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Speaker and Chair Biographies 2020

Joel Albizo - Chief Executive Officer, American Planning Association

Joel Albizo Headsot _WEBAs chief executive officer of the American Planning Association, Joel partners with elected leadership, members, staff, partners, and advisors to create great communities for all.

Joel previously served as CEO of the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards, where he led innovations in professional testing, regulatory advocacy, and association governance. He also served as deputy executive director for the Society of Actuaries, where he led major organizational change initiatives as well as an award-wining branding program.

As a volunteer leader, Joel served as president of the Federation of Associations of Regulatory Boards, whose members serve over 500 boards who regulate some five million professional licensees. He also served as a board member and treasurer of the American Society of Association Executives and was named a Fellow in 2009.

At the local level, Joel served as president of the National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, where he led its first strategic planning process and helped the team earn national awards for chapter leadership and excellence in professional development programming.

When not thinking about planning, APA and strengthening the team, he enjoys spending time with his family, playing guitar, hitting the gym, and exploring cities around the world.

Peter Ainsworth – Chair, Heritage Alliance

Peter Ainsworth - HeadshotPeter Ainsworth was appointed Chair of The Heritage Alliance in December 2018. Formerly an Investment Banker, a Local Councillor and Member of Parliament, he was Shadow Secretary of State for Culture Media & Sport and for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. He chaired the Environmental Audit Select Committee. He served as Chair of the National Lottery Community Fund until 2019 and was also a Board Member of the Environment Agency for six years. He chaired the Elgar Foundation and Plantlife and currently is also Chair of the Churches Conservation Trust.


Jonathan Bray – Director, Urban Transport

Jonathan Bray HeadshotJonathan has been the Director of the Urban Transport Group since 2008. He is also a visiting senior fellow at LSE Cities, a Commissioner on the Commission on Travel Demand and a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation.

Jonathan's career has been about developing progressive policies on transport and advocating effectively for them. This includes changing national policy for the better by being one of the leaders of the network which ended the hegemony of the roads lobby on national transport policy in the nineties through to winning better bus powers for transport authorities in 2017. He has also made the Urban Transport Group the place where the thinking happens on the future of urban transport as well as saved members of the Group millions through finding more cost effective ways for them to work together.


Araceli Camargo - Neuroscientist and co-founder, Centric Lab
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Photo credit Peter Searle

Araceli Camargo is of Indigenous American decent and a cognitive neuroscientist. She is the co-founder of The Centric lab, which is a neuroscience lab investigating how elements in our habitats pose a health risk for complex disorders such as diabetes, depression, anxiety, obesity, or PTSD. The lab also has a consultancy arm, which has successfully applied research to clients such as Guy's and St. Thomas, Lend lease, Grosvenour, Ford, Climate KIC, and Connected Places Catapult.  Araceli holds an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience from King's College London, where she focused on Autism. Her goal is to make habitats that are healthy to provide people with a high quality of life and dignity.


 Kurt Christiansen - President, American Planning Association

Kurt -christiansen -headshot (002)Kurt E. Christiansen, FAICP, is president of the American Planning Association. He retired from the City of Azusa, California, where he served as the Economic and Community Development Director. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners. Christiansen has been an active member of APA, serving as president of the APA California Chapter and vice chair of the Chapter Presidents Council. He earned his bachelor's degree from California State University, Northridge, and master's degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a member of the California State University, Northridge, Urban Planning and Studies Department Alumni Council and a mentor for new planners entering the profession. He recently relocated to Richmond, Virginia.


Heather Claridge MRTPI - Principal Design Officer, Architecture and design Scotland

Heather Claridge ImageHeather is a chartered Planner and Urban Designer, with a background in Geography. Currently Heather is on secondment to Architecture & Design Scotland to establish a national project, supporting the design of places for a changing climate. Previously she has worked at Glasgow City Council since 2008, leading on a diverse range of spatial strategies, regeneration and green/blue infrastructure initiatives. She has helped build creative partnerships within Glasgow's Canal Corridor. Heather is an Academician for the Academy of Urbanism and in 2018, was recognised for her creative approach to planning, when she was awarded RTPI Young Planner of the Year 2018.


Mark Farmer - Founding Director  & CEO, Cast Real Estate & Construction Consultancy

Richard Dilks – Chief Executive, CoMoUK

Richard Dilks - HeadshotRichard Dilks is Chief Executive of the national charity for the public benefit of shared mobility, CoMoUK. CoMoUK is an accrediting body in bike share and car club, publishes the only national research in these sectors and advocates for all shared mobility modes as part of the shift needed to more sustainable transport in the UK. This includes infrastructure, where mobility hubs (bringing shared and public transport together with active travel and public realm improvement) have a powerful role to play.


Claire Haigh – Chief Executive, Greener Journeys and Transport

Claire Haigh High ResClaire Haigh is Chief Executive of Greener Journeys, a sustainable transport group committed to encouraging greener travel.  She also chairs the Delivery & Impacts Independent Review Panel for the Government's Joint Air Quality Unit (DfT/Defra); is the Executive Director of the Transport Knowledge Hub; is a Director and Vice Chair of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership; and has been a Board Member of Transport for Greater Manchester. She writes a monthly column for Passenger Transport.


Jen Heal MRTPI - Design Advisor, Design Commission for Wales

JenJen Heal BSc (Hons) MA MRTPI An urban designer and planner, Jen has been a Design Advisor at the Design Commission for Wales since 2014 following significant professional experience gained in the private sector. Jen's role at the Commission includes developing and promoting DCFW's design services and placemaking, delivering training and events throughout Wales, as well preparing guidance and providing client support. Jen is a Commissioner of the South East Wales Transport Commission, chaired by Lord Burns.

Neil Hemington - Chief Planner, Welsh Government

Neil HemingtonNeil Hemington is the Chief Planner with the Welsh Government and is responsible for leading planning reform in Wales.

Neil graduated from the London School of Economics and has qualifications in Economics and Planning.  He began his planning career in local government.  Following his experience in strategic and local planning, Neil moved to the Welsh Government in 1999, playing a pivotal role in the preparation of the first Wales Spatial Plan.  This was followed by leading the team's responsible for planning policy and research and most recently the Planning (Wales) Act.

Victoria Hills MRTPI - Chief Executive, Royal Town Planning Institute

RTPI Chief Executive , Victoria Hills MRTPI (photo -002)Victoria joined the RTPI in April 2018 and utilises her 21 years' experience and expertise in the fields of planning, transport and organisational leadership and development to drive forward the vision and strategic priorities for the 25,000 member strong RTPI.

Victoria previously worked for all three Mayors of London and was Chief Executive Officer of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, where she established the UK's second Mayoral Development Corporation.

As Chief Executive of the RTPI, Victoria uses the convening role of the Institute to make the case for resourcing planning and advocating the important role of putting planning at the heart of government delivery for the quality places that people want to live in. Driving forward the RTPI's new Corporate Strategy will see a focus on raising the profile of planning, elevating the value of professionalism, and promoting a diverse and inclusive profession to ensure genuine representation of the society in which we work.

Deryck Irving - Acting Chief Executive, Central Scotland Green Network Trust

DSC00847Deryck Irving is Head of Strategic Development at the Central Scotland Green Network Trust. An ecologist by training, he has over 30 years of experience of working with urban and peri-urban communities. Deryck's interests and expertise lie in community-led placemaking, climate resilience and green infrastructure.

Deryck is a trustee at the Scottish Wildlife Trust and has previously been a director of Natural Capital Scotland and a management group member at the Community Development Alliance Scotland.


Angus Kerr MRTPI - Chief Planner & Director of Regional Planning, DfI

Angus KerrAngus Kerr is Chief Planner & Director of Regional Planning and is responsible for developing planning legislation and policy. 

Angus is a chartered Town Planner with over 27 years' experience working in a wide range of planning posts across Government. 

Angus was recently Project Director over the planning reform and transfer project which was responsible for reforming the planning system and transferring the majority of planning functions to the new 11 Councils on 1 April 2015. 


Daisy Narayanan - Director of Urbanism, Sustrans
DNDaisy Narayanan is the Director of Urbanism for Sustrans, where her role involves interweaving policy, public realm design and a broad integration of key place principles to help create liveable towns and cities. Daisy is on the Board of Architecture & Design Scotland and is a member of Scottish Government's Climate Challenge Fund panel. She was on the Active Travel Task Force and joins the Scottish Transport Awards judging panel this year. A music aficionado, a bookworm and a linguist, Daisy spends her time enjoying the Scottish outdoors with her husband and two children


Luca Occelli - Holistic Counsellor & Coach

Luc Occelli - HeadshotLuca is one of the pioneers in Metaphysical counselling and thought process development. He has a Masters in Psychology, is a teacher and member of MSEC (Metaphysical Society for the Expansion of Consciousness), a Hypnotherapist, MDMR and Reconnective Healing practitioner.

He has been meditating and learning ways of improving one's quality of life for 18 years, sharing ways to live in the present, control your thoughts and discover how mindfulness can help you in your personal and professional life.


Charlotte Orrell - Senior Planner, Iceni Projects

Charlotte Orrell - HeadshotCharlotte Orrell is a Senior Planner at Iceni Projects, sitting within its Central London Team. As part of the 'Iceni Futures' sector group, she has a particular interest in the role technology can play within the planning industry and the built environment as a whole. Charlotte is a vocal advocate of PlanTech and actively aids governmental bodies, professional service firms and start-ups in exploring the role technology can play in the Planning profession.

Adrian Penfold OBE – Commissioner, B4C

Adrian Penfold - HeadshotAdrian joined British Land as Head of Planning in 1996, following his time in local government, working for the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, the London Docklands Development Corporation and, as Head of Planning, at Dartford Borough Council. He later went on to also lead on Corporate Responsibility and Public Affairs at British Land.

Adrian was a member of the Barker Review of Land Use Planning's Panel of Experts in 2006 and led the independent Penfold Review of Non-Planning Consents which reported in July 2010. He was a member of the Local Plan Expert Group which reported to Government in 2016 and, more recently, was a Commissioner on the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission. He is non-executive Chair of the built environment charity Design South East, and a member of the Governing Council of the University of Warwick.


Jeremy Purseglove - Author of 'Taming the Flood and Working with Nature'
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Photo credit Tim George

Jeremy Purseglove is an ecologist, landscape architect and author. In the 1970s and 80s, working for the Severn Trent Water Authority, he pioneered a new approach to reducing floods that also preserved the beauty of rivers explained in his book 'Taming the Flood'. Between 1989 and 2015 he worked around the world for the civil engineering company Mott MacDonald to promote practical development whilst enhancing landscapes and habitats, as described in his new book 'Working with Nature'.


Umbreen Qureshi – Service Manager Technical Support, Tower Hamlets

Umbreen Qureshi - HeadshotUmbreen, a chartered Town Planner has a 28 year career in Local Authority. Her current work involves service improvements in Planning and Building Control.

Her interest in new technologies, has allowed her to do academic research in Digital Planning. This reviewed current PlanTech initiatives and identified a need to look at the future skills of planners.

She is also currently chair of All London Borough Planning Officers Society (Technical Support) group.


Andrew Turnbull - Housing Development Manager, Norwich City Council
Andrew Turnbull

Andrew has over 20 years experience in the housing field as a senior housing manager for Orbit Housing, and since 2008 in housing development for Norwich City Council. For Norwich, Andrew has worked as a senior housing development officer and more recently as manager of the development team; and was the council lead and project manager for the Stirling Prize winning Goldsmith Street development. Andrew has led this project from inception through to completion.


Rebecca Wrigley - Chief Executive, Rewilding Britain

Rebecca Wrigley - HeadshotRebecca is one of the founders of Rewilding Britain. She has worked in the voluntary and public sectors for 23 years, 15 years at senior management level. 

Rebecca has developed, managed and implemented conservation and community development programmes at local, national and international levels in the UK, Mexico, Uganda and New Zealand. Her particular expertise is engaging local communities in decision-making about the land and its resources.




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