Our Team

SMART CITIES NYC ’17 ADVISORY BOARD

  • Elias Alcantara

    Former Senior Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs White House

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  • Dawn Barber

    Co-Founder NY Tech Meetup

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  • Alice Charles

    Urban Development Lead World Economic Forum

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  • David Ehrenberg

    President and CEO Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation

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  • Sergio Fernandez de Cordova

    Co-Founder and Chief Development Officer P3GM

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  • Micah Kotch

    Managing Director URBAN-X

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  • Peggy Liu

    Chairperson Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy

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  • Andrew Lynn

    Director of the Planning and Regional Development Department Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

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  • David Miller

    President and CEO World Wildlife Fund Canada

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  • Desiree Peterkin Bell

    President and CEO DPBell & Associates

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  • Sokwoo Rhee

    Associate Director of Cyber-Physical Systems Program National Institute of Standards and Technology

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  • Ellis Rubinstein

    President and CEO New York Academy of Sciences

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  • Michael Salvato

    Director and Program Executive for Enterprise Information and Asset Management NY State Metropolitan Transportation Authority

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  • Sharon Sputz

    Director of Strategic Programs Data Science Institute, Columbia University

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  • Minerva Tantoco

    Former Chief Technology Officer City of New York

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  • Wendy Taylor

    Former Director Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact, USAID

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  • Tom Wright

    President Regional Plan Association

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Elias Alcantara

Former Senior Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs White House

Biography

Elias Alcantara previously served as White House Senior Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs as a liaison for local officials, including mayors, council members, and county officials, across the country. During his tenure at the White House, Elias focused on a number of policy issues including criminal justice reform, the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, immigration reform, veterans homelessness, and workforce development.

Before serving in the White House, he served as a U.S. Fellow for the Organization of American States and resided in Santiago, Chile for two years. While in Chile, he completed coursework for a Master of Arts in International Studies at the Universidad de Chile’s Institute of International Studies. Elias is a graduate of Lehman College of the City University of New York (CUNY) and is originally from the Bronx, New York.

Dawn Barber

Co-Founder NY Tech Meetup

Biography

Dawn Barber is the co-founder of NY Creative Tech Week, a premier festival for Creativity and Technology. She also co-founded NY Tech Meetup, a 50K+-member non-profit industry organization that supports and promotes the New York technology community and a central hub of New York’s thriving tech and innovation scene. She has advised tech start-ups, business and governmental entities, and investors alike, having facilitated innumerable business relationships in the process. Dawn has extensive experience planning and organizing conferences and events in and around the New York technology community since having been one of NYNMA’s (New York New Media Association) directors from 1998-2001. She went on to produce several other significant NYC events, the Shorty Awards and Gadgetoff among others. Dawn was one of the first Pipeline Fund fellows, and sits on the boards of MOUSE, Institute of Play and the Astia NYC Advisory Board. In addition, she serves on NYC’s Commission on Public Information and Communication (COPIC).

Alice Charles

Urban Development Lead World Economic Forum

Biography

Alice Charles is the Lead for all Urban Development work at the World Economic Forum, Geneva, Switzerland. This includes managing the Forum’s Future of Urban Development and Services Initiative, its Steering and Advisory Board, the past Global Agenda Council on the Future of Cities and current Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization, the production of all city and urban development related content and urban development events at World Economic Forum Summits (including Davos). In addition, she is responsible for managing and developing the world’s premier community of infrastructure and urban development business leaders (includes CEOs from the Real Estate, Engineering Construction and Urban Services sectors), which through engagement with government, regulatory, and civil society leaders advances the critical issues facing the industry on the global, regional and industry agendas. She is also an External Board Member of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), Ireland.

She has fifteen years’ experience working in the areas of urban development, town planning, real estate, infrastructure, environment, climate change, and public policy globally. She previously worked for the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Ireland, Dail Eireann (Irish Parliament), Ireland, Jacobs Engineering (formerly SKM Colin Buchanan) and Bilfinger GVA, London, UK.
She has a Master’s in Business Administration from University College Dublin Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, a Postgraduate Diploma in Town and Country Planning from Queens University Belfast and a 1st Class Honours Degree in Environmental Planning from Queen’s University Belfast. She is a Chartered Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and a Member of the Irish Planning Institute. She is currently undertaking a Masters in Global Leadership through the World Economic Forum, in conjunction with The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Cornell Tech, INSEAD, London Business School and the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS).

David Ehrenberg

President and CEO Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation

Biography

David Ehrenberg serves as the President & CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC), overseeing its 330 tenants and 2.5 million SF expansion. Prior to joining BNYDC, Mr. Ehrenberg was an Executive Vice President and co-head of the Real Estate Transaction Services group at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). While at NYCEDC, Mr. Ehrenberg was a senior manager on many of the City’s priority economic development projects including: the Applied Sciences initiative that resulted in Cornell’s new campus on Roosevelt Island; the redevelopment of six acres of vacant land on the Lower East Side known as Seward Park; the Atlantic Yards project; as well as the creation and implementation of hundreds of millions of dollars of programs to support small businesses after Hurricane Sandy. In addition to marquee projects, he supervised dozens of industrial and manufacturing projects across the City and supervised the operations of the City’s Industrial Development Agency. Before joining NYCEDC, Mr. Ehrenberg worked at South Brooklyn Legal Services as the coordinator for a microenterprise program. He is a graduate of Wesleyan University where he majored in government and urban studies, was a Fulbright Fellow in Zimbabwe, and received dual Masters’ Degrees from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University in Public Policy and Urban Planning.

Sergio Fernandez de Cordova

Co-Founder and Chief Development Officer P3GM

Biography

Sergio Fernandez de Cordova, has over 20 years of Advertising, Media, Government, and Legal experience. Sergio co-founded FUEL Outdoor Holdings in 2003, growing the company to thousands of outdoor advertising billboard locations in the top nine DMA markets nationwide. As managing partner he ran Government Affairs, Real Estate and Legal, building FUEL to be one of the fastest growing, top 3 largest, privately owned companies in the industry. He sold the company to Och-Ziff, a global institutional asset management firm with over $31 billion in capital, and exited in 2011. Och-Ziff successfully sold the company to Van Wagner Communications in November of 2012; which subsequently sold to CBS, now OutFront, in 2013.

Sergio is the Co-founder and visionary behind P3 Global Management, P3GM, KAPTYN & PVBLIC Foundation. For P3GM & KAPTYN he leads the global development and policy work behind structuring Public Private Partnerships (PPP) around smart infrastructure with local, state and federal governments. As acting Chairman of PVBLIC he leads the foundation’s engagement with the White House, United Nations and in partnership hosts the Latino Impact Summit, the SDG Media Zone and Media For Social Impact Summit, where C-Level executives convene to inspire each other on how media can change the world one campaign at a time, while developing relationships with like minded peers. Currently the group is working on raising awareness and encourage action for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Sergio is also a contributor, with a column in the Huffington Post and Univision.

A graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelor’s in Sociology, Sergio also completed the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Birthing of Giants® executive program, an annual program for 60 hand-picked worldwide business leaders under the age of 40.

Micah Kotch

Managing Director URBAN-X

Biography

Micah Kotch serves as the Managing Director for Urban-X: an accelerator by MINI and SOSV that makes equity investments in early-stage startups shaping the future of cities through technology, passion and design. Headquartered within A/D/O in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Urban-X is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs turn compelling ideas into viable solutions for urban life. Micah previously served as the Director of NY Prize and Strategic Adviser for Innovation at the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA), where was responsible for the design and execution of the nation’s first community microgrid competition and worked to transform the electric utility business model and help commercialize new clean energy technology.

He is the Founding Director of the Urban Future Lab and New York City Accelerator for a Clean and Resilient Economy (NYC ACRE), which is a critical axis for innovators to connect and develop new technologies essential to meet both city and state energy and environmental goals, as well as the demands of climate change adaptation and mitigation. During his time at NYU he also served as the Founding Director of the ‘Powerbridge NY’ proof of concept center, helping commercialize University research using the NSF i-Corp ‘Lean Launchpad’ methodology.

An internationally sought-out speaker on innovation and economic development, his work assisting startup tech ventures has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Scientific American, and NPR Marketplace. He was named by GE Ecomagination as one of their Top 11 Sustainability Innovators of 2011. A Chinese major at Colgate University, Micah graduated with distinction and wrote his first business plan while working in Ningbo, China. He lives in Brooklyn with his family.

Peggy Liu

Chairperson Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy

Biography

As Chairperson of JUCCCE, Peggy Liu is one of the leading catalysts for a green China and consults companies and governments on fostering collaboration with China. She is known for:

Organizing the MIT Forum on the Future of Energy in China in 2007 from which JUCCCE was formed. This forum was the first public dialogue between US and Chinese government officials on clean energy in China, just as China was just starting to look seriously at greening itself.

Introducing Smart Grid to China in 2007 and catalyzing USD7.2B in initial investment by the State Grid in 2009 as well as their roadmap to implement smart grid by 2020.

Educating ~1000 Chinese government leaders (mayors and central government) on how to build sustainable cities, and helping to shape ecocity trends in China over 10 years. Peggy is a Distinguished Professor at China Academy of Governance, a lecturer at China Executive Leadership Academy of Pudong, and the National Academy for Mayors of China.

Catalysing China’s change in using incandescents to energy efficient lighting.
Creating the China Dream initiative in 2010 to reimagine prosperity for sustainable consumerism which led to China Dream being the second most popular slogan in 2012.

Launching China’s first comprehensive kids’ healthy food curriculum, Food Heroes.

Watch her in: Voice of America’s “A Single Step: Journeys of Women Leaders”, “”Cities Changing Diabetes””, “”Catching the Sun””, Discovery Channel’s “Powering the Future”, Discovery Channel “”How China Works””.

Andrew Lynn

Director of the Planning and Regional Development Department Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Biography

Andrew S. Lynn is the Director of the Planning and Regional Development Department at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where he has worked since 2009. His projects at the Port Authority include planning for a new Midtown Manhattan bus terminal, development of new trans-Hudson rail tunnels, Moynihan Station, and initiatives to increase capacity of the PATH transit system. Before joining the Port Authority, he was Vice President at Madison Square Garden, Executive Director of the New York City Department of City Planning, and Counsel to the New York City Charter Revision Commission.

David Miller

President and CEO World Wildlife Fund Canada

Biography

David Miller is President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund – Canada, Canada’s foremost conservation organization. The WWF creates solutions to the most serious conservation challenges facing our planet, helping people and nature thrive.

David Miller was Mayor of Toronto from 2003 to 2010 and Chair of the influential C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group from 2008 – 2010. Under his leadership as Mayor, Toronto became widely admired internationally for its environmental leadership, economic strength and social integration. He is a leading advocate for the creation of sustainable urban economies, and a strong and forceful champion for the next generation of jobs through sustainability.

Mr. Miller has held a variety of public and private positions and university affiliations. He is currently an adjunct Professor at York University and previously served as Future of Cities Global Fellow at Polytechnic Institute of New York University from 2011 to 2014. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for Centennial College. In his former capacity as Counsel, International Business & Sustainability at Aird & Berlis LLP, Mr. Miller advised companies and international organizations on issues surrounding the creation of sustainable urban economies.

David Miller is a Harvard trained economist and professionally a lawyer. He and his wife, lawyer Jill Arthur, are the parents of two children.

Desiree Peterkin Bell

President and CEO DPBell & Associates

Biography

Desiree Peterkin Bell is a strategist, brand builder and problem solver with over 20 years of experience in government, politics, and policy. Currently, Desiree is the President and CEO of DPBell & Associates and a Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communication on Urban Communication.

Desiree has served and advised four big-city mayors. As a National Urban Fellow, Desiree was selected by Mayor Bart Peterson of Indianapolis, Indiana’s team to serve in his Administration addressing community engagement, economic development, education, strategic governance, and affordable housing issues.

Serving as the Supervising Legislative Representative for Mayor Michael A. Bloomberg, Desiree shepherded three historic pieces of legislation through to final passage and public law: the New York City Smoke Free Air Act of 2002, Tort Reform, and the Film Tax Credit. She later served as the Vice President of NYC Marketing helping to define municipal marketing strategies.

Her passion for cities and policy continued as she worked as the Director of Communications for Mayor Cory A. Booker. She served as the youngest appointed senior official in the Administration where she crafted social media strategy, managed local and national media and advised the mayor on public private partnerships.

Again, as the youngest senior official in the Administration of Mayor Michael A. Nutter and for the City of Philadelphia, Desiree served in two appointed positions as both the Director of Communications and Strategy and the City Representative. Desiree managed traditional and non- traditional media, wrote the City’s first-ever social media policy, and redefined the paradigm for big events. With a keen eye for developing ground-breaking strategic partnerships, Desiree also led the negotiations and strategic communications for the City of Philadelphia in the execution and production of Jay-Z’s Made in America Festival, Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit and the hosting of Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia – the largest event ever hosted by a North American city.

Prior to assuming the dual Administration posts, Desiree served as Senior Advisor for Communications for Obama for America – Pennsylvania, leading the development and execution of a successful statewide communications strategy in all seven media markets.

Sokwoo Rhee

Associate Director of Cyber-Physical Systems Program National Institute of Standards and Technology

Biography

Sokwoo Rhee is Associate Director of Cyber-Physical Systems Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). He is currently leading the Global City Teams Challenge (GCTC) which aims to create a replicable and scalable model for collaborative incubation and deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) and Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) solutions to improve the quality of life in smart cities around the world.

He previously served as a Presidential Innovation Fellow on CPS, a program by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. During his fellowship, he co-led the SmartAmerica Challenge, which brought together IoT technologies and CPS across the nation to demonstrate how they can provide concrete examples of the socio-economic benefits.

Prior to joining US government, he was Co-founder and CTO of Millennial Net, Inc., which was one of the first to successfully commercialize low-power wireless mesh/sensor network and IoT technology from academia. His work and achievements have been recognized through awards including MIT Technology Review’s Top Innovators under 35 and Red Herring’s Top 5 Innovators. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ellis Rubinstein

President and CEO New York Academy of Sciences

Biography

Ellis Rubinstein is an innovator and change agent who has led the 200-year- old New York Academy of Sciences for 15 years, establishing one of the world’s greatest networks of leaders and experts. Partnering with the United Nations Secretary General and UN agency heads on sustainability; advising national leaders on science, technology and innovation; and driving over 1000 partnerships with corporations, universities, and non-governmental organizations, the Academy has catalyzed unique initiatives in obesity & diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, “smart cities” early childhood development, and science and math education. Before coming to the Academy, Rubinstein was a science journalist and editor whose work merited 3 National Magazine Awards, the Pulitzer Prizes of the American periodicals industry. He was Managing Editor of IEEE Spectrum and Science 86, a Senior Editor at Newsweek, and, for over a decade, Editor of the renowned journal Science.

Michael Salvato

Director and Program Executive for Enterprise Information and Asset Management NY State Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Biography

Michael A. Salvato is the Director and Program Executive for Enterprise Information and Asset Management at the NY State Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The MTA is the largest provider of public transportation in the United States. It serves over 11 million passengers daily and has physical infrastructure valued at nearly $1 trillion. The MTA has embarked on a transformational journey to introduce strategic asset management, enterprise business processes and new information technologies. This is bring about new standards and control of the asset portfolio to deliver services in the most efficient and cost effective means possible.

Michael is also the County Vice President of the Institute of Asset Management advancing the interests of asset owners and managers in the United States and around the world. He was a member of the US Delegation (PC 251) that wrote the new ISO 55000 standard for asset management in January 2014. Prior to joining the MTA, Michael worked at the New York City Partnership on technology-based economic development and served as the Executive Director of the New York Software Industry Association.

Sharon Sputz

Director of Strategic Programs Data Science Institute, Columbia University

Biography

Sharon has combined experience in business strategy and technical research. Prior to joining the Institute in 2014, Sharon spent 11 years at BAE Systems identifying and pursuing new business opportunities in leading edge technology.

Her expertise is establishing long term customer relationships to grow and develop new business. Sharon is skilled in orchestrating research aligned to customer needs in order to promote the funding of new business. She began her career at Bell Laboratories managing and coordinating material characterization as well as developing new and innovative tools to control processing and provide profitable laser packages for the optical communications business. Sharon moved on to become the Strategic Marketing Manager at Lucent/Agere with a variety of responsibilities: from leading the technical evaluation of merger and acquisition candidates to defining product planning for the optical networking group and components.

She holds multiple patents from both her time at BAE Systems as well as Lucent.

Sharon received a Bachelor of Science in Physics from State University of NY at Binghamton and a Masters of Science in Physics from Stevens Institute of Technology.

Minerva Tantoco

Former Chief Technology Officer City of New York

Biography

Focused on applied innovation, Ms. Tantoco is creating future-facing tech strategies and implementing them to build great businesses that make strategy into reality.

Tantoco most recently served as New York City’s first-ever Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Appointed in 2014, Tantoco directed the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation with citywide responsibility for the development and implementation of a citywide strategy on technology and innovation, engaging city agencies and the NYC tech ecosystem on emerging tech and its impact on New York City. With her appointment to the Mayor’s Office, Tantoco launched groundbreaking initiatives in smart city policy and government tech, such as LinkNYC, CSforAll, Neighborhoods.NYC, the first-ever IoT Guidelines for New York City, and NYC’s Smart+Equitable City Strategy. In the past year, Tantoco made over 100 public appearances, and was featured on CNN International, Bloomberg, and MSNBC on topics such as AI, IoT, big data, blockchain, sharing economy, 5G and wi-fi, smart cities, developing tech ecosystems, and the impact of tech on society. Based on Tantoco’s initiatives as CTO, the City of New York was named Best Smart City 2016 at the Global Smart City Awards in Barcelona, November 2016.

A problem-solver and innovator for three decades – from launching her own start-up to directing technology and innovation for large enterprises – Tantoco implemented business transformations across a range of industries from advertising to finance. While still in college, Tantoco co-founded Silicon Valley technology startup, Manageware Inc, which was successfully sold five years later. Since then, Tantoco has led technology initiatives including artificial intelligence, e-commerce, data management, and mobile applications. Ms. Tantoco holds four US patents on intelligent workflow. As Senior Product Manager at Palm, Tantoco pioneered mobile enterprise solutions in the early 2000s, blazing the trail in developing and deploying some of the world’s earliest mobile applications. As Chief Architect at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Tantoco led the re-design and implementation of the company’s Investment Banking data warehouse. Prior to her appointment to the NYC Mayor’s Office, Tantoco served as UBS APAC CTO for client-facing technology and innovation, with regional responsibility for the Asia Pacific region.

Wendy Taylor

Former Director Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact, USAID

Biography

Wendy Taylor is the former Director of the Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), a center of excellence applying innovative, business-minded approaches to accelerate the development, introduction and scale-up of priority global health innovations.

Joining the Obama Administration in 2010 as a presidential appointee, Ms. Taylor founded and built the Center; spearheaded multiple Grand Challenges to globally crowd source groundbreaking solutions to tough health challenges – from maternal and newborn health to Ebola to Zika and Future Threats – investing $140 million in new innovations; created the agency’s first advance purchase commitments to stimulate R&D investments; and created multiple public-private partnerships with corporations from GSK and McCann Health to Coca-Cola and Facebook.

She has worked for the last 20 years identifying market-based solutions to address diseases and conditions of poverty. In 2004, she founded Bio Ventures for Global Health (BVGH), a non-profit working to engage the biopharmaceutical industry in developing medicines for diseases of the developing world. At BVGH, Wendy accelerated global health research and development by building partnerships, identifying market opportunities for industry engagement and advancing the development and/or implementation of new market incentives including the first Advance Market Commitment and FDA’s Priority Review Voucher program. She also held senior positions with Malaria No More and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) – where she negotiated the third reauthorization of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) on behalf of the biotech industry and developed the organization’s first global health program – and worked in both the executive and legislative branches of the US government, including the Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means.

She received a Master of Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a B.A. from Duke University. She currently serves on the boards or advisory groups for Last Mile Health, Medicines for Malaria Ventures and Smart Cities NYC.

Tom Wright

President Regional Plan Association

Biography

Tom Wright is president of Regional Plan Association, an independent urban planning think tank focused on improving the prosperity, infrastructure, sustainability, and quality of life of the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan region. Building on RPA’s 90-year history of advancing innovative policy prescriptions to solve difficult problems, Tom guides the organization’s work on government reform, transportation modernization, environmental challenges, and the need to offer opportunity to all the region’s residents.

As a leading thinker on urban and regional policy, Tom is a frequent speaker, lecturer, and commentator on economic growth and development, roads and transit, good governance, and other public policy issues. Prior to being named RPA’s president in 2015, Tom was the organization’s executive director. Tom has steered many key RPA initiatives, including the historic Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New York following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks; the campaign to create a mixed-use district at Manhattan’s Hudson Yards; the protection of the New Jersey Highlands; and a vision for the revitalization for the City of Newark. Tom played a key role in the creation of A Region at Risk, RPA’s influential third plan for the metropolitan region published in 1996, and he is guiding the organization’s development of a fourth regional plan.

Smart Cities NYC ’17 Team

  • Jerry M. Hultin

    Chairman & Executive Director

  • Simon Sylvester-Chaudhuri

    Managing Director simon@smartcitiesnyc.com

  • Lisa Giuffra Diaz

    Head of Business Development lgiuffra@globalfuturesgroup.co

  • Anna Recasens

    Project Manager anna@smartcitiesnyc.com

  • Ana Ynestrillas

    Project Coordinator ana@globalfuturesgroup.co

  • Brandon Tarbert

    Business Operations Manager brandon@smartcitiesnyc.com

  • Jasper Van Santen

    Sales Associate jasper@smartcitiesnyc.com

  • Liz Goode

    Copywriter liz@emergence-creative.com

  • Rachel Schwerin

    Graphic Designer rachel.schwerin@emergence-creative.com

  • Yulia Lesnichaya

    Project Assistant yulia@smartcities.nyc

  • Sagi Elster

    Event Coordinator sagi@smartcitiesnyc.com

  • Raj Pannu

    Chief Marketing Officer raj@emergence-creative.com

  • Eric Verkerke

    Creative Director eric@emergence-creative.com

  • Wei Zhang

    Community Manager wei@smartcities.nyc

  • Savi Pannu

    Public Relations savi@emergence-creative.com

  • Michelle Calvert

    Public Relations michelle@emergence-creative.com

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