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2023 Keynote Speakers

Opening Keynote | Wednesday, October 11 | 1:30–2:15 PM

NeurourbanismHow an Understanding of Our Brains Can Help Us Design Happier Cities

About the Speaker

Megan Oliver, AICP, WELL AP

Megan Oliver, AICP, WELL AP, is an urban designer and independent researcher exploring the deep emotional impacts of place. Believing in the power of our surroundings to profoundly influence our mood and behavior, she is driven to design and shape spaces that foster healing and joy. Through her research-informed practice, Megan connects the science of human experience to urban design and planning strategies. She employs storytelling, public art, placekeeping, livability planning, and responsive spatial design interventions to cultivate happier, more inclusive spaces and places.

Megan shares work and insights on her website (HelloHappy.Design), LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/meganoliver/), and Instagram (@hellohappy.design).

About the Session

Planning isn’t neuroscience…or is it? For over a century, planning professionals have relied heavily on intuition, trial-and-error, and seminal writings from urbanists like Jacobs, Lynch, & Whyte to guide our decision-making. While our collective wisdom has served us well up until this point, recent research suggests that our brains respond to our surroundings in ways we had not previously understood. As planners, this potentially offers us unique insights into how we might design spaces that better achieve our goals.

Exploring relationships between place, thought, and behavior, neuroscientific research encourages planners to view our classical teachings through a new lens. With a greater understanding of how people experience, move through, and cultivate well-being in cities, we can revolutionize our profession and shape happier and more humane cities for the 21st century.

Thursday, October 12 | 12:00–2:30 PM

Governor's Lunch with remarks from Washington State Governor, Jay Inslee

 About the Speaker

Jay first became involved in public service in 1985 when he and Trudi helped lead the effort to build a new public high school in Selah. Motivated to fight against proposed funding cuts for rural schools, Jay went on to represent the 14th Legislative District in the state House of Representatives. He was then elected to Congress in 1992. The Inslees later moved back to Kitsap County where Jay was elected to Congress in 1998, serving until 2012 when he was elected governor.

He is currently the longest serving governor in the United States.

During his time in Congress, Jay became known as a forward-thinking leader, especially on issues of clean energy and climate change. He co-wrote a book, "Apollo's Fire: Igniting America's Clean-Energy Economy," about fighting climate change through clean energy innovation and job-creation. As governor, he has helped put Washington state at the forefront of climate action and is helping lead numerous subnational partnerships. Since 2013, the state has passed nation-leading policies to transition to 100% clean electricity, cap carbon pollution, electrify transportation, and more.

Over the past decade, Washington has consistently been among the few states to rank as one of the best states for business and one of the best states for workers. From commercial space and sustainable maritime to advanced agriculture and forest products, the growth of Washington’s key sectors is helping attract new companies and create jobs in communities all across the state. Washington has one of the nation’s highest minimum wages, paid sick leave for all workers, a best-in-the-nation paid family leave program, and one of the highest union membership rates.