The Walk21 Calgary plenary program will feature keynote speakers sharing their diverse experiences from a range of professional disciplines and personal perspectives. More speakers will be announced as the conference approaches. Sign up for updates »
Jennifer Keesmaat is the Chief Planner & Executive Director for the City of Toronto. As Chief Planner for the City of Toronto, Jennifer is committed to creating places where people flourish. Over the past decade Jennifer has been repeatedly recognized by the Canadian Institute of Planners and OPPI for her innovative work in Canadian municipalities. Most recently, Jennifer was named as one of the most influential people in Toronto by Toronto Life magazine and one of the most powerful people in Canada by MacLeans Magazine. Jennifer is the 2016 recipient of the President’s Award of Excellence, Canadian Institute of Planners.
Her planning practice is characterized by an emphasis on collaborations across sectors, and broad engagement with municipal staff, councils, developers, business leaders, NGO's and residents associations. Her priorities include implementing a divisional strategic plan, leading an Official Plan review process, refining public consultation to provide more access to city building conversations, a renewed focus on evidence based transit planning, midrise development on the City of Toronto's many avenues, and overseeing development review for over 4000 applications annually.
Jennifer is the founder of Project Walk, which premiered its first short film in 2011, as an official selection at the TIFF. In 2012 Jennifer debuted her first TED talk, Walk to School and in 2013 she delivered her second, Own Your City. Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario (combined honours English and Philosophy) and has a Master in Environmental Studies (Politics and Planning) from York University.
His Worship Naheed Nenshi - Invited to speak Naheed Nenshi, A’paistootsiipsii, was sworn in as Calgary's 36th mayor on October 25, 2010 and was re-elected in 2013. Prior to being elected, Mayor Nenshi was with McKinsey and Company, later forming his own business to help public, private and non-profit organizations grow. He designed policy for the Government of Alberta, helped create a Canadian strategy for The Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy, and worked with the United Nations to determine how business can help the poorest people on the planet. He then entered academia, where he was Canada's first tenured professor in the field of nonprofit management, at Mount Royal University's Bissett School of Business.
For his work, Mayor Nenshi was named a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, and was awarded the President’s Award from the Canadian Institute of Planners for and the Humanitarian Award from the Canadian Psychological Association for his contributions to community mental health. In 2013, after his stewardship of the community during devastating flooding, Maclean’s magazine called him the second-most influential person in Canada, after the Prime Minister. He was also awarded the 2014 World Mayor Prize by the UK-based City Mayor’s Foundation as the best mayor in the world.
In 2014, he was also honoured by Elder Pete Standing Alone with the Blackfoot name A’paistootsiipsii, which means “Clan Leader” or “He who moves camp and the others follow”. In 2016, Elder Bruce Starlight of the Tsuu T'ina First Nation honoured him with the name Iitiya: "Always Ready". Mayor Nenshi holds a Bachelor of Commerce (with distinction) from the University of Calgary, where he was President of the Students' Union, and a Master in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he studied as a Kennedy Fellow.
Professor Billie Giles-Corti is a Distinguished Professor at RMIT and Director of its Urban Futures Enabling Capability Platform Director. She is an National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior Principal Research Fellow and directs the Centre for Urban Research’s Healthy Liveable Cities Research Group.Prior to joining RMIT in 2017, she was a Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor at the University of Melbourne and director of the McCaughey VicHealth Community Wellbeing Unit. For over two decades, she and a multi-disciplinary research team have been studying the impact of the built environment on health and wellbeing.
Professor Giles-Corti currently leads an NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Healthy Liveable Communities established in 2014; which works closely with local, national and global policy-makers and practitioners. She has published over 300 articles, book chapters and reports, and by citations, is ranked in the top 1% of researchers in her field globally. She is an Honorary Fellow of both the Planning Institute of Australia and the Public Health Association, a Fulbright Scholar and in 2016, was awarded an NHMRC Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship as the top ranked female fellow in public health in 2015.
Shin-pei Tsay is the Executive Director of Gehl Institute, whose mission is to transform the way cities are shaped by making public life an intentional driver for design, policy, and governance. Previously, Shin-pei served as deputy executive director at TransitCenter and contributed to its establishment as a philanthropy, as well as having founded and directed the Cities and Transportation Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where she also led a project with Senator Bill Bradley and Secretary Tom Ridge to reform and fund the federal transportation program.
Shin-pei has served as the Deputy Director of Transportation Alternatives, Chief Operating Officer of Project for Public Spaces, was a founding member of the NYC office for ZGF Architects, and worked with Fortune 500 companies to develop Internet strategies. Shin-pei is on the Board of In Our Backyards, Transportation Alternatives, and is a Commissioner for the New York City Public Design Commission. Shin-pei holds a MSc in Cities, Space and Society from London School of Economics and a BA with distinction from Cornell University.
Steven Burgess is a Principal with boutique Australasian transport and economics consultancy MRCagney. Steven brings 25 years’ experience as an engineer and urban strategist to the development of long-term relationships between urban form, mobility and vitality. Steven has worked on many village, town and city transformation projects in Australia, New Zealand, Africa and the Middle East.
Steven has authored or contributed to several publications on integrating street design into prosperous communities and is a regular speaker on city shaping at events around the globe.