Our Staff

Geoffrey Anderson is the President and CEO of Smart Growth America. Named by Partners for Livable Communities as “One of the 100 Most Influential Leaders in Sustainable Community Planning and Development,” Geoff came to his current position after eight years heading the Smart Growth Program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Geoff helped to found the smart growth movement as one of the authors of the foundational 10 smart growth principles. With an extensive list of publications, Geoff has served as an expert witness in front of the U.S. Congress, has been interviewed and cited by the New York Times, Newsweek, The Washington Post, Fox News, NPR, and numerous other outlets and publications. As a regular conference speaker, Geoff has provided assistance to numerous communities across the country including in-depth work in Cheyenne, WY; Prince George’s County, MD; and the flagship smart growth project Atlantic Station in Atlanta, GA. Geoff received his Master’s Degree from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment with a concentration in Resource Economics and Policy.


Alex Dodds is Smart Growth America’s Director of Communications. She joined Smart Growth America in 2010 after doing digital communications and outreach for several organized labor campaigns. In 2013 Alex was selected as a Next City Vanguard, an annual urban leadership gathering “of the best and brightest young urban leaders working to improve cities across sectors.” She has worked on over a dozen national campaigns ranging from corporate accountability to convening local elected officials. When not working, Alex can usually be found exploring the ever-evolving Washington DC. She can be reached at adodds [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Yuri Chang is a Communications Associate at Smart Growth America. In her current role, Yuri produces strategic content in collaboration with SGA’s various initiatives to engage target audiences. Prior to joining SGA in 2015, Yuri provided communications support to advance federal and state policies that expand access to education and workforce training. She holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Mass Communications and Media Studies from Tufts University. Yuri can be reached at ychang [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.


Christopher A. Coes is the Director of LOCUS, a network of real estate developers and investors who advocate for sustainable, walkable development. He works with real estate developers and investors across the country to advance LOCUS’ public policy agenda and business opportunities. Prior to joining LOCUS, Christopher served as a Consultant for Government Affairs and Campaigns at M+R Strategic Services. As a consultant, Christopher 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, Christopher served as Transportation for America’s Senior Campaign Advisor and Deputy Director, where he was responsible for the day to day operations and advising the Campaign on its legislative and political strategies. In addition to his work on transportation issues, Christopher brings over five years of experience in government relations, political advocacy and electoral campaigns. Christopher received a BA/MA in Government and Politics from St. John’s University, specializing in Public Administration and International Relations. Christopher can be reached at ccoes [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Kira Hibbert is Program Associate for LOCUS. She joined LOCUS in 2015 and is responsible for conducting research and analysis projects, preparing legislative briefings, and coordinating the work of our member coalitions. She also provides support to the many Smart Growth America programs including the Rural Development Initiative. Kira holds a Masters in City Planning from University of Pennsylvania and a BSc in Economics from Stetson University. Kira can be reached at khibbert [at] locusdevelopers [dot] org.

Victoria Maguire is the Massachusetts State Director with LOCUS working with local real estate developers and investors to promote walkable, mixed-use projects and to advocate for a policy agenda that supports smart growth development. Victoria has over 10 years of public sector experience working with Massachusetts’ local and state elected officials to promote sustainable land use policies and economic development projects. She most recently served as Director of Policy for Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. Victoria also served as the State Permit Ombudsman and Director of the Permit Regulatory Office in the MA Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development where she worked to promote greater government transparently and efficiency. Victoria has also worked as a consultant with Concord Square Planning and Development, Inc., a firm known for their role in crafting the 40R Smart Growth Policy in Massachusetts and Anderson Strategic Advisors, LLC. Victoria received her Masters in Public Affairs at the University of Massachusetts Boston and a Masters in Regional and Urban Planning Studies at the London School of Economics. She currently serves on the board of the West Roxbury Main Streets Program and MassVentures. Victoria can be reached at vmaguire [at] locus developers [dot] org.

Arts & Culture

Ben Stone is Director of Arts & Culture at Smart Growth America and its program Transportation for America. Ben leads the organization’s broad efforts to help communities across the country better integrate arts, culture, and creative placemaking into neighborhood revitalization, equitable development, and transportation planning efforts. Ben holds a Bachelor in Fine Arts from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; a Bachelor in American Studies from Tufts University; and a Master in City Planning from MIT, where he focused on land use planning, urban design, and the intersection of the arts and community development. Prior to joining SGA, Ben served as Executive Director of Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc., at which he employed an arts-based revitalization and placemaking strategy to guide development in the state-designated Arts District in Baltimore. Under Ben’s leadership, Station North became a national model for creative placemaking and equitable development through the arts and innovative collaboration. Ben has also served as an architectural designer/planner for the Baltimore Development Corporation, working on revitalization projects in Baltimore’s Middle Branch, Central Business District, and Station North. As a frequent conference speaker and guest lecturer and critic, Ben has advised students, practitioners, and artists on creative placemaking and community-engaged art. Ben has been recognized as a Fellow of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators (2014), a Baltimore Business Journal 40 under 40 Honoree (2014), and a Next City Vanguard (2012). Ben can be reached at bstone [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

National Complete Streets Coalition

Emiko Atherton is the Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America. As the Director, Emiko oversees the Coalition’s federal advocacy, communications, research, and technical assistance programs. She has used her expertise in transportation policy, public health, land use, economic development, and legislation to consult with communities across the United States on how to create better transportation networks. Emiko is an international voice on Complete Streets and has spoken to audiences across the country about the value this approach.

Before joining the Coalition, Emiko served as the Chief of Staff for a King County Councilmember in Washington State. In that role, sheworked closely with local and state governments, federal agencies and Congress, and MPO’s on policy development and implementation, coalition building, and transportation planning. This included engagement on Transportation 2040, the Puget Sound Regional Council’s long-term transportation plan; the development of pedestrian and bicycle connections to Sound Transit’s line rail stations in underserved communities; the integration of public health goals into the region’s transportation and land use plan; and working with a diverse range of stakeholder to include equity goals into King County’s strategic plan for transportation. Emiko received her Master’s in Public Administration from Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington. Emiko can be reached at eatherton [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Mary A. Eveleigh is a Program Associate for the National Complete Streets Coalition. Mary joined Smart Growth America as a LOCUS Communications Fellow in 2015 and currently works on event planning and logistics, public outreach, membership, and policy documentation for the National Complete Streets Policy Inventory and Policy Atlas. Prior to joining SGA, Mary assisted the Coalition for Smarter Growth’s Next Generation of Transit campaign and urban sustainability research at the U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR program. She graduated from Tulane University with a Bachelors of Science in Public Health. Mary can be reached at meveleigh [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute

Gov. Parris N. Glendening is President of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute and the Governor’s Institute on Community Design. In these roles, he travels across the country and around the world advising state and local governments on smart growth, transit, and sustainability policies and practices. Parris Glendening served as Governor of the State of Maryland from 1995-2003 where he created the nation’s first state-level smart growth policy package. Prior to being elected Governor, Glendening served three terms as elected county executive of Prince George’s County, Maryland. He taught political science at the University of Maryland, College Park for 27 years and is the author of two books and over 100 articles and conference papers.

Glendening has received numerous awards and recognitions. He most recently was named as an Honorary Member of the American Institute of Architects. In addition, Governor Glendening serves on a number of non-profit boards and acts as Senior Advisor for Energy and the Environment for National Strategies, Inc.

Born in New York and raised in Florida, Governor Glendening holds a doctorate degree in Government and Politics from Florida State University as well as eight honorary degrees. He lives in Annapolis with his wife Jennifer and their eight-year-old daughter Bri. His son Raymond, a graduate of West Virginia University, previously was the Political Director of the Democratic Governors Association and is now the Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Ruckus, a communications company. Governor Glendening’s full bio can be downloaded here.

Policy Development & Implementation

Christopher Zimmerman is Smart Growth America’s Vice President for Economic Development, and Director of the Governors’ Institute on Community Design. Much of his work focuses on the economic and fiscal impact of development policies on localities and regions. Prior to joining Smart Growth America, for two decades Chris was heavily involved in planning, development, and transportation policy in Arlington County, VA and the greater Washington, DC region. This included work as a neighborhood and civic leader, as a planning commissioner, 18 years as a member of the Arlington County Board, and 13 years on the Board of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, as well as other regional transportation agencies. Prior to his service as an elected official, Mr. Zimmerman was Chief Economist at the National Conference of State Legislatures. He holds a Master of Arts in Economics from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Economics from The American University. Christopher can be reached at czimmerman [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Sarah Absetz is the Program Manager for the Local Leaders Council, a nonpartisan group of municipal officials who share a passion for building great towns, cities, and communities. Sarah joined Smart Growth America as a fellow in April 2012. She holds a BS in Natural Resource Management and an MA in Urban Affairs and Public Policy from the University of Delaware. Sarah can be reached at sabsetz [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Rayla Bellis is a Program Manager on the Technical Assistance team at Smart Growth America. Rayla joined Smart Growth America as a fellow in 2009 and currently works on the DOT Innovation program, providing technical assistance to state Departments of Transportation around the country. She graduated from Knox College with a bachelors degree in Economics and Anthropology/Sociology. Rayla can be reached at rbellis [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Alex Hutchinson is an Economic Development Specialist for Smart Growth America. He works across programs at the intersection of policy and hands-on community level practice. Prior to joining SGA, Alex worked as an Economic Development Officer for the Baltimore Development Corporation, where he focused on public private partnerships related to downtown redevelopment, neighborhood planning, workforce housing tax credits, adaptive reuse, brownfield remediation, mixed-use development, TOD and assistance to small businesses that were impacted by the civil unrest of 2015. In addition to his work in the United States, Alex has lived and worked in Brazil and Colombia where he focused on transportation planning and international development. Alex received his Master’s Degree of Community Planning from the University of Maryland’s Urban Studies and Planning Program with a concentration in Economic Development and Transportation. Alex can be reached at ahutchinson [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Jeri Mintzer is Smart Growth America’s Government Affairs Associate. She joined the organization in 2011 as a Fellow, and now works on advocacy and community management for the Sustainable Communities Learning Network. Jeri graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in Urban Studies and Historic Preservation & Community Planning. Jeri can be reached at jmintzer [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Andrew Peng is a Program Associate with the Policy Development & Implementation team at Smart Growth America. In his current role, Andrew works on SGA’s transit-oriented development technical assistance program, and provides fiscal impact support to the rural development program. He also manages grants and contracts for the organization. Andrew joined SGA in 2016 after two years at a national real estate and land use economics consulting firm. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Environmental Studies from Tufts University. Andrew can be reached at apeng [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Lynn Peterson is Senior Transportation Policy Advisor, providing insight and guidance to all of Smart Growth America’s transportation programs, including Transportation for America, SGA’s multimodal development and delivery technical assistance, and the National Complete Streets Coalition. Prior to joining SGA in 2016, Lynn served as chief executive officer of the Washington State Department of Transportation, where she oversaw an agency responsible for 18,600 lane miles of highway, 3,700 bridges, airports, passenger- and freight-rail programs, and the Washington State Ferry system (the nation’s largest). She brought a renewed focus on agency efficiencies, accountability, and investments to the multimodal system, and supported the agency’s partnerships with cities, counties, businesses, transit agencies, and non-motorized transportation groups to cost-effectively build safe and healthy communities everywhere in Washington state. Lynn is also a nationally recognized transportation and land-use integration expert having worked both as a transportation consultant and as a strategic planning manager for TriMet, Portland, OR’s regional transportation agency.

Michael Rodriguez, AICP, is Director of Research for Smart Growth America. Prior to joining Smart Growth America, Michael had extensive private sector experience in transportation and economics consulting with various nationally leading firms. He has expertise in the economics of infrastructure projects, and how decisions about infrastructure investments impact communities and regions. He has written reports on major projects such as California High Speed Rail, pedestrian station access impacts for WMATA, and several successful TIGER grants. As a resident of the Tysons, Virginia, Michael promotes smart growth in one of the fastest growing regions in the country, and serves on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee of the Metropolitan Washington Transportation Planning Board. He holds a Masters in Public Affairs and M.S. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Michael can be reached at mrodriguez [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Geri Rosenberg is a Program Associate on the Policy Development & Implementation team at Smart Growth America. Geri joined Smart Growth America in 2016 and currently works on engagement with Coalition members, the Local Leaders Council, the Peer Network, and USDA Rural Development. She graduated from Wesleyan University with a bachelors degree in American Studies and Psychology. Geri can be reached at grosenberg [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Elizabeth Schilling is Smart Growth America’s Senior Policy Manager who focuses on how growth and development patterns shape quality of life and how public policies shape growth and development patterns. Ms. Schilling’s approach to creating more livable communities has been shaped by work for the private sector, non-profit sector and for the public sector at all levels of government. She served as the Public Information Officer to Maryland’s Secretary of Planning under Governor Parris N. Glendening and as a Legislative Aide to Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D, OR-3). At Smart Growth America, Elizabeth is managing a project to identify opportunities to align state land use and source water protection policies. She recently helped to develop the U.S. Green Building Council’s rating system for neighborhoods. From 2002 to 2005, she served as the Executive Director of the Growth Management Leadership Alliance, a national network of three-dozen smart growth advocacy organizations in thirty states and British Columbia, Canada. Elizabeth holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor of Science in Social Anthropology from Harvard College. Elizabeth can be reached at eschilling [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Operations and Administration

Paula Offord is Smart Growth America’s Director of Operations. Paula has over fifteen years of experience in the areas of office management, executive assistance and customer service. She handles the day-to-day office operations, human resources and acts as the liaison with Raffa regarding the financials for SGA. She is also the primary point of contact for Geoff Anderson. Prior to joining SGA, she was the Office Manager for a Fire, EMS and Emergency Rescue consulting firm in Arlington, Virginia. Paula is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in the field of Computer Information Technology and Business Management, with a minor in Accounting.

Transportation for America

James Corless is the Director of Transportation for America (T4America), an alliance of elected, business and civic leaders from communities across the country, united to ensure that states and the federal government step up to invest in smart, homegrown, locally-driven transportation solutions. Prior to T4America, James served as a senior planner for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in the San Francisco Bay Area where he managed the agency’s efforts to partner with the private sector and local governments to promote jobs, retail and residential construction along public transportation corridors. James helped author several pieces of groundbreaking state legislation in California that have helped encourage coordination of transportation, growth and economic development and has served as a visiting lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley in the Department of City and Regional Planning.

Alex Beckmann is an Outreach Associate on the Transportation for America team at Smart Growth America. Alex joined Transportation for America as an intern in June 2015 and currently works on the outreach team, helping promote Transportation for America’s policy initiatives to civic, elected, and business leaders across the country. He graduated from Davidson College with a bachelors degree in Political Science.

Rochelle Carpenter is Manager of Health and Transportation Programs for T4America and the Senior Policy Analyst for the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. Rochelle has worked to build a coalition to develop and advocate for national transportation policies that would improve health and advance equity, including funding for public transportation, funding for bicycling and walking projects, health equity performance measures and more. Prior to T4America, Rochelle helped to advance local programs and policies to prevent childhood obesity among communities of color and low-income populations in Washington, DC. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College with a concentration in cultural and medical anthropology. She has played classical violin since age eight, performing as a soloist and ensemble member in a variety of orchestras and string quartets.

Stephen Lee Davis has been with Smart Growth America since July 2006, first as a Communications Fellow, then Associate, and now in his current role as Deputy Communications Director for T4America. Trained as a journalist and photojournalist at the University of Georgia’s Grady School of Journalism & Mass Communication, he was an award-winning photographer at the Arkansas Democrat Gazette before leaving the field to follow his passion for great places to Smart Growth America. During his time at Smart Growth America he’s worn many hats on the communications team, writing speeches for Gov. Parris Glendening, creating the organization’s blog and spearheading its launch back in 2007, and kickstarting the organization’s online advocacy efforts and social media presences. Today he helps guide T4America’s communications strategy, writes regular reports and blog posts, directs all on- and off-line visual production and design, and manages T4America’s social and digital presences. He loves the challenge of figuring out how to turn the concept of smart, sustainable, lovable places into messages that resonate with a wide range of people. Steve lives in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, DC with his wife and two children and loves his 3.2-mile run or bike ride to work.

Erin Evenhouse is the Midwest Outreach Manager and cultural program lead for T4America. She creates programs, coordinates cross-disciplinary partnerships, and guides organizational strategy through network-based evaluation of emerging practices and on-the-ground realities. Erin’s past hats include economic development grant administrator, financial research associate, and community organizer. Erin graduated with a Master in Urban Planning Degree from the University of Michigan, a designation that she secured while completing her undergraduate studies, working, and publishing a thesis. Erin is currently based in Chicago, IL, where she enjoys riding her bike along the Lakefront Trail.

Dan Levine, a Policy Associate with Transportation for America, leads efforts on state and local transportation policy. He launched T4A’s State Transportation Advocacy, Research and Training network to aid legislators, advocates, and local stakeholders in advancing legislation to boost funding and empower local initiatives. He also manages the Transportation Innovation Academy, which arms local elected, business and civic leaders with the tools to realize their regional transportation visions. He has worked with T4A since 2012. He holds a B.A. in government from Wesleyan University and is an alumnus of the International Honors Program: Cities in the 21st Century.

Joe McAndrew is T4America’s Policy Director, bringing comprehensive local, state and federal policy and advocacy experience to this position. He directs all legislative, policy, regulation, and related matters for T4America’s national alliance, and manages relations with elected and government officials and trade associations. Prior to joining T4America, Joe worked on behalf of Lane Transit District at the Oregon State Capitol where he was successful in receiving state funding for transit expansions. Joe also worked for the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Asset Management Division. He began his career in Washington, DC in the House of Representatives working as an outreach coordinator for Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA­02). Joe holds a master’s degree from the University of Oregon in community and regional planning.

Alicia Orosco is the Program Manager at Transportation for America. She joined T4America in March 2014 and currently works on support, development and management of the membership program, member outreach, coalition building, and advocacy. Alicia manages the T4A’s Advisory Board, and supports the executive team. Prior to joining Transportation for America, Alicia worked at a political consulting firm, providing executive support to the president of the firm, and was the liaison on Hispanic Affairs. Alicia graduated from California State University, Fresno.

Beth Osborne joined T4America as the director of a newly created mission-driven consulting service. Beth came to the campaign from the U.S. Department of Transportation where she served as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy and the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy since 2009. At DOT, Beth managed the TIGER Discretionary Grant program, the Secretary’s livability initiative, and the development of the Administration’s surface transportation authorization proposal. Before joining USDOT, Beth worked for Sen. Tom Carper (DE) as the legislative assistant for transportation, trade and labor policy, as the policy director for Smart Growth America and as legislative director for environmental policy at the Southern Governors’ Association. She began her career in Washington, DC, in the House of Representatives working as a legislative assistant for Rep. Ron Klink (PA-04) and as legislative director for Rep. Brian Baird (WA-03). Beth grew up in New Orleans and graduated with a B.A. and J.D. from Louisiana State University.

Chris Rall is the Pacific Northwest Field Organizer for T4America. Chris works with the alliance to keep partners and allies apprised of developments on transportation policy and opportunities in DC. Before his present position, Chris co-founded Green Wheels, a local transportation advocacy organization in Humboldt County, CA, and served as Policy Director for the Healthy Humboldt Coalition. Originally from New Jersey, Chris graduated from the University of California at Berkley, and received his graduate degree from Humboldt State University. He is based in Portland, OR.

Ranata Reeder is Director of Outreach for T4America. In this position, she manages and grows T4America’s powerful national network of local civic, business, elected and academic leaders. Prior to joining T4America in 2016, Ranata led the City of Greensboro’s Participatory Budgeting process, the first in the South. With a background in community-based research, Ranata’s work has directly influenced municipal policy. Ranata received her BA from North Carolina State University, and her MA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In her free time, Ranata enjoys running half marathons and writing.

John Robert Smith is co-chair of T4America and policy advisor for Smart Growth America. He served for 16 years as mayor of Meridian, MS, whose Union Station, his signature project, is recognized as one of the best multi-modal transportation centers in the country. Having served as a mayor of a city with a wealth of late 19th century buildings, he worked with developers to restore those buildings, and is a strong advocate for historic preservation, believing that each community must respect its past and play to its strengths in order to develop and maintain a strong community identity. He helped define Meridian’s role as a cultural center with the restoration of the Grand Opera House of Mississippi, the creation of the Riley Education and Performing Arts Center, and the selection of Meridian as the site for the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center. Additionally, he secured $17 million in HUD HOPE VI funding to develop low- and middle-income housing.

Tia Vice is a Summer Research Associate with Transportation for America. Prior to joining T4America, Tia worked with a grassroots network of neighborhood leaders and non-profit organizations rebuilding and seeking improvements to their communities post-Katrina. She also served as Director of Communications and Scheduling for former New Orleans City Councilmember and Chair of the Council’s Transportation Committee Kristin Gisleson Palmer. She holds a B.A. in Spanish from Furman University and an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University. In Fall 2016, Tia will be enrolling as a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

Erika Young is the Director of Strategic Partnerships for Transportation for America, where she creates the diverse coalition necessary to advance T4A’s policy and program efforts. Additionally, Erika seeks and explores new development opportunities that extend T4A’s mission. Prior to T4A, Erika served as Transportation Director at the National Association of Regional Councils where she developed and implemented the transportation policy and program for regional planning organizations nationwide. Erika possesses extensive knowledge of U.S. congressional procedure and policy where she served on the House Budget Committee; Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; and for former Congressman Rahall (WV-03) as his legislative director. Erika possesses a masters of corporate and non-profit communication from Johns Hopkins University.