2014 Speakers Archive

Healthy Communities: Designing for Future Generations – Omaha, NE

Richard JacksonRichard Jackson, MD, MPH is Professor and Chair of Environmental Health at UCLA’ Fielding School of Public Health.  As a pediatrician and public health physician, his passions are health, nature, architecture, creating visions, and protecting children.  And he enjoys a good policy scrap!  He received the national John Heinz Award for outstanding contribution for his work on the Environment. Over the past decade a portion of his work has explored how the ‘built environment’, including architecture and urban planning, affects health. He is an Honorary Member of ASLA.  He recently served on the Board of Directors of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and is an Honorary AIA member.

Jackson works on the health impacts of environmental threats, ranging from toxic substances, chemical body burdens, terrorism, loss of resources, destructive farm policies, climate change, and poor urban design. He is a professor of Environmental Health Sciences at UCLA School of Public Health, and is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine.

Mr. Jackson is our conference Key Note Speaker discussing “Landscape Leaders are Health Leaders.”  To view Mr. Jackson’s presentation, click here.

Terry HaungTerry Huang is Professor and ChairDepartment of Health Promotion, Social & Behavioral Health at the UN Medical Center. He is, among other things, interested in ecological and multilevel research and applications of health promotion and disease prevention, especially their connection to designed environments.

As a formal interlocutor, Dr. Haung will ask Dr. Jackson a couple of prepared questions then field questions from the audience and help attendee explore Dr. Jackson’s important Key Note message.


Chuck Flink
Chuck Flink, FASLA of Greenways, Inc. has been passionate about the conservation and stewardship of the outdoors since he was a teenager. He has devoted his professional life to protecting, conserving and stewarding land and water resources all across North America.  The company that he founded and has owned for the past 25 years, Alta/ Greenways Incorporated, was an outgrowth of his personal and professional interests.

Mr. Flink will address the conference in our Thursday morning session:  “Bike Facility Planning and Design.”  To view Mr. Flinks’ presentation, please click here.

Gregg ThompsonGregg Thompson is a Water Resources Specialist with the City of Eagan.  He provides technical support to reduce stormwater runoff impacts on water resources, through land projects and watershed stewardship activities.  Originally from a farm in South Dakota, where he developed his fascination with water, vegetation and soil, his background is in landscape architecture with 20 years of experience working in residential/ commercial landscapes and public-land projects.

Mr. Thompson’s Thursday morning session addresses “Urban Watersheds & Surface Water Quality.”  To view Mr. Thompson’s presentation, please click here.



Susannah RossSusannah Ross is the Coordinator for the Landscape Architecture Discipline at Sasaki, in which she oversees staff recruitment, hiring, and development. She is also a member of the Technical Quality Control Committee, playing an active role in ensuring that Sasaki’s work meets the highest standards of landscape design and documentation. Susannah has managed projects through all phases of design, from master planning through construction documentation and administration. Susannah is particularly interested in the design of public open spaces in urban settings. She enjoys exploring the potential of landscape design to enrich the daily life of city dwellers and shape the identity of a city. She welcomes the challenge of designing to meet the needs of a diverse set of interests in a complex physical context. 

Ms. Ross will discuss “Design Approach to River Cities” on Thursday morning and will be at Rivers Edge Park during the “Downtown Omaha Bike Tour” on Thursday afternoon.  To view Ms. Ross’ presentation, please click here.

Jim Theiler
Jim Theiler, PE is the Program Coordinator for the City of Omaha Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Program.  He has been an employee with the City of Omaha Public Works Department since 2000, prior to this he worked for HGM Associates and for the US Army Corps of Engineers.   Mr. Theiler graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a degree in Civil Engineering in 1994.

Mr. Theiler’s Thursday afternoon presentation is entitled, “Omaha’s CSO Landscape.”  To view Mr. Theiler’s presentation, please click here.

Carlos MoralesCarlos Morales is the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for the City of Omaha.  Carlos has a Master of Arts in Urban Planning with a specialization in Transportation Planning from UCLA and a Bachelor of Arts in International and Environmental Studies from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  Working alongside transportation engineers, planners and political leaders, Carlos has a wealth of experience with alternative forms of transportation.  He specializes in non-motorized transportation alternatives, community outreach and public participation.  His career started as an AmeriCorps volunteer for a non-profit Sacramento based group that worked throughout California to provide transportation alternatives to low income and minority communities.  Carlos comes to Omaha from Los Angeles, California, where he served as the Assistant Coordinator for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation to facilitate and further the development of bicycle facilities throughout the city.

Carlos will lead the “Downtown Omaha Bike Tour.”

Tom BentleyThomas Bentley, PLA is a Landscape Architect at Dropseed Studio of Kinghorn Gardens.During his 18yrs of professional practice, Bentley has had the privilege to participate in projects ranging from urban streetscapes to parks and natural recreation destinations. Areas of emphasis have grown to focus upon our relationship with the landscape – utilizing nature as a blueprint of vegetated communities and processes while increasing stewardship of our natural resources. In addition to being a Nebraska Professional Landscape Architect, Bentley obtained his Masters of Architecture from the University of Nebraska in 1995. This combination has allowed him to integrate the transition between the natural and built environment as a cohesive member of the design process.

Mr. Bentley and Paul Woodward will lead the “Green Infrastructure Bus Tour” on Thursday afternoon.

Paul WoodwardPaul Woodward is a Group Leader at Olsson Assocates.  Paul has been with Olsson Associates for 5 years, and has assumed numerous roles and responsibilities as Group Leader for Water Resources in Omaha, Nebraska.  Paul has successfully been able to build upon valuable experience managing various types of water resources projects gained while previously working for a local watershed and natural resources district.  He combines technical expertise in the hydrology and hydraulics of watersheds together with a practical understanding of what it takes to get a project completed. He currently leads efforts within the Omaha region to oversee ongoing and potential projects related to dams, levees, stormwater controls, lake rehabilitation, and stream restoration.  These aspects range from initial watershed planning, to grant funding, to design, and through construction.  The profound public benefits realized from these projects help reduce people’s flood risk, improve water quality, and enhance the overall environment.

Mr. Woodward and Tom Bentley will lead the “Green Infrastructure Bus Tour” on Thursday afternoon.

Patrice SlavenPatrice Slaven, ASLA, PLA has been a Park Planner with the City of Omaha Department of Parks and Recreation since 1996.  Pat was born and raised in Omaha and received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Nebraska in Omaha. Her Master of Landscape Architecture is from Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas. She practiced Landscape Architecture in private design firms in Kansas City and St. Louis from 1984 to 1992 and in Omaha from 1992 to 1996.  As a park planner with the City of Omaha Department of Parks and Recreation since 1996, Pat designs and manages projects for the city, including park renovations, water quality projects, and large scale park and watershed planning. She has been involved in siting and selection of numerous public art projects in the city’s parks.

Prototype designs for an Omaha bench competition are on display at Leahy Mall.  Pat will be located there during the “Downtown Omaha Bike Tour” to describe the competition process and answer questions.

Larry FosterDirector – Parks, Recreation and Public Property for Council Bluffs, Iowa.  Mr. Foster began his professional career as the Director of Parks and Recreation for Kingman, Kansas.  Thereafter, he served as the Parks and Recreation Director for Leavenworth, Kansas,  St. Joseph, Missouri and Clay County, Missouri.  In 1987, he moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where he worked for the Department of Parks, Recreation and Public Property for 21 years, serving as Administrator, Public Events Manager and Acting Director.  In 2008, he accepted the position of Director of Parks, Recreation and Public Property for Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Mr. Foster has also been involved in education.  Since 1993, he has served as an Adjunct faculty member for the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  Previously, he served on the facility of Missouri Western College and as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Wyoming.

Mr. Foster present pertinent details about Rivers Edge Park during the “Downtown Omaha Bike Tour” on Thursday afternoon.

8 x 10 in. (1)Steven N. Jensen, RLA, AICP is a Planning and Urban Design Consultant. As the Omaha City Planning Director from June of 2005 until his retirement in August of 2009, Mr. Jensen managed a department with a staff of 116 people and an annual budget of $12 million. In his position as Director Mr. Jensen was responsible for administering the City’s long-range planning, current planning, annexation, capital improvement, housing and community development, economic development, code enforcement, permitting and inspection activities. During his 34+ years with the Omaha Planning Department Mr. Jensen also held a number of other positions including 14 years as Assistant Director for Urban Planning and two stints as Acting Planning Director. His accomplishments, among other things, include directing the most comprehensive update of the City’s Master Plan in Omaha’s history, Omaha’s highly rated growth management program, and the plan for the annexation of the City of Elkhorn. He also helped guide the development of the City’s widely recognized and award winning Urban Design Master Plan and Urban Design Code and the award winning 2009 Downtown Omaha Master Plan. Mr. Jensen was Co-Chairman of the Environment Omaha – Environmental Master Plan effort for the City of Omaha and also served as the Chairman of the College World Series Stadium Design Advisory Committee and on the Board of Directors for the Omaha Hilton Hotel until his retirement. He continues to serve on the Omaha By Design Advisory Board and various civic committees. Now in private practice, Mr. Jensen is currently providing planning and urban design consulting services to a variety of private and public clients.

Mr. Jensen will host the North Downtown & Riverfront Redevelopment stop during the “Downtown Omaha Bike Tour.”

John Royster Photo

John Royster, PLA ASLA LEED AP BD+C ENV SP,  President – Big Muddy Workshop.  John has been involved in the design of green infrastructure and sustainable sites for the past 31 years. Before “green design” became a common catch phase, John had already completed projects which captured and cleaned rainwater, minimized impervious surfaces to decrease site run-off, and collected roof run-off for redistribution onto natural areas, preventing rainwater from becoming stormwater. John is an advocate for the use of native and well-adapted plants to improve planting success and decrease long-term landscape maintenance expenses. He is currently developing methods and specifications to restore the natural function of soils on development sites, to decease the impacts that occur as a result of construction activities.

John is President, CEO (and main cheerleader) for Big Muddy Workshop, Inc. a master planning, landscape architecture and green infrastructure design firm founded in 1990. As a mountain biker and an avid fly-fisher, he understands the value of keeping soil in its place to ensure clean lakes and streams.

John will lead the “Green Infrastructure Tour” stops at Aksarben Village, Elmwood, and UNO Welcome Center.

Doug BissonDouglas J. Bisson, AICP, ENV SP is Vice President, Community Planning Manager at HDR Engineering, Inc.  Mr. Bisson serves as HDR’s Community Planning Manager and has expertise in urban design and redevelopment.  He is an expert in bringing together key city leaders, business owners, and residents to stimulate economic development and neighborhood revitalization through the use of environmentally friendly, pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use development practices.  He was the Project Manager for several notable initiatives within the region, including the Downtown Omaha Master Plan, the North Downtown Redevelopment Plan, Aksarben Village, Destination Midtown, the South Omaha Development Project, and the Omaha Streetcar Feasibility Study.  In addition, Doug serves on numerous community-based boards. 

Mr. Bisson will assist with the project presentations on the “Local Landscape Architecture Bus Tour


Dennis BryersDennis Bryers, FASLA, PLA is a Park Planner with the City of Omaha.  He is past president of CLARB and worked on the CLARB committee, which initiated the unique research on what Landscape Architects bring to the important professional concept of “Health, Safety and Welfare.” The groundbreaking research helped to define the impacts that landscape architecture has on public welfare.

Mr. Bryers Friday morning presentation discusses “Landscape Architects’ Impacts on Health, Safety & Welfare.”  To view his presentation, click here.




SONY DSCDr. Bin JIANG is a post-doctoral researcher and lab manager in the Sustainability and Human Health Lab at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research work examines the impacts of urban nature on stress recovery, attention restoration, and physical activities. Bin Jiang worked for Turenscape, PWP, and EADG-EDAW as an urban designer and landscape architect. He received the 2005 ASLA Professional Award of Honor in Analysis and Planning. He is also the representative of Landscape Architecture Frontiers journal in U.S.

Dr. Jiang’s Friday morning discussion concerns the “Urban Landscape and Mental Health”.  Dr. Jiang will also participate in the “What’s Needed for a Healthy City” panel discussion.  To view Dr. Jiang’s presentation, click here.


Ken FinchKen Finch is Founder and President of Green Hearts Institute for Nature in Childhood, an Omaha-based nonprofit conservation organization that teaches, speaks, writes, and consults about nature-based play and how it can be restored to childhood. He holds a master’s degree in environmental education, and is a past national president of the Association of Nature Center Administrators.

Mr. Finch’s Friday morning presentation is “Restoring the Nature of Childhood.”  He will also participate in the panel addressing “What’s Needed for a Healthy City.”  To view Mr. Finch’s presentation, please click here.


Jim WikeJim Wike, PLA, ASLA, is the Design Director at Dimensions Educational Research Foundation and with the Arbor Day Foundation. He focuses on the design and development of Nature Explore Classrooms throughout the United States.

Mr. Wike’s Friday morning presentation will discuss “Nature Play” and he will also participate in the morning’s panel addressing “What’s Needed for a Healthy City.”



Mark FochtMark A. Focht, FASLA, elected by Full/Fellow, Associate, and International members served as 2013 ASLA President. Mark is First Deputy Commissioner, Parks and Facilities, for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation.

Mr. Focht will give the 2014 State of Landscape Architecture and will present this year’s Central States Awards at the Friday Awards luncheon.







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