2018 RPA Assembly: Breakout Sessions Recap


Last Friday, 1200 people from across the region joined us for our 28th annual Assembly. The one-day gathering featured truly incredible headliners including former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and New York City Transit Authority president Andy Byford – all of whom inspired the audience to act on the very BIG ideas from our Fourth Regional Plan. (More about that and videos of their speeches coming soon!) 

But it was the conversations in the breakout sessions that really got into the meat of how to get it done.

If you were unable to join us for the full day, we’ve created a handy summary of each session, along with audio, photos and the introductory presentations that RPA staff made to kick off each conversation.

Thank you all again for making the 2018 RPA Assembly a great success!

Improve Transit Options in the Suburbs and Outer Boroughs
In one of the first panel discussions of the day, John Andoh, Transit Administrator, Dutchess County Public Transit; Tabitha Decker, Deputy Executive Director, TransitCenter; NYC Bus Turnaround Campaign; Margaret Newman, Principal, Integrated Planning, Arup; Eric Rothman, President, HR&A Advisors; and Jason Post, Director, Public Policy & Communications, Uber Technologies, Inc. talked about if and how new technologies will reshape how suburban residents live, and what role the government should play in setting rules and regulations to ensure that high quality mobility is accessible to all residents.

Expand the Region’s Carbon Market:
During this morning panel, panelists Rit Aggarwala, Head of Urban Systems, Sidewalk Labs; Kate Burson, Northeast U.S. Market Development Lead, Tesla; Dale Bryk, Chief Planning & Integration Officer, NRDC; Jeanne Herb, Associate Director of Environmental Analysis & Communications Group, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy; Kathyrn Zyla, Deputy Director, Georgetown Climate Center discussed ways in which transportation emissions can be dramatically reduced in ways that improve efficiency and generate valuable revenue for further community and infrastructure investments.

Institute and Fund a Regional Coastal Commission
In the afternoon, panelists Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Executive; Ravinder S. Bhalla, Mayor, Hoboken; Eugenie Birch, Lawrence C. Nussdorf Professor of Urban Research & Education, University of Pennsylvania, Kate Orff, Founder & Design Director, SCAPE and Henk OvinkSpecial Envoy for International Water Affairs, Kingdom of The Netherlands Sherpa to the UN/WB High Level Panel on Water, had a captivating conversation about how a regional coastal commission would be a continuation of existing resilience efforts and a radical upgrade in the three states’ ability to prepare for a changing coastline.

Invest in the Region’s Flagship Places
During this morning breakout session, panelists Laura Curran, Nassau County Executive; Lynn Haig, Director of Planning, Office of Planning & Economic Development, City of Bridgeport; Hope Knight, President & CEO, Greater Jamaica Development Corporation; Melissa Mark-Viverito, Senior Advisor, Latino Victory Fund and former New York City Council Speaker,  and David Martin, Mayor of Stamford discussed what a wide range of different communities across the region are doing today to provide more  housing affordability, improve commutes, prepare for climate change, and enhance health and quality of life.

Integrate and Expand the Commuter Rail Network
During this afternoon discussion, our latest report on the T-REX took the spotlight. Panelists Kevin Corbett, Executive Director, NJ Transit; Sarah Feinberg, former Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration; Chief of Staff, USDOT; Founder & Owner, Feinberg Strategies, LLC; Patrick Foye, President, MTA; Seth Pinsky, Executive Vice President, Fund Manager, Metro Emerging Markets & Public Affairs Director, RXR Realty; and Tom Prendergrast, Chief Strategic Officer & Executive Vice President, STV; former Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, MTA talked about the next steps it would take to create a regional regional rail network—from extending the proposed Gateway project to Queens, to creating more physical connections between the railroads, to reforming the way the agencies work together.

Grow the Middle Class in a Technology-Charged Economy
In this morning discussion, panelists Rob Atkinson, President, Information Technology and Innovation; Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director, New York City Taxi Workers Alliance; Winston Fisher, Partner, Fisher Brothers; Co-Chair of NYC Regional Economic Development Council; Aisha Glover, President & CEO, Newark Community Economic Development Corporation; and Pablo Illanes, Partner, McKinsey & Company  discuss how reforming policies in land use and development, education and the workforce can address the loss of existing jobs while expanding opportunity.

Create More Homes with the Buildings We Have
During this morning breakout session, panelists Jun Choi, CEO, Menlo Realty Ventures; Deborah Gans, Principal GANSstudio; Nancy Holman, Associate Professor of Urban Planning, London School of Economics; Evonne Klein, Commissioner for the Department of Housing, State of Connecticut, and Julia Watt-Rosenfeld, Director of Community Organizing & Advocacy, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation touched on how states and municipalities can release this “hidden housing” to reduce both housing costs and residential segregation in the region.

Give Communities the Tools to Plan Their Future
In one of the most lively discussions of the day, panelists Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President; Malo Hutson, Associate Professor of Urban Planning at Columbia University; Letitia James, Public Advocate for the City of New York; Mitchell Korbey, Partner & Chair of the Land Use & Zoning Group at Herrick, Feinstein LLP; Antonio Reynoso, NYC Council Member; and Robert Schiffer,Managing Director, SL Green discuss ways to transform land use governance to be more inclusive, predictable and efficient, including revising the Charter of the City of New York.

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