Account Executive for Alta Management Services, Inc., an association management company located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She serves as the Associate Executive Director of the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association and provides full service management to two other clients including the Mid-Atlantic Construction Safety Council and Mid-Atlantic Outreach Training Institute Education Center.

Geyer is very involved in the Philadelphia business community serving on several hospitality committees such as Philadelphia Academies Inc., Community College of Philadelphia's Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Advisory and Multicultural Affairs Congress. She also works closely with professional organizations to develop and strengthen relationships in the hospitality industry on issues that pertain to her clients and has been successful in furthering her clients' interests through civic representation, education efforts, community partnerships, and increased marketing presence. Geyer is a graduate of Community College of Philadelphia with her Associates degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management.

Richard Guiney

CEO, Dublin Town Business Improvement District

Richard GuineyRichard Guiney is the CEO of Dublin Town, the Business Improvement District in Dublin city centre. DublinTown is charged with the promotion of the city centre as a destination of choice for shopping, socializing and a place to do business on behalf of the district’s 2,500 businesses. DublinTown was established following a vote of ratepayers in the city in 2007. That mandate was renewed for a further 5 years following a second ballot of businesses in 2012. A third term will be sought in 2017. 

Richard is widely published on issues of town centre management and the promotion of a welcoming and safe environment. He is seen as an authority on town centre development and has been invited to speak in various locations in Ireland, UK, Continental Europe and Australia. Dublin Town’s work has been recognized by peer groups, receiving awards from the Association of Town & City Management (ATCM) and British BIDs. 

Richard believes that town centres will experience profound societal and economic changes in the first half of the 21st century when there will be a blurring of the traditional day and evening economies. He has spoken and written extensively on the need to reconsider how we plan our towns and cities to meet challenges that new technology, peak oil and a mobile workforce will bring. In 2014, he was invited by the ATCM to chair Purple Flag Ireland. 

Heath King

Heath King, Lieutenant, Charleston Police Department

Heath KingHeath King is a 16 year veteran of the Charleston Police Department and is assigned to the Tourism / Entertainment District Services Division.  He works out of the patrol district that encompasses the downtown historic district.  Heath assists the Office of Tourism Management with enforcement of the city’s tourism laws and also works closely with the city’s Livability Division in resolving some of the issues created by a booming tourism industry. Lieutenant King is also tasked with managing the departments Entertainment District Unit. Sgt. King works daily with the city’s business services, zoning, and planning departments to maintain a successful management plan for the city’s growing hospitality areas.

James Keblas

Founder, City Inspired and Former Director, Seattle Office of Film and Music

James Keblas is an extremely celebrated national economic development leader in the areas of arts and entertainment.  He represents creativity, commerce and culture in a manner that gets him up early in the morning and staying out late at night. In his former position as director of the Seattle Office of Film and Music, he facilitated the implementation of the Mayor’s Eight Point Nightlife Initiative, and pioneered the concept of Music Cities. In his new venture, City Inspired, he is creating a place where civic leaders go to get good ideas.


Michael Masserman

Director of International Government Relations, Lyft

Michael MassermanMichael Masserman is helping Lyft expand globally, blending his background in law, policy, politics and business development as he meets with officials to ensure that Lyft (and ridesharing) can thrive in markets around the world.

Prior to Lyft, he served as the Presidentially appointed Executive Director for Export Policy, Promotion & Strategy at the U.S. Department of Commerce. There he lead Commerce and government-wide efforts to implement the President's National Export Initiative to help U.S. businesses increase exports, expand into new markets, and compete globally.

Jacob Montgomery

Sergeant - Public Safety Compliance Team, Edmonton Police Service  

Sergeant Montgomery is a 10 year member of the Edmonton Police Service.  He has spent half of his career, working in and around Edmonton’s Hospitality Industry, as a Foot Patrol Officer in the Whyte Ave Entertainment District, and is currently assigned as the Coordinator for Responsible Hospitality Edmonton’s Public Safety Compliance Team (PSCT).  Sergeant Montgomery was instrumental in the development, and delivery of EPS’s Entertainment District Police Training Program, providing three days of specialized instruction and role play on nightlife challenges


Stefanie Jones

Nightlife Community Engagement Manager, Drug Policy Alliance

Stefanie Jones is nightlife community engagement manager at the Drug Policy Alliance, based in New York. In this role she introduces harm reduction principles and drug policy alternatives to partygoers, public health officials and city nightlife regulators across the U.S.  In her prior role within the organization as event manager she produced four progressively larger editions of the biennial International Drug Policy Reform Conference, as well as numerous local policy conferences, fundraisers and coalition-building meetings.


David Mack

Director of Public Affairs, Lyft

David MackDavid Mack oversees policy development, communications, community relations and policy research across the platform's U.S. markets. His policy background includes overseeing campaigns focused on a range of issues that overlay technology innovation and public policy including tax reform, patent litigation, telecommunications policy, antitrust and small business equity. Prior to joining Lyft, David was a Principal at 463 Communications where he ran the West Coast office and developed policy positions for high growth technology companies including Facebook, Yelp and Microsoft.


Jan Ramsey

Founder and Publisher, Offbeat Magazine  

Jan RamseyJan Ramsey is the founder and Publisher of OffBeat Magazine, and the Weekly Beat. A native New Orleanian, Ramsey has been a music industry activist since 1985, and a magazine publisher since 1988.  In 1987, she organized the city’s first conference that focused on music industry development and was the co-author of the first music economic impact study. Ramsey has been the recipient of many honors, including “Woman of The Year” award from CityBusiness; the ASCAP “Ampt” Award for outstanding contribution to the New Orleans music scene; a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Louisiana Blues Hall of Fame, a “Keeping The Blues Alive Award” from the Blues Foundation, and a Lantern Award from the state of Louisiana Department of Economic Development. s. 

Paula Robinson 

Director Program Development & Strategic Partnerships, Visit Bronzeville  

Paula RobinsonPaula Robinson is the President and managing partner of the Bronzeville Community Development Partnership, a community development corporation revitalizing Chicago's historic African American community as an international tourism destination. Robinson is a marketing communications veteran operating her own firm for more than ten years; she has been recognized with numerous industry awards. A fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago, Robinson is advisor emeritus to the national board of advisors for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She holds a B.S. in Communication Arts from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, has completed all required coursework at DePaul University and is pursuing an MS from the School of New Learning with a focus area on Heritage Tourism as a Sustainable Development Strategy for Urban Markets. 

Dan Rosenblatt

Managing Partner, Lee, McMahon and Rosenblatt

Dan RosenblattDan Rosenblatt was executive director of the International Association of Chiefs of Police from 1989 to 2011 when he retired from the position.  Prior to his many years of service at IACP, he was director of communications at the Police Foundation and worked in a variety of offices at the U.S. Department of Justice including the Office for Victims of Crime; the Office of Justice Assistance, Research and Statistics; and, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration.  Mr. Rosenblatt was press secretary to U.S. Representative Bruce Caputo (R-NY) and spokesman for the Watergate Special Prosecution Force. 

Shain Shapiro

Managing Director, Sound Diplomacy and Music Cities Convention

Originally from Toronto, Canada, Dr Shain Shapiro has worked in the music industry for over fifteen years, including (before founding Sound Diplomacy) 3.5 years as the UK and European Representative of the Canadian Independent Music Association.  In this role, he helped produce over 100 showcases across Europe, working with 500 bands in the process.  Before that, he was the UK Press Manager for One Little Indian and FatCat Records and an internationally published music journalist, working for Timeout, VICE and others.  He holds a PhD from Birkbeck, University of London, titled ‘The History of Popular Music Funding in Canada’.  

Jon Shipp

Nighttime Economy Manager, Bournemouth Borough Council

Having enjoyed a career in hotel management, in 2006 Jon Shipp began a new and stimulating role as the Night Time Economy Manager for Bournemouth, the first in the UK to specialise in this field, jointly funded by the night time businesses and Bournemouth Tourism. The objective was to bring together the work of all the partners in the evening and night time economy, ensure progress and development across existing projects, and bring new initiatives to further raise the quality of the night time offer.  

Since 2012 Jon has been instrumental in the implementation of a consultation for Bournemouth on the evening and night time economy (ENTE) with the urban design practice Feria Urbanism. This research set out recommendations for change which are now being delivered through an executive NTE Strategy Group and include a new approach to re-design and elevate the night time offer for Bournemouth.  

From inception Jon has developed this role to work with national schemes such as National Pubwatch and the Best Bar None Scheme, and is now actively involved with Purple Flag as a successful applicant and a Lead Assessor of other towns and cities, and delivering workshops for towns and cities wanting to apply for Purple Flag.  

Jon’s broad experience and knowledge has resulted in an ability to bring both a practical and strategic approach to the sector whilst also influencing national initiatives leading to a continually improving night time offer for both Bournemouth and other destinations. In 2012 Jon was honoured to receive the Jeremy Allen Award for services in the field of alcohol licensing in recognition of his work.

Paul Seres

Managing Member, New York City Hospitality Alliance  

Paul SeresPaul owns and operates several NYC Nightlife Venues and restaurants in Manhattan. He co-chairs the licensing committee for the Manhattan Community Board 4, which serves Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen area in Manhattan. As President of the New York Nightlife Association, Paul helped create the Nightlife Best Practices Guidelines in conjunction with the NYPD. After serving as President of the New York Nightlife Association, in 2012 Paul became a founding trustee of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, a New York City based trade association and lobbying organization that represents the bars, cafes, lounges, nightclubs and destination hotels that make up the hospitality economic engine for the city.

Miki Stricker-Talbot

 Street as a Venue Coordinator, Responsible Hospitality Edmonton, Edmonton, AB

Miki Stricker-TalbotMiki Stricker-Talbot coordinates programs, services, and strategies that support the late night economy. A seasoned events professional, Miki has worked for the City of Toronto’s Special Events Office, served as Festival Director of the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival, and was the founder and co-producer of the Calgary International Fringe Theatre Festival. In her current role, Miki has been particularly delighted to view principles of event and crowd management through Responsible Hospitality’s nighttime lens. The world can look quite different at night.

Miki has always been fascinated by the movement of people to, through and from events. She views the Friday and Saturday nights in entertainment areas as events unto themselves, and looks to apply knowledge gained from managing and producing large scale events towards developing strategies for managing the late night economy. Miki has provided expertise to the Canadian Tourism Human Resources Council in their work to develop international competency standards for the emerit Certified Event Management Professional program, and is a recipient of the Alberta Centennial Medal, which recognized contributions made to the quality of life of Albertans. Her secret superpower is the ability to maneuver through any crowd. 

Ben Van Houten

Business Development Manager, Nightlife  & Entertainment Sector, San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development, San Francisco, CA

In 2012, Ben Van Houten became San Francisco’s first nighttime economy manager, a position created after an economic impact study identified the $4.2 billion generated annually by San Francisco’s nightlife and entertainment industry. As a liaison between the industry and City Hall, Ben is involved in a wide range of policy efforts, including leading a regional initiative to improve late-night transportation and collaborating with City colleagues on groundbreaking legislation to foster compatibility between entertainment venues and nearby residential developments. Ben is the co-founder of The Bay Bridged, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting San Francisco Bay Area independent music, and has helped to produce and program a wide variety of music festivals and concerts over the past decade.

Webinar Speakers in 2014

Ken Armstrong

Commander, Lexington Division of Police

Ken Armstrong, who is a twenty-three year veteran of the Lexington Division of Police, was appointed to the rank of Commander in 2009 after serving as a lieutenant for approximately four years. He currently commands the Bureau of Special Operations Operational Support Section, which includes; the Downtown Entertainment District Unit, Canine Unit, Mounted Unit, Air Support Unit, Community Services Section, Emergency Response Unit, Hazardous Device Unit, Community Law Enforcement Action Response Unit and various other assignments.

Commander Armstrong’s previous supervisory assignment entailed his leadership of the Special Investigations Section and the Investigative Support Section, both of which are assigned to the Bureau of Investigation.  The Special Investigation Section includes the Narcotics Enforcement Unit, Intelligence Unit, the Lexington Alcoholic Beverage Control Office and numerous state and federal task forces.  The Investigative Support Section includes the Forensic Services Unit, the Background Unit and the Polygraph Unit.

During his time with the Lexington Division of Police he has held various positions in the Bureau of Investigations, the Bureau of Patrol and the Bureau of Special Operations. Commander Armstrong, who is one of the original instructors for the Citizens Police Academy, has been involved in drug and gang related investigations throughout his career and has worked closely with civic groups and governmental agencies to address these and other issues in Lexington.  He was a field supervisor for approximately ten years and was the first supervisor of the Community Law Enforcement Action Response Unit (CLEAR) and Gang Resource Officer Program.

Commander Armstrong obtained his Masters of Science Degree from Eastern Kentucky University in Criminal Justice during the summer of 2008. He is a Certified Instructor by the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council and has been involved in training of over 1600 law enforcement officers in topics of criminal street gangs, leadership development and illegal drug markets. He is also an adjunct professor with Eastern Kentucky University where he teaches community policing and problem solving.

September 23, 2014: Lexington City Showcase

Ana Lopez van Balen

Director, Mid-County Regional Center

Ana Lopez van Balen has been the Director of the Mid-County Regional Services Center for Montgomery County since the summer of 2011.  In her role, she manages the Wheaton Urban District –a special taxing district of 200 acres that provides business improvement district services as well as promotional services for the area.  In addition, she coordinates special projects within the area such as façade improvements, business outreach and support, and redevelopment projects (both public/private and private).  Most recently, she also was the staff lead for the County Executive Nighttime Economy Task Force—a special county-wide creative placemaking initiative examining policies, resources, and amenities that address Montgomery County’s nightlife offerings, boost entertainment offerings, increase financial prospects for employment and business development while also helping to enhance the sense of community throughout the diverse urban centers throughout the County.

Prior to her position with the county, Ms. Van Balen was Executive Director of Community Bridges—a leadership and empowerment organization for low-income girls—for five and a half years.  She has a master's from the Columbia University School of Social Work, and a bachelor from Vanderbilt University in Human & Organizational Development with a concentration in Community Development and Social Policy.  She is a graduate of Leadership Montgomery Class of 2007, the recipient of the 2009 Meyer Exponent Award, a 2009 Washingtonian of the Year and a 2014 Maryland’s Top 100 Women.

June 24, 2014: City Alliances Reform Nightlife Policies

Carol Becker

Faculty, Public Policy and Administration, Hamline University

Carol BeckerCarol Becker has over twenty years of experience in public finance, public policy and planning. She worked for seven years at the Minneapolis Budget and Evaluation Office working on public policy and public finance issues. She worked for three as a policy aide and adviser to Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton. She worked ten years at the Metropolitan Council doing transportation finance and planning. She is currently the Finance Director at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. She also teaches public policy and public administration at Hamline University and the University of St Thomas.


April 1, 2014: What do Women Want Downtown

Leslie Criger

Director of Special Programming, Downtown Tempe Community

As Director of Special Programming and Merchant Outreach for Downtown Tempe Community (DTC), Leslie Criger manages event logistics and books talent for DTC public space programs, including Music on Mill, Third Thursday’s,  Geeks “Night Out” and Hayden Flour Mill. She also educates street performers about regulations, and assures merchants are informed of public space events, hearing their concerns and collaborating to solve problems. Leslie participates on the Tempe’s public/private partnership the Downtown Action Team, and is Chair of Tempe Music Revival, a partnership event between the City of Tempe, DTC & the Arizona Musicians Union. The event aims to restore Tempe’s music roots through a focused campaign to place musicians on streets and in nightlife venues, sidewalk cafes and retail shops every Friday in November. Formerly music manager for Alice Cooper’s Town Restaurant, Leslie is co-creator & event director for Proof is in the Pudding, Alice Cooper’s youth talent search that leads up to his annual charity event.   

April 22, 2014: Managing Vibrant Street Life in Public Space

Kathie Durbin

Chief of Licensure, Regulation, and Education, Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control

Kathie Durbin is the Division Chief of Licensure, Regulation and Education for the Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control. She began her career has a Responsible Beverage Instructor for the State of Maryland. In addition to her training responsibilities, Kathie spent 8 years as a contractor for Montgomery County Health and Human Services actively working on substance abuse prevention techniques with key stakeholders and community organizations. She managed several sizable state grants, a county program of mini-grants and the substance abuse prevention network.  As the Executive Director of the Montgomery County Restaurant Association in the early 90's Kathie assisted the business community with legislative issues and local policies.  Kathie is a graduate of the University of Maryland with a Bachelor's degree in Social Work/Psychology. She is a certified Maryland Alcohol Server Instructor, Parent educator/facilitator and is a certified Maryland State Prevention Professional. She plays leadership roles on local, statewide and national alcohol related boards.  Kathie Durbin resides in Silver Spring, Maryland with her husband Chuck and daughters Samantha, Elizabeth and Kate. 

June 24, 2014: City Alliances Reform Nightlife Polcies

Dave Feehan

President, Civitas Consultants, LLC

David Feehan, currently president of Civitas Consultants, LLC, is a world-recognized expert in downtown revitalization. For more than 40 years, he has provided leader­ship and management to successful downtown and business district organizations, founded and directed a technical assistance center for community development organiza­tions and a public policy organization, authored numerous books and articles, and taught at two universities. He is often quoted by news media throughout North America and elsewhere. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and has provided consulting services to many government agencies, organizations and associations. He has served on numerous boards of directors, and has chaired the boards of the International Downtown Association, the Responsible Hospitality Institute, and other organizations.

Mr. Feehan’s speaking and consulting activities also include many international engagements. Recent or upcoming activities include assignments in Brazil, Canada, Taiwan, El Salvador, Italy, Jamaica, and Mexico.  Dave was recently nominated for the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize.  The Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize is a biennial international award recognizing individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the creation of vibrant, livable and sustainable urban communities around the world.

April 1, 2014: What do Women Want Downtown

Marjorie Ferrer

Executive Director, Delray Beach Downtown Development Authority

As the Executive Director for the Delray Beach Downtown Development Authority since 1993, Marjorie has spearheaded the revitalization of the City to encompass daytime and nighttime economy and activity. For two decades, Marjorie has initiated concepts that have been instrumental to Delray Beach’s emergence as a thriving downtown, including Clean & Safe Initiatives, directing award-winning marketing campaigns and promotions that drive economic growth throughout the community. Under Marjorie’s dedicated leadership and tireless efforts, Delray Beach continues to be successfully branded as the Village by the Sea.  Her responsibilities encompass promoting Downtown Delray Beach locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Simultaneous to the DDA position, she also served as Executive Director of the Delray Beach Downtown Marketing Cooperative from 1993 to May 2010, successfully coordinating a partnership between The Chamber of Commerce, the Community Redevelopment Agency, the Downtown Development Authority and the City of Delray Beach drawing millions of visitors and residents to the town through events. 

January 28, 2014: Delray Beach City Showcase

Josette Fitzgibbons

Neighborhood Business District Manager, Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh

Josette Fitzgibbons is the Neighborhood Business District Manager for the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh.  Prior to coming to the URA, she was a Principal Planner for the Pittsburgh Department of City Planning, where she oversaw community planning activities and managed strategic planning projects such as the Pittsburgh Downtown Plan and the Regional Parks Master Plan. She has also served as the Executive Director of the Regional Environmental Education Center (now the Outdoor Classroom) in Upper St. Clair, PA, Community Specialist for NeighborFair Pittsburgh, and Main St. Manager in Midland, PA.

Josette has a Bachelor of Arts from Kent State University, and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. 

June 24, 2014: City Alliances Reform Nightlife Policies

Allison Harnden

Principal Partner, Sagacity Consulting

Allison Harnden,  a principal partner with Sagacity Consulting, has guided 45 communities in 21 states to co-create safe social space through impact prevention, correcting issues and repairing perceptions that affect patronage. From 1996-2004 she designed innovative programs that increased economic vitality and regulatory compliance in eight San Diego nightlife-oriented districts. 18 years with RHI, Allison developed best practices and standards for entertainment districts and nightlife businesses nationwide. She is currently assisting Lake Havasu in forming a management district and created Downtown Tempe’s public space management strategy  

April 22, 2014: Managing Vibrant Street Life in Public Space

Michael Hill

Michael Hill, Community Development Coordinator, City of Victoria  

Michael Hill has been the City of Victoria’s downtown Community Development Coordinator for the last ten years.  He has been responsible for championing downtown vitality and working with the business community.  Focus areas include public realm presentation and beautification initiatives, addressing social disorder issues and managing public space use. Prior to his position in Victoria, he served as economic development officer in a small community in northern Canada and he maintains an interest in local economic development.


October 28, 2014: Victoria City Showcase

Jason Jabcuga

Sergeant, Delray Beach Police Department

Jason Jabcuga began his career with the Delray Beach Police Department in 2001 working in Patrol, Streets, Narcotics and Homicide.  He was promoted in 2011 to Sergeant.

He is currently responsible for managing the Clean & Safe Unit for Downtown Delray Beach, and recently facilitated adding two officers to this important Unit.  Work is accomplished through walking, bicycle and vehicle patrols, utilizing plain clothes and uniformed officers.

The Clean & Safe Unit oversees the very successful downtown area both Night & Day, a critical part of this very active 24-hour Downtown, and collaborates with the Assistant City Manager.

January 28, 2014: Delray Beach City Showcase

Renee Jackson

Renee Jackson, President and Executive Director, Downtown Lexington Corporation

Renee JacksonA lifetime Kentucky resident, Renee received her Bachelors of Science in Landscape Architecture from the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture and her Masters of Public Administration from the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Kentucky. The Downtown Lexington Corporation (DLC) is a nonprofit advocacy and promotional group for downtown Lexington. Renee’s role a with DLC demands many meetings with local political, business and other community leaders as well as the general public. DLC is involved in all aspects of downtown from beautification, business relations, parking, events or any other needs that arise. 

September 23, 2014: Lexington City Showcase

Bruce Kraus

Council President, City of Pittsburgh

Councilman Bruce A. Kraus, born and raised in the South Side, began serving as a member of Pittsburgh City Council upon his swearing in on January 7th, 2008.  Bruce proudly represents Pittsburgh’s 3rd Council District while rounding out his duties as City Council President.  District 3 is comprised of the following neighborhoods: Allentown, Arlington, Arlington Heights, Beltzhoover, Central Oakland, Knoxville, Mt. Oliver, Oakcliffe, South Oakland, South Side Flats, South Side Slopes, and St. Clair.  Bruce was reelected to his seat in 2011 and sworn in for a second term on January 3rd, 2012. In January of 2014, Bruce was elected by his colleagues as the President of Pittsburgh City Council.

As a Councilman, Bruce has also sponsored a diverse and comprehensive package of legislation over the years. In response to concerns of his constituents, Councilman Kraus introduced the Responsible Hospitality Institute’s Sociable City Plan, which has worked to develop a comprehensive strategy to improve night life throughout Pittsburgh with an emphasis on public safety and transportation. He has also designed stricter open-container laws and passed the first municipal ban on public urination. Additionally, he sponsored the city’s Social Host Ordinance, tightening measures to prevent underage parties and protect students and residents from unsafe conditions often created by these parties.

Councilman Kraus’s personal history and extensive relationship with his constituents have played a key role in influencing a great deal of his work in local government.  As Pittsburgh’s first openly gay elected official, Bruce has been a strong proponent of key civil rights issues including the Allegheny County Human Relations Commission – which serves to combat discrimination in housing, public accommodation, and employment – and the city’s first uniform Domestic Partner Registry. 

June 24, 2014: City Alliances Reform Nightlife Policies

Gary Pemberton

Gary Pemberton, Downtown Programs Liaison, City of Victoria

height=Gary Pemberton has been employed in the field of municipal government for over 10 years in a variety of roles, most recently as the Downtown Programs Liaison for the City of Victoria. In this current position, he is responsible for many of the Late Night Great Night programs in the downtown core.  Always prepared to create outside the box solutions for inside the grid problems, he enjoys the challenge of connecting downtown businesses and agencies together to create a cleaner, safer and more vibrant downtown.


October 28, 2014: Victoria City Showcase

Elizabeth S. Sanders

President & CEO, Downtown Mobile Alliance

Elizabeth S. Sanders has served as the President and CEO of the Downtown Mobile Alliance since its founding in 2005. The Downtown Mobile Alliance is a consortium of three not-for-profits working to support the development of Downtown Mobile. The Business Improvement District, or “BID,” is a property owner-funded special assessment district that provides enhanced services to the property owners within the district’s 75 block area. The BID provides intensive cleaning, hospitality, and beautification services along the property owners’ sidewalks and economic development and promotion activities for the district’s property owners. The Alliance also operates a business membership organization charged with promoting downtown business, and the philanthropic Main Street Mobile, Inc. to raise grants and donations for special projects.

Ms. Sanders has worked in downtown development since 1985 in her native South Carolina as well as Alabama. She started the Main Street Program in Conway, SC and then in 1990 at the City of Mobile.

She currently serves as one of Governor Bentley’s appointees to the Alabama Historic Commission. She serves on the boards of directors of the Barton Academy Foundation among other organizations and recently retired from the board of the International Downtown Association and the Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau

Ms. Sanders is a native of Charleston, SC, a graduate of the College of Charleston, and a resident of the Church Street East Historic District in Mobile. She has two daughters, Bailey, age 19, and Catherine, age 18 and is an avid horseman.

February 25, 2014: Entertainment Districts with Open Containers

Steve Schmidt

Sr. Vice President of Public Policy and Communications, National Alcohol Beverage Control Association

Steven Schmidt is Sr. Vice President of Public Policy and Communications for the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA). Presently he is overseeing the research and development of policy, best practices, and communication strategies to assist states manage control and regulatory systems and prevent alcohol related harm. Steve has consulted with state and national organizations; authored several articles; and presented at numerous international, national, and state conferences on a variety of alcohol related issues. He has been professionally employed for over 34 years in positions responsible for addressing alcohol related issues at local, state and national levels.

February 25, 2014: Entertainment Districts with Open Containers

Alicia Scholer

Alicia Scholer, Project Manager, Responsible Hospitality Institute 

Alicia Scholer joined RHI in 2006 and serves as the Project Manager, overseeing and coordinating special projects. Alicia oversees resource development in the form of webinars and publications. She coordinated and developed summary reports for more than thirty Hospitality Zone Assessments and seminar services throughout North America.

She is co-author of RHI's Planning, Managing and Policing Hospitality Zones: A Practical Guide cover story in the International City County Management Association's Public Management - Got Nightlife: Sociability as an Economic Engine. She is a contributing chapter author for What Women Want Downtown to be published in 2014. Got Nightlife - Sociability as an Economic Engine.

April 1, 2014: What Women Want Downtown

Jon Shivers

Director of  Marketing and Events, Beale Street Management

Jon Shivers is with the Downtown Memphis Commission and is the Director of Marketing and Events for the Beale Street Entertainment District in Memphis, TN. He has been involved with the management of the entertainment district for the past 10 years. Prior to being the Director of Marketing and Events, Jon has served in numerous positions including operations supervisor and event coordinator for the entertainment district. Jon’s primary role with the Downtown Memphis Commission is to be the driving force behind all of the marketing initiatives and the over 150 events held in the district each year. Jon is also in charge of the security procedures for the district including all of the private security that is used.

The Beale Street Entertainment District is located in downtown Memphis, Tennessee and is currently celebrating its 32nd year of revitalization. The district consists of 2 ½ city blocks consisting of over 30 restaurants, bars and retail shops. Beale Street, the home of the blues and crossroads of American music, is the largest tourist attraction in the state of Tennessee with over 4 million people visiting the district each year. Beale Street was also just named “The Most Iconic Street in America” by USA Today in 2013.

February 25, 2014: Entertainment Districts with Open Containers

Rachael Snedecor

Executive Director, Downtown Livermore

Rachael Snedecor is the Executive Director of Livermore Downtown Inc.  She has been working in the downtown for the last thirteen years focused on the revitalization and economic vitality of downtown Livermore.  Prior to downtown, Rachael was the event manager and marketing coordinator for Ivan Tamas and Steven Kent Wineries.  Before selling wine, she was a sales and marketing rep for Farmer Bros. Coffee. Her first grown up job after attending college was as a corporate trainer for World Savings and Loan.  Her varied business experience has given her the ability to empathize with the small business needs in downtown Livermore as well as experience in marketing a destination that has grown to be the jewel of the San Francisco Bay Area .   

Accomplishments in Downtown Management include assisting in the completion and implementation of a Downtown Specific Plan which included a 13 Million dollar Streetscape Project.  Under her management, Livermore Downtown Inc.  has successfully produced and facilitated downtown events that attract over a million consumers to the downtown district each year.  In 2009, Livermore Downtown Inc, received designation as a Great American Main Street from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Main Street Center in Washington, DC.  Rachael is a current Board Member and past President of the California Main Street Alliance. .

April 1, 2014: What do Women Want Downtown

Brett West

Director of Development, WRK Real Estate, LLC

Brett has served as a team leader, architectural designer and a principal at Kahler Slater.  Currently, he is the Director of Development for WRK Real Estate in Lincoln, Nebraska as well as owner of West Development and Management based in Milwaukee, WI.  His experience has focused on a wide variety of project types.  He is a skilled project leader and designer, with demonstrated success leading numerous high profile, politically and technically complex projects. He is not a typical architect because he holds an MBA and owns his own development business. With this experience outside of the typical architect’s repertoire, he brings strategic guidance to clients by translating their business strategies and brand to the environment. He is also a LEED AP and has led the design of several LEED certified projects.  Finally, he comes from a construction background and has lead construction oversight on most of the projects listed below including the $60 million Canopy Street Project and $15 million Pick N Save Redevelopment for his own account.  He has also renovated four homes and worked for his father who was a general contractor so he understands all aspects of the contracting industry.

February 25, 2014: Entertainment Districts with Open Containers


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