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IEDC 2015 Annual Conference | Anchorage, Alaska | October 4-7, 2015


Susan Amring, CEcD, EcD
Director, Economic Development
City of Mississauga
Mississauga, ON

Susan Amring is the Director of Economic Development for the City of Mississauga, with more than 25 years of municipal government management experience covering, economic development, planning, communications and the Mayor’s Office. As her current responsibilities include business attraction, business retention, business start-up, marketing and research, Ms. Amring is always seeking opportunities to understand the evolving needs of business and match the offerings of the City of Mississauga with forward-looking businesses.

The City of Mississauga is a champion of business and continually strives to provide to its business sector the vital services and supports needed to flourish in a highly competitive market. As a first point of contact, the Economic Development Office (EDO) provides comprehensive services including: site selection assistance, government approval assistance, business start-up assistance, information and statistics, industry and business networks, and strategic business problem solving. With services tailored to meet the needs of each unique business, EDO takes an entrepreneurial approach to business problem solving and sees itself as part of its client’s team.

Ms. Amring has a Bachelor of Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo and has received her designation as a Certified Economic Developer (Ec.D.) from the Economic Development Association of Canada.

Angela Glover Blackwell
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Oakland, CA

Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, started PolicyLink in 1999 and continues to drive its mission of advancing economic and social equity. Under Blackwell’s leadership, PolicyLink has become a leading voice in the movement to use public policy to improve access and opportunity for all low-income people and communities of color, particularly in the areas of health, housing, transportation, education, and infrastructure.

Prior to founding PolicyLink, Blackwell served as Senior Vice President at the Rockefeller Foundation, where she oversaw the foundation’s Domestic and Cultural divisions. A lawyer by training, she gained national recognition as founder of the Oakland (CA) Urban Strategies Council, where she pioneered new approaches to neighborhood revitalization. From 1977 to 1987, Blackwell was a partner at Public Advocates, a nationally known public interest law firm.

As a leading voice in the movement for equity in America, Blackwell is a frequent commentator for some of the nation’s top news organizations, including The New York Times, the Huffington Post, Washington Post, Salon, CNN and has appeared regularly on such shows as public radio’s Marketplace, The Tavis Smiley Show, Nightline, and PBS’s Now. Blackwell has also been a guest on the PBS series Moyers & Company and PBS’s NewsHour. Blackwell appears in the sixth and final segment of the PBS six-part series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., which aired in October and November, 2013.

Blackwell is the co-author of Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America’s Future (W.W. Norton & Co., 2010), and contributed to Ending Poverty in America: How to Restore the American Dream (The New Press, 2007) and The Covenant with Black America (Third World Press, 2006). In 2013, Blackwell and PolicyLink collaborated with the Center for American Progress to write and release All In Nation: An America that Works for All. Blackwell earned a bachelor’s degree from Howard University, and a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley. She serves on numerous boards, including the Children’s Defense Fund and The President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

Ronnie Bryant, CEcD, FM, HLM
President & CEO
Charlotte Regional Partnership
Charlotte, NC

As president and CEO of the Charlotte Regional Partnership, Ronnie Bryant leads the economic development organization that promotes the 16-county Charlotte USA region as a premier location for businesses considering expansion or relocation. With more than 30 years of technical, managerial and economic development expertise, Bryant is nationally known for his proven track record of establishing and implementing successful economic development programs, with a strong emphasis on existing industry expansion and retention, regionalism and marketing.

Bryant, a certified economic developer (CEcD) since 1991, is a graduate of Louisiana State University in Shreveport and the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma (OU/EDI) in Norman. While attending OU/EDI, he received the American Economic Development Council’s Robert B. Cassell Leadership Award. He currently serves as the immediate past dean of OU/EDI, a member of the Executive Board and a member of the OU/EDI faculty.

He and his wife, Sandra, have three children – Rarland, Remeka and Ronda.

Barbra Coffee, CEcD, EDFP
Director, Economic Development/Redevelopment
City of Henderson
Henderson, NV

James Collard
Director of Planning and Econoic Development
Citizen Potawatomi Nation
Shawnee, OK

James currently serves as the Director of Planning and Economic Development for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and is developing a rail-anchored industrial park on tribal trust land. His duties also include evaluating and facilitating numerous business development proposals and tribal franchise opportunities and implementing the tribal strategic economic development plan. Previous economic development activities include serving as Chair of the Morgan County, CO Economic Development Corporation and as a member of the Executive Committee for the St. Charles County, MO Economic Development Corporation. He has facilitated and packaged numerous economic development projects and agreements over the last 20+ years and guided the development of a community-based Fiscal Impact Tool and a Computable General Equilibrium Model. He has traveled extensively internationally on business ventures including accompanying the Missouri Governor on a trade mission to Asia. Currently Dr. Collard serves as the Vice Chair of the Oklahoma Governor’s International Team. His previous experience includes over seventeen years in city management and five years as an executive in the environmental services industry.

JoAnn Crary, CEcD
Saginaw Future, Inc.
Saginaw, MI

JoAnn Crary is the President of Saginaw Future, a non-profit economic development organization. She has held that position since 1993 and has been in economic development since the mid 1980’s. Crary completed her undergraduate degree from Ferris State University and has a Masters degree from Central Michigan University. She is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD), a graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute and is a certified Economic Development Finance Professional.

Crary is a member of the MEDC Collaborative Development Council, an advisory group representation the 10 economic development regions in Michigan. She was recently elected to be the Chairman of the International Economic Development Council’s Board of Directors, is a member of the Governance Committee and the Economic Development Research Partners. Crary also Chaired the Ethics Committee in 2014 and served as board liaison for the Young Professionals Task Force. IEDC is the foremost international economic development organization with over 4500 members. She has served on the IEDC Board since 2006.

Crary is serves as Secretary/Treasurer of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Development Corporation, the Saginaw County Revolving Loan Fund Board, Saginaw Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, FirstMerit Bank Market Area Board and the Saginaw Hospital Finance Authority. Crary also serves on the Board of Fellows at Saginaw Valley State University, Mobile Medical Response Finance Committee and is an ex officio member of the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. JoAnn also serves on Dow Chemical Company’s Great Lakes Bay Region Community Advisory Panel.

Crary was recently awarded the Saginaw Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Saginaw Marsh-Princing Award for 2014. She was also recognized in 2013 as one of the Great Women of the Great Lakes Bay and was given the Wally Bronner Community Spirit Award from the Saginaw County Chapter of American Red Cross in 2010. She was also honored with the inaugural Economic Leadership Award from Junior Achievement of Northeast Michigan in 2010. The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce gave Crary its inaugural Athena Award in 2005 and in 2001, the Michigan Economic Developers Association named Crary as the MEDA Medalist Award winner. In 1996, she was honored by Governor Engler as the Economic Developer of the Year for outstanding contributions in economic development.

JoAnn and her two children, KaLynn and Michael reside in Frankenmuth.

J. Vann Cunningham
Assistant Vice President, Economic Development
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company
Fort Worth, TX

Vann Cunningham is assistant vice president, Economic Development, with responsibility for developing and leading programs that encourage rail-oriented industries to locate or expand their facilities on BNSF. He also has responsibility for planning and developing various rail-owned and rail-served industrial, intermodal and transload facilities throughout BNSF’s service area. In this role, he has written and spoken extensively on the impact of transportation, logistics and the evolving global supply chain on corporate site selection, economic development and real estate development.

Vann has over 40 years of corporate site selection and economic development experience including major domestic and international projects in the public and private sectors. He began his Economic Development career at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), where he was initially responsible for the TVA power plant siting program. Subsequently, he served as Chief of Regional Planning, Field Manager for the Economic and Community Development Program, and Senior Manager of Industrial Development. At TVA, he worked with such companies as Saturn, Sharp Electronics, Nissan and LG Electronics on corporate site selection projects for facilities locating in the region.

Karen Dickson, CEcD
Vice President of Economic Development
Brooks Development Authority
San Antonio, TX

Vice President of Economic Development Karen Dickson is responsible for developing and implementing the economic development program and oversees the master planning program for the 1,200-acre, mixed-use community. Karen previously served as Vice President of Economic Development for the Denton Chamber of Commerce in Denton, TX. Dickson is a member of the Board of Directors of the Texas Economic Development Council and serves on various International Economic Development Council committees. Dickson began her economic development career in 1999 as a marketing manager with the Clear Lake Economic Development Foundation. Dickson received a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of North Texas and a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. She is a Basic Economic Development Course instructor, a Certified Economic Developer and a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma. Karen is also a Rotarian.

Thomas Kucharski, CEcD
President & CEO
Buffalo Niagara Enterprise
Buffalo, NY

Thomas A. Kucharski, a Buffalo native, returned home to serve as President & CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise on February 1, 2000. Kucharski most recently served as head of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, Eastern Pennsylvania’s first regional economic development corporation, which was established in 1995 and credited with attracting 18,000 jobs and $1 billion in investment. In his last year, the LVEDC was cited in Site Selection magazine as one of the top 20 Economic Development Corporations in the United States. LVEDC was also awarded thirteen Northeast Economic Development Association Awards, including the President’s Award, the most awards received by a single entity in one year in NEEDA history. In his leadership role at LVEDC, Kucharski was successful in “rebranding” what was known as the rust-belt region Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, Pennsylvania, into one nationally recognized for effective re-use of brownfields and for attraction of a diverse range of employers. Previous to his position at Lehigh Valley he served as executive director of the Horizon Council of Southwest Florida from 1992-1995, the first regional public/private partnership including Sarasota, Ft. Myers and Naples, Florida.

As BNE President, Tom Kucharski focuses on regional image building, business attraction marketing and the implementation of a region-wide prospect management system. He will work closely with a number of public and private sector economic development entities, as well as the real estate development community.

Kucharski has an undergraduate degree in Business Management and a Masters degree in Economics from SUNY at Buffalo. He also earned his Certified Economic Developer (CED) professional designation at the American Economic Development Institute at University of Oklahoma.

Allison Larsen, CEcD
Yakima, WA

With extensive experience in economic development, international business management and sales, Allison Larsen’s core competencies include competitiveness assessments, action-oriented strategic planning, target industry analysis, workforce development, marketing, visual meeting facilitation; and economic development training.

Her perspective of understanding the needs and wants of targets, as well as community stakeholders, contributes to creative and effective solutions. Her ideas spawn from her diverse background – from growing up in a small rural community in California to award-winning salesperson at a Fortune 100 Company. Allison’s entrepreneurship endeavors did not start with TadZo. She established an international distribution network for a venture capitalist, and even put herself through college by raising a herd of sheep.

Working at Madera Industrial Development Corporation and the EDC serving Fresno County, she sited companies yielding >9,000 jobs. Allison worked 12 years as Principal of Chabin Concepts, consulting for local, regional and state economic development organizations. She helped create CompetitiveReady, a community certification program.

Allison is a graduate of University of California, Davis; OU EDI; California Agricultural Leadership Program. She enjoys running with her two dogs, Tadich and Enzo (yes, they are the inspiration behind the TadZo name). She’s hiked Yosemite’s Half Dome, run 8 half-marathons and “Hood to Coast”.

Ioanna Morfessis, PhD, HLM
President & Chief Strategist
Phoenix, AZ

Ioanna Morfessis is the President and Chief Strategist of IO.INC, a worldwide business and economic development consulting firm. With her distinguished track record and reputation as an economic development executive and founder of three best-of-class organizations, Dr. Morfessis has devoted her professional life to helping companies and communities grow and prosper. Based in Phoenix, AZ, IO.INC is a visionary consulting practice that delivers expert strategies and solutions to help leaders, organizations and places grow. Among IO.INC’s clients are cities and regions; global and domestic companies, publicly traded and privately held; master planned community developers, and nonprofit organizations. Prior to starting her own company, she was the founding President/CEO of the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, and the inaugural director of the Montgomery County, MD Department of Economic Development. In these posts, she led efforts to recruit and expand more than 300 firms that combined, invested over $27 billion in private capital and generated more than 250,000 direct new jobs. Dr. Morfessis also served as the Chairman of the International Economic Development Council and is an Honorary Lifetime Member. She is a founding director of the Helios Education Foundation, and serves on numerous civic boards.

Fred Morley
Executive Vice President & Chief Economist
Greater Halifax Partnership
Halifax, NS

Fred Morley is Executive Vice President and Chief Economist of the Greater Halifax Partnership. Mr. Morley has designed and driven many of Nova Scotia’s and Halifax’s high profile economic and business initiatives, several of which have won international economic development awards. He is a regular media commentator and the author of more than 100 articles on economic issues. His views are sought by organizations, companies and governments around the world.

Bill Popp
President & CEO
Anchorage Economic Development Corporation
Anchorage, AK

Bill Popp has spent more than 30 years in both the Alaska private and public sectors. As President & CEO of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation, he sets the strategic direction in marketing Anchorage and Alaska to companies and global industries considering Anchorage as a place in which to do business and assists local businesses looking to expand outside of Alaska.

Prior to joining AEDC, Popp served as special assistant to Mayor John J. Williams of the Kenai Peninsula Borough (KPB) with a focus on oil and gas development. From 1996 to 2002, he held an elected position on the KPB Assembly and, in 2000, he presided over the Assembly as president. He also has private industry experience as a small business owner.

Popp has served as chairman of the KPB Economic Development Criteria Task Force; project coordinator of the Challenger Learning Center for Alaska; vice chairman of the Alaska Stranded Gas Act Municipal Advisory Group; co-chair of Governor Murkowski's Agrium Task Force; chair of the Kenai Peninsula Development Coalition; consultant for the British Columbia Provincial Government's Offshore Oil and Gas Team; and, member of the Cook Inlet Natural Gas Pipeline Terminus Group. He is currently a board member of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, Anchorage Convention & Visitors Bureau and commissioner member for the Anchorage School District Education & Workforce Advisory Commission.