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Alumni Relations Council

The Alumni Relations Council (ARC) is intended to provide advice, guidance, and assistance to the chair, faculty, and planning students on issues of particular importance to our professional master’s program.  The 12-15 alumni who serve on ARC will act as a conduit to network and better connect planning alumni to the Department, its faculty, and to current planning students.  The intent of forming the ARC was to develop a self-sustaining organization that works to strengthen department alumni relations into perpetuity.  Goals include (1) strengthening alumni connections with current students, (2) strengthen networks among alumni; in particular recent alumni looking for career advice, and (3) promoting the work and accomplishments of the department, its students, and alumni.


Meet the Members of ARC:



Joshua Clements (UW 07', URPL '09) is a Sustainable Communities Specialist at the University of Wisconsin - Extension, where he provides leadership in the design and delivery of evidence-based resources in sustainable communities efforts, community design & placemaking, economic development strategy, downtown revitalization, and municipal planning. For four years Clements was the UW-Extension Community, Natural Resource & Economic Development Educator assigned to Walworth County. During Clements' time at URPL he worked for the Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence on the design of the Energy Independent Communities program. A Madison resident, Clements is involved with the Marquette Neighborhood Association and the Capital Regional Sustainable Community effort.




Susan Fox moved to Chicago in September 2007 from Madison, WI, where she was co-founder and project manager of the Madison Center for Creative and Cultural Arts, a multi-arts space that served the Madison area.  She worked with Chicago musician Hanah Jon Taylor founder and executive director of the MCCCA.  Susan gained extensive experience as an arts administrator while she wrote grant proposals, provided outreach services to schools and community centers, and in general served as managing director of the MCCCA.  In 2006 Taylor and Fox purchased a traveling stage they dubbed the “Culture Coach” that visited neighborhood parks and presented music, theatre, dance and a community drum circle. 


Susan joined Chicago-based Elastic Arts in April 2008 to serve as its Development and Outreach Specialist.  She has helped Elastic to connect to organizations such as the Arts and Business Council of Chicago, the Boeing Corporation, other funders and services provided by them.  She worked for 5 1/2 years to bring grant income to Elastic, as well as information about marketing, strategic planning and board development issues.  Susan worked at the Jazz Institute of Chicago making valuable contacts with musicians and JIC staff, before she began her work with Elastic.


In 2012 Susan seeded the idea to bring the Culture Coach to Chicago to bring music and other arts experiences to underserved neighborhoods.  When Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the “Night Out in the Park” series in April 2013, the idea found a partner in the Chicago Park District. The Culture Coach traveled to Chicago in summer 2013 and provided the outdoor venue for 27 live music concerts sponsored by the Chicago Park District and another partner, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.  Elastic Arts served as the umbrella presenting organization for the Coach.


Susan has been fortunate to expand her horizons while in Chicago and is now working with Opera-Matic NFP and I Paint My Mind Gallery.  Susan also works on the Museum of the Harlem Renaissance project in Madison, Wisconsin.


Before her work in the arts, Susan worked for the State of Wisconsin as a librarian, and as an environmental analyst for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.  She has a master of science degree in Urban and Regional Planning, and a master of arts degree in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin—Madison.





Jack Huddleston retired from URPL in 2011 after 34 years of teaching economic planning, financial planning, energy economics, workshop, and the always popular planning methods classes.  He now splits his time between the U.S. and South Africa, where he practices his grandpa skills, biking, and losing big money at the long-running URPL emeritus faculty poker game.











Hickory R. Hurie, AICP, has worked with community-based organizations and local governmental systems as a teacher, urban planner, and manager of public funds.  He helped develop the Madison day care system, and the City of Madison community development program to nurture capacity and working systems of community-based agencies to build and manage affordable housing, business assistance incubators and services, neighborhood centers, homeless services, and neighborhood revitalization planning processes, and continues to advise cities, counties and community agencies as a partner in a private firm, Community Planning and Development Advisors.









Mike Mathews is President of Economic Growth Advisors (EGA). EGA is an economic development consulting firm that works with public and private sector clients to provide customized solutions that facilitate business and economic growth. Mike has 30 years of business experience in economic and community development, strategic planning, business consulting, business development, community relations, marketing, and public and private finance.



Mike graduated from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science in 1982. He also received a Master of Science in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1984 and an Executive MBA from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1995.



Mike’s business experience includes 17 years (1983-2000) with Madison Gas & Electric Company (MGE) where he developed and led the company’s Community and Economic Development programs. He also served as Vice President and General Manager of Central Wisconsin Development Corporation, a wholly-owned MGE subsidiary from 1997-2000.


In 2000, Mike joined Grant Thornton, LLP, a national accounting, tax and management consulting firm where he was Principal and responsible for all aspects of the Wisconsin Management Consulting practice. From 2006 – 2011 Mike served as Senior Vice President of Ruedebusch Development & Construction (RDC), and was President of Technology Facility Advisors, a consulting division of RDC from 2008 – 2011.  Mike took ownership of Technology Facility Advisors in 2011 while also establishing Economic Growth Advisors to provide a broad range of economic development planning and implementation services. 





Currently semi-retired— Lead Auditor with AWM, Inc. (Registrar for ISO 14001, Environmental Management Systems, and ISO 50001, Energy Management Systems).  Also, Project Director, EPA/TVA Tribal Source Water Protection Project



Previously, Tennessee Valley Authority (28 years):  Senior Regional Planner; Special Assistant to the Board of Directors; and Manager, Regional Waste and Water Supply Management.   Earlier--Memphis State University Graduate Dept. of Planning, Associate Professor; West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission, Acting Director; and National Association of Counties Research Foundation, Research Associate.



Selected Achievements and Service:  Chairperson, National Advisory Council, Keep America Beautiful; Recipient, America’s Clean Water Foundation President’s Award; Founding President, Little River Watershed Association (Maryville, TN/Great Smoky Mts. National Park area).


B.A., Sociology, Penn State University; M.S., ’69, and Ph.D., ’72, UW-URPL





Sarah Jo Peterson has a master of science in urban and regional planning from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a PhD in history from Yale University. She began her career in planning at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, specializing in transportation and land use, a focus that she continued to pursue while a member of the faculty of the Division of Regional and City Planning at the University of Oklahoma and in her current employ at the Urban Land Institute in Washington, DC.


In addition to her book Planning the Home Front, she has authored or co-authored numerous journal and magazine articles and planning reports.



Dan Rolfs, AICP (Brief bio)


City of Madison (2005 – present) – Community Development Project Manager

  • Provide oversight, project management, RFP development and review, and committee staffing for multiple City surplus processes;
  • TIF District creation, management, and implementation
  • Redevelopment District creation and implementation
  • City property acquisition, including the use of eminent domain
  • Relocation of residents and businesses through the eminent domain process
  • Mapping
  • TIF Policy Committee staffing and report generation
  • Grant writing
  • Oversight of environmental cleanup at surplus property


MSA (2002 – 2004)

  • Comprehensive plan drafting and project management throughout WI and IL
  • Provide communities with assistance in creating TIF Districts


Village of DeForest Redevelopment Authority (DRA) (1999-2002)

  • Coordinate infrastructure and utility construction in downtown redevelopment area
  • Clean up of contaminated sites throughout downtown
  • Acquisition of multiple properties through the use of eminent domain
  • Relocation of residents and businesses through the eminent domain process
  • Mapping and GIS system development



  • University of Wisconsin – Madison – 1997 (BS History)
  • University of Wisconsin – Madison – 2001 (MS Urban and Regional Planning)



Professional Career:

  • 1953-1955 Annexation Technician,  City of Milwaukee, WI
  • 1955-1964 Planner - Executive Director, Madison Redevelopment Authority Director, City of Madison, WI
  • 1964-1966 Receiver - Bankruptcy Court, Federal Court, Madison WI.
  • 1966-1985 Professor - Emeritus - Urban Planning Program, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA
  • 1985-1994 Associate Director, Corporate Relations, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA
  • 1994-  Retired


Served as an Expert Witness in many Land Use and Zoning cases in both State and Federal Courts.


Community Career:

  • 1973-1993 Member of the Fulton County, Georgia Planning Commission.
  • 1986-2010 Chairman, Planning Commission, Sandy Springs, GA.  Sandy Springs was a "New Town" established in 1986.
  • 2002-Present Member of the Atlanta Fulton Public Library Board of Trustees



Erica Schmitz is a land use and regional planner specializing in farmland preservation and land conservation.  Since graduating from URPL with a focus on Ecological Land Use Planning in 2008, she has been serving as the Land Use Manager/Deputy Clerk Treasurer for the Town of Dunn, WI.  In that role, she oversees all aspects of the Town’s Purchase of Development rights program, which has permanently protected over 3,000 acres with conservation easements since its inception in 1997.  In addition, Erica manages all local planning programs including Comprehensive Planning and Parks Planning and is staff to the Plan Commission and Land Trust Commission. Erica represents Dunn in regional land use, transportation, water resources, and sustainability planning efforts.  While pursuing her degree, Erica gained experience managing wildlife disease data and information sharing with the Wildlife Disease Information Node (WDIN), and fostering Transfer of Development Rights demonstration projects with Cascade Land Conservancy (now Forterra).



I have been working at the Comptroller of Maryland office for the last 14 years and currently I am an IT Manager in the IT Division. I graduated from URPL in 91 with a PhD degree with a scholarship from the Government of Indonesia and returned to Indonesia to work at BPPT, a national research agency, until 98 when my family and I moved back to the US.


I received a Bachelor's degree in Petroleum Engineering from Bandung Institute of Technology in Indonesia and continued on to the University of Hawaii for a Master's degree in Energy Planning with a scholarship from the East West Center.  


In addition to my area of studies and current professional expertise, I also belong to a Non-Government Organization in Indonesia working in implementing appropriate technologies in remote areas of Indonesia.  Experience in building this Foundation and managing its activities have given me various community development opportunities.  I have also worked at the Bandung Institute of Technology as an Energy Planner and have taught Transportation Planning at the University of Indonesia.  I have maintained contacts and network with various colleagues in Indonesia.


With these various experiences I intend to participate in ARC by providing opportunities  for students at URPL to work or participate in an extended workshop at an Indonesian university.  I do not have any specific plans at the moment, I just want to start the effort by building communication toward that goal. Of course, if this is ok with the leadership of the ARC.




Kate Nardi Sullivan graduated from URPL in 1998 with a concentration in community development.  Kate began her career as a VISTA volunteer with a Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) in Iowa City, Iowa.  With an interest in housing policy, Kate entered URPL while working at the Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin.  She completed her URPL internship in the city of Madison Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Office under the direction of fellow URPL Alumni Council member Hickory Hurie. After receiving her MS, Kate worked for the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, Bureau of Minority Business Development, where she provided business development technical assistance and managed a grant program to help businesses address labor shortages. Kate later took a position with a Wisconsin-based architecture, engineering and planning firm. For the past eight years, Kate served as homeownership coordinator at the Dane County Housing Authority.  She managed a loan program for income-eligible first-time home buyers and partnered with industry professionals in teaching CDBG-funded homeownership education courses.  During the Great Recession, she developed programs to support households facing unemployment and mortgage default.  Trained by NeighborWorks America, Kate became an expert in loss mitigation and worked with financial institutions and homeowners to negotiate relief packages.  Kate was a co-founder and steering committee member of the Dane County Foreclosure Prevention Task Force, a public-private partnership formed to address the mortgage crisis.  Kate also served as Associate Director of Community GroundWorks, raising funds to support garden and farm-based programming at Troy Gardens, a 26-acre mixed-use site on Madison’s Northside.  Kate and her husband live in Madison, where they are avid vegetable gardeners and volunteers at Troy Gardens.  When she is not gardening or spending time with family, she is dreaming about her next trip to Ireland.




Mark Vander Schaaf (URPL 1985) has served since 2004 as the Director of Regional Planning for the Metropolitan Council of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Area, after working for 17 years with the Saint Paul Department of Planning and Economic Development.  He currently directs a department responsible for long-range demographic and economic forecasting, crafting of regional policy frameworks, assisting local governments with their comprehensive planning, and supporting the region’s park and trail system.  Outside of work hours his passions are recreational bicycling and innovative approaches to placemaking.