2016 Keynote Speakers

The Sixth Annual Community Development Summit featured two nationally renowned, dynamic keynote speakers: Ed McMahon, Senior Fellow for Sustainable Development at the Urban Land Institute and Charles Montgomery, author of the award-winning book, Happy City, and founder of the consultancy of the same name.

Visit the PCRG Youtube page for recordings of their presentations.

Ed McMahon

mcmahon-photo_high-resAs the Senior Fellow for Sustainable Development, Ed McMahon leads ULI’s worldwide efforts to conduct research and educational activities related to environmentally sensitive development policies and practices. He is also a senior staff adviser for ULI’s Building Healthy Places Initiative, and is a sought-after speaker and thinker on health and real estate. He is currently at work on a major new report, Active Transportation and Real Estate: New Frontiers in Development, which will be released at ULI’s Spring Meeting in Houston in May 2015.

Before joining the Institute in 2004, McMahon spent 14 years as the vice president and director of land use planning for the Conservation Fund in Arlington County, Virginia, where he helped protect more than 5 million acres of land of historic or natural significance. McMahon is also the cofounder and former president of Scenic America, a national nonprofit organization devoted to protecting America’s scenic landscapes. Before that, he taught law and public policy at Georgetown University Law Center for nine years, and served in the U.S. Army, both at home and abroad.

McMahon is the author or coauthor of 15 books, including Conservation Communities: Creating Value with Nature, Open Space, and Agriculture; Better Models for Development in Virginia; Developing Sustainable Planned Communities; Green Infrastructure: Connecting Landscape and Communities; Land Conservation Finance; and Balancing Nature and Commerce in Gateway Communities.

He also writes regularly for Urban Land magazine, Citiwire, Planning Commissioners Journal, and other periodicals.

Over the past 25 years, McMahon has helped communities in all 50 states with a wide variety of community planning and economic development issues. He serves on several advisory boards and commissions, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation Maryland, the Governor’s Institute for Community Design, the Doris Duke Charitable Fund, and the Orton Family Foundation.

McMahon has an MA in urban studies from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a JD from Georgetown University Law School. He and his wife live in Takoma Park, Maryland.

Charles Montgomery 

Charles Montgomery creates transformative experiments, conversations and stories about cities, science, and human well-being. He is the author of the award-winning book, Happy City, and founder of the consultancy of the same name.

Happy City examines the intersection between urban design and the emerging science of happiness. The book shows the striking ways that our cities can influence our thoughts, feelings and actions, and it offers a vision for urban renovations guided by evidence from around the world. The message is as surprising as it is hopeful: Doomsayers have warned that action to tackle the urgent challenges of climate change and energy scarcity will lead us into decades of hardship and sacrifice. But evidence in Happy City and Charles’s own projects suggests the opposite: that the happier city, the healthier city, the wealthier city and the green city are the same place.

Charles has advised planners, students, and policy-makers across Canada, the USA and England. He has also used insights in happiness science to drive high-profile experiments that help citizens transform their relationships with each other and their cities. In 2010, his Home for the Games initiative tested the limits of trust, enabling hundreds of residents to open their homes to strangers during the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Working with the BMW Guggenheim Lab, psychologist Colin Ellard, and the citizens of New York City, he used mobile phone applications to map the emotions of public space in the Lower East Side. At the Museum of Vancouver and elsewhere, Montgomery and his collaborators create participatory programs that help citizens treat their cities as hands-on laboratories.

Charles has won numerous awards for his writing on urban planning, psychology, culture and history in magazines and journals on three continents. Among his numerous awards is a Citation of Merit from the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society for outstanding contribution towards public understanding of climate change science. Charles spends most of his time in Vancouver and Mexico City.

Learn more at www.thehappycity.com