CFAES Give Today
Environmental Professionals Network

School of Environment and Natural Resources


Rivers and Parks + Imagination + Design: How to utilize Ohio's rivers to stimulate and enhance community and economic development

Sep 12, 2023, 7:15am - 11:45am

Photo button from a collection of different images from the EPN Sept Breakfast

Program Overview

As Central Ohio is on track to become a region of 3 million people by 2050, there is a unique and urgent opportunity to ensure that growth includes plans to preserve and expand people’s access to nature. Connecting people with nature and one another benefits their wellbeing, promotes social equity, spurs environmental stewardship, increases mobility, and enhances economic vitality. The EPN is excited to team up with American Rivers and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) to feature RAPID 5 an acronym for Rivers and Parks Imagination Design. The goal of RAPID 5 is to create the largest inter-connected park system in the United States. The “5” refers to the five major waterways running north-south and equally distributed through Franklin County – Big Darby Creek, Scioto River, Olentangy River, Alum Creek, Big Walnut Creek. Five is also the number of development pillars that run throughout the river corridor planning designs: 1. Health & Wellness, 2. Social Equity, 3. Mobility Choice, 4. Environmental Stewardship, 5. Economic Vitality.

Over the past decade, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Columbus and MORPC have convened conversations to discuss the growth of the region with efforts like Insight2050 and Insight2050 Corridor Concepts. Both organizations were also separately focused on connections between natural resources and wellbeing – ULI through the Building Healthy Places initiative begun in 2013 and MORPC with its 2015 Central Ohio Greenways plan. In 2021 ULI Columbus and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) invited the Neighborhood Design Center and five local design firms to gather community input and imagine possibilities for making the region’s unique natural assets, specifically the region’s five major river corridors, a centerpiece for central Ohio’s growth and wellbeing. The five design firms are REALM Collaborative, NBBJ, MKSK, AECOM and EDGE.

Ohio’s rivers are an innate natural asset to our state’s geography. Join this EPN event to connect with American Rivers, MORPC and a panel of RAPID 5 leaders (Megha Sinha, principal, NBBJ, Tina Mohn, natural resource manager, City of Columbus , Tim Moloney, executive director, Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks, and William Murdock, executive director, MORPC) who will outline the rivers and resources aligning to create America’s largest inter-connected park system.

Following the RAPID 5 presentation, engage in an extended workshop program, led by Shanyn Viars (associate director, water economics and policy, American Rivers), who will provide participants with tools and strategies to bring communities, nonprofits, philanthropic groups, the private sector, and others together on ideas and projects that leverage ecologically healthy rivers to stimulate and enhance community and economic development. The extended session of the program (9:50 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.) will feature extensive networking and educational opportunities.


7:15 a.m. Doors open at Ohio State 4-H Center; Coffee served for in-person attendees. 

7:40 a.m. Breakfast buffet served for in-person attendees. 

8:00 a.m. Livestreaming services begins for virtual attendees. 

8:10 a.m. Liam Nigro, 2023 Ohio State University Distinguished Senior, presents excerpt from Seeds of a RenaissanceSustainable Pathways to Community Wellness and Resilience through Art.

8:15 a.m. Tim Haab, PhD, interim director, Ohio State School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR) and Kerstin Carr, PhD, chief regional strategy officer, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) provide welcome remarks.

8:25 a.m. Expert dialogue on the Rivers and Parks + Imagination + Design concept and its five greenway corridors in central Ohio featuring: Megha Sinha, principal, NBBJ; Tina Mohn, natural resource manager, City of Columbus; Tim Moloney, executive director, Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks. This session will be moderated by William Murdock, executive director, MORPC.   

9:15 a.m. Audience Q&A session for both in-person and virtual audiences.

9:30 a.m. Dr. Haab concludes EPN Breakfast program component. Break and networking session for in-person guests. Livestreaming service concludes for virtual attendees. 

This two-hour session will provide tools and strategies to assist participants in utilizing ecologically healthy river corridors to stimulate community and economic development.

9:55 a.m. Shanyn Viars, associate director, water economics and policy, American Rivers, facilitates a two-hour guided workshop session offering tools and strategies to utilize ecologically healthy river corridors to stimulate community and economic development. Specific tools and strategies that will be addressed in the workshop include:  

  • Gap and opportunity identification  
  • Demonstrate the overlaps with river opportunities and the Community & Economic Justice Screening (CJEST) tool from Justice 40
  • Creating a roadmap for a clean river future  
  • Aligning with funding strategies, such as river budget line items  
  • Regulatory compliances and collaborative pathways forward 
  • Improving efficiencies and reducing municipal costs   
  • How to turn awesome river integration ideas into a reality!  

11:45 a.m. Program concludes.


K Carr Kerstin Carr, PhD, chief regional strategy officer, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission

Kerstin Carr is the Chief Regional Strategy Officer and Senior Director of Planning at MORPC. Her team provides and promotes collaboration, technical assistance, and regional planning initiatives related to active transportation, the natural and built environment, transportation safety, and energy to benefit MORPC members and communities in Central Ohio. Carr has nearly 20 years of experience in transportation and urban planning. She currently chairs the Scenario Planning Consortium of the National Association of Regional Councils, serves on the Neighborhood Design Center board, and is an advisory member to the OSU Center for Real Estate and of the Early Childhood Advisory Council. Carr is a 2019 graduate of Leadership Columbus, was part of the 2020 Future 50 class, and has a doctoral degree in geography from the University of Regensburg, Germany.

T MoloneyTina Mohn, natural resource manager, City of Columbus

Tina Mohn is the Conservation Administrator and Natural Resource and Asset Manager for the City of Columbus, the Recreation and Parks Dept.  She oversees department wide conservation efforts, outdoor education and recreation, and is responsible for the transactional property management.  Tina, working with her team, manages over 415 parks, specializing in the overall areas of strategic planning, conceptual design, acquisitions, invasive species management, habitat restoration, outdoor programming and provides consultation to other sections within the department, other city departments and the community, by bridging the gap of sustainability, policy, planning, design and construction.   Tina recently drafted the City Nature Preserve Code, the departments Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy and leads the department in sustainability planning efforts, the Urban Forestry Master Planning.

T MoloneyTim Moloney, executive director, Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks

Tim Moloney became Executive Director of the Franklin County Metro Parks in November 2014 and leads a seven county Metro Parks system. Moloney was previously Upper Arlington Parks and Recreation Director where during his tenure he led the transformation at Sunny 95 Park with construction of the Amelita Mirolo Barn, new tennis courts, multipurpose rink and expanded parking. In addition, Moloney oversaw the development of the Northam Park master plan, a complicated endeavor that involves collaboration to bring the park’s core infrastructure and basic configuration to a higher level of functionality while preserving and enhancing the many components currently programmed within. Before going to Upper Arlington, Moloney held recreation management positions with the cities of Westerville and Columbus, He has worked in the parks and rec field for more than 20 years.

shelly douglas imageWilliam Murdock, executive director, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission

As the executive director of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), Murdock oversees innovative planning, services, and policies in transportation, planning, housing, land use, sustainability, and data. Working with a board of over 140 local leaders and more than 20 community committees, Murdock reorganized MORPC to sharpen its focus on collaborative partnerships, proactive planning, and local government services. He is responsible for the development of MORPC’s long-range transportation plan that coordinates over $20 billion of transportation improvements across the region through 2050. Murdock spearheaded the major regional future scenarios effort known as insight2050 and the recently completed Regional Housing Strategy – both major public/private initiatives to prepare for Central Ohio’s significant growth and development.

marne titchenellMegha Sinha, principal, NBBJ

Megha Sinha is a Principal in the Urban Planning & Design practice at NBBJ’s Columbus office. Megha participates in all aspects of the design and development process, from initial vision creation through implementation. With over 16 years of national and international experience, Megha’s expertise includes land use planning and urban design for communities, trail and river corridor planning, street corridor planning, mobility planning, and campus master planning. Megha’s personal experiences living in seven cities across two continents greatly influences her planning work. Megha currently serves on the APA Ohio Chapter Board, MORPC’s Sustainability Advisory Committee, Columbus Historic Resources Commission and the Society of College and University Planning NC Regional Council. She has also served on the Canal Winchester Planning & Zoning Commission and the Central-Ohio Chapter of the APA.

marne titchenellShanyn Viars, associate director, water economics and policy, American Rivers

Shanyn joined American Rivers in 2018 with a background in economic analysis and sustainable urban planning to participate alongside communities in fostering an equitable clean water future. As an economist, Shanyn explores the nexus of climate resiliency and development activity to encourage communities to invest and deploy instruments that support healthy watershed management. Based in Grand Rapids (MI), Shanyn collaborates with municipal leaders and community organizations in restoring urban rivers and mitigating climate threats through natural infrastructure investments. Shanyn earned both a M.S. and B.S. in Economics with a concentration in Urban Policy & Sustainability from the Belk College of Business at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. Shanyn is a Senior Environmental Leadership Fellow and previously taught Economics at Grand Valley State University.

Additional Information

This event’s menu features sausage patties, scrambled eggs, potato hash, and fresh fruit salad, Coffee, hot tea, fruit juices and water will be served. There will be plates, cups, woodware, and napkins.  

We strive to host events that are inclusive and accessible to everyone. If you have a disability and require accommodations to fully participate in this activity, please reach out to Callia Téllez ( Requests made five business days in advance will generally allow us to provide seamless access. However, we will make every effort to meet requests made after this time frame. You will be contacted by someone from our staff to discuss your specific needs. For the virtual audience, a closed captioning option via EPN’s YouTube live stream will be available, as well as other accommodations as requested on the registration.

Masks are optional for all event attendees at this event, in accordance with Ohio State’s Safe and Healthy Protocols as of this date. In-person attendees will be expected to follow Ohio State protocols regarding the prevention of COVID-19 transmission. More health and safety information available on this Personal Safety Practices page

This program will be livestreamed on the  EPN YouTube page. Additional information on livestream connections are available to those who register as a virtual participant for this event. 

Topic Areas: