Presenters for IDEALAB: People Power


Claire Nelson - Urban Consulate
& Urban Innovation Exchange,
Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia

Claire Nelson is the founder of the Urban Consulate, a network of parlors for city dwellers & travelers seeking urban exchange. A 2015 Knight Cities Winner, the Consulate is currently piloting programs in Detroit, Philadelphia & New Orleans. Claire also publishes Urban Innovation Exchange, an online series to showcase people changing cities. A Chicagoland native, Claire studied architecture & urbanism and lived in New York, Paris & Washington D.C. before moving to Detroit in 2002, where she started projects including Bureau of Urban Living, Open City and Declare Detroit, and served as publisher of Model D. She currently splits time between Detroit & New Orleans.  


Keynote Speaker

Eric Avner - Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation & People's Liberty, Cincinnati, OH

Eric Avner joined The Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation in April 2008. As Vice President, he directs all Community Development grantmaking, focusing on Cincinnati’s distinctive urban neighborhoods, a talented regional workforce, and a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation.  Eric is also Founder and CEO of People’s Liberty (, the foundation’s 8,000 sq. ft. philanthropic lab in Over-the- Rhine that explores a new role for foundations interested in place-based grantmaking and civic re-engagement.  Previously, Eric has advised Cincinnati’s top CEOs on economic development issues as Associate Director of the Cincinnati Business Committee; launched, a weekly magazine focused on the region’s economic and physical transformation; and led efforts to convert an abandoned railroad bridge across the Ohio River into an award-winning linear pedestrian park, the “Purple People Bridge.” Eric attended McGill (Montreal) and Cornell Universities and he serves on the boards of Philanthropy Ohio, ArtWorks Cincinnati, and Cincinnati Development Fund.


Lucy Cantwell - New Belgium Family Foundation, Ft. Collins, CO

Lucy Cantwell is the Executive Director of the New Belgium Family Foundation which seeks to honor the regenerative potential of business through meaningful investing, philanthropy and advocacy. Lucy manages both the philanthropic and direct investment portfolios, which works to increase renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, alternative modes of transportation, and youth engagement in the Western US. Lucy is also collaborating with advisors to ensure that the foundation’s corpus is 100% invested for positive impact, across asset classes. Prior to the New Belgium Family Foundation, Lucy worked in non-profits and art galleries in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, and graduated with Honors in Art History from Vassar College. She now lives in Ann Arbor, MI.

Phillip Cooley - PonyRide, Detroit, MI

Phillip Cooley and his partners started Slows Bar B Q in 2005. Since opening it has expanded into Ford Field, Slows To Go and a new location in Grand Rapids. They are currently constructing another location in Pontiac. In 2014, Cooley and another group of partners opened Gold Cash Gold (farm-to-table restaurant) in an abandoned pawn shop of the same name. He works with his family at O'Connor Development as a general contractor. Cooley is a co-founder of Ponyride, a non-profit that looks to diversify entrepreneurship by offering low barriers of entry to space and time. Over 40 organizations call Ponyride their home with a growing waiting list of 100 applicants. Ponyride is a safe, inquisitive space for social minded entrepreneurs that are collaborative and willing to learn and grow from failure. He sits on many board of directors and advisory boards (Empowerment Plan, Detroit Soup, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Knight Foundation Detroit, etc.). Cooley is an adjunct professor at Lawrence Technological University where he co-teaches a studio course with university and Detroit Public High School students through Ponyride.

George C. Jacobsen - Kresge Foundation, Detroit, MI

George Jacobsen is a senior program officer at The Kresge Foundation. As part of the Foundation’s Detroit Program, he works to reposition the city as a model for revitalization. He manages the Program’s arts and culture portfolio, including its work with organizations and individual artists. He also led the development of Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit, a three-year, $5 million grant initiative to support transformative and inclusive neighborhood-based projects. He has worked on advancing a wide range of regional quality of life issues in Southeast Michigan since 2005, including work with Metropolitan Affairs Coalition, a public-private partnership, and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. George has a master’s degree in urban planning from Wayne State University in Detroit and a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies in social science from Michigan State University, where he focused on international studies and political science.

Eric Kornaki - Re:Vision, Denver, CO

Eric is an innovative thought leader for creating healthy, thriving and resilient communities. Eric earned his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Denver, where he focused on fair trade and cooperative business models. Eric co-founded Re:Vision in 2007 and has served as the Executive Director since 2009. Re:Vision has won national awards for its innovative community food system and promotora work. Since 2009, Re:Vision has helped over 600 low-income families grow food in their own backyards, making it the largest community-led food access program in the country. Eric has extensive programmatic and policy background in agriculture, community development, sustainability, alternative economic models, social justice and health equity. He currently serves as the co-chair for the Denver Sustainable Food Policy Council, which he was appointed to in 2010. He was an Agriculture Fellow at the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union as well as the National Farmers Union, where he worked on cooperative development and federal farm policy. Eric is also a founding member of the Community Wealth Building Network of Metro Denver, and a leading member of the Colorado Health Equity Advocacy cohort.

David Nicholson - Headwaters Foundation for Justice, Minneapolis, MN

David is driven by the possibility of creating justice by brining together coalitions that will transform the current climate of hate, fear and inequity. Before joining Headwaters in 2004, he worked for the State Department of Educations as the director of Children's Trust Fund, which partners with local communities to prevent child abuse. He is actively involved in the Native American community and has served on various local and national board of directors, advisory committees and task forces that align with his passion for philanthropy, racial justice, environmental justice and the well-being of Native American families. 

Jason Snell - CoSign Northside, Cincinnati, OH

Hello, my name is Jason Snell, and I'm an artist, designer, musician and Partner/Chief Creative at We Have Become Vikings ( My passion is the work I do for my clients. It is through this creative process and hard work that drives me to never turn it off. Creating and fostering of ideas, turning thoughts into visual communication and helping clients, my community and neighbors dreams come true is my inspiration. By using strong lines, simple language, and rock & roll I have found solid foundation to destroy and create.I received a BFA within the Fine Arts/ Digital Design program at the University of Cincinnati's School of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning (DAAP) in 2001. Since then I have been involved in a wide variety of projects both large and small. I have worked dually for Fortune 100 clients as well as small boutiques all over the world.

Megan Trischler - Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation, Cincinnati, OH

Megan Trischler is a designer. Her past work includes the development of PieLab—a pie shop and cultural hub in Haile County, Alabama; D:hive—a talent attraction and retention storefront in Detroit’s urban core; and CoSign—a program that pairs small business owners with local artists and sign fabricators to design and install a critical mass of storefront signage in neighborhoods throughout Cincinnati. As Program Director at People’s Liberty, Megan oversees the Residency program for emerging creatives, while keeping a keen eye on the lab’s design and storytelling efforts.

Kalia Vang, Headwaters Inaugural Giving Project, Ann Arbor, MI 

Originally from Milwaukee, WI, the adversities of living in poverty and helping her immigrant parents navigate society inspired her pursuit of a career in public service.  In 2014, Kalia’s passion for cities and social justice brought her to Minneapolis-Saint Paul where she worked for the Saint Paul Foundation as the Program Assistant on the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, a place-based grantmaking initiative dedicated to creating opportunities in neighborhoods impacted by new light-rail transit.  In 2015, Kalia served as part of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice’s inaugural Giving Project, where she along with 20 other community leaders collectively raised and granted a total of $70,000 to seven MN organizations advancing grassroots social change. Previously, Kalia worked in Washington, D.C. on advocacy efforts to advance national Asian Pacific Islander (API)
issues, immigration reform, and access to higher education.

Tour Hosts

Tour Stop #1: Local Food Innovation District 

Joe Hansbauer, Findlay Market at People's Liberty
Joe Hansbauer is the President and CEO for the Corporation for Findlay Market. He joined the market, after helping to launch and grow UGIVE.ORG, an online platform for engaging students in the community. Previous to UGIVE, Joe spent 9 years as a strategic consultant for Accenture. He lives with his wife and 3 young children in Newport, KY.

Tour Stop #2: Creative Placemaking

Sarah Allan, Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington 

Since 1998, Sarah has been using arts and culture to foster community/economic development: First at the Dwelling Place in Grand Rapids, MI, subsequently at New Kensington CDC in Philadelphia, and finally at The Center in Covington where she directs their Creative Placemaking program. She has managed over $5 million dollars in arts-related project, including public art, programming, and project financing/development. Sarah holds an MBA in Economic Development from Eastern University in Philadelphia, where she was also an Urban Studies adjunct professor for 11 years teaching the course “Arts and Community/Economic Development”.

Tom DiBello, Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington

Tom DiBello is the executive director of The Center for Great Neighborhoods. He has served in that capacity since 1995, having started his career there in 1976. He is a native of Philadelphia and a 1975 graduate of LaSalle University. Tom and his wife Catherine live in a home in Covington where they have raised three children. Since being named as executive director, he has helped redefine the Center’s strategic focus from a small community center serving the west side of Covington to a city-wide community development and neighborhood support organization that offers programs that focus on Neighborhoods & Community, Creative Place Making, Real Estate Development, Health, Financial Wellbeing, and Youth Education. Tom’s experience includes community organizing, fund development, strategic planning, organizational development, community relations, and all facets of nonprofit management.

Rachel Hastings, Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington

Rachel Hastings joined the Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington in 1996 and currently serves as Program Director for Community Development. She has a Bachelor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Environmental Ethics from Miami University and a Master of Community Planning from the University of Cincinnati. Rachel is passionate about working directly with residents to help them make their vision for their neighborhood a reality. At The Center, Rachel works directly with resident-led and civic organizations, the City of Covington, Kenton County Fiscal Court, the Covington Police Department, and others to draft neighborhood visioning and development plans, address code enforcement, rehabilitate vacant buildings, maintain community gardens and parks, improve community safety, design events to build social capital, create urban walking trails, and develop amenities to improve residents’ quality of life. Over the last decade, The Center’s Community Development Team has managed over $10 million in real estate development and sparked thousands of residents to get involved in their community.

Tour Stop #3: Education

Christina Williams Harding, Cincinnati Children’s James M. Anderson Center for Health Systems Excellence

Christina Williams Harding is a Senior Quality Improvement Consultant and Account Manager at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC). At CCHMC, Christina excels at leading teams to achieve transformational and sustainable change. She works to build organizational capability and capacity so that CCHMC continues to change the outcome and help Cincinnati’s children be the healthiest in the nation. Within the community and population health management field, Christina brings over ten years of experience building strategic community partnerships and delivering exceptional results. Ms. Harding has numerous publications highlighting her work in the healthcare field and speaks annually at various national conferences on quality improvement and population health. Christina is committed to community outreach and social responsibility activities, mentoring youth, and supporting local health and wellness initiatives to ensure all children thrive.

Melissa McCoy, StrivePartnership

Melissa McCoy serves as Director of Collaborative Continuous Improvement for StrivePartnership, where she is focused on building capability across the Partnership to use continuous improvement to drive change and ultimately improve key outcome areas for children in the urban core. Melissa has been with StrivePartnership since 2013. She received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Tennessee, and a J.D. from the NKU Chase College of Law. Before joining StrivePartnership, Melissa practiced law in the private sector and sought out opportunities to serve the non-profit community in her free time. Ultimately, she decided to make the transition to the non-profit world, and build a career out of impacting the community and its education system on a broader scale.

Cheryl Broadnax, Cincinnati Public Schools Head Start

Cheryl Broadnax is the Assistant Superintendent of Early Childhood Education and Director of Preschool Programs for Cincinnati Public Schools. Cheryl Broadnax was the former principal of Hartwell Elementary in the Cincinnati Public School district. Mrs. Broadnax led Hartwell to an “Excellent” rating for the 2009-2010 school year. In 2011-2012 school year, Hartwell was awarded the highest state ranking of “Excellent with Distinction”. Hartwell Elementary was the only neighborhood Cincinnati Public School to receive Excellent with Distinction. During her career in CPS Cheryl Broadnax was awarded the 2010 Greater Cincinnati Valentine Leadership Award by the University of Cincinnati’s Economic Center for her commitment, involvement, and innovation. In 2013, Ms. Broadnax received the James N Jacob’s Award from the Cincinnatus Association for Outstanding Administrator. In 2015, she was awarded the Women of Influence Award.