Keynote & Featured Plenary Speakers

Keynote Speaker

Keynote Presentation: Thursday, December 7, 8:30-9:30am

John Paul Farmer

John Paul Farmer is the Founder & CEO of The Innovation Project, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with the mission of spreading innovation best practices locally and globally. He is also the Director of Technology & Civic Innovation at Microsoft. In that New York City-based role, he leads a cross-functional team to build partnerships and co-design products that pioneer how technology can be applied to make cities more livable, more dynamic, and more sustainable. John’s work has given adults in-demand tech skills that quintuple their earning power, deployed artificial intelligence-powered translation technology to bring down the language barrier for government services, and helped create the first-of-its-kind 21st century community center known as Civic Hall.

Previously, John served as the Senior Advisor for Innovation at the White House under President Barack Obama, where he co-founded and led the Presidential Innovation Fellows program to attract top private sector change-makers for focused tours of duty in government. The program has since been enshrined in law and catalyzed a movement of civically engaged technologists, data scientists, and entrepreneurs using their skills in the public interest through 18F and the U.S. Digital Service, as well as similar initiatives in governments around the world.

Prior to the U.S. government, John envisioned and built new business units in the private sector. He has experience in the technology, finance, and healthcare sectors. He played professional baseball in the minor league systems of the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers. John holds an M.B.A. with honors from the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University and an A.B. with honors from Harvard University.

Featured Plenary Speakers

Opening Plenary: Tuesday, December 5, 9:00-10:30am

Dan French

Dan French is an attorney and transaction expert with U.S. and international experience. His domestic practice has focused on real estate transactions, redevelopment and environmental risk transfer and is marked by the conveyance of thousands of properties across two dozen states and billions of dollars of environmental liability. He is the founder and CEO of, a national redevelopment marketplace and project platform dedicated to the design, due diligence, and development of real property in the U.S. and built to elevate a better built-environment for everyone.

Mayor’s Roundtable: Wednesday, December 6, 8:30-10:00am

Mayor Bill Peduto

Bill Peduto was elected as Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh in 2013. He has dedicated his career to preserving the unique character of Pittsburgh that so many love, while ensuring there is a united effort to make Pittsburgh a place that works for all.

As Pittsburgh’s economy has changed, Mayor Peduto has had a direct hand in ensuring that the transformation is centered around community-based development plans so that the health of the local economy is directly tied to the health of the communities.

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy, ULI Canizaro/Klingbeil Families Chair for Urban Development, has been a senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute since 2006.

A former mayor of Pittsburgh, his extensive experience in urban revitalization—what drives investment, what ensures long-lasting commitment—has been a key addition to the senior resident fellows’ areas of expertise. Murphy also serves on the Advisory Board of ULI’s Rose Center for Public Leadership in Land Use.

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