During his 26-year career, Kona Gray has practiced on a global stage, providing inspiration and enhancing professional awareness. His portfolio ranges from large-scale planning to detailed site design, with emphasis on communities, urban parks, hospitality and campus environments. Blending sensitivity and context with creative design solutions, Kona unites a client’s vision with his vanguard viewpoint producing designs with purpose and presence. Currently, he is designing projects in Florida, California, Georgia, Virginia, Arkansas, Puerto Rico, The Bahamas, China, Dubai (UAE), Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Antigua. A registered Landscape Architect and ASLA Fellow, Kona earned a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia. Kona is the newly elected Vice President for Professional Practice on the ASLA national Board of Trustees Executive Committee and a Past President of the Landscape Architecture Foundation.
Over the past two decades of practice, Thomas Woltz has forged a body of work that integrates the beauty and function of built forms with an understanding of complex biological systems and restoration ecology. In 2011, Thomas was invested into the American Society of Landscape Architects Council of Fellows, among the highest honors in his profession, and in 2013 he was named Design Innovator of the Year by the Wall Street Journal magazine. At present, his firm Nelson Byrd Woltz is entrusted with the design of nine major public parks across the United States, Canada, and New Zealand, including Hudson Yards in New York City, Memorial Park in Houston, and Centennial Park in Nashville. NBW projects create models of biodiversity and sustainable agriculture within areas of damaged ecological infrastructure and working farmland, yielding thousands of acres of reconstructed wetlands, reforested land, native meadows, and flourishing wildlife habitat.
As president and CEO of the Memphis River Parks Partnership, Carol Coletta is leading the relaunch of the nonprofit to develop, manage and program six miles of riverfront and five park districts along the Mississippi River in Memphis.
Carol is on loan from The Kresge Foundation where she is a senior fellow in the foundation’s American Cities Practice. She leads a $50+ million collaboration of national and local foundations, local nonprofits and governments to Reimagine the Civic Commons in five cities. Carol previously served as vice president of Community and National Initiatives for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and as executive director of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design.
Memphis Medical District Collaborative - President
Tommy Pacello is an attorney, city planner, and developer. He specializes in innovative yet pragmatic approaches to city building. Tommy is the President of the Memphis Medical District Collaborative, a community development organization focusing on the redevelopment of the Memphis Medical District. The Memphis Medical District is a 2.5 square mile area consisting of eight medical, educational, and research anchor institutions. The District sits at the eastern edge of Downtown Memphis and is home to more than 10,000 residents and 28,000 employees and students.
Prior to leading the Memphis Medical District Collaborative, Tommy served as a member of Innovate Memphis. This non-profit, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, is charged with developing strategies to address the city’s most pressing challenges. Innovate Memphis focused on generating economic vitality in core city neighborhoods, reducing youth gun violence, reducing the number of blighted and vacant properties, and improving transportation and mobility options for city residents.
City of Memphis - Bikeway & Pedestrian Program Manager
Passionate about cities in general and his hometown of Memphis in particular, Nicholas left home for a number of years in search of lessons on the topic of great cities. This pursuit of knowledge and experience rewarded him with a Master of Urban Planning degree as well as four years of life and employment in Germany, including one year as a Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow engaged in advancing sustainable transportation. Having returned home, he assumed the role of Bikeway and Pedestrian Program Manager with the City of Memphis in 2016, and with it the responsibility of improving local conditions for walking and bicycling. His office’s progress can be followed on Facebook and Twitter: @BikePedMemphis.
Alcy Ball Development Corporation - Program Director
From 2012-2016, Seth Harkins taught students in Whitehaven, Oakhaven, and Orange Mound through the Memphis Teacher Residency. Seth is passionate about seeing others increase their potential through learning. At Alcy Ball Development Corporation and as a resident in Alcy Ball, he uses that passion to connect families to new employment, housing, and financial opportunities.
Dane Forlines has been involved in community development for nearly 20 years, both domestically and internationally as a consultant and in the non-profit sector. Dane has a degree in civil engineering from Vanderbilt University and a Master's degree in city and regional planning from the University of Memphis. He is currently an affiliate broker with Crye-Leike and is director of special projects for the Heights Community Development Corporation. He lives in the Highland Heights neighborhood in Memphis with his wife, Michelle, and their 3 children.
Ms. Austin is the President/CEO of the Works, Inc. The Works, Inc. is the sponsor of an elementary charter school; runs a farmers’ market and green grocer; provides nutrition education; operates a mortgage loan fund; and does work around the comprehensive needs of children and families.
Ms. Austin is an outspoken and tireless advocate for the underserved in Memphis neighborhoods. She has spent her entire career developing hundreds of units of affordable housing; helping thousands of homeowners avoid foreclosure; eliminating blighted conditions; advocating policy change for equitable practices.
She earned her M.A. in Urban Anthropology at the University of Memphis and her undergraduate degree at Middlebury College. She is the Treasurer of the Memphis Fourth Estate (The Daily Memphian). She is also a member of the Board of Directors of Explore Bike Share; Neighborhood Preservation, Inc; BLDG Memphis; Christian Community Foundation; Blight Authority of Memphis and Methodist Healthcare Foundation. She serves on the management committee of the Urban Land Institute Memphis Chapter.
Strawberry Plains Audubon Center
Mitchell Robinson graduated from the University of the South, Sewanee, in 2007 with a B.S. in Natural Resources and the Environment, and has been the Conservation Education Manager at Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs, MS since 2014. Previously, he served for five years as the Education Coordinator, Land Manager and Interim Director at Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve in Austin, Texas. Within these capacities, he helped develop and implement active land management plans for endangered species within the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve System, including Golden-cheeked Warblers and Black-capped Vireos. His expertise includes endangered, threatened and invasive species management; interagency and non-profit collaborations; research design; private lands consultation; and naturalist education. In and outside of his work, he actively seeks to bridge the gap between humans and the natural world, illuminating our interactions and helping others define a sense of place. Mitch spoke at the inaugural TEDxUM event at Ole Miss in 2015, with a talk titled “Being A Conservationist in Mississippi: Diversity and Biodiversity.” In 2017, he spoke at the Birmingham Botanic Garden’s Native Plant Conference, and the Crosby Arboretum’s Piney Woods Heritage Festival, with a talk titled, “A Towering Ghost: the Cultural Legacy of Longleaf Pine in the Deep South.”
Wolf River Conservancy - Director of Real Estate / Greenway Project Manager
Bob Wenner is Director of Real Estate and Greenway Project Manager for the Wolf River Conservancy. He has also served as the Chief Financial Officer and Director of Lands. Bob joined the Wolf River Conservancy in 2011 to lead the Wolf River Greenway trail project, a $62 million public/private partnership with the City of Memphis and Shelby County. He was named small nonprofit CFO of the year by MBJ in 2016. Bob holds a Texas CPA license and a Tennessee real estate license. He received an MBA in accounting from Louisiana Tech University and a BS in Management from Harding University.
Daniel Ashworth, Jr., PLA, AICP
Alta Planning + Design - Design Associate
Daniel Ashworth, Jr. is a Senior Design Associate and Memphis Office Manager at Alta Planning + Design. He holds an MLA from the University of Pennsylvania and a BLA from Mississippi State University. He is a certified planner and licensed landscape architect in five states including Tennessee. Daniel’s 15 years of professional experience includes comprehensive and master planning, site design, urban design, planting design, construction documents, and construction administration. His Wolf River Greenway focus has been Phase 9 at Epping Way and Phase 11 at Kennedy Park.
Warren Goodson is a Transportation Engineer and Project Manager with W. H. Porter Consultants in Memphis where he has practiced for 17 years. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering (BSCE) from the University of Mississippi. During his senior year at Ole Miss, he interned at Engineering Consultants, Inc. in Oxford, MS. After graduation he worked for Elliott & Britt Engineering, PA in Oxford. He is a licensed civil engineer in Tennessee and Mississippi. Warren is managing the Wolf River Greenway Phase 15 project that starts at North 2nd Street and runs eastward across north Memphis.
J. Ritchie Smith, ASLA, PLA
Ritchie Smith Asspociates - Principal
Ritchie Smith is Principal of Ritchie Smith Associates. He opened his office in 1983 after returning to Memphis to work with Garrett Eckbo on the master plan for Agricenter. He holds an MLA from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a BSLA from the University of Virginia. He is licensed in seven states including Tennessee. Among his firm’s award-winning greenway projects are: Mississippi Riverbluff Walkway, Shelby Farms Greenline, and Big River Crossing and West Plaza. He is the landscape architect for Wolf River Greenway Phase 15 and the Chelsea Greenline connector.