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2019 RSA North America Conference Plenary Speakers

The Call of the New: Unpacking Innovation, its Spatiality, its Benefits and its Costs


Professor Jennifer Clark, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA

Jennifer Clark is Associate Professor in the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology where she is Director of the Center for Urban Innovation and Associate Director for Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation. Dr. Clark’s books include: Working Regions: Reconnecting Innovation and Production in the Knowledge Economy (2013), Remaking Regional Economies: Power, Labor, and Firm Strategies in the Knowledge Economy (2007) w/ Susan Christopherson, winner of the Best Book Award from the Regional Studies Association in 2009, and the 3rd edition of Basic Methods of Policy Analysis and Planning (2012) w/ Carl Patton and David Sawicki, a widely adopted text in public policy and urban and regional planning courses. She is also co-editor of the Handbook of Manufacturing Industries in the World Economy (2015) and Transitions in Regional Economic Development (2018). Her current research projects include a new book: Uneven Innovation:The Making of Smart Cities (with Columbia University Press). In addition, she has written numerous articles and book chapters.

Dr. Clark is a Fellow of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) and a Fellow of the Regional Studies Association (RSA). She is the current Chair of the Economic Geography Specialty Group (EGSG) of the AAG and served as the Chair of the AAG’s Nominating Committee (2017-2018).  Dr. Clark is also the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Regional Studies. She earned her Ph.D. from Cornell University, a Master’s degree from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, and a B.A. from Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

Dr. Clark teaches courses on urban and regional economic development theory, analysis, and practice and research design and methods.  She specializes in the theory and analysis of the spatial organization of economic activity and regional economic development policy. Dr. Clark has provided expert testimony before the US Congress and policy advice and consulting to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the EU, the Canadian, UK, and US governments as well as serving on nongovernmental policy commissions and committees.

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Damien Silès, Quartier de l’innovation, Canada

With a solid educational background in international trade, Damien Silès has held the position of General Manager of Montréal’s Quartier de l’innovation(innovation district) since 2014. Prior to that, he spent six years as Director General of Société de développement social de Ville-Marie (social development corporation of Ville-Marie), the first social broker in North America, which he founded in 2008. His efforts as head of the organization were praised by the media, and he was twice named Personality of the Week by La Presse–Radio-Canada (in February 2011 and June 2013). From 2002 to 2008, Damien was Director of Membership and Sales at the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montréal, which enabled him to forge strong relationships with the Québec business community.

Mr. Siles has also worked for several years in South America as project director for a Swiss-Ecuadorian foundation. In this role, he developed an innovative social marketing program in collaboration with CIDA and developed national and international markets for local artisans. Appointed director of the Franco-Ecuadorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he also represented the Andean Pact countries (Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru). Damien Silès is also widely recognized for his socio-cultural commitment. A knowledgeable music lover, he chaired the board of the Appassionata Chamber Orchestra from 2011 to 2013 and actively participated in his fundraising campaigns. In 2013, he was a finalist at the Arts-Affaires Awards, presented by the Montreal Arts Council, in the Personality category, in recognition of his important contribution.

Member of the Board of Directors of the Opéra de Montréal and Goodnesstv, winner of the 2017 Dare to Act Awards – Category: Ecosystem;

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Jamie Peck, University of British Columbia, Canada

Whatever happened to uneven development?

Jamie Peck is Canada Research Chair in Urban & Regional Political Economy and Professor of Geography at the University of British Columbia, Canada, where he is a Distinguished University Scholar.  With long-term research interests in urban restructuring, geographical political economy, labor studies, the politics of policy formation and mobility, and economic geography, his current research is focused on the political economy of neoliberalization and capitalist transformations in South China.  Jamie Peck’s recent books include Doreen Massey: critical dialogues (2018, Agenda, coedited with Marion Werner, Rebecca Lave and Brett Christophers); Offshore: Exploring the worlds of global outsourcing (2017, Oxford University Press); and Fast Policy: Experimental statecraft at the thresholds of neoliberalism (2015, University of Minnesota Press, with Nik Theodore).

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