Speakers Bureau

Ely Speakers Bureau

Welcome to the Lambda Alpha International Ely-Chicago Chapter Speakers Bureau. Our chapter members offer themselves as a resource for you across a wide variety of land economics industries. Members of LAI Ely-Chicago have a minimum of 10 years of professional experience in their land economics field. They have been selected by their peers as worthy of recognition for their commitment to excellence. Click on a category below to find your next speaker, panelist or moderator from our membership.

If you are an LAI Ely-Chicago Chapter Member, click here to apply for the Speakers Bureau.

Photo of Daniel Brennan Daniel Brennan Managing Partner

Mr. Brennan, founding partner of Laurie & Brennan, LLP, concentrates his practice on advising owners, designers and contractors on risk management in the construction process; prosecuting and defending construction claims including professional negligence, cost overrun, and delay claims; negotiating and drafting construction and design contracts for architects, engineers and owners; and advising clients with respect to design and construction of accessible facilities under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act.

Mr. Brennan is consistently ranked as one of the preeminent construction lawyers in Illinois by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Illinois Super Lawyers and The International Who’s Who of Construction Lawyers. Mr. Brennan has represented clients in connection with projects or disputes in states throughout the country including Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Photo of Mary B Brush FAIA Mary B Brush, FAIA Owner, Architect

Mary Brush, FAIA specializes in existing buildings - historic, vintage, and additions to buildings. We are known for rappelling down skyscraper facades and going where needed to best serve the design team. We prime, we consult, and we serve as building enclosure and historic preservation experts to construction teams. Mary Brush has been internationally recognized for her work by being named Crains’ Chicago Business 2021 Notable Woman in Construction and Design and is a laureate of the international Richard Morris Hunt Prize. She is the chair of the AIA national Aldrich Delano + Emerson fellowship and serves on numerous local and national boards for architecture and for the French Heritage Society. Mary frequently presents to Universities and at conferences on project specific topics as well as on diversity, creative teaming, and the values of Architecture as a service profession. Current buildings in the project portfolio have original construction dates of 1860-2022 and we can speak to the architectural and construction evolution of buildings from most decades.

Photo of Melissa J Copley Melissa J Copley Vice Chairman

Melissa Copley is a vice chairman in Newmark’s Chicago office. She specializes in tenant representation with expertise in managing corporate and law firm client relationships, leading portfolio strategic planning, and negotiating large, complex transactions. Her rigorous, analytical, and strategic processes are designed to achieve meaningful cost savings, a wide range of flexibility, brand identity, and other high-value lease terms that support the core business objectives of the enterprise. Over three decades, Ms. Copley has completed $3B in real estate transactions in over 40 markets globally.

Ms. Copley began her finance career in 1983 at Citibank N.A. in New York City. She transitioned into venture capital in Chicago in 1985, prior to beginning her career in real estate advisory services in 1988.

Ms. Copley holds an MBA in finance and marketing from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She has a BA in economics from the University of Michigan. She is a state-licensed real estate broker in Illinois, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.

Photo of Geoff Dickinson AICP Geoff Dickinson, AICP Senior Vice President, SB Friedman Development Advisors

Geoff is a real estate and economic development advisor with expertise in public-private finance partnerships, special taxing district (TIF, business district/special service area) establishment, market and financial feasibility, development strategy, and project implementation advisory services. While at SB Friedman, Geoff has assisted Presence Health (now AMITA Health) in securing TIF and New Markets Tax Credit funding to help pay for the relocation of its affiliate, Resurrection University, from Oak Park to Chicago. He has also led numerous projects throughout the country, including a market analysis and development strategy related to the proposed US-19 Corridor roadway improvements in Pinellas County, Florida, redevelopment planning and the formation of public-private partnerships for the City of Joliet, Illinois, and a redevelopment plan and implementation strategy for the Playland Park site in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Geoff is a Series-50 Qualified Municipal Advisor Representative. He holds a B.A. in History from Northwestern University, and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from the University of Michigan. He is a member of the American Planning Association, and serves on the boards of the Illinois Tax Increment Association and Lambda Alpha International-Ely Chapter.

Photo of Collete Y English Dixon Collete Y English Dixon Executive Director, Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate

Collete English Dixon has more than 30 years in investment management with a focus on commercial real estate investing. Prior to her current role at Roosevelt University, she was Executive Director - Transactions for PGIM Real Estate (formerly known as PREI), a business unit of Prudential Financial, and co-leader of PREI’s national investment dispositions program. In that role, she oversaw the sale of more than 200 investment properties located throughout the US, with a total value of more than $8.7 Billion, on behalf of PREI’s investment funds. Prior to her role in dispositions, English Dixon was responsible for sourcing more than $2.75B of wholly-owned and joint venture real estate investment opportunities in the Midwestern markets covering all property types, including office, multi-family, hotel, industrial and retail properties. Collete’s experience also includes property development and asset management.

Photo of Rick Goldman Rick Goldman

Rick Goldman has been involved in real estate development and construction
for more than 30 years. His passion for the built environment and unique experience combine to provide vision that truly drives value.

Photo of Diane Gormely-Barnes Diane Gormely-Barnes Principal Planner

Currently a Principal Planner in HNTB’s Chicago office, Diane has professional experience in urban planning, urban design, and architecture, including consulting for municipal and public agency clients, non-profit real estate development, and architectural design focused on transit and public facilities. Diane’s experience covers the spectrum from strategic and policy planning to detailed design solutions with an emphasis on consensus-based and contextually sensitive infrastructure and land use planning for developed areas. Her work with various constituencies and communities has fostered an ability to view planning issues from multiple perspectives, work across disciplines to increase common understanding, and develop visionary yet implementable planning solutions.

Photo of Amy Jo Hall Amy Jo Hall COO

Amy is a commercial real estate executive focused on cultivating excellence across all team members so they may provide trusted advisory and intelligent solutions to those they serve and, in turn, create value for all stakeholders.

Since 1997, Amy has evolved as a leader in the commercial real estate industry. With career experience in both ground up development and established retail shopping centers, she now oversees all aspects of day to day operations for Caton. Her background in departmental structures and staff architecture, optimizing sales team performance, professional development and coaching, strategic planning, budgeting and forecasting, land development, shopping center leasing, ancillary income revenue streams, and sponsorship negotiations provide a solid and well-rounded foundation from which to lead. Amy holds multiple ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers) designations and is an industry speaker and leader. She serves as a facilitator, teacher, mentor and Illinois state Ambassador for ICSC, committee member for The Goldie Initiative, a board of director for the CCIM IL Chapter, and as a panelist and/or moderator varying other industry organizations.

Photo of Michelle Halle Stern Michelle Halle Stern President and Chief Co-Creator

Michelle is the founder of The Green Facilitator, where she facilitates strategic planning and integrative design process for organizations seeking to address global environmental imperatives.

During her 25-year sustainability career, she has managed energy benchmarking, LEED and WELL certification projects for small developers, world-class institutions, and Fortune 500 companies. Michelle has collaborated on green building ordinances, prototype specifications, and design guidelines for public and private clients.

In her long history as an educator, she served as USGBC Faculty for 12 years, and currently serves as WELL Faculty adjunct faculty at Northwestern University.

Her awards include the first Chapter Leader award for Illinois Green and their Emerald Award for Intent to Matter, and she is a member of the inaugural class of LEED Fellows.

Michelle holds 3 degrees from the University of Illinois (BS Architectural Studies, BS Civil Engineering, and MS Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences).

Photo of Thomas W. Hamilton PhD Thomas W. Hamilton, PhD Fogelson Distinguished Chair and Professor

Tom Hamilton, PhD, MAI, CCIM, CRE, FRICS is the Fogelson Distinguished Chair at Roosevelt University’s Chicago School of Real Estate and founder and president of Karvel-Hamilton Valuation Advisory Services. Dr. Hamilton is also a part-time employee at JLL Valuation Advisory Services and is SVP of Forensic Valuation working on Complex Valuation and Litigation Services. For over 30 years Dr. Hamilton has taught graduate and undergraduate real estate valuation courses, and for over 30 years he has conducted valuation and appraisal services for the telecommunication and public utility industries and for numerous local and state agencies in the valuation of real property.

Photo of Helen J Kessler Helen J Kessler President

Helen J. Kessler, FAIA, LEED Fellow, WELL AP is Principal of HJKessler Associates and Upfront Regenerative Design. She has over 35 years experience in sustainable design, energy efficiency and renewable energy and is a nationally recognized green building design consultant. She routinely facilitates integrative and regenerative processes for creating buildings and places that will regenerative neighborhoods and ecosystems.

Helen has made over a hundred presentations, written over a hundred articles, teaches regenerative design and sustainability principles at Northwestern University and has an impressive portfolio of over 80 LEED and other sustainability projects. She was in the inaugural class of LEED Fellows.

Photo of Susan F King Susan F King Principal, Housing studio Leader

Susan F King, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, LFA is a Principal at HED where she oversees the firm’s housing work across the Midwest. An unrelenting advocate for attainable housing, social justice, and issues of diversity, much of her work focuses on community-based housing access for people across all ages and socioeconomic status. Ever an advocate for both attainable housing and green market transformation of the building industry, Ms. King is routinely invited to speak on these topics. Ms. King is currently serving on two Boards, the Illinois Housing Council (IHC) and the Chicago Women in Architecture Foundation (CWAF).

Photo of Kevin Kramer Kevin Kramer Director of Economic Development

Kevin Kramer is the Director of Economic Development for the Village of Hoffman Estates, Illinois in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He’s worked in this position since 2013 after working as a planner and economic developer for Barrington, IL. He graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Urban and Regional Planning.

He serves on several committees including the International Council of Shopping Center’s Illinois State Committee and the Next Generation Leadership Network, the International Economic Development Council’s Young Professionals Advisory Committee, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s Economic Development Committee and the Young Professionals group for the Illinois Economic Development Association. Kevin has earned his Certified Economic Developer status.

While he loves all things economic development he also loves DIY projects, woodworking ventures, hiking in the mountains (not in Illinois of course), and reading an heroic story while enjoying a craft beer, fine whiskey or sparkling water. Kevin lives in the Chicago suburbs with his wife and four children.

Photo of Keith Edward Lord Keith Edward Lord

Since 1986, Keith Lord has served as President and General Partner of The Lord Companies, L.L.C., a diversified real estate corporation with consulting, brokerage and development divisions specializing in urban infill and adaptive re-use brokerage, design, and development. The Companies’ clients range from developers, Fortune 500 corporations, banks, law firms, private individuals, and the City of Chicago.…

Photo of Michael Mallon Michael Mallon Senior Vice President, Draper and Kramer

Established Senior Executive in the Real Estate Industry with over 40 years of Retail Real Estate experience. Proven performer as a strategic leader in Site Analysis, Entitlement, Development, Leasing, Sales and Disposition.

Photo of Stacey E Meekins Stacey E Meekins Principal + Director of Transportation Planning

Stacey Meekins is a Principal with Sam Schwartz and the Director of Transportation Planning. She has over 16 years of experience in transportation analysis, planning, and design. Throughout her career, she has focused on helping communities to implement solutions that make their transportation systems more inclusive; establishing safer, more inviting environments that promote livability, sustainability, and access for all. Her work ranges in scale and breadth from corridor studies and downtown master plans to citywide action plans and long-range policy documents, with a strong focus on safety and creating physical spaces that are safe, comfortable, and welcoming.

Photo of Justin Pelej Justin Pelej Senior Vice President, Development, Focus

As Senior Vice President, Development
Justin assembled a truly diverse development team that executes a variety of complex real estate development matters including entitlements and public policy, detailed budgeting and proformas, architectural design coordination and construction oversight.

  • Lead all real estate development activities.
  • Identify development opportunities and lead initial development efforts.
  • Collaborate with finance groups to secure equity and loans for projects.
  • Communicate with all partners, investors and development service clients.
  • Oversee all operational properties and investments.
Photo of Fran Lefor Rood Fran Lefor Rood Senior Vice President

Fran is a trusted economic development advisor with a deep understanding of real estate market analysis and development strategy, financial feasibility analysis, public-private partnership finance and value capture for transportation. Her ability to analyze various market scenarios and recommend strategic redevelopment options that work for both the public and private sectors has been key to informing numerous policy and development decisions. Fran is skilled in evaluating the financial feasibility of development projects and has underwritten or structured over $1.7 billion in public assistance for a broad range of projects. Fran has a broad and in-depth understanding of housing, from national and regional housing market dynamics down to project-level feasibility, and assists clients in formulating housing policies and structuring transactions. Fran holds a Master of Urban Planning and Policy degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. She is a member of the American Planning Association, Lambda Alpha International-Ely Chapter, Council of Development Finance Agencies, The Goldie Initiative, Illinois Housing Council, and the Illinois Tax Increment Association. Fran is a Series-50 Qualified Municipal Advisor Representative

Photo of Ellen Shepard Ellen Shepard CEO, Community Allies

Ellen Shepard is CEO of Community Allies, a Chicago-based consultancy working across North America to build neighborhoods and cities where prosperity and opportunity are accessible for all. Ellen works as a strategic advisor to community leaders (including non-profit directors, government officials and staff, and funders), to support their efforts towards equitable economic development, vibrant neighborhood commercial districts, and deep community engagement.

Photo of Heather Smith Heather Smith Adjunct Faculty


Heather is an urban planner and adjunct professor of Geography at DePaul University. Her work is centered at the intersection of urban planning, environmental justice and equity. She holds over 20 years of nonprofit experience most recently as a Senior Program Officer at the Field Foundation of Illinois. Heather is a racial healing practitioner trained through the Woods Fund Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Initiative.…

Photo of Lynsey Sorrell Lynsey Sorrell Principal, Bureau Gemmell

Lynsey has a love of learning and listening. Spirited, informed debate is a source of inspiration. Hearing and engaging with different view points is where she sees growth and potential.

Photo of Jennifer M. Tammen Jennifer M. Tammen Senior Manager, EY

Jennifer Tammen is a senior manager in the Indirect Tax team with over twenty years of success in working with developers, property owners, municipalities and quasi-public agencies on all aspects of tax increment financing (TIF), zoning and entitlements, planning, deal structuring, redevelopment agreement negotiation, early-stage project management, and creative approaches to capital and public-private project evaluation and funding.

Photo of William Tippens William Tippens Vice President, Related Midwest

Will is Vice President at Related Midwest where he specializes in land use planning, economic incentives for historic structures and project management both on the market rate and affordable side. Will has a specific expertise in historic preservation and is responsible for managing and directing all efforts associated with achieving historic tax credits. He has played a major role in redevelopment of Lathrop Homes, the rehabilitation of a Chicago Housing Authority property along the Chicago River into a mixed-income community. He also managed the planning and design process for redevelopment of the National Landmark District of Fort Sheridan and the adaptive reuse of the National Landmark Cleveland Arcade. Previously, he worked for the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development and the Chicago Park District. He is Trustee of the James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation, on the Board of Directors of Landmarks Illinois, where he served as board chair from July of 2015 through June of 2017, and serves on the board of the Ely Chapter of Lambda Alpha International. Will holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Science degree in Historic Preservation and Conservation from Columbia University.

Photo of Richard A. Wilson Richard A. Wilson City Design Director, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

Richard Wilson is an architect and city planner who leads the City Design Practice of Chicago’s Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. Richard has 30 years of experience working with public and private sector clients to master plan, design, construct and operate large scale urban districts and neighborhood redevelopments in historic and emergent cities worldwide.

Richard is the 2020-2022 President of the Ely Chapter of Lambda Alpha International. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Friends of the Chicago River, the Regional Advisory Council of the National Parks Conservation Association, and the Regional and Urban Design Knowledge Community of AIA Chicago.

Photo of Ruth Ann Wuorenma JD Ruth Ann Wuorenma, JD President and Founder, Neighborhood Capital Institute

Ruth Wuorenma is a land use and development expert who has focused her career on helping public, private, for-profit and nonprofit entities align goals and assets for mutual benefit and increased effectiveness. Her work as a land use lawyer and as a developer informs her research, her policy recommendations and her interest in advancing best development practices. Her path has spanned national and international commercial real estate, market-rate and affordable housing, and various civic roles. She has deep experience in land use and entitlements; in the creation of new real estate products and systems that are replicable and scalable; in site selection and development; and has a lifelong passion for community engagement that strengthens a shared sense of place.