Carol Coletta, the chief executive of Chicago-based CEOs for Cities, will be the guest speaker for the March 10 annual lecture of the Wichita Downtown Development Corp.
The lecture is set for 6:30 p.m. at the Orpheum, sponsored by the WDDC and its partners: Spirit AeroSystems, the Kansas Health Foundation, Wichita Community Foundation, Westar Energy and Intrust Bank."
The event also includes an afternoon "Downtown Cafe," that will bring together seniors in high school, college students and young professionals to discuss downtown's future.
Coletta follows Alex Garvin, a planning and downtown design expert from Yale, and former St. Louis downtown head Jim Cloar as annual lecturers.
Coletta's message expands the discussion from upgrading Wichita's downtown to creating a broader "city of distinction," said Jeff Fluhr, the WDDC president.
"Carol is the next piece in the puzzle," he said. "We've had Alex Garvin who helped us frame the need to develop our master plan, our vision, and not a duplication of what others do.
"Jim Cloar was there to describe the type of things that come out of master plans. Carol will conduct the next chapter: that downtown is part of the regional success.
"She'll tell us how we begin to connect our talent base, the vision for our city center, the strength of our regional centers. How do we connect all of those to transform our city into a city of distinctness and innovation."
Previously, Coletta, who couldn't be reached Thursday, served as president of Coletta & Co. in Memphis. She has been executive director of the Mayors' Institute on City Design, a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, U.S. Conference of Mayors and American Architectural Foundation.
She was a Knight Fellow in Community Building for 2003 at the University of Miami School of Architecture. In 2010, she was named Honorary Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council.
Her group, CEOs for Cities, studies various styles of urban development. The centerpiece of its work is the "City Vitals" report that identified four key factors for city success: talent, connections, innovation and distinctiveness.
Talent retention, a key goal in Wichita's downtown master plan, is one of the group's centerpiece goals.
The lecture also marks the first time that Wichita businesses have bought into the downtown series.
"The message is that this is a broader message than just downtown," Fluhr said.