Worth Cities: Innovation and the Rising City

Innovation and the Rising City, an event from the Worth Cities platform of Worth Media, will explore innovations, best practices, emerging trends, and new leadership from cities around the United States. This June 2023 conference, to be held in Charleston, S.C., will bring together investors, thought leaders, policymakers, elected officials, philanthropists, businesspeople and entrepreneurs to exchange ideas on the future of cities and facilitate tangible action. The conference will offer a diverse range of panel discussions, keynote speeches, and networking opportunities for attendees, as well as opportunities to experience Charleston’s renowned culture and cuisine. 

Innovation and the Rising City is an essential gathering for anyone interested in shaping the future of American cities.

Guests can register for this intimate experience to join Worth Cities Summit for the virtual experience.

    June 7th (Evening Reception) & 8th (Summit & Reception)
    Charleston, SC | The Dewberry Charleston (Reception) & The Mills House Hotel (Summit & Reception)


    Kristen Adamo President & CEO, Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau
    Richard Bradley Worth Magazine
    Margaret Brown VP, Community Partnership Development, Blue Zones LLC
    Dan Costa Chief Content Officer, Worth Media
    Eva Crouse Staff Editor for Worth Media Group
    Michael Dorf CEO and Founder, City Winery
    Gareth Edmondson-Jones Director, External Communications & Media Relations at Breeze Airways
    Rebecca Fannin Author, Silicon Heartland
    Will Fleissig Founder and Managing Principal, Collaborative Equities Inc
    Lissa Frenkel President & CEO, Charleston Gaillard Center
    Blaine A. Griffin President, Cleveland City Council
    Mena Mark Hanna General Director & CEO, Spoleto Festival
    H. Beecher Hicks III President, National Museum of African American Music
    Helen Hill President and CEO, Explore Charleston
    Maura Hogan Contributing Arts Critic and Columnist, The Post and Courier
    Edith Hsu-Chen Executive Director, New York City Department of City Planning
    Andrew Hsu President, College of Charleston
    Josh Kampel CEO, Worth Media Group
    Moniqua Lane Owner, Citizen Hotel and Downtown Clifton (Tucson)
    Casey Lavin President, Beemok Hospitality Collection
    Tonya Matthews President & CEO, International African American Museum
    Valarie J. McCall Founder, CEO & Chief Connecting Officer, Valarie McCall Consulting Agency
    Jim McCann Chairman, Worth and Chairman & Founder, 1-800-FLOWERS
    LaMonica McIver Council President, City of Newark
    Barbara Melvin President & CEO, South Carolina Ports Authority
    Femi Oyediran Sommelier & Co-Owner, Graft Wine Shop & Wine Bar
    Roland Pearson Vice President & Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity International, TCIS
    Mark Permar Founding Principal, Permar Inc
    Jennifer Ross Chief Advancement Officer, Gibbes Museum of Art
    Juan Santos Senior VP of Brand Experiences & Innovation, Tavistock Development Company
    Martha Sheridan President & CEO, Meet Boston
    Patt Talvanna Partner & Associate Director, Boston Consulting Group (BCG)
    Mayor John Tecklenburg Mayor, Charleston
    Doug Warner Executive Vice President, Explore Charleston
    • 8:00 AM Breakfast & Registration Open
    • 8:00 AM - 8:45 AM Wealth Management Breakfast: Innovative Client Development Success

      Networking breakfast and discussion about reaching the Right person with the Right message in the Right environment at the Right time with the Right outcome. (Location: Middleton Room)

    • 9:00 AM Conference Begins

      Welcome remarks by Worth Media CEO Josh Kampel and Founder & Chairman Jim McCann

    • Opening Remarks

      Dan Costa, Worth Media Group

    • Beyond the Skyline: Understanding the State of American Cities

      Will Fleissig, Collaborative Equities

      Combining data-driven research and firsthand observations, Will Fleissig will set the stage for a day-long conversation about the economic, social, and technological transformations reshaping American cities.

    • Designing Urban Spaces: Strategies for Successful Place-Making

      Casey Lavin, Beemok Hospitality Collection;  Mark Permar, Permar Inc.; Juan Santos, Tavistock

      From innovative storytelling to  extraordinary experiences,  purpose-driven philanthropy and designing in sync with nature, this panel will explore the successful creation of vibrant and connected communities.

    • Understanding the Past, Building the Future

      Lissa Frenkel, Gaillard; Henry Beecher Hicks, National Museum of African American Music; Dr. Tonya Matthews, International African American Museum

      These two esteemed museum directors will engage in a profound conversation about the complex and nuanced topic of race in America, both in its historical context and its implications for the future. Together, they will explore the role of museums in fostering dialogue, promoting understanding, and addressing systemic issues, while envisioning a more inclusive and equitable future for cultural institutions and the communities they serve.

    • 10:40 AM Break
    • Place-Based Entrepreneurship

      Moniqua Lane, Citizen Hotel and Downtown Clifton & Femi Oyediran, Graft Wine Shop & Wine Bar

      Small businesses, with their distinct identities and local bonds, contribute to shaping the cultural fabric and unique character of a city. These two successful entrepreneurs discuss the power of investing in new ventures and the transformative impact of setting down roots in a community.

    • Redefining Cities: Promoting Inclusion and Economic Development

      Helen Hill, Explore Charleston & Martha Sheridan, Meet Boston

      Panelists will explore innovative approaches and best practices to foster equitable opportunities, empower local communities, and drive sustainable economic growth. How can cities better embrace diversity, break down barriers, and create thriving environments that benefit residents and visitors alike?

    • Rethinking Urban Housing: How Habitat for Humanity Innovates

      Roland Pearson, Habitat for Humanity International

      Myriad complexities surround the urban housing conundrum. Roland Pearson runs the Habitat for Humanity Terwillinger Center for Innovation in Shelter, where the nonprofit collaborates with actors throughout the housing ecosystem, taking a systems change approach to solving the crisis.

    • Silicon Heartland

      Rebecca Fannin, Author

      Author Rebecca Fannin spent the pandemic traveling across the country exploring how cities across the Midwest are evolving into thriving technology hubs. She’ll share how these cities are leveraging unique strengths to foster entrepreneurial ecosystems, attract top talent, and create a supportive infrastructure to drive technological advancements and economic growth.

    • 12:25 PM Lunch
    • Adapting Higher Education: Preparing Students for an AI-driven Future

      Andrew Hsu, College of Charleston

      Artificial intelligence is poised to transform the realm of higher education, along with nearly every other industry. What are the necessary adaptations and innovative approaches required to equip students with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in an AI-driven society.

    • Beyond the Shoreline: Transforming Urban Waterfronts into Thriving Community Spaces

      Barbara Melvin, South Carolina Ports Authority & Doug Warner, Explore Charleston

      From revitalizing industrial port areas to creating mixed-use developments, we’ll discuss the challenges, opportunities, and best practices for fostering resilient, inclusive, and thriving urban environments that harmoniously coexist with natural surroundings.

    • Innovation and the Rising City

      Patt Talvanna, BCG

      Digital twins, artificial intelligence, and data analytics are revolutionizing urban planning, infrastructure management, and citizen experiences. Digital transformation can enhance sustainability, improve operational efficiency, and enable data-driven decision-making in building smarter, more connected, and resilient cities.

    • How City Councils Get Stuff Done

      Blaine Griffin, Cleveland City Council;  Valarie McCall, Valarie McCall Consulting Agency; LaMonica McIver, City of Newark

      Explore the the pivotal role of city councils in fostering active community participation, empowering residents, and creating a strong foundation for democratic decision-making in local governance.

    • 2:45 PM Break
    • Making Connections: Emerging Trends in Travel & Tourism

      Gareth Edmondson-Jones, Breeze Airways & Kristen Adamo, Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau

      With a focus on underserved routes, Breeze Airlines enhances regional connectivity, promotes economic growth, and opens up opportunities for tourism, business, and cultural exchange between second cities and the rest of the country.

    • Urban Canvases: How the Arts are Redefining Cultural Spaces

      Mena Mark Hanna, Spoleto Festival; Maura Hogan, The Post and Courier; Jen Ross, Gibbes Museum

      From traditional museums, cultural festivals and creative placemaking initiatives, this panel delves into how artistic expression and cultural interventions are reshaping the narrative and reclaiming public spaces in modern cities.

    • Sonic Pairings: The Intersection of Music, Wine, and City Culture

      Michael Dorf, City Winery

      Exploring the power of sensory experiences with the founder of City Winery, the nations largest independent music venue operator. This chat will explore how the harmonious combination of music and wine can enhance and reflect the unique cultural fabric of cities, creating immersive and memorable encounters for residents and visitors alike.

    • Revitalizing Urban Cores: What’s Next for City Centers?

      Edith Hsu-Chen, ​​New York City Department of City Planning

      Through a combination of innovative urban planning, sustainable development strategies, and community engagement, central business districts can transform into dynamic, inclusive, and resilient economic and cultural hubs.

    • Live Better Longer: The Blue Zone Blueprint

      Margaret Brown, Blue Zones

      Dive into the concept of Blue Zones and their blueprint for promoting longevity and well-being. Expert speakers will share insights on the key factors contributing to the exceptional health and longevity of individuals in Blue Zones around the world, including lifestyle, diet, social connections, and environmental factors.

    • 5:30 PM Closing Reception
    In Partnership With
    What to Expect at Worth Cities Summit

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