Conference Program Spotlight: Plenaries for Wednesday July 19

The theme for Wednesday July 19 is "Focusing on who we are as planners, how our decisions are informed, and how we can be better advocates in a rapidly changing Virginia."

*Both plenaries may be eligible for CM credits.

Plenary - Planning for Inclusive Communities (9:30am to 10:45am)

Unconscious bias in the workplace, barriers to inclusion, working across lines of difference, how would you define these concepts?

Through an interactive presentation by the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC), planners and local government officials will understand their own identities and the identities of others, as well as an increased knowledge of unconscious bias. Particular interest will be given to understanding best practices related to hiring a diverse workforce, increasing empathy, and knowledge of specific de-biasing techniques. Learn essential components to working successfully in increasingly diverse “future communities.”


Jessica Hawthorne, Director of Programs, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities

As Director of Programs at the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC), an organization that works with schools, business, and communities to achieve success through inclusion, Jessica designs and facilitates educational programs on diversity and inclusion for middle schools, high schools, colleges, workplaces, and community groups across the Commonwealth. Jessica also leads VCIC’s program evaluation efforts and she also serves on the faculty of the Koinonia School for Race and Justice at Richmond Hill.

Jessica is a graduate of the UVA in Religious Studies, and has a Masters in Theological Studies.

*Sponsored by the Chapter’s Planning for Inclusion Committee

Plenary - Demographic Trends in Virginia (11am to Noon)

Virginia is changing rapidly; it is getting older, and more diverse. How can we respond to change?

In this plenary, leading researchers from the Demographics Research Group at Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service in the University of Virginia will discuss population growth trends in Virginia, exploring the changing family and household structures, and look ahead at population aging.

The plenary will also feature the Weldon Cooper Center’s newly released (spring 2017) population projections for the Commonwealth. As planners, being ahead of the curve is the key to successful planning for “future communities.”


Qian Cai (pronounced “chien tsai”), Director, Demographics Research Group, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service

Drawing on her extensive knowledge of population statistics, and national reputation in applied demography, Qian oversees the group’s data production and research, ensures top quality publications and client service, and maintains an ambitious agenda for improving population data for Virginia and the nation. A native of China, Qian received a Bachelor’s degree in economics and a Master’s degree in demography, both from Peking University. She received a Ph.D. in sociology from Brown University.

Hamilton Lombard, Research Specialist, Demographics Research Group, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service

Hamilton’s expertise is in demographic change, particularly the different components of population growth and decline, population estimates, school enrollment projections, and the effect of government policy on population patterns. Hamilton has worked in local and regional planning in both Virginia and the United Kingdom. He earned his Bachelor’s in History and Planning from UVA.

Shonel Sen, Research and Policy Analyst, Demographics Research Group, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

Shonel’s interdisciplinary research interests bring together elements from the fields of economic development, components of population change, behavioral incentives, and environmental sustainability. She has a strong background in regional economics, population studies and public policy with training in theoretical modeling and quantitative analysis. Shonel received her Bachelor’s and Master’s in economics from India and the Dual-Ph.D. in Applied Economics and Demography at Penn State.

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