Smart Cities Investing – The Players Debate

Tuesday February 26, 2019.

6:00 - 8:30 PM


Ziad Abdelnour

Moderator, Chairman FPC

Paul McDermott

Paul Mc Dermott

President & CEO – Civilocity Development Partners

Julian Lion Boxenbaum

Julian Lion Boxenbaum

Principal, Eight, Inc

Hari Eppanapally

Hari Eppanapally

Chairman of the board & CEO of the CIC Group, Inc. and Founding Member of the Financial Policy Council

Bo Rodda

Bo Rodda

Vice President – Civilocity Development Partners

Gary Walker

Dr. Gary Walker

MPG-Global Group Chairman and CEO

Smart Cities Investing – The Players Debate


You are cordially invited on behalf of the Financial Policy Council’s Board of Directors, to our next Financial Policy Council power summit featuring a panel discussion exploring smart cities investing – a market where spending is anticipated to hit $80 billion this year, and grow to $135 billion by 2021, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC). You don’t want to miss this thanks to our Event Sponsor Civilocity Development Partners

  • TOPIC : Smart Cities Investing – The Players Debate
  • DATE : Tuesday February 26th, 2019
  • TIME : 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
  • LOCATION : The Graduate Center / CUNY at 365 Fifth Avenue at The Elebash Recital Hall – On the main floor of the building and on the left as you enter into the main lobby


Ziad K. Abdelnour is a Wall Street Financier, Author, Philanthropist, Activist, Lobbyist, Oil & Gas Trader & President & CEO of Blackhawk Partners, Inc., a New York based private equity “family office” that focuses on originating, structuring, advising and acting as equity investor in management-led buyouts, strategic minority equity investments, equity private placements, consolidations, buildups, and growth capital financing in companies and projects based both in the US and emerging markets and the trading of key physical commodities.

Mr. Abdelnour is also Founder & Chairman of the Board of the Financial Policy Council ; a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization designed to give its select group of supporters the opportunity to have direct face-to-face dialogue with the nation’s quintessential powerbrokers and policymakers.

Since 1985, Mr. Abdelnour has been involved in over 125 transactions worth in aggregate over $10 billion in the investment banking, high yield bond and distressed debt markets and has been widely recognized for playing an integral role in those three key market sectors.

Mr. Abdelnour is an astute market player who also serves on the Advisory board of DPG Investments, a recognized premier multi strategy global merchant banking, alternative investment, management and advisory firm.

On a more personal level, Mr. Abdelnour, former President of the Arab Bankers Association of North America, is the author of “Economic Warfare: Secrets of Wealth Creation in the Age of Welfare Politics” ; a best seller manuscript written for investors that need to navigate the troubled geopolitical waters of the post-crisis world and a prolific writer for 100+ entrepreneurial and financial publications advising and educating investors in private equity, hedge funds, crowdfunding, Sovereign Wealth Funds, fund-of-funds, angel networks, venture capital and family offices.

Mr. Abdelnour is also a regular speaker on Private Equity, Physical Commodities trading and Middle East geo-political analysis at industry conferences & TV outlets nationwide including but not limited to Fox News, Newsmax, etc…and a key “influencer” in his own right having a hard core constituency of over 2 million viewers having read his blog postings and analyses since January 2014.

Mr. Abdelnour holds an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a BS in Economics, Summa Cum Laude, from the American University of Beirut.

He was recently listed as one of the 500 Most Influential CEOs in the World.

The Panelists:

Paul McDermott, President and CEO, has over 40 years of successful construction and real estate development experience and was the first commercial real estate executive in Chicago to earn the PMP (Project Management Professional) designation. With stints at Morse Diesel, Schal, Fluor Engineers, Hanscomb Associates, Mesirow Financial and International Facilities Group, his expertise includes cost and schedule analysis, contract negotiation, design and construction supervision, program management and large-scale public/private development partnerships. His experience includes hotels, convention centers, sports stadiums and arenas, entertainment venues, performing arts centers, retail, restaurants, TV, radio and internet production and broadcast facilities, office buildings, corporate office build-outs, trading floors and stock exchange, labs, educational and training facilities, base closure/redevelopment, residential and industrial.

McDermott oversaw the infrastructure portion of the redevelopment of the 1,100-acre Glenview Naval Air Station, “The Glen”, was co-executive in charge of the redevelopment of the 1,100-acre Orlando Naval Training Center, and managed the planning of the 30-acre Civic Center Complex and US Marine Corps Museum in Jacksonville, North Carolina and Purdue University’s 200-acre Research Park in Merrillville, Indiana.

Paul was involved in the development of both the McCormick Place Convention Center South and West expansions, managed the O’Hare Airport Retail Concessions Program and lead procurement activities on nuclear power plant projects for ComEd and Nevada Power, and a co-generation plant for Rochester, New York. He managed the renovation of the landmark, Art Deco icons, Ambassador East Hotel, Lawson House and Tavern Club. He directed the Mesirow Financial Hotel Redevelopment Opportunity Fund, was real estate advisor to Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) on the $100 million 25,000-seat Toyota Park MLS soccer stadium, and was economic development advisor to the cities of Bridgeview, Illinois; Jacksonville, North Carolina; and Orlando, Florida; as well as the Women’s Pro Softball League.

McDermott has spent the past 6 years conducting extensive research into happiness, thriving, emotional intelligence, urban planning, disruption, and Smart Cities, and co-wrote a chapter for a futurist’s book on future cities with a University of Chicago Economist about his research – all leading to the IMAGINE Smart City model.

Julian Lion Boxenbaum, Principal, Eight, Inc., is an award-winning, patent holding, designer and innovation strategist with a history of developing successful products, brand strategies, and user-experiences. Over the last fourteen years he’s run my own design and strategy studio, working on a wide array of projects for startups and multi-national brands alike. Julian also co-founded and produces a highly popular innovation salon series that identifies emerging trends and has attracted a community of many thousands of early-adopters and thought-leaders. He was hired, in 2015, by Carnegie Mellon’s, Integrated Innovation Institute to lead the development of their program in New York.

More recently, Julian has also been mentoring for Techstars, a prominent accelerator, offering strategic support for their startups. Though formally trained in anthropology and industrial design, the scope of his offerings has steadily expanded to include; business strategy, branding, product design and development, communications, strategic analysis, production of live events, and built environments. Though diverse, Boxenbaum’s outcomes are always the result of a ‘human-centered design process’ focused on creating desirable user-experiences that also address strategic business goals.

Hari Eppanapally, Chairman of the board & CEO of the CIC Group, Inc. and Founding Member of the Financial Policy Council

As Vice President of the Financial Policy Council, and with over 25 years of experience as a financial services IT professional, Mr. Eppanapally has been involved in directing and managing global technology initiatives including strategic planning, architecture, design, development and deployment. He has worked over the years at several Wall Street investment banks like Merrill Lynch, Blackrock, Credit Suisse, Alliance Capital and BNY Mellon.

Mr. Eppanapally is the Chairman of the board for Quibble Genomics Institute, Inc. (, focused to bring a revolution in consumer genomics, personalized medicine, and population health. Quibble specializes in human genome modeling, analysis and visualization by transforms the bio samples to visually appealing Genomic insights based on Unity3D gaming technology.

Mr. Eppanapally is the Co-Founder of Virtual Reality Minds, Inc. (, a technology platform for setting up multi-channel interactive TV broadcast networks to watch in normal and Virtual Reality modes.

Mr. Eppanapally is an Investor and Advisory Board Member of, a platform to simplify student’s acceptance to college. He is also an Investor in TerViva, Inc, (, an innovative Ag-Tech company transforming distressed agricultural lands into productive sources of protein and renewable bioenergy through orchard crop called Pongamia.

Mr. Eppanapally received his B. Tech in Mechanical Engineering from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad, India, and M.S. in Computer and Information Science from New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey. He is a graduate of the Executive Program in General Management (EPGM) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management. He is an Advisory Board Member of Rutgers University’s BigData Program.

Bo Rodda, Vice President of Civilocity, IMAGINE Labs, is a designer, visual artist, technologist, innovation consultant, and educator. He has lectured widely on the critical intersection between the arts and sciences as they are applied to the built environment. His areas of focus include smart cities, innovation, and civic technologies.

Rodda started his career as a research associate at the Computation Institute, at the University of Chicago. While at UrbanCCD, he led the development of the LakeSIM project, a prototype framework for coupling urban design and computational modeling
tools. Subsequently, Rodda was a Building Technology and Energy Efficiency Specialist at Argonne National Laboratory where he was a subject matter expert to the Laboratory’s sustainability and built technologies initiatives. His work focused on projects
relating to next generation facility energy management, energy data analysis and visualization, as well as sensor design, deployment, and industrial IoT.

Bo Rodda is on faculty at the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture and Designed Objects (AIADO) and the Department of Art and Technology Studies (ATS) at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is also a lecturer at the Institute of
Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Dr. Gary Walker, MPG-Global Group Chairman and CEO. Prior to going into practice, Gary was Executive Vice President and CEO, Major Projects at AECOM, the largest design and management firm in the world, responsible for global mega project opportunities (in excess of $1Bn capital value) in emerging geographies. As Chief Executive of a dedicated senior executive leadership team he delivered over $600 million of new major project business throughout the world. Today, Gary and his team at MPG-Global are financing and developing multi-billion dollar smart city projects around the world.

Other notable achievements in his career have included being the executive director on the largest nuclear performance improvement program ever undertaken in the world for British Energy. Taking the company from administration back to the FTSE 100; being the program director on Thameslink 2000 where he successfully led a multi-disciplined team strategically plan the largest Transport & Works Act application ever undertaken in Europe; and as the project director on the highly acclaimed Heathrow Express Rail Link in joint venture with BAA, which finished one year ahead of the original planned completion date to name but a few.

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Have a great day