CNU 2013 Board Election Candidates

Voting is now open.

Below is a complete listing of candidates for CNU's 2013 Board elections. Three (3) seats will be filled by member-elected candidates. Member-elected Board members will serve two (2) year terms. Elected representatives will have full voting rights and be held to the same level of expectation as internally selected candidates.

Please review each candidate before proceeding to the voting page. Note: the below statements come direct from the candidates and have not been altered in any way by CNU.

All current members will have the opportunity to cast three (3) votes, one (1) per seat, however, all three (3) must be cast at the same time.

Online voting begins April 29, 2013 and will run through June 1, 2013, with a chance to vote on-site at CNU 21. Winners will be announced at CNU 21 on June 1, 2013.

Letters of Recommendation

Erin Christensen

Seattle, WA

Neighborhood Planner & Architect, Mithun

CNU Member since 2007

Professional Bio

Erin Christensen, AIA, LEED®-ND AP, is an Associate Principal at Mithun. An urban designer and architect, Erin’s experience in urban redevelopment and neighborhood planning enables communities, both large and small, to achieve lasting vitality and strength. As a national leader in integrating public health and design, including pioneering health impact assessments in neighborhood planning, Erin brings innovative thinking to masterplanning and redevelopment strategies for local governments, housing authorities, transit agencies, and private developers. She is passionate about creating sustainable, high performance development that builds physical and social community and maximizes investment. Erin is an expert in ecodistrict planning and integrating environmental metrics to help guide stakeholders through a proactive decision-making process. Her recent work includes development of the EcoDistricts Assessment Method with the Portland Sustainability Institute - a guide to sustainable strategies for existing communities, and Mariposa – an award winning Redevelopment Masterplan for the 18-acre mixed-income TOD in Denver recently featured in the New York Times. The first decade of Erin’s career was dedicated to housing, including mixed-use, mixed-finance projects in Washington DC, the neighborhoods of Boston, and HOPE VI projects. She lectures nationally and serves on the board of CNU Cascadia and the USGBC LEED® Location and Planning TAG.

New Urbanism: Challenges and Resolutions

With an education in traditional architecture and urbanism, CNU was part of my formative years. Throughout my career, I have witnessed its evolution. Leveraging the strongly established foundation, CNU’s next generation continues work on critical issues including transportation, sustainability, and climate change. As a leader of CNU Cascadia (BC, WA, OR), I bring an on-the-ground understanding of member interests, allied organizations, and my experience as a practitioner of sustainable urbanism.

My interest in the CNU Board is to participate in our advancement as we continue to take on tough issues and promote implementable solutions through advocacy and sharing of best practices, realized through our members and Chapters.

I can help catalyze:

- Performance and Sustainable Urbanism: CNU’s leadership with LEED-ND defined the standards for sustainable urbanism. As the world moves towards performance-based standards, there is an opportunity to demonstrate how NU strategies result in measurable improvements in energy, water, transportation, carbon, and other indicators. Daylighting this explicit relationship between NU and high performance can expand CNU’s reach across the transect and help put implementable best practices to action. I will leverage my network and CNU Cascadia Resilient Communities initiative for the national organization.

-Health: Health is one of today’s most important challenges, with the obesity rate at alarming levels, health care a major national issue, and the majority of our physical realm designed for cars rather than humans. CNU has an enormous opportunity to illustrate how the Charter Principles advance community health and well-being, and influence specific health outcomes. NU can make a significant impact in how urbanism is practiced and implemented in communities across the country that are searching for steps to improve their quality of life and opportunity for health. With professional experience, I will advocate for this issue including active participation in the Health Districts Initiative. I believe this is a unique strength CNU can bring to design and development, particularly around walkability, mobility, and placemaking.

-Collaboration: In an era of reduced budgets, collaboration across sectors, agencies, and disciplines is imperative. Rapidly shifting demographics and new technologies require and enable new approaches to engagement. For decades, CNU has led cross-disciplinary approaches and methods like the charrette to promote community-based design. CNU should continue to support local governments, developers, and non-profits in implementing sustainability by providing the tools and resources for successful collaboration and engagement. I will work to promote CNU’s strengths as part of the sustainability agenda.

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Letters of Recommendation

Chris Elisara

Julian, CA

Independent Film Producer & Communications Professional, First+Main Media

CNU Member since 2009

Professional Bio

A visionary social entrepreneur, educator, and filmmaker, Dr. Chris Elisara has over 20 years experience producing award-winning broadcast documentaries with director, and First+Main Media co-founder, John Paget. Feature titles include Alcatraz Reunion and Almost Elvis. Titles in new urbanism include CNU17’s award-winning Built to Last, American Makeover, and Buffalo: This Place Matters. First+Main Media’s clients include Microsoft; Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, Earth Justice and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

A native New Zealander, Dr. Elisara earned a B.A. from the University of Auckland, an M.B.A. from Eastern University, and a Ph.D. in educational anthropology from Biola University, CA. While completing his Ph.D., Dr. Elisara founded a non-profit undergraduate environmental studies program with campuses in Belize and New Zealand. The Creation Care Study Program, which he still currently directs, serves approximately 30 universities. More recently he founded the Center for Environmental Leadership in Buffalo, NY, and works with a large and diverse network of national and international environmental organizations and leaders.

Dr. Elisara has extensive non-profit board experience. He has founded several non-profits, and is an active member of several local government bodies and non-profits including Volcan Mountain Foundation, which has preserved 17,000 acres of critical habitat in San Diego County.

New Urbanism: Challenges and Resolutions

I discovered new urbanism in the late 1990’s in the jungles of Belize while teaching undergraduate environmental studies students about sustainable community development. My epiphany was how we designed and built the human habitat was simultaneously one of our greatest environmental challenges and opportunities. From that point forward I was hooked as new urbanist.

Then in 2009 I decided to support the organization that spawned America’s new urban movement. I rolled up my sleeves and produced CNU17’s award-winning video Built to Last that became a popular success and effective communication tool for new urbanists worldwide. At CNU19 I produced the CNU Daily Show and Interviews with Steve Mouzon, and this year will complete the American Makeover video series I started in 2010.

Why do I mention these productions? In today’s digital media era, proficient communications is not only a strategic necessity it is an expensive investment. Hence, in addition to the technical, legal, financial, and social movement expertise required by CNU’s board, I also believe the board requires someone with communications experience and expertise to help manage and develop CNU’s communications assets. The primary reason I am running for CNU’s board, therefore, is to help CNU become a communications powerhouse reaching people with its message.

There are four other areas I would focus on as a board member. First, I would work to strengthen CNU as an organization by drawing in the passions and energy of the next generation of new urbanists. They are the future of the movement, and now is an important juncture to embrace their vision and further incorporate their strengths into CNU. As a university educator I have over twenty years experience mentoring and empowering the next generation’s leaders, and look forward to bringing this experience and focus to CNU.

Second, I would help build bridges to new constituencies, and especially to faith-based organizations. As a person of faith and leader myself, I am connected to a large network of high-level religious leaders, community development organizations, and institutions which I believe have a natural affinity with new urbanism. I would work, therefore, to expand CNU’s relationships with faith-based communities.

Third, I as an environmental leader with connections to a diverse array of environmental groups I would work to strengthen CNU’s ties with the environmental community.

Finally, as a native New Zealander, who has regular ongoing projects/businesses in South Pacific and Central America, I can also bring international connections and augment cross-cultural efforts to make the new urbanist movement increasingly international.

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Letters of Recommendation

Edward Erfurt

Stuart, FL

Urban Designer, Martin County Board of County Commissioners

CNU Member since 2002

Professional Bio

Edward follows his passion for urbanism through his work as the Urban Designer for the Martin County Community Redevelopment Agency in Stuart, Florida. This work includes seven community redevelopment areas totaling over 8,500 acres across Martin County. Edward is collaboratively working with residents, development teams, and community stakeholders in the implementation of both urban design and architectural strategies for redeveloping suburban and urban environments. The goal of this work is to promote cities, towns, and neighborhoods, which are beautiful and of lasting value. This body of work builds on the unique character that makes the tapestry of place. His passion for placemaking can is evident in these communities and on his personal blog,

New Urbanism: Challenges and Resolutions

Our membership participate in many activities that promote the New Urbanism, whether formally through a local Chapter or Task Force, or informally through groups like the Next Gen. the passion and drive of these actions demonstrate the power of our local organizations in advancing the New Urbanism. As a Board Member, I will focus on developing and strengthening the actions of our membership through the bottom up network of our organization.

There are three key issues and actions

• Open Source the Congress. The West Palm Beach Congress provided greater opportunities for members to share ideas and projects. As a member of the Program Committee, I supported the inclusion of additional uncurated sessions during the Congress. We need even more of these opportunities for participation of members at the Annual Congress. I will support more opportunities for all of our members to present ideas and projects at the Annual Congress through open innovation sessions like Open Source, Open Innovation Tracks, Pecha Kucha, and Better Block demonstrations.

• Growth of Regional Activities. Regional Chapters share the ideas and calibrate the New Urbanism to the local level. This is the best opportunity to grow our membership, and positively impact our communities. As a Board Member, I want to support the growth and development of both our Regional and the Students for New Urbanism Chapters.

• Leave a Footprint. The New Urbanism strives to enhance our built environment. When we meet for a Congress, our message and talents arrive, but unfortunately this message leaves with us. I want to change this in 2014. This year building up to Buffalo, I want the Congress and its individual members to focus on the host city and leave a footprint. Through writing, populating blogs, and implementing policies and projects, we can support the advancement of the New Urbanism in the host city prior to the Congress. During the Congress our membership should be provided the opportunity to engage the city and participate in urban interventions through activities like Better Block, Tactical Urbanism, Guerilla Gardening, and design competitions.

These actions will give back to the host City, educate the public and city leadership and leave a New Urbanist footprint in Buffalo.

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Letters of Recommendation

Stephen Plunkard

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Landscape Architect, Stantec Consulting

CNU Member since 2007

Professional Bio

Born in London, my professional career began in 1970 in Denver, where I worked for a planning and landscape architecture firm for two years before enrolling at Louisiana State University. Upon graduating in 1977 with a landscape architecture degree, I moved to Philadelphia and worked on projects in the Middle East and New York City. In 1978 I joined Dufresne-Henry, a 300-person multidisciplinary firm headquartered in Vermont. In 1982, I left the firm to form The Cavendish Partnership, a 34-person planning, landscape architecture, architecture, and graphic design firm. In 1987 the firm was invited to the White House as Vermont’s Small Business of the Year. The Cavendish Partnership completed projects throughout North America, including the master plan for Mashpee Commons (later expanded by DPZ), which has been called a prototype of new urbanism.

The Cavendish Partnership was sold to Dufresne-Henry in 1998, and I became a senior vice president and board member. In 2006, Dufresne-Henry joined Stantec, a 12,000-person multidisciplinary firm where I am now a senior principal based in Calgary, AB. I am a frequent lecturer at universities and have served on the boards for affordable housing, historic preservation and Main Street organizations for many years.

New Urbanism: Challenges and Resolutions

Experience – I have been working in what is now called New Urbanism my entire career. While living and working in New England I was involved in the revitalization of dozens of village centers and downtowns. I developed the concept for Mashpee Commons along with my employee Douglas Storrs, who later left the firm to work on the project. I have worked on different project types and planned new green and grey field communities in Alaska, Alberta, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Georgia, Ontario, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Quebec, Vermont and Wisconsin that have employed the principles of New Urbanism. I consider myself well-read and up-to-date on the subject matter and have been a lecturer and design critic at design programs at more than two dozen universities and colleges. I am currently involved in several major inner-city transportation planning projects and New Urbanist greenfield developments in Canada.

Challenges – In Western Canada, the frontier ethic is alive and well, and New Urbanism is a new concept not widely accepted or promoted. But it is beginning to take hold. Cities are beginning to address sprawl and develop strategies for densification and transportation alternatives and the CNU gospel will be a “pioneering” effort in Western Canada.

Contribution – As a board member, I can better leverage our more than 50 years of influence and support to like-minded organizations and governments in the region. Having a board member here in Alberta and from Stantec will encourage support and participation of our more than 30 offices in western Canada and pledge organizational and personnel support to further New Urbanism in the region. In this role I will also be able to promote support and participation from Stantec’s more than 1000+ planners, urban designers, architects across 200+ offices in North America by maximizing the use of our internal network, print, broadcast and social media contacts and outlets. This location and its connections also allows me the ability to work with the fledging organization that is becoming established in Vancouver, both through contacts there and by enlisting Stantec staff in our large offices in British Columbia to participate. I can also promote CNU and its principles through:

• My academic connections, speaking engagements and design charrettes and critiques. I can CNU tools to further develop a lecture that would have applications to Canadian communities.

• My projects with major American, Canadian and international developers building new communities.

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Letters of Recommendation


Brookfield, WI

Transportation Engineer, Ayres Associates

CNU Member since 2008

Professional Bio

Mr. Voigt is the current President and a founding member of the Wisconsin Chapter of CNU. He has served as the 2009 International President of the Institute of Transportation Engineers. He has served as a technical reviewer of the recent CNU/ITE handbooks on ‘Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Approach’ and ‘Transportation Impact Analysis for Site Design’. Mr. Voigt has published papers and given presentations on ‘Rethinking Street Design for Living’, ‘Transportation’s Role in Sustainability’ and ‘Traffic Calming for Neighborhood and Arterial Streets’. In his role as an adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin, Mr. Voigt has taught courses on the environmental impact of transportation, complete streets, context sensitive design, pedestrian/bicycle facility design and roundabouts along with classes on traffic operation and roadway safety analysis. Mr. Voigt was actively involved in the initial development of the City of Charlotte Street Design Guidelines.

New Urbanism: Challenges and Resolutions

I see the biggest obstacle to the implementation of new urbanism principles as the large divide that exists between transportation engineers and land use planners. From a transportation engineer's perspective the primary focus is safety and efficiency with national design standards they are required to meet to avoid potential tort liability. Many engineers see new urbanism principles in conflict with their standards. Land use planners tend to be more creative and focus on livability and the vitality of neighborhoods and downtown districts. When I teach university extension courses, depending on the topic, the class will consist of 90% engineers or 90% planners, but not both. We need to get both professions to the same courses at the same time. They can teach each other an understanding of society's needs for mobility and livability. Often when I present street design livability topics to engineering groups they seem surprised of the things they can actually do without violating their standards. Those standards actually provide great flexibility. Even more importantly, university engineering curriculums need to include several courses on land use planning principles and an understanding of what makes a community livable for all users.

As an engineer and past President of ITE I can bring a credibility to new urbanism to help bridge the gap between engineers and planners. As examples, I will be teaching a workshop on 'Rethinking Street Design for Living' at the TRB Urban Street Symposium in Chicago, Illinois this June. I am also helping prepare a UW Extension Seminar on Context Sensitive Street Design. As a public speaker, I can assist CNU in presenting and/or preparing materials to provide a better understanding of society's mobility needs and engineering/land development solutions. My bridge to the engineering profession, hopefully, will result in additional sponsorship support and new venues to explain the principles of new urbanism.

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