Connected Cities Northwest: Civic Venture Lab

How are city leaders embracing innovation to improve quality of life?

On the success of our recent Connected Cities Northwest event, the MIT Enterprise Forum is pleased to continue the conversation about using technology and innovation to improve quality of life throughout the Pacific Northwest. 

Our region is known for a lot of things that range from technology, outdoor activities, listening to new ideas, a commitment to kindness to strangers, and innovative solutions. Our history is dotted with a litany of unconventional thinkers bringing new ideas to light. From commercial aviation to ecommerce to the world's largest non-profit to cloud computing, to coffee shops on every corner. The unthinkable is not only thinkable, it is achievable. 

What runs through this region is a pioneering spirit, a desire to roll up our sleeves, and to tackle the most-unsolvable problems. Undoubtedly, our region faces a series of challenges from homelessness and housing affordability to transportation to healthcare issues, and so on.

While many regions would cower from these challenges, our pioneering spirit drives us toward these challenges. We look forward to learning from our neighbors throughout the greater Puget Sound region to understand how we can solve some of the biggest challenges of the day.

We have convened a panel of experts that have shown the ability to think creatively about quality of life standards in the public and the private sector. Come join us to explore the possible and to help create another example of the Puget Sound leading the way in innovation.  


Justin Camarata

Speaker Website: 

Justin Camarata was appointed to the District 2 seat of the Tacoma City Council in March 2018. Council Member Camarata lives with his wife Bess and their two boys in the North Slope area. He is a University of Washington graduate and has worked for both Fortune 500 and startup tech companies.

Council Member Camarata has served Tacoma in capacities such as the Board of Ethics, Bicycle & Pedestrian Technical Advisory Group, the Transportation Commission Streetcar Subcommittee and the North End Neighborhood Council. He is a member of Forterra’s Regional Leadership Council and is also part of the Channel 253 media production venture with other public officials and community members.


Stephanie Cook

Stephanie Cook is the Operations Manager for the Pacific Northwest at Lyft, where she leads retail operations, strategic growth and driver experience initiatives. Stephanie has helped to bring safe, reliable transportation across Washington State, with a special emphasis on access for the military community. She also established an employee resource group, UpLyft Women, for the Seattle Lyft office and moderates Lean In Circles to empower and foster advocacy for women in tech leadership.


Prior to joining Lyft in 2015, Stephanie spent 12 years leading global learning & development functions at Amazon, AAA Washington, and PACCAR. Most recently, she managed Amazon’s Operations Leadership Institute guiding thousands of new leaders through world-class assimilation and development experiences. She was also responsible for customer experience and launch operations at Amazon’s first ever physical retail presence on college campuses.


Stephanie earned her M.Ed. from Seattle University and has served as mentor for students of Albers School of Business for the past decade. She received a B.A. from Kent State University.

Gabriel Scheer

Recognized by Seattle Magazine as one of the most influential people in Seattle, and selected as part of Chase Jarvis's "100 Seattle Influencers," Gabriel is a versatile entrepreneur, experienced strategist, business development professional, human-centered design practitioner, and catalyst.
Gabriel thrives in constantly evolving environments, serving as an effective evangelist of what's possible. Skilled at building enthusiasm for new ideas, I am adept at reading and adapting the market - whether consumer, regulatory, or competitive. Passionate about mobility, renewable energy, aquaculture and technology more broadly, I thrive on impact. I am happiest working at the intersection of business, sustainability, technology, and innovation. I love working globally and in multi-cultural environments.
A cutting-edge strategist with significant entrepreneurial experience across a number of industries, I thrive on meeting new people and taking ideas from concept to reality. With masters degrees in public affairs and applied international studies, I have also been fortunate to be selected to travel as a Marshall Fellow.

Janice Zahn

Janice Zahn joined the City Council in November 2017, after being elected earlier that month to fill the previously vacated Position 5 seat. A longtime construction manager at the Port of Seattle, Janice strives to make the city more strategic, regional and communicative. She has lived in Bellevue since 1994.

Janice’s priorities include managing Bellevue’s rapid growth to address “the increasing tension between livability and economic vitality,” ensuring more streets serve a variety of users and finding ways to make housing more affordable for all who want to live in Bellevue.

Janice represents the council on the Eastside Transportation Partnership Steering Committee, the I-405/SR 167 Executive Advisory Group and the King County Flood Control District Advisory Committee. She is also council liaison to the Bellevue and Issaquah school boards and the Disability and Youth Link boards.

Noting Bellevue’s diversity, Janice wants to ensure that the city continues its work to be more inclusive and celebrate the richness of its culture.

Janice served on the city’s Transportation Commission from 2013 to 2017. She has also been a Girl Scout leader and participated with the PTSA. In 1997 and 1998, she participated in the city’s Advance Bellevue community leadership program. She volunteers with The Sophia Way, an Eastside nonprofit that provides shelter for homeless women.

An immigrant from Hong Kong, Janice lives in the Greenwich Crest neighborhood with her husband, Dwain, and daughters, Megan and Leah. She is an active member of the Aldersgate United Methodist Church.

Janice holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Washington Evans School, as well as a Master of Science degree in structural engineering and mechanics and a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering, both from the University of Washington.

Heather Lewis

Heather will be moderating this event, as she has successfully done for MIT Enterprise Forum in the past. Heather has her hand in many programs, holding a position on UW Bothell's Pacific Northwest Cybersecurity Business Leadership Council, the Thriving Communities Network, and the chair for the city of Seattle's Community Technology Advisory Board. In short, if you need someone knowledgeable on policy, confidently leading the push for smarter infrastructure, look no further.

Event Details

Wednesday October 17, 2018


ATLAS Workbase

500 Mercer St.

Atlas Workbase

500 Mercer St
Seattle, WA 98109

Ticket options

There are no products available for registration at this time.

Join Our Social Networks


Upcoming Events

Details for the next event are still being worked out! Check back soon.