Advisory Board

Ashley Balius

Ashley is the Director of Community Outreach and Assistance for Linn County Community Services. Through this position, she oversees the General Assistance Department as well as community planning activities with local non-profits, governments, and organizations to serve low-income populations struggling with homeless or near homelessness, hunger, and persons with disabilities. Ashley currently serves on the City of Cedar Rapids Affordable Housing Commission, the City of Cedar Rapids Grants and Programs Advisory Committee, and the Linn County Continuum of Care. 

Ashley earned a B.A. in International Studies and an M.S. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Iowa. Ashley has worked on a number of housing and community development projects in Iowa City, Sioux City, Kalona, as well as the Neighborhood Finance Corporation in Des Moines. Ashley started her professional career at the United Way of East Central Iowa where she was the Manager of Financial Stability. She is passionate about serving the community and working for those who are under-served. Ashley also loves dogs, baking, and cheering for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes and Green Bay Packers. She lives in Cedar Rapids with her husband and two dogs, Mikey and Louie.

Bob Becker

Bob has been the Chief Executive Officer of the 1300 acre City Park in New Orleans for seventeen years. Prior to coming to City Park, Bob was a Senior Vice President at the Audubon Nature Institute and the Director of City Planning in New Orleans. Since 2005 his focus has been on the restoration of the Park following the catastrophic damage sustained during Hurricane Katrina. He has raised over $127 million dollars in public and private funds to recover and implement a new vision for the Park.

Bob is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners, recipient of a National Planning Excellence Award and an adjunct professor at the University of New Orleans. He has a B.A. in History from the University at Buffalo, an M.A. from the University of Iowa in Urban and Regional Planning and a Ph.D. from the University of New Orleans in Urban Studies. 

Michelle Bostinelos

Michelle is the Executive Director of the Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council (SIMPCO) in Sioux City, Iowa.  Michelle began her planning career as an Associated Planner with the City of Janesville, Wisconsin.  She returned to her hometown of Sioux City in 2005 when she was hired as the Transportation Director for SIMPCO.  Michelle was promoted to SIMPCO’s Deputy Director in 2014 and Executive Director in 2016.  Through her position, she oversees transportation planning, economic development, community development and housing projects throughout the tri-state Siouxland region of Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Michelle currently serves as the chair of Sioux City’s Planning & Zoning Commission /Board of Adjustments, a board member of the Sioux City Heritage Trolley Association, board member for the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities through the University of Iowa, a board member with the Iowa Association of Council of Governments, and board member with the Nebraska Regional Officials Council. She is a past board member of the Junior League of Sioux City and currently participates in the 100+ Women Who Care Siouxland chapter. Michelle is a 2009 graduate of Leadership Siouxland, was selected as one of Siouxland’s Top 10 under 40 in 2014, and was a recipient of SIMPCO’s distinguished Golden Carp award in 2018. Michelle earned a B.S. in Geography and M.A. in Urban and Regional Planning both from the University of Iowa.

J. Benjamin Champ

J. Benjamin Champ, AICP, CEcD, EDFP, ALSA is the City Manager for the City of Pleasant Hill, Iowa, where he has worked since 2008, previously as Assistant City Manager/Community Development Director.  Prior to Pleasant Hill, he was the Senior Planner for the City of Fort Dodge, Iowa. Champ holds a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Iowa State University and a Master of Science in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Iowa (2000). He is also a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute. In 2007, Champ passed the exam to become a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He has been a board member of the American Planning Association’s 500 member Iowa Chapter since 2008, serving in many roles including Secretary, Vice-President, two terms as the elected President, and now serves as the immediate Past President for the Chapter Board. In 2013, Champ obtained certification as an Economic Development Finance Professional through the National Development Council and is a member of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and the Professional Developers of Iowa. In 2019, he achieved status as a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) through IEDC. Champ is also an active supporter of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry’s Leadership Iowa Program as a graduate (2013-14), co-chair (2014-15), and past board member and co-chair for the Alumni Association. 

Suyun Channon

Suyun Channon (M.S. 2010) works as a global external relations officer in the University of Iowa International Programs. Her specialties include international higher education, global communications and marketing, alumni relations, and social media. Previously, she was a research assistant at the University of Iowa Public Policy Center while pursuing a M.S. degree in Urban and Regional Planning.

David Dunn

David earned a B.S. in Politics, Business, and Economics from Cornell College in 2001. David graduated with a M.S. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Iowa in 2006. Upon completion of his studies, he served as a Planner, and later Senior City Planner for the City of Des Moines, Iowa. It was there, that he developed a niche for working in the field of housing and community development.  In 2014, David was named the Assistant Planning Director for the Rochester (Minnesota) Olmsted County Planning Department, where he led the development review team. In February 2017, David was named the Executive Director of the Olmsted County Housing and Redevelopment Authority. This role allows David to focus his efforts on affordable housing issues on a full-time basis. David currently lives in Rochester, MN with his wife, Jill, and daughters Claire and Grace.

Geoff Fruin

Geoff Fruin currently serves as the City Manager for the City of Iowa City, where he has worked in various positions since 2011. Prior to working in Iowa City he spent eight years with the Town of Normal, Illinois where he last served as the Assistant City Manager. Before serving in local government, Geoff worked as a research assistant for the Urban Transportation Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, as well as with the Chicago Transit Authority and as an intern in the White House. He has Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Iowa in Business Administration and Master’s Degree in Urban Planning and Public Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

Robert Lamb

Now retired, Rob has spent more than 40 years as a professional planning and economic development executive with comprehensive experience in both the public and private sectors. He has served as planning director and community development director with the City of Beloit, WI; economic development consultant and manager with Wisconsin Electric Power Company, a large gas/electric utility; vice president of the Quad City Development Group, a bi-state regional economic development corporation; and Industrial Development Manager with the City of Rockford, IL.

These positions provided Rob with a very broad background in all phases of urban planning and community/economic development, including comprehensive city planning, business retention and expansion, project generation, project negotiation, deal closing and project implementation. These positions also provided him with the opportunity to develop strong management skills including program development and management, strategic planning and goal setting, consensus and team building, personnel management and budget administration. Throughout his career, Rob has demonstrated the ability to coordinate people and resources to successfully develop and complete major complex projects.

During his career, Rob has served on the board of directors of several professional development organizations, including Mid-America Economic Development Council, Illinois Development Council, Professional Developers of Iowa, and Wisconsin Economic Development Association (President 1989-1991).

Rob graduated from the University of Iowa in 1967 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology and Political Science and completed his graduate work at the University of Iowa in Urban and Regional Planning in 1971.

Rosa Newman

Rosa is a Development Manager with Laurel Street Residential, based in Charlotte, NC. There she is responsible for the complete development process of affordable and workforce housing mixed income communities. As a part of her responsibilities, Rosa performs initial feasibility studies for potential sites, negotiates and facilitates land acquisition, and engages with third party professionals including land-use attorneys, civil engineers and architects to initiate site planning and design. Additionally, Rosa sources debt and equity, supervises construction and lease-up and oversees the stabilization and debt conversion for each of her developments.

Rosa earned a BA in Political Science with a minor in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago where she was also a member of the inaugural class of the Trott Business Program (formerly UChicago Careers in Business Program). She completed a dual degree program at the University of Iowa earning a joint Juries doctorate and MS in Urban and Regional Planning.

Mike Norris

Mike is the Executive Director of the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission in West Burlington, Iowa, and has worked for the Commission since 2003. He has extensive experience in economic development, housing development and finance, public transit management, business loans, transportation planning, land use planning and local government services.

He also serves as the Executive Director of Great River Housing, Inc. (certified Local Housing Trust Fund), Southeast Iowa Housing, Inc. and as Administrator of the Southeast Iowa Regional and Economic Port Authority.

Mike has additionally served in many capacities on statewide policy committees and organizations, including: Iowa Association of Councils of Governments (Chair, Vice-Chair), Iowa Freight Advisory Committee, Iowa Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and the Iowa Strategic Highway Safety Plan Committee. In addition he is currently President of the University of Iowa Urban and Regional Planning Alumni Advisory Board.

In southeast Iowa, Mike is a member of several organizations in a volunteer capacity: Burlington Noon Kiwanis, Greater Burlington Chamber of Commerce, Young House Family Services, Inc. (Chair), and the Des Moines County Community Foundation.

Mike earned a B.S. in Geography from the University of Iowa in 2001 and a M.S. in Urban and Regional Planning in 2003. While at Iowa he participated in the Hawkeye Marching Band, Pep Band and University Band.

Kwame Owusu-Daaku

Kwame Owusu-Daaku is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of West Florida. Kwame’s research interests include climate change adaptation and its influence on international development and planning, local brownfields development, and environmental education. He teaches courses related to environmental management and planning and is interested in qualitative research, community engagement, and civic scholarship. Kwame has a B.Sc. in Development Planning (2009) from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, an MS in Urban and Regional Planning (2013) from the University of Iowa, and a Ph.D. in Geography (2017) from the University of South Carolina.