Meet Our Keynote Speakers

Tuesday, Oct. 2
11:35 am – 1:15 pm
Luncheon Keynote Address in the Grand Ballroom
Presenters: former Iowa Governor and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack; and former U.S. Congressman and Mayor of Atlanta, Ambassador Andrew Young

Tom Vilsack
As president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), Tom Vilsack provides strategic leadership and oversight of USDEC's global promotional and research activities, regulatory affairs and trade policy initiatives. This includes working with industry leaders to develop a long-term vision for growth and consumer trust in U.S. dairy.

Vilsack joined USDEC in January 2017 after serving eight years as the Nation's 30th Secretary of Agriculture. As leader of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Vilsack worked hard to strengthen the American agricultural economy, build vibrant rural communities and create new markets for the tremendous innovation of rural America. In eight years at the Department, Vilsack fought to put Americans back to work and create an economy built to last. Under his leadership, USDA supported America's farmers, ranchers and growers who are driving the rural economy forward, provided food assistance to millions of Americans, carried out record conservation efforts, made record investments in our rural communities and helped provide a safe, sufficient and nutritious food supply for the American people.

Vilsack was the longest-serving member of President Obama’s original Cabinet. Prior to his appointment, he served two terms as the Governor of Iowa, in the Iowa State Senate and as the mayor of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Vilsack received his bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College and his law degree from Albany Law School in New York. He is also the recipient of 10 honorary doctorate degrees. Vilsack has been honored for his public service and work to advance American agriculture by various organizations. Most notably, the Borlaug Medallion from the World Food Prize Foundation, The Gene White Lifetime Achievement Award from Global Child Nutrition Foundation, the Congressional Hunger Center Leadership Award, and by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition for his commitment to international development.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Vilsack was born into an orphanage and adopted in 1951. After graduating from law school, Vilsack moved to Mt. Pleasant Iowa, his wife Christie's hometown, where he practiced law for 25 years. Vilsack remains currently licensed to practice law in Iowa. The Vilsacks have two adult sons and two daughters-in- law—Doug, married to Janet; and Jess, married to Kate. They also have four grandchildren: Jake, Ella, Caroline and Cassin.

Ambassador Andrew Young
Andrew J. Young has earned worldwide recognition as a pioneer in and champion of civil and human rights. Ambassador Young’s lifelong dedication to service is illustrated by his extensive leadership experience of over sixty-five years, serving as a member of Congress, African American U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Mayor of Atlanta, and ordained minister, among other positions.

During the 1960s, Young was a key strategist and negotiator during civil rights campaigns that led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Appointed as an Ambassador to the United Nations in 1977, Young negotiated an end to white-minority rule in Namibia and Zimbabwe and brought President Carter's emphasis on human rights to international diplomacy efforts. As two-term Mayor of Atlanta, Young brought in over 1,100 businesses, over 70 billion in foreign direct investments and generated over a million jobs.

Ambassador Young has received honorary degrees from more than 100 universities and colleges in the U.S. and abroad and has received various awards, including an Emmy Lifetime Achievement award in 2011 and the Dan Sweat Award in 2017. His portrait also became part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

Ambassador Young also serves on a number of boards, including, but not limited to, the Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Social Change, Morehouse College, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State and Americas Mart. In 2003, he and his wife Carolyn McClain Young founded the Andrew J. Young Foundation to support and promote education, health, leadership and human rights in the U.S., Africa, and the Caribbean. Young currently serves as the Chairman of the Andrew J. Young Foundation.

In 2012, Young retired from GoodWorks International, LLC, after well over a decade of facilitating sustainable economic development in the business sectors of the Caribbean and Africa. Young was born in 1932 in New Orleans, and he currently lives in Atlanta with his wife, Carolyn McClain. He is also a father of three daughters and one son, and a grandfather of eight.
Wednesday, Oct. 3
8:45 – 9:30 am
Morning Plenary Address in the Grand Ballroom
Presenter: Dr. Marccus D. Hendricks

Dr. Marccus D. Hendricks is an Assistant Professor of Urban Studies and Planning in the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and a Faculty Research Affiliate with the Center for Disaster Resilience and Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD). His primary areas of study are infrastructure planning and management, environmental planning, and hazard mitigation planning. His specialty interests include stormwater infrastructure resilience, social vulnerability to disaster, environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory action. At the intersection of his work he ensures that low-income and communities of color are planned and accounted for in light of environmental hazards and investigates how the inventory, condition, and distribution of public infrastructures can modify hazard exposures and resulting disaster impacts. More specifically, he studies critical infrastructures at the neighborhood-level, such as water systems, public health facilities, emergency services, and streets, roadways, and right-of-ways. He also studies public works and community facilities, including waste management and debris removal, public schools, libraries, and parks. All through an environmental justice lens with the goal of just and fair opportunities for community resilience.

While at UMD, he recently received a National Academies of Science Gulf Research Program Early-Career Fellowship, participated in a congressional briefing entitled "Addressing the Impact of Climate Change on Public Health and Natural Disasters" on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, and was quoted for his participation in Scientific American. He has also been featured in public media on the local morning show Get Up DC and Grist Magazine discussing the Ellicott City, MD floods. Hendricks has worked on research projects related to both public health and disasters, which have been funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Science Foundation. His research has been published in several journals including the Journal of the American Planning Association, International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, and Sustainable Cities and Society. He has complementary professional experience from his time working with the Brazos Valley Texas Council of Governments as a public safety planner and with the Texas A&M Engineering Extension at their Emergency Services Training Institute.

Hendricks is a founding fellow of the William Averette Anderson Fund (the first national interdisciplinary organization working to increase the number of underrepresented persons of color in the field of disaster research, practice, and pedagogy) and currently serves as a board member for the Fund. He holds a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Science and a Master of Public Health, both from Texas A&M University. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of North Texas.
Wednesday, Oct. 3
12:15 – 2:00 pm
Luncheon Keynote Address in the Grand Ballroom
Presenter: Dan Burden, Director of Innovation and Inspiration for Blue Zones, LLC

During the summer of 2014 Dan transitioned to his new role with Blue Zones, LLC. Seen as a visionary, innovator and source of inspiration and collaboration throughout his career, Dan is a nationally recognized authority on walkable, livable and sustainable communities, complete streets, and bicycle and pedestrian facilities and programs. Dan has become known for his pioneering work and leadership to mentor many in how to transform communities into places for people first; all while still accommodating the car, and not the other way around. In this new role as the Director of Innovation and Implementation, Dan oversees many additional community-built environment transitions, making dozens, and eventually hundreds of communities healthier, more active places to live.

Dan has always been a pioneer in his work, staying up on holistic trends in transportation and land use, and becoming a sought-after master of implementing change. In 1980, staff for Governor Bob Graham, chose Dan to help transform the Florida Department of Transportation, which made it one of the first multi-modal transportation agencies in the nation. As early as 1991, well before the term complete streets was coined, Florida became known for its holistic look at street making, helping create place out of space. Dan pushed for change and became the nation’s first full time pedestrian and bicycle coordinator, a position now required in all 50 states. At the age of 60 Dan broadened his skill sets, embracing urban design and land use while serving as a principal and senior urban designer with the community-planning firm Glatting Jackson (from 2005-2009). Dan currently serves as an advisor for several national organizations, including: Walkscore (

Dan’s efforts to get the world “back on its feet” earned him the two of the first-ever awarded lifetime-achievement awards. The first was issued by the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals. The second was issued by the New Partners for Smart Growth. The League of American Bicyclists named Dan as “one of the 25 most significant leaders in bicycling for the past 100 years.” In a peer driven process Planetzian Magazine ranks Dan as one of the 100 most significant urban thinkers of all time. Time magazine in 2001 named Dan as one of the six most important civic innovators in the world. And that same year the Transportation Research Board (National Academy of Sciences) honored Dan by making him their Distinguished Lecturer for that year. Dan pioneers change in fields he helped create. He has more than 40 years of experience helping create livable communities. Dan served for 16 years as the first State Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for the Florida Dept. of Transportation. This program became a model for other statewide programs, and in 1984 launched one of the nation’s first and most successful complete streets programs.

Dan and his wife, Lys, co-founded Walkable Communities in 1996. Since then, he has helped more than 3,700 communities throughout the world become more livable and walkable.

Blue Zones -- Community well-being improvement initiatives designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to the built environment, health producing policies, and social networks.