Our Speaker Series hosts guest speakers on an array of topics. Whether you’re a downtown employer, worker, resident, or community member, there is always a new question to answer. With outdoor, in-person as well as virtual options, our Speaker Series is a unique opportunity to hear insights from experts and community leaders and share space with our neighbors.


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June 26, 2024

5-7 p.m.

475 Grand Hill, St. Paul MN 55102


Special Guest Speaker:

Michaela Neu, Green Cities Accord

Green Cities Accord, a nonprofit conservancy with a mission to foster climate resilient communities through investments in tree canopy infrastructure, will share information regarding its Twin Cities Climate Resiliency Initiative, and highlight its latest urban tree carbon offset project recently launched in partnership with the City of St. Paul.

Join us at the home of Page and Jay Cowles at 475 Grand Hill for drinks, appetizers, and engaging conversation.

This event is free to attend but space is limited. Please register in advance by June 18.


Michaela Neu (she/her/hers) is the Project Coordinator for Green Cities Accord, working to enhance the vitality of the Twin Cities by bringing public and private entities together to build urban green infrastructure. Michaela oversees Green Cities Accord’s projects including Peavey Plaza, Hennepin/Lyndale Crossroads, and the Twin Cities Climate Resiliency Initiative, a twenty year program to expand the Twin Cities urban tree canopy, funded in part by the first urban tree canopy carbon off-set program in Minnesota. Prior to Green Cities Accord, Michaela spent 10 years with the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization where she was a youth and community outreach specialist, contributing to the expansion and effectiveness of the MWMO’s outreach efforts. She also worked to implement the Mississippi River Green Team, a youth conservation and employment program coordinated in partnership with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Through her work with the team, Michaela emerged as a leader in local efforts to develop pathways to diversify the Twin Cities’ environmental workforce.



July 18, 2023

The Saint Paul Downtown Alliance welcomes special guest speakers Steve Cramer (Minneapolis Downtown Council), James Lima (James Lima Planning + Design) and D'Angelos Svenkeson (NEOO Partners) for a happy hour panel conversation about the future of downtowns - from local to national trends, opportunities on the horizon and more.

Join us in the lower level of Osborn370 at the new Gallery Kitchen event space for drinks, appetizers and great conversation.


Minneapolis Downtown Council
Steve Cramer is the President and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council and Downtown Improvement District. He was a Minneapolis City Council member from 1984 to 1993. Steve also worked for the nonprofit organization Project for Pride in Living from 1994 through 1999, serving as the director of housing and development, chief operating officer and finally president and executive director. He then served as director of the Minneapolis Community Development Agency (known today as CPED) from 1999 to February 2002 and as director of the Hennepin County Department of Housing, Community Works & Transit from February 2002 to August 2003, when he rejoined Project for Pride in Living as their president and executive director until joining the Downtown Council in December 2013.


James Lima Planning + Design
James Lima has been actively engaged in complex matters of real estate, economic development, and public policy since 1986, with extensive private and public sector experience in the planning and revitalization of urban places at a variety of scales. James founded JLP+D in 2011 after leading redevelopment strategies for numerous large-scale sites as a partner at a major national economic and real estate advisory firm. He is a frequent speaker at Urban Land Institute and other conferences, has served on advisory panels throughout North America, and has lectured on urban redevelopment at Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Penn, and Syracuse, as well as in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Sao Paulo.


As the CEO of NEOO Partners, D'Angelos provides the executive level guidance of NEOO’s vision through strategic partnership, market expansion, and client services. He is the strategic voice of the enterprise ensuring that the workplace culture creates positive benefits for clients and the team. In his work, D’Angelos is responsible for delivering executive-level commitment across the organization bevy of projects by leveraging over 15 years of industry experience in real estate development, finance, long-range planning, and client advisory services.


August 16, 2022

Recording here.

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi gives an overview and update from his office about public safety trends in and around downtown and the state of the judicial system in Ramsey County.


Ramsey County Attorney
John Choi was sworn in as the first Korean-American chief prosecutor in the country in 2011. Since taking office, John has become a state and national leader in progressive justice reform, working with public officials and impacted communities to reimagine justice and the role of prosecutors. John’s innovative approach to holding abusers accountable, while working collaboratively with advocacy agencies to help victims, has transformed the way government intervenes in domestic violence and sex trafficking in Minnesota.


April 28, 2022

Video recording here.
Presentation slides here.

David Downey, President of the International Downtown Association, joined the Downtown Alliance for our 2nd Annual Meeting in April 2022. Downey shared insights from Saint Paul's participation in the IDA Value of Downtown Comparison Study.


President and CEO, International Downtown Association
As President and Chief Executive Officer, David is responsible for the overall strategic positioning of IDA as a world leader and champion for vital and livable urban centers. Prior to joining IDA, David served as the Managing Director for the American Institute of Architects’ Urban Design Center and as Executive Director for the Michigan Chapter of the American Planning Association. David has been a city advocate since 1980s having received his degree in Architecture and Design with a focus on Urban Design.


Recording here.

The pandemic-induced work-from-home experiment has altered perspectives on work, flexibility and the office.

When COVID-19 is no longer a lingering health concern, workers will not be expected to come into the office for tasks that can be done from anywhere. What purpose does the office serve in the future and how will that purpose impact the way occupiers think about their portfolio footprints, location strategy and office layouts? What are the implications of the changing nature of the office on owners, corporate users and civic leaders? How much work-from-home penetration should we expect and what are the variables that impact it?

Explore potential outcomes of the future of the office and what it means for urban districts regarding office occupancy and the street life urban place management organizations oversee.

Christopher Leinberger profile


Co-Founding Partner & Managing Director, Places Platform, LLC (Washington, DC)
Chris Leinberger is a land use strategist, developer, professor, researcher and author. He balances business realities with social, environmental and public health issues. Currently, Mr. Leinberger is Managing Partner and Co-founder of Places Platform, which assesses place-based economic, social equity and public health by measuring and managing economic growth, net fiscal impact, real estate valuation, achieving social equity and increasing public health. Mr. Leinberger has written two books, The Option of Urbanism, Investing in a New American Dream and Strategic Planning for Real Estate. In 2017, he was named one of The 100 Most Influential Urbanists of all time in poll on Planetizen.com.
David Smith profile


Vice President, Global Head of Occupier Insights, Cushman & Wakefield (Atlanta, GA)
David C. Smith is the Global Head of Occupier Insights for Cushman & Wakefield. He produces thought leadership content focused on how economics, demographics, technology and space usage trends impact commercial real estate users and investors. David previously spent over a decade at Kingsley Associates, a leading provider of research and benchmarking solutions to real estate companies around the world


Recording here.

Join us as we take a brief look back on some of the highlights from the past year with the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance and then we'll hand the mic off to Joe Minicozzi, who will share why the value of downtown Saint Paul is so important for the city a whole.

Downtown speaker series presenter


Principal, Urban 3
Joe Minicozzi, AICP is the principal of Urban3. Prior to creating Urban3, he served as the Executive Director for the Asheville Downtown Association. Joe is an urban planner imagining new ways to think about and visualize land use, urban design and economics. Joe founded Urban3 to explain and visualize market dynamics created by tax and land use policies. 


Slide deck here.

Downtowns face a period of unprecedented opportunities over the next two decades. The extraordinary changes that have triggered revitalization of North American cities are precursors to more far-reaching change. Downtowns need to start planning today to manage—and draw public benefit from—this period of transformational change. Join us and hear from David Dixon about how downtown Saint Paul can prepare for these opportunities.

David Dixon black and white profile


David is committed to helping with cities and suburbs alike unlock urban renaissance made possible by a perfect storm of dramatic demographic, economic, environmental and technological changes—including ongoing planning for transformation of the Lyndale Avenue Corridor in Bloomington, MN. The AIA gave David its Thomas Jefferson Award for “a lifetime of … significant achievement in [creating]… livable neighborhoods, vibrant civic spaces, and vital downtowns.” Residential Architecture Magazine named David to its Hall of Fame Award as “the person we call when we have a question about cities.” He is co-author of Urban Design for an Urban Century: shaping more livable, equitable and resilient cities (Wiley, 2014).