Opening Plenary

Neal_PeirceKeynote Speaker

Neal Peirce

Chairman, The Citistates Group

Washington, D.C.

Neal Peirce is a foremost writer, among American journalists, on metropolitan regions — their political and economic dynamics, their emerging national and global roles. With Curtis Johnson, he has co-authored the Peirce Reports (now called Citistates Reports) on compelling issues of metropolitan futures for leading media in 25 regions across the nation. Reports of recent years include Boston Unbound, released in May 2004, a series for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier, published serially in September and October 2007, and a series on the Charlotte Citistate for the Charlotte Observer and other papers of that region (a reprise of the authors’ 1995 Charlotte region report, published in autumn 2008).Peirce is also a principal author of a major report and forward look at global urban challenges, Century of the City: No Time To Lose, based on the Rockefeller Foundation’s 2007 Global Urban Summit in Bellagio, Italy.  He is currently working on creation of Citiscope– a global news website focused on innovations and experiments underway in world cities, on topic areas ranging from climate change to slum upgrading, water and food security to advance steps to protect against natural disasters.

To read more about Mr Peirce, go to:


Response Panel

Diane Bell McKoyDiane Bell McKoy,

President and Chief Executive Officer, Associated Black Charities (ABC)

Baltimore, Maryland

Ms. McKoy has spearheaded ABC’s mission since 2007.  Prior to taking her current position, she was a Senior Fellow at the Annie E. Casey Foundation and had also lead Baltimore’s Empowerment Zone Corporation, deemed as one of the most successful nonprofits across the country at that time.  Ms. McKoy’s current work at ABC focuses on closing the health and wealth gaps for people of color in the state of Maryland.   Through strategic alliances and a signature mission platform entitled “More in the Middle,” Diane and her team are tirelessly working to expand the assets of the low income, working poor and the fragile middle class.

To read more about Ms. McKoy, go to:


William H. Cole, IVWilliam H. Cole IV

District #11 Representative, Baltimore City Council

Baltimore, Maryland

Mr. Cole is a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates (1998-2002) and Special Assistant to U.S. Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, MD-07, (1996-2003), and is in his second term on the Baltimore City Council representing downtown Baltimore and the neighborhoods of the 11th District. Councilman Cole holds a B.A. in Government & Politics from the University of Maryland and a M.A. Legal & Ethical Studies from the University of Baltimore where he is currently Associate Vice President for Institutional Advancement.  In addition to serving on more than a dozen civic and non-profit boards including Visit Baltimore, the Babe Ruth Museum, and the Flag House & Star-Spangled Banner Museum, Bill is Chairman of Cecil Bank and its holding company, Cecil Bancorp, Inc. In 2012, Bill was selected as one of the first 100 U.S. elected officials for the New Deal, a progressive, pro-growth Democratic organization. He also participated in the American Swiss Foundation’s annual Young Leaders Conference in Zurich.

To read more about Councilman Cole, go to: