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2018 Conference Speaker Bios
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Diane Allen, D. Eng., PLA, ASLA

Diane is Associate Professor and Program Director of Landscape Architecture at The University of Texas at Arlington. As the principal landscape architect of DesignJones, LLC in New Orleans, her research and practice is guided by the intersection of environmental justice and sustainability in African-American cultural landscapes, including “nomadic” responses to “transit deserts.” She is on the board of the Landscape Architecture Foundation where she actively participates in the Climate Change and Diversity Committees. 

 Amna Ansari

Amna holds a Masters of Architecture and Urbanism from MIT and a Bachelors of Architecture from the University of Houston. Her work is focused on large-scale urban design projects that work systematically toward an ideal future between infrastructure, urbanism, and transportation. Her professional efforts have been recognized through exhibitions in Washington D.C., Rome, Milan, and Boston. Her work has been published in “Domus Magazine for Bocconi Plaza” as well as “RFI Italian Rail Network Research and Studies.” Her work featured in “Fast Company – Co. Exist Futurist Forum” created speaking engagements with Boston Society of Architects as a panelist for “Smart Cities.” She also expanded her research base as an undergraduate architectural instructor at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston and as a visiting professor in graduate urban design studies at Texas Tech University. 

Jeremy Bailey

Jeremy Bailey is a senior consultant at GreenBlue Urban, where his experience covers a broad range including low impact development, urban tree planting, and green infrastructure. His knowledge offers many insights into the value of incorporating high-performance tree design into the urban landscape, providing many solutions that are being utilized globally. Jeremy speaks at green infrastructure and sustainable development conferences around the world and lectures at universities in the United States and Canada. 

David Batts, LEED AP

David Batts is a veteran in the exploration of how low-impact development can drastically impact not only the ecology of a given development but also the economics. David is a co-founder of the Texas Land/Water Sustainability Forum, a non-profit, collaborative effort among local regulators, decision makers, and design professionals to explore ideas, methods, materials, and technologies related to the sustainability of land and water in Texas’ growing urban environment. By working through both the non-profit organization and a construction company that specializes in low-impact development design and construction, David has a unique perspective on how LID should be implemented from both the regulator and contractor levels.  

Kinder Baumgardner

Kinder Baumgardner is the managing principal of SWA’s Houston studio. Research and development concerning how technology will shape future landscapes has been a significant component of Kinder’s recent work. This research is focused on the complex urban design issues created by new technology in transportation systems and the landscape infrastructure of American cities. He has spoken nationally at SXSW, ULI National Council Meetings, The Cultural Landscape Foundation, Dwell on Design, and AIA and ASLA conferences. His work on autonomous vehicles has been published nationally in Topos, Cite, Wired, and Anthropocene magazines.  

Matt Baumgarten

Matt Baumgarten is an associate with SWA Group whose work focuses on natural systems. As a lead project designer, Matt brings an innovative yet pragmatic design approach to environmentally-challenging sites. Recent work includes the award-winning Baton Rouge Lakes Master Plan and Houston’s Bayou Greenways. As SWA project lead for Harvest Green and chair of the Durham Community Garden, he enjoys fostering connections with the natural world in both his professional and personal life. 

Natalia Beard

Natalia Beard is a principal at SWA’s Houston studio. Working in metropolitan regions in the U.S. over the years, she has developed multiple approaches to incorporating art and cultural expression in large infrastructural environments. She helped re-envision the Atlanta Connector downtown freeway as a linear gallery, displaying original art interventions within the busy transportation corridor and authored an award-winning art installation along US-59 in downtown Houston. She spoke at national and state conferences on the topic of “Art and Infrastructure” and taught architectural design studios at the University of Texas in San Antonio and Louisiana State University, taking on the patterns of urbanization in environmentally-vulnerable landscapes of the Gulf Coast. 

Eric A. Bernard, Ph.D., PLA, ASLA

Eric is Chair of Landscape Architecture at Texas Tech and a licensed landscape architect. His teaching and research focused on holistic ecological planning and design integrates cutting-edge GIS-GIScience, GeoDesign, and LiDAR into multi-dimensional solutions spanning scales and system dynamics. His work has been recognized by the American Society of Landscape Architects (he received the honor award for Ecology-Sustainability-Design Workshop in 2000) and ersi (2005 Special Achievement Award in GIS and 2013 GeoDesign Best Lighting Talk Award). 

Rich Byrnes

Rich Byrnes is Chief Infrastructure Officer for the Port of Houston Authority with responsibility to steward over $2 billion in physical assets. His team’s areas of responsibility include facilities and master planning, strategic asset management, the non-federal role in ship channel management, road and rail freight mobility, and environment. Rich’s career experience spans engineering, operations, and consulting across shipbuilding, ports, manufacturing, and oil and gas industries. He has worked with Fortune 100 corporations, state-owned enterprises, and governments on every continent. 

Cameron Campbell, PLA

Cameron Campbell’s work strives to create landscapes that compliment architecture, art, community, and ecological systems of various scales and clientele. His leadership at CLA engages all phases of design and construction administration. Cameron’s work is site specific and committed to the pursuit of timeless and engaging landscape spaces. Cameron received a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from The University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s of Landscape Architecture from The University of Texas Austin School of Architecture. 

Susan Chung

Susan Chung is the director of Co-Design Group, a Vancouver-based organization that develops group workshops and programs around place-based environmental education and youth leadership. 

 

Beth Clark, PLA, ASLA, LEED AP

Beth co-founded Clark Condon in 1985. After some time abroad, she rejoined the firm in 2004, bringing a long history of award-winning landscape design practices. Adept at bringing clients and consultants together to achieve design solutions for complex projects, she focuses on creative concepts and detailed implementation. She provides extensive knowledge of plant materials and enhancing natural environments. With more than thirty years of experience, she specializes in all phases of project design and implementation. She has a proven ability to work with teams of professionals and consultants to build consensus and bring a project to successful completion. 


Coleman Coker

Coleman Coker is the Ruth Carter Stevenson Regents Chair in the Art of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture and director of the Gulf Coast DesignLab, a community outreach program for advanced design students.  

Alan Colyer, ASLA

Alan Colyer is a 1981 graduate of Texas A&M University and the recipient of its 2003 Distinguished Alumni Award. Alan is the only landscape architect to be appointed partner at Gensler, the world’s largest design firm. Alan was the senior planner for the George Bush Presidential Library and designer for the president and first lady’s burial site. Additionally, Alan design the Aggie Ring Plaza on the Texas A&M campus. Alan and his wife reside in Houston. 

 

Kenneth Cook

Kenneth W. Cook is the CEO of WaterCentric, a Texas-based firm providing implementation and monitoring of water and energy efficiency products and services. WaterCentric also provides long-term water strategies, water rights permitting, and alternative source implementation. Kenneth is a visionary who spent a decade developing a comprehensive irrigation management software and performance-based water management service. Under his leadership, WaterCentric has earned numerous awards, including the U.S. EPA Water Efficiency Leader in 2008 and two-time Aggie 100 list. 


Sheila Condon, PLA, FASLA

As President of Clark Condon, Sheila oversees the design and general operations for the firm. Her depth of experience – from recreational and commercial facilities to public sector projects – gives her a broad-based knowledge that assures accuracy in budgeting and scheduling while remaining sensitive to clients’ goals. Sheila earned a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from Rutgers in 1981. With a commitment to sound landscape design practice, she co-founded the firm four years later. Her leadership directs and supports a team disciplined in how to respond to the growing value of environmental stewardship. Sheila is the past recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Award from the Department of Landscape Architecture at Rutgers University. In 2006, she was inducted as a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects. 


Karalynn Cromeens

As Managing Partner at the Cromeens Law Firm, PLLC, Karalynn holds more than 10 years of experience practicing construction, real estate, lien, and business law. Within her professional career, Karalynn has successfully filed more than a thousand lawsuits to foreclose or remove mechanic’s liens, with 10 to 15 of those being tried to a jury. 


Kurt Culbertson

Chairman and principal of Design Workshop, Kurt Culbertson has been instrumental in the company’s success, both nationally and internationally, for over 30 years. Culbertson has initiated the creation of a “sustainable development” model, a community that promotes stability between both the physical and social systems. He is a leader in the field of evidence-based design and the application of metrics and performance measures to large-scale planning efforts. 

Mark Dennis, RLA, ASLA, AICP

Descended from a line of gardeners, painters, and bookworms, Mark earned a BA in anthropology and architectural history from the University of Texas at Austin and an MLA from the University of Michigan and is now a senior landscape architect and planner with Pacheco Koch in Dallas. With over 14 years of experience in master planning, ecological/historical analysis, preservation planning, and landscape design for campuses, parks, urban corridors, and environmental areas, Marks seeks to foster integrative responses to complex site problems. 

Bruce Dvorak, PLA, ASLA

Bruce is Associate Professor and graduate coordinator of the Master of Landscape Architecture Program in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at Texas A&M University. His research interests include application of green infrastructure, green roof and living wall technology, and native landscapes. He is Editorial Advisory Board Member for the Journal of Living Architecture and received the 2017 Research Award from Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. 

Glenn Garry

Glenn Garry joined the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners in 2007 and serves as Communications Manager. Glenn has worked in the private, nonprofit, and public sectors in the state of Texas with 22 years of public affairs experience. 

Eric Gilbey, PLA, ASLA

Eric Gilbey, product marketing manager, uses his professional experience and CAD skills to assist in the development, marketing, and sales of Vectorworks Landmark. His unique experience as a practicing landscape architect and user of various CAD programs allows him to write and speak for several green industry associations, helping landscape architects and designers develop best practices including sustainable site design and site information modeling. 

Andrew Groocock

A practicing artist and docent at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Andrew is the past president of the Houston Professional Tour Guide Association and leads historical tours of Buffalo Bayou for the Buffalo Bayou Partnership. Andrew brings a strong emphasis on art, architecture, and urban history and leads tours for Buffalo Bayou Park, Downtown Houston, San Jacinto Battle Ground, Historic Houston Heights, and Houston Public Art.   

Justin Hayes

Justin Hayes has been in the landscaping industry for 20 years and is currently a crew leader of landscape services at The University of Texas at Austin. He holds a level 3 Native Plant Society certification, Austin Grow Green certification, and is NOFA Organic Land Care accredited. He is also certified in riparian restoration, soil fundamentals, prairie restoration, wildfire prevention, and water conservation. Justin assisted in building and the design of Dell/Seton Medical School at University of Texas at Austin.  

Mary Keilers, PLA, ASLA, LEED AP

Mary joined Clark Condon is 2007 upon her graduation from Texas A&M University. She is an internal team leader and senior associate. Mary has been involved in a variety of project types from master planning and project management to design development through construction documentation and administration. Mary has a special interest in sustainability and has made extraordinary efforts to become more knowledgeable about native plants and grasses and their use in design.  

Karla Klay

Karla Klay is the founding director of Artist Boat, a non-profit art and science educational organization founded in 2003 that manages the Coastal Heritage Preserve on West Galveston Island.  

Eric Leshinsky

Eric is a senior associate designer and co-lead of the Urban Ecology studio at Asakura Robinson, an integrated landscape architecture, urban planning, and urban design firm with offices in Houston, Austin, and New Orleans. 

Yishuen Lo

A huge virtual reality and a landscape designer at Design Workshop, Yishuen initiated the virtual reality program and worked with the IT department to launch virtual reality at Design Workshop. As the firm-wide Digital Design and Delivery Lead on 3D modeling and virtual reality, Yishuen also led 3D modeling orientation and virtual reality lunch and learns at the firm. 

Marcus Martinez

As a 13-year architectural design professional, part-time educator, and with 10 international and national design awards and exhibitions, Marcus bring a creative confidence that gets others excited about their design decisions. You can find Marcus at the architecture offices of Page where he is a senior designer or as an instructor at the University of Houston design studios. His research on urban tech integration under the moniker of “Alloybuild,” the near-future autonomous vehicle environment of “Shuffle City” was published in “Urban Land Magazine” alongside the work of MIT, ARUP, and the University of Michigan’s M-City. Topics have recently expanded to the potential urban impact of VTOL systems in “How Stuff Works.” He may also be found pitching an idea called the “Pierce Skypark,” a big idea to repurpose a Houston freeway and the top listing on Houston Chronicle’s “Most Intriguing Ideas of 2015.” 

Michael Mauer

Michael Mauer is a landscape architect and certified arborist with 32 years of broad professional experience in the design and planning of large- and small-scale parks, residential, commercial, urban design, and tree preservation projects. He brings a sensible approach to tree preservation and protection of the environment and has worked with numerous engineers and architects to provide professional arborist services in the Houston-Gulf Coast region.  

Scott McCready

Scott McCready is Principal and Lead Senior Designer at SWA’s Houston office. With over 23 years of both regional and international experience in Landscape Architecture, Planning, and Urban Design, Scott’s projects range from large-scale urban and campus planning, infrastructure-based urban design, and detailed design of public spaces and gardens. Scott served as the lead designer for Buffalo Bayou Park in Houston and is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. 

Jeremy Merrill, Ph.D.

Jeremy discovered landscape architecture while planting flowerbeds and mowing lawns with the grounds crew of Brigham Young University where he was pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree. He went on to earn a Masters of Landscape Architecture and a PhD in Environmental Design and Planning from Kansas State University. As an assistant professor in the Texas A&M Department of Landscape Architecture, Dr. Merrill’s research centers on understanding and enhancing creativity within design education, the history of landscape architecture as well as the use of edible landscapes as a design initiator, methodology, and idiom for landscape architecture. 

Amir Omar

Amir joined HydroPoint as Vice President of Strategic Partners and Key Accounts from Weathermatic where he served as EVP of Business Development. He has extensive experience in both water policy and business solutions. In addition, he served two terms as a city council member in Richardson, Texas, where he was recognized for his leadership and dedication to community involvement and volunteerism. During this time, Amir led Tree North Texas, the nation’s largest tree planting initiative whose goal was to plant three million trees. 

Jennifer Orr, PLA

Jennifer Orr, a founding principal of Studio Balcones, received her MLA from the University of Pennsylvania. She worked for WRT from 2004 to 2009 before starting Studio Balcones with her business partner Ilse Frank in 2010. Her experience ranges from large-scale green infrastructure projects to small-scale residential gardens, both urban and rural and public and private. Throughout her work, she strives to connect humans to nature, creating landscapes that are integrated, functional, sustainable, and beautiful.  

Brian Ott, PLA

Brian is the founder and president of Nudge Design, a landscape architecture firm in Austin, Texas. With over 25 years of experience, he has practiced on a variety of project scales and types but has always been drawn to the design of curative spaces that provide physical, social, and psychological wellness. Prior to starting Nudge, Brian was the managing principal of TBG Partners in Austin and spent 9 months as Interim Executive Director for The Trail Foundation in Austin. 

Patrick Owens, RLA

An avid outdoorsman from Louisiana, Patrick earned a BLA from LSU and has more than 19 years of experience in design and project management on a broad range of project types including park and trail design, transportation enhancements, multi-modal corridor design, and community development. He now manages the Houston office of Pacheco Koch, leading multi-disciplinary teams on complex projects through all phases of design and construction. He holds professional licenses in Texas and Louisiana. 

Wade Peterson, ASLA

Wade Peterson is a partner at Pacheco Koch, a multi-disciplined firm headquartered in Dallas with offices in Fort Worth, Houston, and Celina, Texas. Wade grew up in a small farming community in south east Idaho. Following a 2-year hiatus as a missionary in central Chile, he enrolled and graduated in 1995 from Utah State University with a degree in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning. His work has ranged across a broad spectrum of work type including corporate campus, healthcare, parks and recreation, transportation, educational facilities, multi-family, and mixed use. 

Chip Place

Chip Place has over 30 years of experience directing large-scale land development projects, including Brooklyn Bridge Park and capital projects within the New York City region. Chip currently serves as Managing Director of Capital Programs for the Houston Parks Board where he is responsible for land acquisition, design, and construction of Bayou Greenways 2020. He is a graduate of the Rice University School of Architecture and the University of Houston Law Center. 

Janet Rademacher

For 32 years Janet has educated landscape architects and designers, landscape professionals, and the public about the wide variety and beauty of water-efficient plants for southwestern landscapes. After obtaining her B.S. and M.S. in Ornamental Horticulture from the University of Arizona in 1985, she began her tenure at Mountain States Wholesale Nursery in Arizona. Janet has created most of the educational material for Mountain States over the years and has contributed articles to many trade and popular magazines. Janet is currently handling the company’s sales in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Colorado as well as trying to keep landscape architects across the southwest up to date on recent plant introductions. Janet received the very first “Friends of Landscape Architecture” award from the Arizona ASLA Chapter in 2001. She is a frequent speaker at professional conferences. 

Michael Robinson

Michael Robinson is a landscape architect at SWA’s Houston office. He pursues design and research that explores the boundaries between landscape, infrastructure, urbanism, and public space. Michael was a core team member for the design of Buffalo Bayou Park and now specializes in the design of large-scale projects both locally and internationally. Prior to joining SWA, Michael was a faculty member in the Rice University School of Architecture.  

Jake Salzman

Jake Salzman is a project manager at Clark Condon working on a range of projects including master planned communities, mixed-use developments, and urban farmers’ markets. He is specifically interested in using landscape architecture to transform food systems. He volunteers at urban farms, community gardens, and food-related events to expand his understanding of food in our culture and looks forward to collaborating with like-minded people to create a more sustainable and socially-viable future. 

Allan W. Shearer, Ph.D., ASLA

Allan is Co-Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. In this role, he oversees the facilitation of interdisciplinary research at the intersection of environmental, social, and economic concerns. His own research centers on how individuals, communities, and societies create scenarios of the future and how these descriptions of possible tomorrows are used to inform present-day decisions with a particular emphasis on environmental security.

E. Thomas Smiley, Ph.D.

E. Thomas Smiley is an arboricultural researcher for Bartlett Tree Experts at the Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories in Charlotte, NC, and an adjunct professor of Urban Forestry at Clemson University. He is active in the arboricultural industry and has co-authored the International Society of Arboriculture’s “Best Management Practices” publications. His research has led to improved methods of increasing sidewalk longevity near trees, improving tree root growth and reducing risk. 

Scott Snodgrass

Scott Snodgrass is the owner of Edible Earth Resources and Agmenity. He is a passionate local food advocate based in Houston. Edible Earth Resources is a full-service edible gardening firm and its goal is to help individuals produce their own nutritious produce. Agmenity is a group of food growers interested in seeing agriculture change the way we relate to our neighbors. Agmenity designs, develops, and manages agricultural amenities for businesses, developers, and homeowners’ associations. 

Jack Stamps

Jack W. Stamps manages the investigations unit of the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners. Staffing of this unit includes an investigator and an investigations specialist. Jack has been with the board for 15 years and has five decades of law enforcement experience. 

Claudia Vassar

As the executive director of the Houston Botanic Garden, Claudia Gee Vassar is inspiring a variety of stakeholders, including board members, donors, community members, and partnership organizations to be a part of creating a world-class botanic garden unique to Houston. She is a native Houstonian who earned a BA from Rice University and a JD from the University of Virginia. Claudia has worked with nonprofits in a variety of arenas and specializes in guiding organizations through periods of growth and transition. Claudia is honored to be at the forefront of bringing the vision of the Houston Botanic Garden to life to be enjoyed by generations of Houstonians to come. 

Heather Venhaus

Using her background in landscape architecture and ecological restoration, Heather Venhaus works with teams of natural scientists, designers, and educators on project emphasizing sustainable development, land restoration, and environmental education. She facilitated and led the development of the Sustainable Sites Initiative Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks and worked with the U.S. Botanic Garden to develop the educational content and teaching materials for Landscape for Life. Heather is a contributing author to the Sustainable Sites Handbook and author of Sustainable Site Design: Integrated Design Strategies for Small Scale Sites and Residential Landscapes. She is the principal of Regenerative Environmental Design, a sustainable design-consulting firm in Austin, Texas that strives to connect natural and built systems in mutually-beneficial ways. Heather works with clients to optimize environmental performance while minimizing resource use and long-term maintenance costs. She is currently assisting projects collectively worth over $45 million with ecological restoration, sustainable design, and SITES certification. 

Jim Walker

Jim Walker is director of sustainability for the University of Texas at Austin where he oversees initiatives across the campus and promotes collaboration among students, faculty, and staff. Walker was formerly the executive director of the Central Texas Sustainability Indicators Project which tracks more than 40 indicators of the health of the Central Texas economy, environment, and social equity. Walker has served as a spokesperson for the Mueller Neighborhood Coalition while stewarding the community vision for the 700-acre redevelopment of Austin’s former airport based on new urbanist principles. He is also on the board of Livable City and, previously, the Austin Neighborhoods Council. Walker is a graduate of the Community and Regional Planning Program at the University of Texas at Austin, is certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners, and is a research fellow at the Center for Sustainable Development at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Shane Wilbur

Shane is a licensed irrigator and Operations Manager at Ruckel Dillon Wright in Houston. He has extensive experience as a supervisor in high-end landscape maintenance and installation. He also runs a couple of tattoo parlors; so, between his two gigs, you can be sure he’s seen it all. 

Leslie Wren

Leslie is a landscape architect and Associate Designer at Asakura Robinson in Houston with almost 10 years of experience in residential design/build/maintenance. Despite her teacher-looks and nerdy tendencies, she feels right at home in the shop or out in the field, especially if it involves getting dirt on her hands or shooting the breeze with the crews in Spanish. 

Mitch Wright, ASLA, AICP, LEED AP

Mitch Wright has been practicing landscape architecture and planning for 30 years, most recently with his company, Vista Planning and Design. The philosophy surrounding all of Vista’s work is finding the right balance between high quality design and planning and a high level of environmental stewardship. His practice spans a very broad spectrum of services and projects from small-scale landscape architecture to city comprehensive planning with projects across Texas. 

Jessica Zarowitz, PLA, LEED Green Associate

Jessica Zarowitz is a landscape architect, graphic designer, and a yoga and mindfulness teacher who is passionate about using her diverse skill set as a vehicle for activism and positive change. As the founder of “IT IS,” a company who is dedicated to creativity and wellness, Jessica operates on a freelance basis, collaborating on projects she finds meaningful. She specializes in working with marginalized communities and has been lauded for her ability to develop and translate public engagement outcomes into innovative design solutions for public spaces. She received her Master of Landscape Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin.