Meet Our Keynote Speaker
Kristin Baja, Director of Direct Support & Innovation, Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN)
Kristin Baja (‘Baja’) is Director of Direct Support & Innovation at USDN and is responsible for helping cities identify strategic ways to advance climate resilience planning and implementation and building their capacity to take proactive action. Baja focuses her time on supporting members and partners in working at the nexus of resilience, mitigation and equity while also helping center equity in their climate and sustainability work. She helps facilitate deeper relationships between local governments and stakeholders while helping to identify and shift focus to more collaborative and transformational action. Prior to USDN, Baja served as the Climate and Resilience Planner with the City of Baltimore's Office of Sustainability where she led the city's climate and equity work. She holds a Masters of Urban Planning and a Masters of Science from the University of Michigan. She is also an Aspen Global Change Institute Fellow, is an EPIC-N board member, and serves on several local and international advisory committees. In 2016, she was recognized by the Obama Administration as a Champion of Change for her work on climate and equity.
Mayor Aftab Pureval
City of Cincinnati, OH
Mayor Pureval is the 70th Mayor of the City of Cincinnati. As Mayor, he has made equitable economic growth a top priority of his administration, as well as a comprehensive reform and improvement of public safety, affordable housing, and environmental action. Formerly serving as the first Democrat to be elected Hamilton County Clerk of Courts in over 100 years, he revolutionized the courthouse, ending the nepotism while adding more online services and opening an award-winning Help Center. He paid every employee a living wage of $16 an hour and became the first countywide officeholder in Ohio to offer paid family leave.
Mayor Jeffrey J. Mims, Jr.
City of Dayton, OH
Mayor Mims joined the Dayton City Commission in 2014, with a distinguished history of public service, and was elected Mayor of Dayton in 2021. After retiring from Dayton Public Schools with more than 35 years of service, he served on the Ohio School Board. He was elected President of the Dayton Education Association for six terms and is past president of the Dayton Board of Education. His diverse work within the district included garnering support for equitable funding of Ohio's public schools, and his efforts helped pave the way for Ohio's New School Facilities Program. For the past 40 years, Jeffrey Mims has committed to making the city of Dayton and the Dayton Public Schools strong partners in developing a "Champion City and School District" and improving the quality of life for Dayton citizens through education.
Mayor Sharetta Smith
City of Lima, OH
Mayor Smith is a Lima native with roots in the community extending across five generations. She has had a career in public service as a lawyer, judicial magistrate, Lima’s Chief of Staff, with additional private sector experience managing global purchasing and logistics contracts. As Chief of Staff, Sharetta developed smart solutions for entrenched problems in local government, including designating three of Lima’s most blighted census tracts as Opportunity Zones to spur economic development, leading to a solutions-driven community-wide conversation about the future of housing. Influenced by her collaborative leadership style, Lima experienced a renewed focus on neighborhood and downtown revitalization, youth development, improvement of government operations, and strengthened relationships with public and private partners. In 2021, Sharetta was elected to serve as the 59th Mayor of the City of Lima - the first woman, and the first African American mayor in the city’s 190 year history.