Our Staff

Geoffrey Anderson is the President and CEO of Smart Growth America. Named by Partners for Livable Communities as “One of the 100 Most Influential Leaders in Sustainable Community Planning and Development,” Geoff came to his current position after eight years heading the Smart Growth Program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Geoff helped to found the smart growth movement as one of the authors of the foundational 10 smart growth principles. With an extensive list of publications, Geoff has served as an expert witness in front of the U.S. Congress, has been interviewed and cited by the New York Times, Newsweek, The Washington Post, Fox News, NPR, and numerous other outlets and publications. As a regular conference speaker, Geoff has provided assistance to numerous communities across the country including in-depth work in Cheyenne, WY; Prince George’s County, MD; and the flagship smart growth project Atlantic Station in Atlanta, GA. Geoff received his Master’s Degree from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment with a concentration in Resource Economics and Policy.


Alex Dodds is Smart Growth America’s Director of Communications. She joined Smart Growth America in 2010 after doing digital communications and outreach for several organized labor campaigns. In 2013 Alex was selected as a Next City Vanguard, an annual urban leadership gathering “of the best and brightest young urban leaders working to improve cities across sectors.” She has worked on over a dozen national campaigns ranging from corporate accountability to convening local elected officials. When not working, Alex can usually be found exploring the ever-evolving Washington DC. She can be reached at adodds [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.


Christopher A. Coes is the Director of LOCUS, a network of real estate developers and investors who advocate for sustainable, walkable development. He works with real estate developers and investors across the country to advance LOCUS’ public policy agenda and business opportunities. Prior to joining LOCUS, Christopher served as a Consultant for Government Affairs and Campaigns at M+R Strategic Services. As a consultant, Christopher worked with various clients including Transportation for America – a broad, diverse and unprecedented coalition advocating for a national vision for a 21st century transportation system. For nearly three years, Christopher served as Transportation for America’s Senior Campaign Advisor and Deputy Director, where he was responsible for the day to day operations and advising the Campaign on its legislative and political strategies. In addition to his work on transportation issues, Christopher brings over five years of experience in government relations, political advocacy and electoral campaigns. Christopher received a BA/MA in Government and Politics from St. John’s University, specializing in Public Administration and International Relations. Christopher can be reached at ccoes [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Megan Pierce is an Associate with LOCUS. She joined the program as a Fellow in January 2014. Megan currently conducts research, prepares legislative briefings and outreach materials to facilitate membership engagement. Prior to joining LOCUS, Megan worked as a graduate researcher at the District of Columbia’s Department of Transportation where she focused on transportation infrastructure and land-use planning. She holds a Masters in Sustainable Urban Planning from The George Washington University and a BA in Planning and Public Policy from The Edward J. Bloustein School at Rutgers University. Megan can be reached at mpierce [at] locusdevelopers [dot] org.

National Complete Streets Coalition

Stefanie Seskin is the Deputy Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition at Smart Growth America and oversees and implements the Coalition’s programmatic and technical assistance efforts. She works with professional, public interest, and advocacy organizations to build a strong national movement for safe, multi-modal streets and provides technical assistance to communities that are developing and implementing Complete Streets policies and practices. In 2012, she was named a Young Professional of the Year by the Association of Bicycle and Pedestrian Professionals. She holds a Masters of Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a BA in Political Science from Vassar College. She can be reached at sseskin [at] completestreets [dot] org.

Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute

Gov. Parris N. Glendening is President of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute and the Governor’s Institute on Community Design. In these roles, he travels across the country and around the world advising state and local governments on smart growth, transit, and sustainability policies and practices. Parris Glendening served as Governor of the State of Maryland from 1995-2003 where he created the nation’s first state-level smart growth policy package. Prior to being elected Governor, Glendening served three terms as elected county executive of Prince George’s County, Maryland. He taught political science at the University of Maryland, College Park for 27 years and is the author of two books and over 100 articles and conference papers.

Glendening has received numerous awards and recognitions. He most recently was named as an Honorary Member of the American Institute of Architects. In addition, Governor Glendening serves on a number of non-profit boards and acts as Senior Advisor for Energy and the Environment for National Strategies, Inc.

Born in New York and raised in Florida, Governor Glendening holds a doctorate degree in Government and Politics from Florida State University as well as eight honorary degrees. He lives in Annapolis with his wife Jennifer and their eight-year-old daughter Bri. His son Raymond, a graduate of West Virginia University, previously was the Political Director of the Democratic Governors Association and is now the Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Ruckus, a communications company. Governor Glendening’s full bio can be downloaded here.

Roger Millar, PE, AICP, is Smart Growth America’s Vice President of Technical Assistance. He serves as Director of the Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute, which provides technical assistance programs for state and local government, and as Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition. Roger has held leadership positions in the public and private sectors, as Manager of the City of Portland, Oregon’s Arterial Streets Division in the 1980s, and more recently as Director of the Missoula, Montana Office of Planning and Grants, which included the Missoula MPO.

Projects in which Roger played a leadership role, particularly the development of Portland, Oregon’s Pearl District, the Portland Streetcar, the Roaring Fork Valley “VelociRFTA” BRT system, and the “Envision Missoula” Long Range Transportation Plan, are seen as national models. He has also managed or participated in signature projects for rural, resort and gateway communities throughout the American West.

Roger is a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers, a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and a Certified Floodplain Manager. From 2000 to 2013, he was a member of the ASCE Committee for America’s Infrastructure, which produces the Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. He is also Past President of the Oregon Section of ASCE and of the Montana Association of Planners. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1982. Roger can be reached at rmillar [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Policy Development & Implementation

Christopher Zimmerman is Smart Growth America’s Vice President for Economic Development, and Director of the Governors’ Institute on Community Design. Much of his work focuses on the economic and fiscal impact of development policies on localities and regions. Prior to joining Smart Growth America, for two decades Chris was heavily involved in planning, development, and transportation policy in Arlington County, VA and the greater Washington, DC region. This included work as a neighborhood and civic leader, as a planning commissioner, 18 years as a member of the Arlington County Board, and 13 years on the Board of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, as well as other regional transportation agencies. Prior to his service as an elected official, Mr. Zimmerman was Chief Economist at the National Conference of State Legislatures. He holds a Master of Arts in Economics from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Economics from The American University. Christopher can be reached at czimmerman [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Sarah Absetz is an Associate on the Policy Development and Implementation team who joined Smart Growth America as a fellow in April 2012. She currently works on the Local Leaders Council, including on that program’s Maryland Chapter. Additionally, she provides executive support to Governor Parris Glendening. She holds a BS in Natural Resource Management and an MA in Urban Affairs and Public Policy from the University of Delaware. Sarah can be reached at sabsetz [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Rayla Bellis is a Program Manager on the Technical Assistance team at Smart Growth America. Rayla joined Smart Growth America as a fellow in 2009 and currently works on the DOT Innovation program, providing technical assistance to state Departments of Transportation around the country. She graduated from Knox College with a bachelors degree in Economics and Anthropology/Sociology. Rayla can be reached at rbellis [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Neha Bhatt is Deputy Director of Policy Development & Implementation for Smart Growth America. Through advocacy and while working within government, Neha’s career has involved a mix of policy development and campaign management. Before joining SGA, Neha served as the Executive Director of the National Association of City Transportation Officials, where she organized best practices and policies workshops and lobbied on the federal transportation bill on behalf of city departments of transportation. Neha gained direct legislative experience while working as policy advisor to the Ward 6 City Councilmember in the District of Columbia. Highlights of that work included launching the city’s first car free day, implementation of a new market-priced parking pilot program, passage of new substantive storm water mitigation standards for the Anacostia Waterfront development zone and passage of new bike parking requirements for residential and commercial buildings. For almost five years, Neha served the Sierra Club’s Challenge to Sprawl Campaign. This work included congressional outreach, media outreach, lending expertise to local level smart growth campaigns around the nation, providing trainings and producing national reports. While earning her Master’s degree in Community Planning from the University of Maryland, Neha completed fellowships in the planning departments of Washington D.C. and Arlington, VA. She also joined an urban planning team and traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia to evaluate a brownfield site and develop recommendations for redevelopment. Neha holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the College of New Jersey. Neha can be reached at nbhatt [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Shelly Hazle serves as Deputy Director of Policy Development & Implementation for Smart Growth America. Prior to joining SGALI in 2006, she worked in public relations and marketing for organizations in a variety of industries, including aviation and health care. Previously, Shelly worked in the federal government as a public information officer for the National Transportation Safety Board. She has B.A.s from Vanderbilt University and is currently completing her M.P.A. at the College of Charleston. Shelly can be reached at shazle [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Jeri Mintzer is Smart Growth America’s Government Affairs Associate. She joined the organization in 2011 as a Fellow, and now works on advocacy and community management for the Sustainable Communities Learning Network. Jeri graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in Urban Studies and Historic Preservation & Community Planning. Jeri can be reached at jmintzer [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Elizabeth Schilling is Smart Growth America’s Senior Policy Manager who focuses on how growth and development patterns shape quality of life and how public policies shape growth and development patterns. Ms. Schilling’s approach to creating more livable communities has been shaped by work for the private sector, non-profit sector and for the public sector at all levels of government. She served as the Public Information Officer to Maryland’s Secretary of Planning under Governor Parris N. Glendening and as a Legislative Aide to Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D, OR-3). At Smart Growth America, Elizabeth is managing a project to identify opportunities to align state land use and source water protection policies. She recently helped to develop the U.S. Green Building Council’s rating system for neighborhoods. From 2002 to 2005, she served as the Executive Director of the Growth Management Leadership Alliance, a national network of three-dozen smart growth advocacy organizations in thirty states and British Columbia, Canada. Elizabeth holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor of Science in Social Anthropology from Harvard College. Elizabeth can be reached at eschilling [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Operations and Administration

Paula Offord is Smart Growth America’s Director of Operations. Paula has over fifteen years of experience in the areas of office management, executive assistance and customer service. She handles the day-to-day office operations, human resources and acts as the liaison with Raffa regarding the financials for SGA. She is also the primary point of contact for Geoff Anderson. Prior to joining SGA, she was the Office Manager for a Fire, EMS and Emergency Rescue consulting firm in Arlington, Virginia. Paula is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in the field of Computer Information Technology and Business Management, with a minor in Accounting.

Virginia Collington is Smart Growth America’s Accounting Manager. She is responsible for SGA’s accounting system, financial statements, and acts as a liaison with external accountants and auditors. She has over 28 year experience in accounting systems, implementations and accounting management. Prior to joining SGA she worked in a number of non-profits and government agencies including the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Kennedy Institute. Virginia has passed the Maryland CPA Exam and has a degree in Economics and Finance from Catholic University.

Transportation for America campaign

James Corless is the Director of Transportation for America (T4America), an alliance of elected, business and civic leaders from communities across the country, united to ensure that states and the federal government step up to invest in smart, homegrown, locally-driven transportation solutions. Prior to T4America, James served as a senior planner for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in the San Francisco Bay Area where he managed the agency’s efforts to partner with the private sector and local governments to promote jobs, retail and residential construction along public transportation corridors. James helped author several pieces of groundbreaking state legislation in California that have helped encourage coordination of transportation, growth and economic development and has served as a visiting lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley in the Department of City and Regional Planning.

Rochelle Carpenter is Deputy Outreach Director for T4America and the Senior Policy Analyst for the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. Rochelle has worked to build a coalition to develop and advocate for national transportation policies that would improve health and advance equity, including funding for public transportation, funding for bicycling and walking projects, health equity performance measures and more. Prior to T4America, Rochelle helped to advance local programs and policies to prevent childhood obesity among communities of color and low-income populations in Washington, DC. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College with a concentration in cultural and medical anthropology. She has played classical violin since age eight, performing as a soloist and ensemble member in a variety of orchestras and string quartets.

Stephen Lee Davis has been with Smart Growth America since July 2006, first as a Communications Fellow, then Associate, and now in his current role as Deputy Communications Director for T4America. Trained as a journalist and photojournalist at the University of Georgia’s Grady School of Journalism & Mass Communication, he was an award-winning photographer at the Arkansas Democrat Gazette before leaving the field to follow his passion for great places to Smart Growth America. During his time at Smart Growth America he’s worn many hats on the communications team, writing speeches for Gov. Parris Glendening, creating the organization’s blog and spearheading its launch back in 2007, and kickstarting the organization’s online advocacy efforts and social media presences. Today he helps guide T4America’s communications strategy, writes regular reports and blog posts, directs all on- and off-line visual production and design, and manages T4America’s social and digital presences. He loves the challenge of figuring out how to turn the concept of smart, sustainable, lovable places into messages that resonate with a wide range of people. Steve lives in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, DC with his wife and two children and loves his 3.2-mile run or bike ride to work.

Erin Evenhouse is the Midwest Outreach Manager and cultural program lead for T4America. She creates programs, coordinates cross-disciplinary partnerships, and guides organizational strategy through network-based evaluation of emerging practices and on-the-ground realities. Erin’s past hats include economic development grant administrator, financial research associate, and community organizer. Erin graduated with a Master in Urban Planning Degree from the University of Michigan, a designation that she secured while completing her undergraduate studies, working, and publishing a thesis. Erin is currently based in Chicago, IL, where she enjoys riding her bike along the Lakefront Trail.

Dan Levine, a Policy Associate with Transportation for America, leads efforts on state and local transportation policy. He launched T4A’s State Transportation Advocacy, Research and Training network to aid legislators, advocates, and local stakeholders in advancing legislation to boost funding and empower local initiatives. He also manages the Transportation Innovation Academy, which arms local elected, business and civic leaders with the tools to realize their regional transportation visions. He has worked with T4A since 2012. He holds a B.A. in government from Wesleyan University and is an alumnus of the International Honors Program: Cities in the 21st Century. He can be reached at dan.levine [at] t4america [dot] org.

Joe McAndrew is T4America’s Policy Director and brings comprehensive local, state and federal policy and advocacy experience to this position. He effectively leads T4America’s federal, state and local policy efforts in developing strategies to create innovative transportation funding and policy initiatives, including reauthorization of the federal surface and passenger rail programs. Prior to joining T4America, Joe worked on behalf of Lane Transit District representing its interests at the Oregon State Capitol where he successfully shepherded nearly $15 million in state funds for a new bus rapid transit extension. Joe also worked for the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Asset Management Division and led successful local transportation advocacy efforts in in the Eugene/Springfield area in Oregon. He began his career in Washington, DC in the House of Representatives working as an outreach coordinator for Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA­02). Joe holds a master’s degree from the University of Oregon in community and regional planning.

Alicia Orosco is a Program Associate at Transportation for America. She joined T4America in March 2014 and currently works on support and development of the membership program, member outreach, coalition building, and advocacy. Alicia provides support with management of the T4A’s Advisory Board, and supports the executive team. Prior to joining Transportation for America, Alicia worked at a political consulting firm, providing executive support to the president of the firm, and was the liaison on Hispanic Affairs. Alicia graduated from California State University, Fresno. Alicia can be reached at alicia.orosco [at] transportationforamerica [dot] org.

Beth Osborne joined T4America as the director of a newly created mission-driven consulting service. Beth came to the campaign from the U.S. Department of Transportation where she served as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy and the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy since 2009. At DOT, Beth managed the TIGER Discretionary Grant program, the Secretary’s livability initiative, and the development of the Administration’s surface transportation authorization proposal. Before joining USDOT, Beth worked for Sen. Tom Carper (DE) as the legislative assistant for transportation, trade and labor policy, as the policy director for Smart Growth America and as legislative director for environmental policy at the Southern Governors’ Association. She began her career in Washington, DC, in the House of Representatives working as a legislative assistant for Rep. Ron Klink (PA-04) and as legislative director for Rep. Brian Baird (WA-03).

Chris Rall is the Pacific Northwest Field Organizer for T4America. Chris works with the alliance to keep partners and allies apprised of developments on transportation policy and opportunities in DC. Before his present position, Chris co-founded Green Wheels, a local transportation advocacy organization in Humboldt County, CA, and served as Policy Director for the Healthy Humboldt Coalition. Originally from New Jersey, Chris graduated from the University of California at Berkley, and received his graduate degree from Humboldt State University. He is based in Portland, OR.

John Robert Smith is co-chair of T4America and policy advisor for Smart Growth America. He served for 16 years as mayor of Meridian, MS, whose Union Station, his signature project, is recognized as one of the best multi-modal transportation centers in the country. Having served as a mayor of a city with a wealth of late 19th century buildings, he worked with developers to restore those buildings, and is a strong advocate for historic preservation, believing that each community must respect its past and play to its strengths in order to develop and maintain a strong community identity. He helped define Meridian’s role as a cultural center with the restoration of the Grand Opera House of Mississippi, the creation of the Riley Education and Performing Arts Center, and the selection of Meridian as the site for the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center. Additionally, he secured $17 million in HUD HOPE VI funding to develop low- and middle-income housing.

Erika Young is the Director of Strategic Partnerships for Transportation for America, where she creates the diverse coalition necessary to advance T4A’s policy and program efforts. Additionally, Erika seeks and explores new development opportunities that extend T4A’s mission. Prior to T4A, Erika served as Transportation Director at the National Association of Regional Councils where she developed and implemented the transportation policy and program for regional planning organizations nationwide. Erika possesses extensive knowledge of U.S. congressional procedure and policy where she served on the House Budget Committee; Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; and for former Congressman Rahall (WV-03) as his legislative director. Erika possesses a masters of corporate and non-profit communication from Johns Hopkins University.