Urban Flooding Innovations Panel Discussion Photo
Segal Seminar Series

Urban Flooding Innovations Panel Discussion

March 11, 2014, 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center
1.350 (ITW Classroom)
2133 Sheridan Rd., Evanston, IL 60208

Urban Flooding Innovations


Flooding is the most prevalent urban disaster in America, causing nearly $8 billion in damages each year.  Come hear from urban flooding innovators to learn more about this issue and how to address it together.

4:00 p.m. Introductions

4:10 p.m. Panel Discussion

4:35 p.m. Q & A


Thomas T. Burke, Jr. supervises a staff of 21 engineers.  He holds a Bachelors from Northwestern University and a Masters and Doctor of Philosophy from Purdue University.  He is a Registered Professional Engineer in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa as well as a Certified Floodplain Manager and Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control. Mr. Burke’s professional experience focuses on water resources.  He serves as the drainage consultant to several municipalities and counties.  He has taught many hydrologic and hydraulic seminars in the Midwest and teaches HEC-HMS throughout the country.

Harriet Festing, Director, Water Program.  Harriet is leading CNT’s program on water, looking at smart solutions such as asset management, water efficiency and green infrastructure. The program includes community demonstration projects, on-line information and support tools, policy development and outreach. Harriet previously worked for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, UK Government, where she designed, developed and managed a $20M program piloting community-led solutions to carbon emission reductions and sustainable resource use. She was Director of Communications and Engagement at the UK Government’s Sustainable Development Commission, and Head of Fundraising at the Princes Foundation. Prior to this, she was Assistant Vice President for Marketing at Project for Public Spaces in New York.

Helen Lekavich, Midlothian 5. The Wright Brothers, Hewlett Packard and Amazon started in a garage..."The Floodlothian 5" started in a flooded garage! Following the devastating April 18, 2013 storm water flood, 5 families who have suffered repeated flood damages for more than 2 decades came together as the Floodlothian 5. We launched the facebook page Floodlothian Midlothian. Our purpose is to raise awareness of the ongoing massive flooding that occurs in pockets of Midlothian, and to work with local, county and state officials to bring relief to the Midlothian residents. The Floodlothian 5 has successfully worked with MWRD to bring a Phase 2 flood relief project to Midlothian and Oak Forest. We have raised awareness of this historical flooding problem through our relationships with Center For Neighborhood Technology and the Design For America team. 

Jenny Wang is a Northwestern sophomore majoring in Manufacturing and Design Engineering. She has been involved in Design for America since her first quarter freshman year. Some of the projects she has done at DFA and her other design classes are related to Campus Safety, Public Health, Bike Lock Storage, Training Feedback and etc. These two quarters she is been coaching the DFA Urban Flooding Project. Her team has come up with a design which is a buoyant bag that protects basement appliances. This project is currently undergoing prototyping and performance testing.

Closing Remarks

Dr. Suzet M. McKinney currently serves as Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Public Health Preparedness and Emergency Response at the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), where she oversees the emergency preparedness efforts for the Department and coordinates those efforts within the larger spectrum of the City of Chicago’s Public Safety activities, in addition to overseeing the Department’s Division of Women and Children’s Health. Dr. McKinney is the former Sr. Advisor for Public Health and Preparedness at the Tauri Group. In this capacity, Dr. McKinney provided strategic and analytical consulting services to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, BioWatch Program, including creative, responsive and operationally-based problem-solving for public health, emergency preparedness and homeland security issues, specifically chemical and biological early detection systems and the implementation of those systems at the state and local levels.

Contact Sami Nerenberg at saminerenberg@designforamerica.com with any questions.