2018 Master Talks

IDA Master Talks present the industry’s most engaging and innovative speakers. Videos from the 2018 Conference will be available soon on our YouTube channel.


Molly Cox

President & CEO, SA2020

Molly Cox is the President and CEO of SA2020, a nonprofit organization that drives progress toward a shared community vision for a thriving San Antonio. In this role, she serves as a facilitator, a storyteller, a convener, a fundraiser, a communicator, a data analyst, a policy wonk, and a connector. A Certified Nonprofit Professional, with a master’s degree in political science from UTSA, Molly has also run a University Center, managed her own consulting business, and worked in radio and television.


Gov. John Hickenlooper

Governor, Colorado

John Hickenlooper is a former geologist and entrepreneur, who recently added “author” to his resume with the publication of his memoir, The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics. He champions innovation, collaboration and efficiency. When he was inaugurated Governor of Colorado in 2011, having run on his history of collaboration for community good, he became the first Denver mayor to be elected governor in 150 years. He has recruited talent from all quarters, and is redefining the relationship between a state government and its business and civic communities. Since taking office, the Governor and his team have endeavored to make Colorado the most probusiness state, with the highest environmental and ethical standards.


Derreck Kayongo

Business Visionary, Global Soap Project Founder & Former CEO of the Center for Civil and Human Rights

Derreck Kayongo and his family fled a civil war in Uganda and settled in the U.S. when he was just ten years old. Today, he is a successful entrepreneur and human rights innovator. Though most well known as a 2011 CNN Hero and founder of the Global Soap Project, Kayongo is an expert in environmental sustainability and global health. He is also the former CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia which capitalizes on the immersive management and leadership experience he has developed over the last 20 years working for Noble Peace Prize winning-organizations like Amnesty International and the American Friends Service Committee.


Mukul Malhotra

Principal, MIG, Inc.

Urban Designer Mukul Malhotra develops innovative solutions for the new American city. As a Principal at MIG, Inc. and Director of MIG’s San Antonio office, his award-winning designs have created thriving downtowns and historic districts as well as livable new communities and university campuses. His work has inspired urban revitalization, multimodal connectivity, sustainability, community inclusivity, and preservation of historic and neighborhood character. He is co-author of the new book Streets Reconsidered: Inclusive Design for the Public Realm. He currently serves as President of America Walks – a national organization that is committed to increasing walking and walkability in America.


Kerry Morrison

Executive Director, Hollywood Property Owners Alliance

Kerry Morrison is the executive director of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance, which manages the Hollywood Entertainment and Sunset and Vine BIDs. She recently completed a two-year Stanton Fellowship which afforded her the opportunity to bring ideas to city and county leaders about a new approach toward engaging with and treating people with mental illness. She serves on L.A.’s City’s Citizen Oversight Committee for the HHH homeless housing bond and the Home for Good Business Leaders Task Force to end homelessness.


Simon O’Byrne

Senior Vice President, Community Development, Stantec’s Urban Places

Simon O’Byrne is an award-winning urban designer/planner who has been frequently quoted in European and North America media and spoken at many international conferences. Simon has led multi-disciplinary design teams in the planning and delivery of complex and politically charged projects. His experience ranges from intensive urban revitalization redevelopments, to the Ice District in Edmonton, to creating resiliency in Hull, UK, to redevelopment of the Alberta Legislature Grounds, to the Saskatoon City Centre Plan, and the Hunts Point Plan, Bronx, New York. Simon has also been the lead on the creation of many master planned communities, brownfield and transit-oriented developments.


Larisa Ortiz

Principal, Larisa Ortiz Associates

Larisa Ortiz is Principal of Larisa Ortiz Associates (LOA), an award‐winning downtown retail advisory firm, and a Mayoral appointee to the New York City Planning Commission. Since founding LOA in 2008, Larisa has developed retail and implementation strategies for over 200 districts worldwide. Larisa is the author of “Improving Tenant Mix: A Guide for Commercial District Practitioners” (International Council of Shopping Centers, 2015) and “Real Estate Redevelopment and Reuse” (International Economic Development Corporation, 2000) and the editor of The Commercial District Advisor blog and e‐newsletter, a free publication distributed quarterly to over 3,500 practitioners around the globe. A Watson Fellow and Fulbright Scholar, Larisa holds a Masters in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).


Akshay Pottathil

Co-Director, Center for Information Convergence & Strategy (CICS) at San Diego State University

Pottathil is a strategist with extensive experience in developing public-private partnerships. He has a proven ability to conduct accurate needs analysis, assess technical capabilities, conduct strategic planning, build and motivate teams, and manage high-risk/high-reward projects. At San Diego State University, he was honored with the “Faculty of the Year” award in the Homeland Security program and has been granted multiple Presidential Leadership Fund awards. His efforts have spanned across North America, Europe, the Middle East, and South East Asia. Pottathil serves as BORDERPOL’s Vice President for Technology and as Co-Director of San Diego State University’s Center for Information Convergence and Strategy (CICS), in addition to other academic and non-academic appointments.


Janet Marie Smith

Senior Vice President, Planning & Development, Los Angeles Dodgers

Janet Marie Smith was named Dodgers’ senior vice president of planning and development in 2012. Since then, she has overseen large-scale improvement projects at Dodger Stadium and Campo Las Palmas. Smith is best known for her work on the construction and design of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which set the standard for a new wave of ballparks after its opening in 1992. Smith also served as senior vice president of planning and development for the Boston Red Sox, president of Turner Sports and Entertainment Development, and vice president of planning and development for the Atlanta Braves.




Get a Taste Of Last Year

Watch videos from previous Master Talk sessions by visiting our YouTube channel.