Anuela Ristani – Opening Keynote

Anuela will be delivering the Cities Overcoming Challenges keynote on Thursday 9 June

Anuela is the Deputy Mayor of Tirana in charge of International Affairs and Sustainable Development. She joined the City in 2015 as the Chief of Staff, and was appointed Deputy after 2019 elections. During her work for the city she has overseen the Green City Action Plan, the Tirana Child Friendly agenda and the Resilience and Sustainability strategies.

Prior to joining local government she established the National Youth Service where she also co-founded RYCO – Regional Youth Cooperation Office with the participation of the six Western Balkan Countries. Ms. Ristani joined public service from more than a decade of experience with multinational corporations and International Organizations where she’s served as Strategic Management and Communications expert.

Stephen Willacy – Closing Keynote

Stephen will be delivering the Closing Keynote session on Friday 10 June

Stephen is currently Direktør at Stephen Willacy Architecture + Urbanism after recently completing his tenure (2012-2020) as the Chief City Architect at Aarhus City Council, Denmark where he was responsible for achieving architectural quality for large-scale plans and projects across the city. Stephen has been Partner in the internationally acclaimed Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects where he was partner responsible for two award winning projects in the UK- the New Sir Duncan Rice Library for University of Aberdeen, Scotland and City of Westminster College at Paddington Green in London; Associate Professor and Researcher at Aarhus School of Architecture, Guest Professor at Arizona State University, USA, and is currently an Honorary Professor at The University of Dundee, Scotland.

Professor John Barry

John will be speaking in the Climate Leadership session on Friday afternoon

John Barry is a father, a recovering politician, Professor of Green Political Economy and Co-Director of the Centre for Sustainability, Equality and Climate Action at Queens University Belfast. He is also co-chair of the Belfast Climate Commission.

What keeps him awake at night is the life opportunities and future wellbeing of his children in this age of the planetary crisis and why it is easier for most people to believe in the end of the world than the end of capitalism and economic growth. His areas of academic research include post-growth and heterodox political economy; the politics, policy and political economy of climate breakdown and climate resilience; socio-technical analyses of low carbon just energy and sustainability transitions; and the overlap between conflict transformation and these sustainability and energy transitions. His latest book is The Politics of Actually Existing Unsustainability: Human Flourishing in a Climate-Changed, Carbon-Constrained World (Oxford University Press).

Fiona Bell

Fiona will be speaking in the What is a City? What is Belfast? session on Thursday morning

Fiona Bell is the Chief Executive of thrive, a Belfast based organisation who use research and data to better tell the story of audience engagement with arts and heritage.  With over 20 years experience of working in the arts sector, Fiona is a passionate champion of the need to be more people focused in our decision making and that when given the opportunity, culture will transform lives and places.

Michele Bryans

Fiona will be speaking in the What is a City? What is Belfast? session on Thursday morning

Michele Bryans is Chief Executive of EastSide Partnership, a charitable regeneration organisation which delivers a wide variety of social, economic, environmental and cultural projects with a clear mission to ‘make east Belfast a better place’. Michele has overall responsibility for the management and strategic development of the organisation and its subsidiary companies committed to regeneration in east Belfast. These include EastSide Arts, EastSide Learning, EastSide Greenways, EastSide Tourism, EastSide Property and the Scaffolding Project.

Michele joined EastSide Partnership in June 2015 as the Community Engagement and Volunteer Manager for Connswater Community Greenway working during Phase 2 construction of the project. This included the construction of new and vibrant connections including the transformational C.S. Lewis Square, a new vibrant public space in the heart of east Belfast. Michele became Manager of EastSide Greenways in 2017 promoting the strategic potential for a wider network of greenways in east Belfast including the oversight and management of the Connswater Community Greenway in partnership with Belfast City Council. 

Michele has worked in various youth and community roles in east Belfast since 2000. Michele has a BA Honours Degree from Queens University Belfast in European Studies, a Foundation Degree in Counselling Studies from Ulster University and has completed the ILM Level 5 in Leadership and Management.

Michele is passionate about regeneration and the positive impact of connecting people and place in order to sustain healthy and resilient communities.

Robert Burns

Robert will be speaking in the Climate Leadership session on Friday afternoon

Robert Burns is Director for Housing and Community Development with Fingal County Council, with responsibility for the management of a stock of over 6,000 social homes and the delivery of almost 5,000 new social and affordable homes in the next 5 years, under the Irish Government’s Housing for All Plan.

Before joining Fingal County Council, Robert was Director for Infrastructure and Climate Change with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, with responsibility for the management and delivery of infrastructure, public realm, active travel and climate action-related projects. He led on the Council’s mobility and public realm projects carried out in response to Covid, including the development the coastal mobility route and village renewal projects in Blackrock and Dundrum.  

Robert graduated as a Civil Engineer from Queens University Belfast in 1995. He has a wide interest in the fields of sustainable development, housing, transportation, community development, urban design and climate action.

Deborah Colville

Deborah will be speaking in the What is a City? What is Belfast? session on Thursday morning

Founder of Smart Belfast, Deborah works with government, universities and industry on a cross sector innovation agenda focussed on tackling urban challenges and supporting the growth of the Belfast economy. She is leading the establishment of Belfast’s Smart District involving the development of advanced wireless infrastructure funded through the Belfast Region City Deal while delivering a range of innovative lighthouse projects to trial and test the implementation of new advanced urban services in the city. 

Deborah has an MSc in information systems Management from Ulster University. She leads the Belfast City Innovation Office and previously led major transformation programmes across Belfast City Council services.

Chris Conway

Chris will be speaking in the Climate Leadership session on Friday afternoon

Chris Conway is Group Chief Executive of Translink, which is the main public transport provider for Northern Ireland, providing Rail, Bus and Coach services across the region. He is also Chair of the Business in Community NI advisory board and a member of the CBI NI council. He is a Chartered Company Director and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors. He is also a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Public Transport is essential to the economic, social and environmental well-being of our society and contributes to the policy outcomes of the draft Programme for Government in Northern Ireland.

Dr. David Coyles

David will be leading the Belfast Secret Peace Walls tour on Wednesday afternoon

Dr. David Coyles is a Senior Lecturer in Architecture at Ulster University, where he leads the Hidden Barriers research programme. Hidden Barriers examines how the processes of political, economic, military and ideological conflict shape urban space and community development. The ongoing work of the programme builds on a series of grant awards from the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), which have so far funded seven years of investigations into cities such as Belfast, Derry-Londonderry, Liverpool, Bilbao, and Detroit. A chartered Architect, David is an elected councillor of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects where he currently chairs the PLACE committee.

Wieteke de Jong

Wieteke will be speaking in the Climate Leadership session on Friday afternoon

Wieteke is strategic advisor at the city of Eindhoven. She’s working on different urban themes such as housing, mobility, sustainability, urban planning and the city affairs on a national and regional level. Wieteke has a background in political science and public administration and is currently doing a master’s in City Development.

Diane Emerson

Diane will be speaking in the Climate Leadership session on Friday afternoon

Diane Emerson leads Arup’s Climate and Sustainability services across the UK, India, Middle East and Africa region. A sustainability professional by background, Diane leads a diverse team delivering climate, circular economy, environment, sustainability, nature and wider services.

She has a wealth of experience in sustainability and environment across public and private sectors, delivering policy level support to government, developing corporate sustainability strategies, and delivering masterplanning and design advice. She has also led a number of public sector programmes in energy, resource efficiency and carbon management.

Diane has been appointed a member of the Belfast Climate Commission, influencing the city’s response to the climate emergency, and is a member of the Northern Ireland Circular Economy Coalition.

Miguel Anxo Fernández Lores

Miguel will be opening the Climate Leadership session on Friday afternoon

Miguel Anxo Fernández Lores, Mayor of Pontevedra, spent 12 years in the opposition before coming to Government in 1999, where he has remained for six consecutive terms.

He considers political activity as something fundamental, as well as collective teamwork committed to the active participation of the dynamic sectors of the city, and is convinced that it is possible to build cities that are more humane and respectful of the care of the planet.

Abby Garrison

Abby will be speaking in the Informing Experiences session on Friday morning

Abby Garrison is Vice President of Community Investments at United Way of Greater Chattanooga, overseeing grantmaking, community programs, 211 information and referral service, capacity building, and the organization’s community data and innovation team. Prior to her time at UWGC, Abby was Executive Director of Causeway and Chief Operating Officer of Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise (CNE). 

She has additional nonprofit experience with the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, DC, and Community Impact and River City Company in Chattanooga, TN. Prior to graduate school, Abby lived in San Francisco, CA, where she worked at Williams-Sonoma, Inc. as part of their Emerging Brands division. Abby graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Politics and holds graduate degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill in City and Regional Planning and an MBA from Kenan-Flagler Business School.

John Greer

John will be speaking in the Actions or Visions? session on Thursday morning

John Greer is the Director of Economic Development at Belfast City Council and leads a team delivering the economic development, tourism, festival, heritage and markets strategies developed to deliver the ambitious inclusive growth targets of the Belfast Agenda.

Prior to Belfast City Council, John was the Director of the Joint Technical Secretariat for the Special EU Programmes Body, where he was responsible for the placement and management of the €550 million

PEACE IV and INTERREG VA programmes. Before his role at SEUPB John spent more than a decade working in North America. In Vancouver, Canada John was a Director for the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) responsible for managing a fund providing monies to high growth SME’s to enable their growth. Also during his time in Vancouver John was a Partner at the Business Development Bank of Canada responsible for managing a team delivering innovative debt, equity and subordinate financing solutions to Canadian businesses.  Before moving to Vancouver, he was a Director at Invest Northern Ireland based in Silicon Valley, leading a team delivering foreign direct investment and trade opportunities for N. Ireland.

John is married with 2 children.  

Richard Guise

Richard will be taking part in the A Green & Healthy City breakout discussion on Friday morning

Richard Guise is an architect and town planner, principal of his urban design consultancy Context4D, based in Bristol, UK. Formerly, he was Course Leader of the MA Urban Design programme at the University of the West of England. Prior to that, his career was a fusion of the professional and academic aspects of urban design. Richard is co-author of ‘Characterising Neighbourhoods’ (2018), ’Shaping Neighbourhoods’, (3 rd edn, 2021), ‘Sustainable Settlements’’(1995) and two volumes of ‘Streets for All’ (English Heritage, 2005). 

He works mainly for local authorities, producing design guides, urban character reports, urban design frameworks and training. Richard is an Academician of the Academy of Urbanism, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a member of the Design West design review panel.

Andrew Haley AoU

Andrew will be taking part in the Investing in Places for Impact panel discussion on Thursday morning

Andrew Haley is Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Group for Architecture and the Built Environment for Northern Ireland (MAG), a Director with The Paul Hogarth Company, Built Environment Expert with the Design Council and High Street Task Force Expert Advisor. For over 30 years, Andrew has contributed his placemaking skills as a Landscape Architect, Urban Designer and Regeneration Consultant within urban and rural settings across Northern Ireland, the rest of the UK and internationally.

Projects have included Hillsborough Castle, Connswater Community Greenway, the regeneration of Laganside and Titanic Quarter and the Wild Atlantic Way.

Simon Hamilton

Simon will be speaking in the What is a City? What is Belfast? session on Thursday morning

Simon is Chief Executive of Belfast Chamber. After graduating with degrees in history/politics and law from The Queen’s University of Belfast, Simon began his career as an auditor at PwC. Prior to taking on his current role with Belfast Chamber, Simon served as Minister of Finance, Minister of Health and Minister for the Economy in the Northern Ireland Executive.

Rita Harkin

Rita will be taking part in the Rural Urbanism breakout discussion on Friday morning

Rita manages the Heritage Transformed programmed in NI for the Architectural Heritage Fund – a UK-wide social investor in heritage.  AHF helps communities secure sustainable uses for historic buildings in areas of identified need via advice, grants and loans.

Prior to this she led on planning and campaigns for Ulster Architectural Heritage, worked with Rachel Bevan Architects and was Development Officer for the Ecology Building Society in NI. Rita serves on the board of Hearth Historic Buildings Trust and Belfast Buildings Trust.

She has an MA in Town Planning from Edinburgh College of Art and a RSUA Diploma in Historic Building Conservation.  Rita was awarded a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to study best practice in universal access to historic buildings in Scandinavia and the United States.

Ali Harvey

Ali will be taking part in the Rural Urbanism breakout discussion on Friday morning

Ali Harvey MSc (DENI Scholarship), BSc (Hons), PG Dip PM is a qualified Programmes Manager with a background in economics and planning with 20+ years’ experience of setting up and managing collaborative planning and regeneration programmes in Ireland and the UK. Ali initiated and set up the all-island Irish Walled Towns Network (IWTN) in 2005, wrote the first IWTN Action Plan 2006-2008, which secured funding from the Irish Government of €4m for the plan period. She set up the Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) CPD Training Course (2009-2011) with 10 no. professional institutes in Ireland and the Landscape Observatory of Catalonia, Spain. The LCA CPD Course was conferred with the ILI’s President’s Award in 2009.

Ali is author of the award-winning Community-led Village Design Statement Toolkit, 2012 and is a member of EirGrid’s National Advisory Committee (NAC) since 2015. Ali set up the Collaborative Town Centre Health Check (CTCHC) Programme in 2016, which is included in Ireland’s Programme for Government (PfG, June 2020) with 70+ partners/15 member Towns plus a waiting list of 50+ towns wanting to join. Ali wrote and produced the CTCHC Podcast series – Putting Town Centres First (Winter 2020/2021) and, as a result, of its global reach during Covid-19 lockdown, Ali set up the CTCHC Irish Towns Diaspora Network (ITDN) in Autumn 2021. Series 2 of Putting Town Centres First will be launched in Autumn 2022.

Martin Hulse

Martin will be speaking in the Informing Experiences session on Friday morning

Martin restores knackered buildings. He is a PRINCE II Project Manager working in regeneration with specialisms in property development, heritage, sustainability and the implementation of public art. He has worked in the public, private and third sector and his passion is the delivery of urban regeneration through rescuing heritage at risk.   

His role at TWBPT is far reaching due to the limited staff resource. On behalf of Trustees, he is responsible for all legal and financial matters creating and managing a turnover of over £750,000.  His drive and vision have led to a portfolio of successful projects over a ten year period that include pit heads, lighthouses, merchant houses, churches and coal staiths. 

Working in partnership with the local authority, Martin: creates the vision; develops the understanding; raises the required funding; delivers the capital phase of work; supports the tenants and manages the completed project. His key success has been the continuing regeneration of High St West in Sunderland. Starting with three wrecks he has delivered a £1million shell restoration, promoted the creation of a Heritage Action Zone, been pivotal in the awarding of £4.5 million Levelling Up Funds for the local area and supported the expansion of PopRecs CIC into their forever home.

Niamh Kelly

Niamh will be be speaking in the Informing Experiences session on Friday morning

Niamh Kelly is Project Coordinator & Youth Ambassador on youth engagement project, Reimagine, Remake, Replay (RRR).

RRR is a four year project that has connected over 4,000 young people with 9 museums across Northern Ireland, enabling participants to interpret collections using digital technology and creative media.

Niamh was previously an RRR participant who since Feb 2020 has furthered the project’s youth-led ethos as part of the staff team, leading on creative programmes and co-creation processes.

The project is made up of a consortium of partners including Nerve Centre, National Museums Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Museums Council and Northern Ireland Screen and is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Fionnuala Kennedy

Fionnuala will be in conversation with Baroness May Blood MBE as part of the Lessons of Resilience session on Friday afternoon

Fionnuala is a writer and theatre director from Belfast. Her first play ‘Hostel’ (produced by Kabosh 2010-2012 and Macha Productions 2017) has toured to a range of hostels, community centres and theatres, and is based on her own experience of living in sheltered accommodation for young families. Most recently, she has written ‘Hunt’ for the National Theatre London’s Connections Programme 21/22.

Fionnuala is currently under commission for NI Opera writing a libretto for young people on housing rights, inspired by the ‘Build Homes Now’ campaign facilitated by Participation and Practice of Rights (PPR). The opera will explore the campaign’s vision of putting young people and their families at the centre of decision making about pertinent issues which affect them.

Joe Laverty

Joe will be leading the Views of the City walking tour on Wednesday afternoon

Joe Laverty is an Irish documentary, portrait & architectural photographer. His work has been published in Dezeen, Wallpaper, Irish Times, Cara magazine & The Guardian among others. Based in Belfast, he works all over Ireland & the UK and is always interested in commissions further afield.

Joe is currently studying an MFA in Photography at Ulster University, Belfast, where he is exploring the hidden world of our ports, docks & haulage workers. Joe’s work often concerns unseen, hidden, liminal spaces in our urban environment. His  work has been exhibited in Dublin, London & Belfast.

Ciaran Mackel

Ciaran will be leading the Gaeltacht Quarter architecture walking tour on Wednesday afternoon

Ciaran Mackel founded the design and research studio – ARdMackel – and has a portfolio of projects, on which he is collaborating with visual artists. The studio has gained numerous design awards, particularly for the Irish language community in Belfast.

He is Associate Senior Lecturer in Architecture at the Ulster University, Belfast and has been visiting critic to ENSA School of Architecture, Nantes, France and Plymouth School of Architecture, England.

Ciaran was a founder member of PLACE, developed in co-operation with Belfast City Council to provide a city centre venue as an Architecture and Built Environment Centre. He was also founder member of Forum for Alternative Belfast. Ciaran currently serves on the Boards of organisations including, The Gaeltacht Quarter, the Maze Long Kesh Development Corporation and is architect advisor to the Ministerial Advisory Group in the Department for Communities.

Ramon Marrades

Ramon will be speaking in the Informing Experiences session on Friday morning

Ramon Marrades is an urban economist, writer, and activist with a passion for people and places. He is currently Director at Placemaking Europe, founder at Vigla –an applied research start-up focused on designing urban futures–, and strategy advisor to a number of cities and large-scale development projects. Before, he has served as the Chief Strategy and Finance Officer at La Marina de València, Valencia’s waterfront redevelopment agency, and a board member of the Worldwide Network of Port Cities (AIVP).

He holds an Executive MSc in Cities from the London School of Economics and Political Science, an MSc in Economics and Geography from Utrecht University, and a BA in Economics from the University of Valencia. He has been a researcher at the University of Valencia (Spain), Western Sydney University (Australia), and FLACSO (Ecuador). He received the Spanish Social Entrepreneur Award in 2012. Ramon is co-editor of the book “Our City? Countering Exclusion in Public Space” (2019) and the host and co-curator of Placemaking Week Europe 2019.

Dr. Agustina Martire

Agustina will be taking part in the Urban Stories = Urban Design breakout discussions on Friday morning

Agustina is a senior lecturer in architecture specialised in the study of everyday streets, their fabric, histories and experiences, through the StreetSpace project. She is especially interested in the way people experience the built environment, and how design can enable a more inclusive and just urban space. She has worked in schools of architecture in Buenos Aires, Delft, Dublin and Belfast and collaborates with a range of government and non-government organisations to explore ways in which housing, mixed use and mobility can provide better cities for all.

Natascha McIntyre-Hall

Natascha will be taking part in the Investing in Places for Impact panel discussion on Thursday morning

Natascha is Head of Regeneration at Gleeds, having previously held strategic development roles at Westminster and, more recently leading development and regeneration for Portsmouth Council.  She is an enthusiastic and passionate speaker and was recently nominated for the National Federation of Builders’ Top 100 Most Influential Women in Construction Awards.

Natascha has been leading projects with an ethos first approach, while respecting that financial viability is integral to delivery.  When working with clients, considers their specific ESG targets with the capabilities of the project to personalise a strategy that designs with legacy in mind, without requiring a blank canvas to do so.

Daniel McKendry

Daniel will be taking part in the Investing in Places for Impact panel discussion on Thursday morning

As an Urbanist, Geographer, and Chartered Landscape Architect with 30 years experience in the private and public sectors, Daniel has worked on a wide variety of complex projects involving urban design, community planning, transport infrastructure, tourism, renewable energy, housing, economic development, town-centre management, and the governance of place-making.

Daniel now advises across a broad range of strategic projects at Architecture and Design Scotland, the national design champion, including supporting the Key Agency Group’s Green Recovery programme. He is passionate about the power of design to improve everyday lives ,and has particular skills in  facilitating conversations between communities and  public and private sector stakeholders around the  Place Principle. Daniel also currently leads the Networks and Events Team at Architecture and Design Scotland.

Dr. Padraig Regan

Padraig Regan is the author of two poetry pamphlets: Delicious (Lifeboat, 2016) and Who Seemed Alive & Altogether Real (Emma Press, 2017). In 2015, they were a recipient of an Eric Gregory Award, and in 2020 they were awarded the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary Prize. They hold a PhD on creative-critical and hybridised writing practices in medieval texts and the work of Anne Carson from the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, where they were a Ciaran Carson Writing and the City Fellow in 2021. Their first collection, Some Integrity (Carcanet, 2022) the recipient of the 2021 Clarissa Luard Prize, awarded by the David Cohen Foundation.

Cathy Reynolds

Cathy will be speaking in the Actions or Visions? session on Thursday morning

Cathy Reynolds is the Director of City Regeneration & Development for Belfast City Council. 

Working with public and private sector stakeholders, Cathy is responsible from a Council perspective for leading on city regeneration and development to drive delivery of physical, social and economic outcomes for Belfast. 

This includes leading on the Belfast City Centre Regeneration & Investment Strategy and policies and projects aligned to the regeneration and development of the city including  the Future City Centre Programme – an ambitious programme to reimagine and revitalise our city centre;  A Bolder Vision – a  joint BCC/DfI/DfC initiative that aims to provide a holistic look at the city centre’s  infrastructure, streets and places and development opportunities from a people and place-based priority;  accelerating city centre living  and working in partnership with public and private sector partners to build awareness of the Belfast investment proposition aimed at attracting investment to support the delivery of regeneration projects across the City, with a focus on creating the economic and social infrastructure/assets we need for inclusive sustainable growth. Cathy is a Chartered Surveyor by profession and has over 25 years’ experience in development, regeneration and strategic asset management.   

Nicola Rochfort

Nicola will be taking part in the Urban Stories = Urban Design breakout discussions on Friday morning

Nicola Rochfort leads on Community Engagement at Grosvenor, a global property company that has been making and managing places for more than 340 years. Nicola champions the business-wide commitments Grosvenor have made in their community charter, Positive Space, enabling teams to deliver meaningful engagement with people that live, work or visit the places Grosvenor are active in.

As well as working on development projects, Nicola also delivers initiatives to give young people a say in the future of their neighbourhoods. This has included the launch of Voice.Opportunity.Power, a youth engagement toolkit designed to improve and normalise youth participation in placemaking and regeneration.

Bregje Somers

Bregje will be speaking in the Climate Leadership session on Friday afternoon

Bregje is deputy Head of Programme- and District management. This sector is responsible for the programmes on spatial themes (e.g. housing, mobility, sustainability, urban planning) and integrated district programmes (including social, economic and safety issues). Besides, the sector takes care of strategic plans. This sector covers all thematic areas of the spatial domain in one sector, and tries to come up with integrated programs and projects. This means for instance, trying to include sustainability in housing programs, or include sports in education issues. The sector responds directly to politicians, is responsible for budgeting, planning and programming, and maintains external networks.

Bregje has a MSc in Urbanism/Building Sciences and has been working 12 years for the City of Eindhoven, in various positions. Amongst other roles, she worked as a program manager on real estate management, strategic advisor and advisor for alderman.

In 2014 she took part of the team responsible for the re-structuring and re-organisation of the ‘spatial domain’, aimed to build a more integrated and externally oriented organisation.

She was also responsible for the audit by the AoU of the Eindhoven’ nomination as best city in 2016 and she hosted the city-part of the AoU annual congress in Eindhoven in 2019.