Michigan State University Register Built Environment Showcase Today and Tomorrow

The Built Environment Showcase (BES)

Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center,
Michigan State University, 219 S. Harrison Road
East Lansing, MI 48824


Charles Ballard, PhD

Charles BallardDr. Charles Ballard is Director of the State of the State Survey (SOSS) and Professor of Economics at Michigan State University. He is a distinguished economist, widely published and well-known for his ability to communicate the complexities of economics in everyday language. Dr. Ballard’s research has focused on such topics as tax policy, healthcare financing and Michigan’s financial future. He co-edited “Michigan at the Millennium,” a portrait of the state’s fiscal and economic structure and is winner of the 2007 College of Social Science Alumni Association Outstanding Teacher Award. Dr. Ballard’s most recent book is “Michigan’s Economic Future: Challenges and Opportunities.” He is also the author of “Real Economics for Real People” and “A General Equilibrium Model for Tax Policy Evaluation.” Dr. Ballard has served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Treasury.

Ronnie (Ron) Boji

Ron BojiRon Boji is the President of Boji Group. As one of its owners, he is primarily responsible for the management, development and leasing of space in the company’s constantly expanding real estate portfolio. Boji is also very involved in managing the financial aspects of Boji Group’s related entities in distribution and wholesale services, convenience stores, retail, fuel and hospitality industry.


Alan CobbAlan Cobb has been a leader in design and practice since he joined Albert Kahn, Inc. (Kahn)in 1976. Holding various positions of leadership at Kahn and in other professional organizations, he has addressed a range of issues that are important to architects, America Institute of Architects (AIA) members and the public. In his role at Kahn, Cobb has helped reposition the 120-year old firm with the primary goal of creating design excellence with sustainable environments. His business and design philosophies have pushed for environmentally sensitive design considerations that preserve the country’s historic and iconic structures, while also making the world a greener place. Adaptive re-use, historic preservation, introduction of natural lighting, proper solar orientation, adoption of alternative energy sources and reclamation of brownfield sites are a few of his professional passions. In the past 20 years, his design leadership has guided Kahn to more than 50 design awards, including the three AIA National Honor Awards.

Christopher Coes

Christopher CoesChristopher Coes is the Managing Director for LOCUS, where he leads the national coalition of real estate developers and investors working to re-align federal, state and local policies to support great walkable and triple-bottom line development. In addition, he provides strategic advice and technical assistance to real estate companies and local communities interested in advancing smart growth real estate projects across the country. Prior to joining Smart Growth America, Coes served as a Consultant for Government Affairs and Campaigns at M+R Strategic Services. As a consultant, he worked with various clients, including Transportation for America–a broad, diverse and unprecedented coalition advocating for a national vision for a 21st century transportation system. For nearly three years, Coes served as Transportation for America’s Senior Campaign Advisor and Deputy Director, where he was responsible for operations and served as the Campaign’s chief political strategist. In addition to his work on transportation and real estate issues, he brings more than seven years of experience in government relations, political advocacy and electoral campaigns. Currently, Coes is a member of Capital Cause–a D.C.-based Young Philanthropist organization–and is an active member of the Urban Land Institute. He received a BA/MA in Government and Politics from St. John’s University, specializing in Public Administration and International Relations.

Katharine Czarnecki

Katharine CzarneckiKatharine Czarnecki is the Director of Community Development with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) where she oversees the operations and management of the Community Development team and their associated programs. In her current position, she leads the Community Development efforts at the MEDC to foster vibrant communities by ensuring access to economic development services and programs that cultivate sustainable projects to build a strong foundation for the future of Michigan. Prior to joining the MEDC, Czarnecki worked in several communities around Michigan and most recently with the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a degree in Economics and holds a Master’s degree in Urban Planning at Michigan State University. 

Venceslaus (Vennie) Gore

Vennie GoreVennie Gore is the Vice President for Auxiliary Enterprises at Michigan State University. In his current role, Gore administers a residence hall system with a capacity for 17,500 students, apartments housing for 2,500 students, faculty and staff, and a culinary services program serving more than 50,000 meals daily. Additional auxiliary operations include the MSU Union, the MSU Bakers, University Concessions, 19 on-campus Sparty’s coffee house and convenience store locations, Spartan Signature Catering, Food Stores, Spartan Linen Services, Destination State conference services, the Jack Breslin Student Events Center, Forest Akers Golf Courses, the MSU Tennis Center, Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center, Cowles House presidential residence and the MSU Alumni Chapel. In addition to these operating areas, Gore facilitates projects that include public-private partnerships and contributes to the oversight of MSU‘s University Licensing Program and the Land Management Office.

Mary Beth Graebert

Mary Beth GraebertMary Beth Graebert is the Associate Director for Programs and Operations at the MSU Land Policy Institute. She is responsible for managing the administrative functions of the Institute, for helping existing programs to become sustainable, and for developing innovative initiatives to meet new policy needs. Graebert plays an active role in research projects, including a multiple-partner effort for “Rebuilding Prosperous Places in Michigan,” and in outreach initiatives, like the Legislative Education Program, which seeks to put policy-relevant research from universities into the hands of decision makers at the state level. Prior to her role in programs and operations, she served as the Institute’s Program Development Manager and Research Program Coordinator. Graebert has a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Michigan State University and a Master’s degree in Applied Economics from the University of Minnesota.

Gary Heidel

Gary HeidelGary Heidel serves as the Chief Placemaking Officer for the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. He has been employed at MSHDA since 1986. Previous positions include Executive Director, Director of Program Policy & Market Research, and Director of Legislative and Intergovernmental Relations. As CPO, Heidel oversees the operations of the Community Development Division, Downtown and Community Services Division, State Historic Preservation Office, and Urban Revitalization staff. From 1984 to 1986, he was a legislative liaison for the Michigan Department of Commerce. Heidel presently services on the Advisory Committee of the Michigan Political Leadership Program at MSU and the Advisory Council of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis. During the last 26 years, he has played a significant role in passing and implementing various important policies at the state and federal levels of government, including the MIplace Partnership Initiative, the Neighborhood Preservation Program, the federal HOME program, the federal Empowerment Zone program, the Individual Development Accounts, the Michigan Mortgage Credit Certificate Program, Cool Cities, the Michigan Magnet Fund, Vision 2020, Centers of Regional Excellence, and the Michigan Housing and Community Development Fund. Heidel has received several awards, including the Michigan Coalition Against Homeless advocacy award, the Bernice Bensen Service Award from Habitat for Humanity Michigan, the CED Advocate of the Year Award from the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, the Special Award of Merit from the Michigan Municipal League, and the Nonprofit Champion Award from the Michigan Nonprofit Association. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1976, and has also graduated from various executive leadership programs, including the MSU Michigan Political Leadership Program, Governors Center at Duke University, and the JFK School of Government at Harvard University.

Renee Kent

Renee KentRenee A. Kent is a Vice President & Development Advisor of PNC, a member of The PNC Financial Services Group. She is the Development Advisor for Community Development Banking in Michigan. In this position, Kent manages lending and equity investing activities for PNC Bank throughout the state of Michigan. She targets affordable housing and economic development for the revitalization and stabilization of low to moderate income communities and individuals. Kent has been in the community development field for more than 10 years. Prior to joining PNC in 2009, she worked for National City Bank managing Community Development loans and tax credit investments throughout Southeast Michigan. Kent stays active in the community through membership in local nonprofit organizations; she serves on the board of Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation, Eco Works, Pontiac Neighborhood Revitalization Corporation, Wayne County CDE, she also serves as a member on community task force coalitions and loan committees for other community, government and corporate initiatives. She actively participates as a volunteer throughout her community; she participates in AriseDetroit, PNC’s Grow Up Great Reading Initiative, Rosedale Park Girl Scouts and various financial education programs.

Congressman Dan Kildee

Congressman Dan KildeeCongressman Dan Kildee is the U.S. House Representative for the 5th District of Michigan. Born and raised in Flint, Congressman Kildee is a lifelong Michigan resident who in just his first term in Congress has become a powerful force for Michigan. He currently serves on both the Financial Services Committee and the Budget Committee, in addition to being an assistant whip. In his first six months in office, Congressman Kildee secured $100 million in federal funds to help remove blighted and abandoned homes throughout Michigan, including in Flint and Saginaw. In Congress, he’s also fought to protect afterschool programs and create summer jobs projects for youth to help reduce violence and provide opportunity. Congressman Kilsee has been a champion of the “Make it in America” jobs agenda to help revitalize our state’s manufacturing base and create high-skilled, high-wage jobs in Michigan, not overseas. Before being elected to Congress, he co-founded and served as the president of The Center for Community Progress, a national nonprofit organization, where he served as one of the nation’s leading voices on urban land reform and revitalization. He founded Michigan’s first land bank—the Genesee County Land Bank, which is responsible for over $100 million in redevelopment in the city of Flint. The Genesee County Land Bank later served as a model for almost 100 other land banks across the nation. He has previously served as Genesee County Treasurer, on the Genesee County Board of Commissioners, and the Flint Board of Education.

Joseph Maguire

Joseph MaguireJoseph Maguire is the President and CEO of Wolverine Development Corporation in East Lansing, which is celebrating its 90th year providing business properties throughout Michigan. He also serves as President of SERF, the Society of Environmentally Responsible Facilities (SERF), which he co-founded in 2010. In addition to his roles with the Built Environment Showcase Advisory Board and the School of Planning, Design and Construction, Maguire serves as a Director of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Mackinac Center for Public Policy and MSU’s Wharton Center for Performing Arts. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Northwestern University and his MS from the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

Suzanne Schulz

Suzanne SchulzSuzanne Schulz believes in well-designed, quality urban centers. She serves as the Managing Director of Design, Development and Community Engagement at the City of Grand Rapids; overseeing City development functions associated with the Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals and Historic Preservation Commission and the City’s Development Center. Over the past 15 years, Shulz has helped shift polices and land development practices in the City to create a vibrant and sustainable community. Current projects include restoring the City’s namesake rapids and the GR Forward Plan process for the Downtown and river corridor. She served as the City’s Project Manager for its progressive master plan, form-based zoning ordinance and award-winning Green Grand Rapids plan. Schulz is a board member of the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan and the Michigan Association of Planning; and serves as Chair to the Michigan Complete Streets Advisory Council. She graduated with honors from Michigan State University in Urban & Regional Planning and is a member of the Michigan Association of Planning, the American Planning Association and the American Institute of Certified Planners. 

Lou Anna K. Simon, PhD

Lou Anna K. SimonDr. Lou Anna K. Simon, the 20th President of Michigan State University, leads the university’s work to advance the common good in Michigan and around the world. An MSU graduate, she began her career at MSU after earning her doctorate in 1974. From there, she moved into a variety of administrative roles, including Assistant Provost for General Academic Administration, Associate Provost, and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. The MSU Board of Trustees appointed her President in January 2005. Simon’s key initiatives, particularly in economic development and international engagement, reflect her commitment to applying knowledge to benefit society and further the global common good. Simon is a member of the American Council on Education and the Council on Competitiveness, a nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization working to ensure U.S. prosperity. She serves as Chair of the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, a group of presidents and chancellors of several prominent U.S. universities that consults regularly with national agencies responsible for security, intelligence and law enforcement. She also serves as Chair of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s executive committee, the association’s overarching governing panel. Simon’s resolute commitment to advancing Michigan’s economic future has been a hallmark of her presidency. She serves on the board of directors of Business Leaders for Michigan and the Detroit Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and is an advisory committee member of the Detroit Innovation District, which promotes small business growth and job creation in the City. In the area of international engagement, Simon is a member of the executive committee of the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa.

Matt Syal, PhD, LEEP AP, CPC

Dr. Matt SyalDr. Matt Syal serves as a Professor of Construction Management and Director of Ph.D. Programs at the MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction. He is a LEED® accredited professional and received his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering (Construction Engineering and Management) from Penn State University. Prior to joining the academic world in 1988, he worked in the construction industry in the U.S., India, the Middle East and Africa. Dr. Syal has conducted research and outreach projects, and published extensively in the areas of Construction Project Management, Housing and the Sustainable Built Environment. He has been involved in more than 50 research and outreach projects funded by the industry, U.S. state and national government agencies, foundations and international agencies. Dr. Syal has published more than 100 refereed/professional papers and more than 50 project reports/monographs. In addition, he has served as an advisor or consultant to more than 25 industry and government organizations in the U.S. and worldwide.

James Tischler, AICP, PCP

James TischlerJim Tischler is the Director the Michigan State Housing Development Authority’s (MSHDA) Community Development Division. In this role, he is responsible for management of the State of Michigan’s Federal- and State-funded housing and community development programs, design of housing and neighborhood policy, and facilitating the State’s community planning and development activities. He has more than 25 years of experience in the field of urban planning, working for public organizations and consulting with private sector firms. Tischler holds a Master of Urban Planning degree from Wayne State University and is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute. In addition to registration with the American Institute of Certified Planners, he is a registered Michigan Professional Community Planner, a member of the American Planning Association and Michigan Association of Planning, a Resource Council member of the Form-Based Codes Institute and holds membership in the Congress for the New Urbanism.

Christina Tracy

Christina TracyChristina Tracy has been in community development banking for seven years and is the Vice President and Senior Community Development Banker at Huntington National Bank. She is a relationship manager for both debt and equity tax credit transactions for the Community Development team with Huntington National Bank. A foundation background in underwriting Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) deals, experience managing New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) compliance for a financial institution, and most recently specializing in helping to craft a Micro-Finance initiative for Huntington; Tracy has a unique skill set and experience that lends itself to a creative approach to deal structuring.She earned an MBA from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH.

Arnold Weinfeld

Arnold WeinfeldThe Board of Directors of Priima Civitas named Arnold Weinfeld its Chief Executive Officer and Chair of the Board on February 17, 2014. Weinfeld, who served as Treasurer of the Prima Civitas Board, joins PC from the Michigan Municipal League, where as Director of Strategic Initiatives he developed programs, services and outreach strategies to further the League’s policy initiatives. Also, as President of the Michigan Municipal League Foundation he engaged local officials in innovative League programs.


Chip Windisch

''Chip Windisch started his career in banking in 2007 and shortly thereafter joined the Professional Development Program at Lake Michigan Financial Corporation, the parent company for The Bank of Holland. He specializes in working with unique financing structures that accompany complex financial transactions. With his expertise in tax credit investments and community development he is able to help clients unlock equity or access alternative sources of funding. Windisch earned an MBA from Grand Valley State University, where he also received a degree in finance.

Scott G. Witter, PhD

Scott WitterDr. Scott G. Witter is a Professor and the Director of the School of Planning, Design and Construction at Michigan State University. He is also Interim Director of the MSU Land Policy Institute. Dr. Witter has more than 25 years of experience conducting research, outreach, consulting and teaching activities related to international and domestic watershed and natural resource management issues, policies and projects. He has 20 years of college and unit-level administrative experience with MSU’s Institute of International Agriculture, as Chairperson of the Department of Department of Resource Development; as Chairperson of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies; Director of  School of Planning, Design and Construction; and Interim Director of the Land Policy at MSU. Dr. Witter’s research has focused on watershed and natural resource management in the rural urban interface. He has been principal investigator and co-investigator on $3.4 million in funded projects funded externally and internally at MSU. Under his leadership the units he has served have increased their endowments by over $8 million. Dr. Witter has worked and traveled in 29 countries around the world.

Sharon Woods, CRE

Sharon WoodsSharon Woods is the Founding Principal and the Target Market Analysis Team Leader for completing place-based Target Market Analysis and housing studies at LandUse|USA. She is a certified Counselor of Real Estate (CRE) and has 25 years of experience developing Downtown Market Strategies for housing, retail and mixed-use projects. To share some interesting history, Sharon spent the first 10 years of her career as a location analyst responsible for deciding big-box store strategies, including Target, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Kmart. She grew up in the Upton area of Minneapolis, MN, and has worked in downtown Minneapolis, downtown Cincinnati, OH, and downtown Detroit.

Mark Wyckoff

Mark WyckoffMark Wyckoff is the Senior Associate Director of the Land Policy Institute and Director of the Planning & Zoning Center at MSU. He is a driving force in the outreach services of PZC and LPI. Wyckoff has 30 years of applied planning experience in Michigan at the state, regional and local level, with most of it as a private consultant. He has also been an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at MSU at various times, teaching both graduate and undergraduate students. Wyckoff has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from Michigan State University.