Georgia Smart Fall Workshop



Michael Caldwell  - Representative, 20th House District, Georgia House of Representatives

Michael Caldwell is the Representative for Georgia’s 20th House district. First elected in 2012, he proudly represents the Cities of Woodstock, Towne Lake, and Holly Springs in Georgia’s House of Representatives. Rep. Caldwell serves on the Economic Development, Code Revision, Budget & Fiscal Affairs Oversight and State Planning & Community Affairs committees.

Rep. Caldwell is a serial entrepreneur and was the fifth employee and partial owner of Python Safety, a company which specialized in dropped object prevention solutions which was acquired by 3M in 2015. He authored the most widely adopted drop prevention safety procedure in the world which currently governs nearly 100,000 workers. He has spent much of his career traveling the globe speaking on this leading cause of death in the workplace.

Rep. Caldwell grew up in Woodstock, GA after having briefly lived in Michigan, California, Texas, and North Carolina. He married his high school sweetheart Katie, and they are proud parents of two children, Oliver and Eliza. After attending Cherokee County Schools, Michael earned his Bachelors in Business Administration, majoring in Finance from Kennesaw State University. Rep. Caldwell resides in Towne Lake with his family.

Steven French  - Dean, College of Design, Georgia Institute of Technology

Steven French is dean of the College of Design and professor of City and Regional Planning at Georgia Institute of Technology. Before coming to Georgia Tech, he taught for ten years at California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo and joined Georgia Tech in 1992. His teaching and research activities focus on sustainable urban development, land use planning, GIS applications and natural hazard risk assessment.

Over the past twenty-five years, French has been the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on more than seventy research projects. He has participated in a number of NSF projects dealing with flood and earthquake hazards and was the Social Science Thrust Leader for the Mid-America Earthquake Center, a NSF Engineering Research Center. French is the author or co-author of more than 25 refereed journal articles and four books, and he has served on numerous Journal editorial boards.

French holds a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners and an associate member of the American Institute of Architects.

Tony Ferguson  - Northeast Region Director, Georgia Power

Tony Ferguson serves as region director of Georgia Power’s northeast region, where he leads the company’s external operations in twenty-one northeast Georgia counties. Prior to his current role, Ferguson served as the assistant to the executive vice president of Customer Service and Operations. In this position, he was responsible for assisting the CSO leadership team with a variety of specific projects and related issues within Customer Services, Distribution, Transmission, Corporate Services and the company’s eight regions across the state.

Ferguson began his career with Georgia Power in 1987 and has held various roles in Supply Chain, Distribution, Transmission, Sales and External Affairs. He earned a bachelor’s degree in management and marketing from North Georgia College and an MBA from Louisiana State University. He has also completed numerous leadership development programs including Leadership Oconee, Leadership Columbia Executive, Georgia Academy for Economic Development, CSO Leadership Series, and the Georgia Power Leadership Development Council program.

In the community, Ferguson serves on the Athens area Chamber of Commerce board, the Piedmont Athens Regional Foundation board, Envision Athens IOC, and is a member of the Athens Manufacturers Executives Roundtable and the Rotary Club of Athens.


Debra Lam  - Managing Director, Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation, Georgia Institute of Technology

Debra Lam is the Managing Director of Smart Cities and Inclusive innovation for Georgia Tech, a newly created role to drive smart cities and urban innovation work across the university and beyond. Prior to this, she served as Pittsburgh's first ever Chief of Innovation & Performance where she oversaw all technology, sustainability, performance and innovation functions of city government. She crafted the city's first strategic plan for innovation, Inclusive Innovation Roadmap. She has been a receipt of various awards, including one of the top 50 Women in Technology nationally. She has worked and lived in New York, the United Kingdom, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. She is a graduate of Georgetown University and University of California, Berkeley. 

Greg McCormick  - Director, Georgia Smart Communities Challenge, Georgia Institute of Technology

Greg McCormick is the Director of the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge, a smart communities grant challenge for the state of Georgia, championed by the Institute for People and Technology at Georgia Tech and sponsored and supported by a team of community organizations and industries in partnership with Georgia Tech. Mr. McCormick is a Senior Research Engineer at GTRI and holds an MBA, Master's, and Bachelor's in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech

Christopher Le Dantec, PhD  - Associate Professor in the Digital Media Program, School of Literature, Media, and Communication, Georgia Institute of Technology

Christopher Le Dantec is an Associate Professor in the Digital Media Program in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His research is focused on the area of digital civics emerging from the intersection of participatory design, digital democracy, and smart cities. He is specifically interested in developing community-based design practices that support new forms of collective action through the production and use of civic data. After earning his Ph.D. in Human-Centered Computing in 2011 from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he advanced theoretical and practice-based approaches to bridge the digital divide experienced by homeless families in the U.S., he has worked closely with the City of Atlanta and a range of community-based partners to explore new forms of civic participation through community-centered design inquiry. His research has direct impact on how policy makers and citizens work together to address issues of community engagement, social justice, urban transportation and development. In addition to publishing in a range of ACM conferences, he is the Community+Culture forum editor for interactions magazine and the author of Designing Publics (2016, MIT Press).


Angela Siefer  - Executive Director, National Digital Inclusion Alliance

Angela Siefer is the Executive Director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance. Angela has been working in the field we now call digital inclusion since 1997. She has helped physically set up computer labs in underserved areas, managed broadband conferences, conducted research, managed digital inclusion programs, assisted with the Department of Commerce’s Broadband Adoption Toolkit, testified before a U.S. Senate Sub-Committee and more. In 2015, Angela helped found the National Digital Inclusion Alliance. A portfolio of her written work is at Government Technology Magazine named Angela one of their Top 25 Doers, Dreams, and Drivers of 2019.

2018 GA Smart Community Leaders and Researchers

Randall Mathews  - Emergency Management Coordinator, Chatham Emergency Management Agency

Randall Mathews is an Emergency Management Coordinator for Chatham Emergency Management Agency (CEMA). During his tenure at CEMA, he has developed and implemented numerous plans and procedures and has also responded to numerous events including two hurricanes, several small tornadoes, a plane crash, missing persons, and hazardous materials incidents. His work developing and implementing a Social Vulnerability Analysis to prioritize damage assessments earned him the 2018 International Associated of Emergency Managers Technology & Innovation Award. He graduated with a B.A. in Emergency Management from Savannah State University (2014).

Kim Cobb, PhD  - Director, Global Change Program; Georgia Power Chair; Professor, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences; ADVANCE Professor, College of Science, Georgia Institute of Technology

Kim Cobb’s research uses corals and cave stalagmites to reconstruct tropical Pacific temperature and rainfall patterns over the last decades to millennia. She received her B.A. from Yale University in 1996, and her Ph.D. in Oceanography from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in 2002. She spent two years at Caltech in the Department of Geological and Planetary Sciences before joining the faculty at Georgia Tech in 2004. Kim has sailed on six oceanographic cruises and led five caving expeditions to the rainforests of Borneo in support of her research. Her papers regularly appear in high-profile journals, including 5 papers in Nature or Science. Kim has received numerous awards for her research, most notably a NSF CAREER Award in 2007, a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2008, and a Sigma Chi Best Paper Award in 2013. She sits on the AAAS Climate Science Panel, the international CLIVAR Pacific Panel, and the international PAGES-CLIVAR Intersection Panel.

Russ Clark  - Senior Research Scientist, School of Computer Science, Georgia Institute of Technology

Russ Clark is a senior research scientist in Georgia Tech's School of Computer Science. He engages hundreds of students each semester in mobile development, networking, and the Internet of Things. He is the co-director of the Georgia Tech Research Network Operations Center (GT-RNOC), which supports research efforts across campus, and principal leader of the Convergence Innovation Competition, which pairs students and industry sponsors on novel projects. He is active in the startup community, including roles with the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps program. Dr. Clark received the B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science from Vanderbilt University in 1987. He received the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Information and Computer Science from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1992 and 1995. For the years 1997-2000 he was a Senior Scientist with Empire Technologies, a network management software company.

Rebecca Keefer  - Planner, Clark Patterson Lee; Special Projects Manager, City of Chamblee

Rebecca Keefer, a planner with Clark Patterson Lee, has over 9 years of experience in the areas of community planning, design development, zoning administration, sustainability, and public outreach. Rebecca, a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology, received her Master of City and Regional Planning degree, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Architecture. Rebecca works for the City of Chamblee as the Special Projects Manager, where she administers grants, manages planning projects, and oversees small construction projects.

Ellen Dunham-Jones  - Professor, School of Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology

Ellen Dunham-Jones is a Professor in the School of Architecture and Director of the Master of Science in Urban Design degree. She is an authority on sustainable suburban redevelopment and a leading urbanist. Dunham-Jones serves on several national boards and committees, is former Chair of the Board of the Congress for the New Urbanism, lectures widely and conducts community workshops. In both her teaching and research, she focuses on helping communities address 21st century challenges including autonomous vehicles and coping with climate change and suburban blight.

Steven Carter  - Chief Information Officer, Technology & Communications, City of Albany

Steven Carter is a US Air Force veteran with more than 25 years of experience in the fields of information technology, corporate leadership, and developing high performing teams. He is an innovative thinker with strategic vision and is proving the value of Information Technology within the City of Albany, Georgia. In his capacity as CIO, he sets priorities and direction in the areas of project management, cybersecurity, network operations, telecommunications fiber infrastructure management, internal service delivery, applications acquisition and management, telephony and communications management, and business continuity as part of disaster recovery. This includes policy development, technical analysis, assessments, strategic direction, standards development, and supporting the business initiatives within each business unit. Prior to coming to Albany, Steven was at the San Diego County Office of Education in San Diego, CA as the Executive Director of Technology where he was responsible for the security, operations, applications, and communications networks that supported 43 school districts and more than 500,000 students. He has a diverse background building and leading both private and public-sector technology teams. He has an Master of Business Administration as well as a bachelor's degree (Summa Cum Laude) in Computer Information Systems with a minor in Business from Liberty University. He is also a Certified Government Chief Information Officer (CGCIO) through the Georgia Municipal Association and the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia. He currently facilitates several courses for local and state politicians, city and county managers, and technology leaders in the areas of cyber security and emerging technologies in governments.

Omar Isaac Asensio, PhD  - Professor, School of Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology

Omar Isaac Asensio is Assistant Professor in the School of Public Policy. His research focuses on big data and public policy. He conducts field experiments and uses evidence from big data to make causal inferences about incentives and behavior in areas such as energy, transportation and urban sustainability. His research has been published in general interest journals such as Nature Energy and PNAS. He is winner of the 2015 ONE-NBS Research Impact on Practice Award by the Academy of Management ONE Division. At Georgia Tech, he is also affiliated with the Institute for Data Engineering and Science (IDEaS), the Strategic Energy Institute, and the Climate and Energy Policy Laboratory (CEPL).

Tom Sever  - Deputy Director for Traffic Engineering, Operations and Maintenance, Gwinnett County Department of Transportation

Tom Sever is a Deputy Director with Gwinnett County Department of Transportation. Tom graduated from Georgia Tech with a Bachelor of Civil Engineering in 1993. After working in the private sector, he joined Gwinnett County in 2000, became the Traffic Signal and ITS Section Manager in 2007 and was promoted to Deputy Director in late 2017. Tom oversees both the Traffic Engineering Division and the Traffic Operations and Road Maintenance Division. Together, these Divisions are responsible for the maintenance and operation of over 720 traffic signals, the County’s ATMS/ITS network, 2,600 centerline miles of roadway and over 2,500 miles of sidewalk and other associated infrastructure. He is a registered professional engineer in the state of Georgia and a member of Georgia Section ITE and ITS Georgia.

Angshuman Guin, PhD  - Senior Research Engineer, School of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

Angshuman Guin is a Senior Research Engineer in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He is a transportation system engineer with 12 years’ experience in freeway operations, intelligent systems, transportation safety, and traffic simulation and data management. Dr. Guin’s current research is focused on SmartCity mobility, connected-and-autonomous-vehicles, freeway operations, ramp metering, and traffic simulations and is working projects for the National Science Foundation, Federal Highway Administration, GDOT, and GRTA.

2018 GA Smart Community Leaders and Researchers

Parag Agrawal  - Director, City of Milton Community Development

Parag Agrawal is currently serving as the Community Development Director of the City of Milton, Georgia and has more than 15 years of leadership experience in development and implementation of planning projects that promote sustainable growth practices, foster economic development, and encourage smart transportation choices. Located 24 miles from downtown Atlanta, Milton is recognized nationally for its high quality of life. In his current position, Parag is working with various stakeholders to facilitate the development of the city’s new downtown with over $600 million in combined investments, administering the development of the city’s Uniform Development Code, and drafting of the city’s new Trail Master Plan.
Before moving to Atlanta, Parag held community leadership positions in New England. He served as the Associate Director of the Rhode Island State Department of Administration, and as the Planning Director of the City of Bridgeport, CT. In Rhode Island, Parag served as the state’s Planning Director responsible for managing the State Guide Plan, State Water Resources Board, and administering the state’s single, statewide, federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). Under Parag’s direction, Rhode Island drafted State’s Long-Range Transportation Plan, first statewide Trail Master Plan, and developed FFY 2017-2025 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) that programed over $5.2 billion dollars in federal transportation funds. In Bridgeport, Parag managed the development of Barnum Station TOD Master Plan, worked with CTDOT on design of Barnum Train Station, and drafted the city’s waterfront revitalization master plan.

Kari Watkins, PhD  - Frederick Law Olmsted Associate Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

Kari Watkins, P.E., is the Frederick Law Olmsted Associate Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Dr. Watkins’ teaching and research interests revolve around multi-modal transportation planning and the use of technology in transportation, especially as related to transit planning and operations and improved traveler information. Dr. Watkins co-created the Cycle Atlanta smartphone app for recording bicycle trips by Atlanta cyclists ( and while at the University of Washington, co-created the OneBusAway program ( to provide real-time next bus countdown information and other transit information tools for transit riders in the greater Seattle-Tacoma.

Angshuman Guin, PhD  - Senior Research Engineer, School of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

Angshuman Guin is a Senior Research Engineer in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He is a transportation system engineer with 12 years’ experience in freeway operations, intelligent systems, transportation safety, and traffic simulation and data management. Dr. Guin’s current research is focused on SmartCity mobility, connected-and-autonomous-vehicles, freeway operations, ramp metering, and traffic simulations and is working projects for the National Science Foundation, Federal Highway Administration, GDOT, and GRTA.

Scott Evans  - GIS Coordinator, Columbus Consolidated Government

Scott Evans is the GIS Coordinator for the Columbus Consolidated Government. He has worked in GIS and IT for 10 years and been with Columbus Consolidated Government for almost 4 years. Prior to being employed by the city, Scott worked as a GIS Analyst for the County of Dauphin in Pennsylvania. He holds a Master's of Science in Geoenvironmental Studies from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.

John Taylor, PhD  - Frederick Law Olmsted Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

John Taylor is the Frederick Law Olmsted Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Dr. Taylor studies the dynamics where human and engineered networks meet encouraging engineered infrastructure to be resiliant and serve society’s needs while creating more livable and healthy communities. Dr. Taylor developed a virtual reality system integrating spatial and temporal data collected from real and simulated sources into a system for planners and analysts to perform "what if" scenarios on realistically complex data sets.

Brett Lavender  - Chief Information Officer, Macon-Bibb County

Brett Lavender is a U.S. Air Force Veteran with 38 years of experience in the field of information technology. Prior to joining Macon-Bibb County Government, Brett served as Director of Information Technology for the Clayton County Board of Commissioners. He has extensive experience in building and leading public sector technology teams. Brett is a continuous improvement champion. Mr. Lavender holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Mercer University - Stetson School of Business and Economics. He is a Certified Public Manager® (CPM®), a Certified Government Chief Information Officer™ (CGCIO™) and has completed the Local Government Chief Information Officer (LGCIO) program through the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia. He has both ITIL® v3 Foundation and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt (LSSGB) Certifications.

Arthi Rao, PhD  - Research Scientist, Center for Quality Growth & Regional Development in the College of Design, Georgia Institute of Technology

Arthi Rao is a research scientist at the Center for Quality Growth & Regional Development in the College of Design. Dr. Rao’s research interests focus on social/spatial analytics, equity and access. She uses methods including spatial clustering, data mining/classification techniques and hierarchical modeling in her research. She has integrated these methods to create decision-support tools for academic and industrial applications. Dr. Rao regularly collaborates with researchers at The Morehouse School of Medicine, Georgia Tech and the American Planning Association as a subject matter expert on healthy communities’ research and geospatial methods. She has published in journals on the topics of Health Impact Assessment (HIA), sustainability, walkability analysis, regional planning, and therapeutic landscapes. She has an interdisciplinary doctorate in Urban Planning, Epidemiology, and Geographic Information Systems from Georgia Tech/Emory.

Katie O'Connor  - Senior City Planner, City of Woodstock

Katie O’Connor, AICP, is the Senior City Planner for the City of Woodstock, Georgia. She has recently overseen the 20-year update to the City’s Comprehensive Plan, also manages other long-range planning efforts, and frequently authors zoning code amendments. Katie serves as the City’s Sustainability Program Manager, including responsibility for the Bronze (2010), Silver (2011), and Gold (2015) certifications from the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Green Communities program for the City. Because of Katie’s efforts, Woodstock received certification as a PlanFirst Community (GA Dept. of Community Affairs), and she recently oversaw the production of a new mural in Downtown Woodstock as part of the Atlanta Regional Public Art Program. Katie has lived and worked in Woodstock since earning her Masters Degree in 2010. She serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Elm Street Cultural Arts Village, a non-profit arts organization local to Woodstock, and is a 2016 graduate of the ARC Regional Leadership Institute (RLI) and the Fall 2016 class of Georgia Forward’s Young Gamechangers program.

Ramachandra Sivakumar  - Sr. Research engineer in the Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization in the College of Design, Georgia Institute of Technology

Ramachandra Sivakumar (Siva) is a Senior Research Engineer in the Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization (CSPAV). He has more than 20 years of comprehensive experience in GIS and Information Technology. His expertise include web-based GIS application design and development, network management, database management, and system administration. At CSPAV, Siva is involved in a variety of projects apart from his primary role of system, network, and IT administration. Recent projects include design and development of a GIS database for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, developing a GIS framework for MEAG Power’s Location Georgia group, and developing an enterprise GIS plan for the City of Albany, Ga. He was a contributor in City of Atlanta’s initial Enterprise GIS implementation efforts and played a vital role in the development and operation of Georgia GIS Data Clearinghouse, a spatial data repository for the State of Georgia. Siva implemented the first National Spatial Data Infrastructure node in Georgia. He has provided GIS research support for various ongoing projects supported by National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research, National Science Foundation, Mid America Earthquake Center, and other sponsors. In addition, Siva administers the ESRI GIS software program, the ESRI Education Development Center for Georgia Tech, and the ERDAS GAHEAK software for the University system of Georgia. He is a member of the Georgia chapter of Urban and Regional Information Systems Association, GIS Certification Institute oversight committee, and a volunteer with GISCorps.