Michelle Sczpanski is the Deputy Commissioner of Neighborhood Development for the City of Syracuse. Her portfolio includes a range of initiatives aimed at promoting safe, affordable, and quality housing, including neighborhood planning, housing development, federal and state grant program administration, and lead hazard reduction. Sczpanski joined the City staff in 2016. She most recently served as its Director of Housing & Neighborhood Planning, in which she led development of the city’s Resurgent Neighborhood Initiative strategy and infill housing plan. She has also played a key role in advancing the City’s strategic code enforcement efforts by leading the creation of its community housing ambassador program, overseeing efforts to require banks and loan servicers to bring vacant properties into code compliance, and supporting the implementation of Syracuse’s rental inspection and lead paint ordinances. She is a graduate of Syracuse University, where she received bachelor’s of arts degrees in policy studies, citizenship & civic engagement, and public relations. Outside of her role at the City, she also serves as a member of the board of directors of the Near Westside Initiative. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, paddling, climbing, and backpacking through the many diverse landscapes Upstate and Central New York have to offer.
Dan Kwasnowski is the Planning Director for the Syracuse-Onondaga County Planning Agency or SOCPA a combined city/county planning agency. Dan lives in the Village of Marcellus with his wife Karen and two children, Jonah and Colden. Dan is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and has been working as a planner in varying applications for 21 years including as a town planner/director for 8 years a private consulting planner and entrepreneur for 6 years, a River Restoration Specialist, Hydropower Regulatory and Environmental Specialist, and as the Executive Director of a land trust in Lake Placid. Dan is an avid mountain and road cyclist with volunteer experience planning, designing and building a variety of mountain bike and multi-use trails and trail systems.
Sam Gordon is the Planning Practice Leader for EDR. Sam is a Certified Planner and has over 20 years of experience in the planning and sustainability fields with a diverse background including neighborhood revitalization, greenway planning, sustainability planning, and mobility planning; and has worked in both the public and private sector; as well as internationally. Sam has managed and/or provided consulting expertise on a variety of projects from greenway planning, energy conservation and renewable energy deployment, to neighborhood revitalization and alternative mobility projects. Sam received a Fellowship in 2005 to work with the Center for Environmental Studies in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, which was selected as the European Green Capital for 2012. Sam is currently the project manager for Plan Onondaga, an update of the Onondaga County Comprehensive Plan as well as Plan Forward, the development of a comprehensive plan for Monroe County.
Moderator: Lanessa Owens-Chaplin, Esq., is currently director of environmental justice projects at the New York Civil Liberties Union. Owens-Chaplin is an experienced lawyer with a demonstrated history of working in the nonprofit sector. She is skilled in civil liberties, civil rights, environmental justice, leadership, litigation, and intergovernmental relations.
Owens-Chaplin began her legal career in 2012 as a law associate at Hiscock Legal Aid and later became the lead attorney at Volunteer Lawyers Project’s Civic Restoration Program. She joined the New York State legislative house as legal counsel and went on to become the deputy secretary of intergovernmental affairs to the Speaker of the New York State Assembly, working closely with government leaders on proposing, drafting, and negotiating policy reforms.
Owens-Chaplin co-founded the diversity & inclusion internship program for Central New York law students. She is the founder and executive director of the William Herbert Johnson Bar Association of Central New York, the only Black bar association in the region.