Staff Specialties

Brooks Rainwater

Senior Executive & Director, Center for City Solutions

Brooks Rainwater is a Senior Executive and Director of the Center for City Solutions. He oversees NLC's research, research partnerships, and community engagement efforts to strengthen the capacity of municipal leaders to create strong local economies, safe and vibrant neighborhoods, world-class infrastructure, and a sustainable environment. Brooks' areas of expertise include economic development, urban innovation, and sustainability.  >Click here for extended biography.

Recent Publications

-How the Maker Movement is Revitalizing Industry in American Cities
-City of the Future:  Technology & Mobility 
-Shifting Perceptions of Collaborative Consumption
-A City View of the Sharing Economy 

Jim Brooks

Director, City Solutions

James Brooks is the City Solutions Director. He is responsible for identifying, analyzing and reporting on best and promising practices among municipal governments in the U.S. and abroad. Areas of expertise include housing, neighborhood and community development, infrastructure, civic engagement, and international urbanism.  >Click here for extended biography. 

Recent Publications

-7 Tools to Fight the Opiod Epidemic
-How the City of Newark is Leading in Historic Preservations
-City Practice Database: Los Angeles Small Lot Ordinance

Christy McFarland

Director, Research

Christiana McFarland is NLC's Research Director. She leads NLC's efforts to transform city-level data into information that strengthens the capacity of city leaders and that raises awareness of challenges, trends and successes in cities. Her areas of expertise include economic development, workforce development, and municipal finance. >Click here for extended biography.

Recent Publications

-City Fiscal Conditions
-State of the Cities
-Performance Management: A Guide For City Leaders

Jess Zimbabwe, AIA AICP

Director, Rose Center for Public Leadership in Land Use

Jess Zimbabwe serves as founding Executive Director of the Daniel Rose Center for Public Leadership at the National League of Cities and the Urban Land Institute. Previously, Jess was the Director of the Mayors' Institute on City Design and served as the Community Design Director at Urban Ecology, providing pro bono community planning and design assistance to low-income neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a licensed architect, certified city planner, a LEED-Accredited professional, and a member of the urban planning faculty at Georgetown University.  >Click here for extended biography. 

Recent Publications

-Intelligent Cities
-Fellowships and Public Service
-Planning as a Leadership Skill

Gideon Berger

Program Director, Rose Center for Public Leadership in Land Use

Gideon Berger is Program Director of the Daniel Rose Fellowship program at the Rose Center for Public Leadership in Land Use, a joint program of the National League of Cities and Urban Land Institute. Berger is responsible for developing fellowship programming, recruiting faculty and guest experts, and supporting the fellows with their city's land use challenge and professional development opportunities. Areas of expertise include complete streets, transit oriented development, community development and economic development.  >Click here for extended biography.

Recent Publications

-Connections: Rochester To Activate Downtown Assets Through Rose Fellowship
-What Goes Into Timing Traffic Lights?

Shafaq Choudry

Senior Associate, Sustainable Cities Institute

Shafaq Choudry is a Senior Associate with the Sustainable Cities Initiative at the National League of Cities. She oversees the Leadership in Community Resilience program which aims to provide equitable and inclusive tools, resources and support to help strengthen communities social, economic and environmental resiliency goals. Previously, Shafaq led public engagement and outreach processes on neighborhood development and transportation plans for non-profit organizations and local government in Chicago and Los Angeles. Her interest in low-income community access to transportation, equitable development and social resilience extends beyond borders and into Latin America where she provided research on equitable transit-oriented development strategies for Panama and Mexico City as a graduate student at UCLA. Shafaq grew up in Venezuela, gained community-based experience working with culturally rich and low-income neighborhoods in Chicago and is a native speaker of Spanish, Hindi and Urdu. She holds a Master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

Carlos Delgado

Senior Associate, Rose Center for Public Leadership in Land Use

Carlos E. Delgado is the Senior Associate with the Rose Center for Public Leadership in Land Use at the National League of Cities (NLC). In this role, Carlos leads the Equitable Economic Development (EED) Fellowship program researching city efforts in economic development, serving as the primary point of contact for senior economic development officials interested in bringing an equity lens to work within their community, and gathering information on innovative initiatives in cities and towns to promote equitable development. He holds two master degrees in Business Administration (MBA) from Syracuse University and in Public Administration (MPA) from Queen's University. In addition, Carlos completed a Certificate Program in Economic Development offered by the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. >Click for extended biography.

Caroline Dietrich

Program Director, Conferences and Meetings at the Rose Center

Caroline "Carrie" Dietrich is the program manager for the Conferences and Meetings department and the Rose Center for Public Leadership in Land Use at the National League of Cities. In this capacity, she coordinates the logistics for the Daniel Rose Fellowship, other Rose Center programming, a variety of other events for City Solutions and Applied Research as well as NLC's two annual conferences. 

Nicole DuPuis

Principal Associate, Infrastructure

Nicole DuPuis is a Senior Associate in the City Solutions and Applied Research Center. She manages NLC's best practice research work on transportation, public works, and telecommunications and helps local leaders communicate the impact of infrastructure projects in their communities. Nicole's areas of expertise include transportation planning and governance, broadband access and adoption, and public utility regulation.

Recent Publications

-The Who, What, and Why of Google Fiber
-The Sentiment on Sharing is Shifting
-Cities Succeed Where Feds Have Fallen Short on Transportation
-What is a Muni Network?  Here are the Basics.

Terrah W. Glenn

Research Assistant 

Terrah W. Glenn is the Research Assistant to the Director of the NLC's Center for City Solutions.   In addition to pursuing dual Master's degrees in the fields of urban and regional planning and landscape architecture, Terrah works on the Center's full range of research priorities with special emphasis on the areas of urban innovation and sustainability.

Recent Publications

-Innovation Districts: The Chattanooga Story
-City Open Data Policies

Elisha Harig-Blaine

Principal Housing Associate, (Veteran's & Special Needs)

Elisha Harig-Blaine is the Principal Housing Associate for the National League of Cities (NLC), connecting local leaders to best practices and efforts working to provide all veterans with a safe place to call home.

A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Elisha serves as part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans. He has testified before the U.S. Senate and spoken across the country on the issues of homelessness and housing. Elisha earned a Bachelor Degree in Political Science from St. Mary's College of Maryland and has a Master Degree in Public Policy from George Mason University. 

Recent Publications

-Top 3 Takeaways From the First Lady's Address on Veteran Homelessness
-Partnerships in Phoenix Bring Veterans Home
-How Two Ohio Cities Used Partnerships to House Veterans
-Three Ways This State is Housing All Homeless Veterans

Joshua Hart

Senior Fellow, Public Sector Retirement Initiative

Joshua Hart is a Senior Fellow in the City Solutions and Applied Research Center responsible for managing NLC's Public Sector Retirement Initiative and Advisory Committee. Josh is focused on ensuring the initiative is a resource for elected officials to help navigate the complexities of retirement and healthcare planning and funding for the municipal workforce. Prior to joining NLC, Josh was a Senior Associate researching public sector retirement at the Pew Charitable Trusts. He holds a MS in Public Policy and Management from the Carnegie Mellon University, and a BA in Economics from Oberlin College.

Nick Kasza

Senior Associate, Sustainable Cities Institute

Nick Kasza is a Senior Associate with the Sustainable Cities Institute at the National League of Cities. He is part of a team that administers the SolSmart program funded by the Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative. SolSmart is a national designation and technical assistance program that recognizes leading solar communities and empowers additional communities to expand their local solar markets. He helps deliver technical assistance to cities pursuing SolSmart designation. His areas of expertise include solar photovoltaic project development, due diligence, and risk assessment.

Laura Lanford

Manager, NLC University

Laura Lanford , Manager of NLC University, has worked at the National League of Cities since 2010, originally joining the organization as Coordinator for the Emergency Management Training program.  In August of 2010, Laura joined the Leadership Training Institute, where she managed the Certificate of Achievement in Leadership program until the summer of 2013.  Laura earned her undergraduate degree in English and Studio Art from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA.  

Recent Publications

-Michael Lynch Scholarship Recipient Brings a Fresh Perspective to Community
-New Opportunities to Learn and Connect through NLC University
-City Leaders Gather in Charlotte to Strengthen Leadership Skills
-Lynch Scholarship Recipient Pursues Education to Better Serve Community


Trevor Langan

Research Associate

Trevor Langan is the Research Associate for NLC's City Solutions and Applied Research center.  In addition to supporting the Center's work on topics ranging from equitable development to infrastructure finance, he leads the annual State of the Cities research project and quarterly analysis of local government employment data.  Trevor is pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree at American University, where he also received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.  

Recent Publications

-Quarterly Jobs Report: Employment Surges in 2016 with Local Variation
-10 Innovative Ways to Attract Millennials to Your City
-How to Make a Creative City

Cooper Martin

Program Director, Sustainable Cities Institute

Cooper Martin is the Program Director for the Sustainable Cities Institute at the National League of Cities. The SCI program provides information, tools, and guidance to strengthen communities and enable them to thrive while facing the challenges presented by a changing climate and uncertain global economy. His areas of expertise include climate resilience, community development, smart growth, and emergency management.

Recent Publications

-Managing Municipal Risk in the Face of Climate Change
-Cities Make Sustainability the New Business-As-Usual
-To Thrive in 21st Century, America Must Be a Nation of Resilient Cities

Soren Messner-Zidell

Program Manager, Information Design

Soren is the Senior Associate for Research and Data Visualization. He specializes in information design, data visualization, and visual storytelling. He creates compelling data-driven visual products across a variety of mediums, ranging from traditional publications to static information graphics and motion graphics.

Recent Infographics

-The Sharing Economy: Connecting Cities and the New Economy
-City Fiscal Condition in 2014
-Veteran Homelessness:  Keys to Progress

Emily Robbins

Principal Associate, Economic Development

Emily Robbins is the Principal Associate for Economic Development with the City Solutions and Applied Research Center at the National League of Cities (NLC). Her research helps city leaders create strong and equitable local economies. Emily is currently focusing on local government strategies for developing small businesses, entrepreneurial ecosystems, and small-scale manufacturing. Emily manages the Big Ideas for Small Business program at NLC, which is a national peer network of local government staff who convene around best practices for supporting the growth of local business communities. She is also co-leading a community of practice for Startup in a Day, an initiative in partnership with the Small Business Administration and Code for America to help cities create a more business-friendly environment. Emily earned a master's degree in public policy from the George Washington University and a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northeastern University in Boston.   >Click here for extended biography.

Recent Publications

-KCMO Closes Digital Divide for Small Businesses
-Predatory Small Business Lending Concerns Voiced at Federal, State Hearings
-Is Manufacturing a Viable Path Forward for Cities?
-Anchor Institutions, Motor City Match, and Teacher Housing: This Month in Economic Development