City Explained, Inc.

Matt Noonkester, AICP | President & Founding Principal

Kelley Lewelling | CommunityViz Product Manager

Kelley Lewelling is a software developer, where she designs and creates interactive, GIS-based software applications.  She has sixteen years of experience in the geospatial field, with specializations in application development, image analysis, geospatial data analysis and database design.  Since 2008, she has been one of the core developers of CommunityViz software, enhancing existing tools as well as developing new ones.  Her in-depth knowledge of GIS technology, combined with her broad application development experience, allow her to create solutions that are both effective in meeting users' needs and efficient in performing geospatial analysis.

Ms. Lewelling holds a bachelor's degree in Systems Engineering from University of Virginia to complement her master's degree in Environmental Monitoring from University of Wisconsin.  Prior to her work in the GIS field, Ms. Lewelling worked in wildland fire and natural resources management.

Jerah Smith | Municipal Services Director

Jerah Smith has over a decade of professional experience using his political savvy and planning know-how for the public good.  While relatively new to the planning profession, Mr. Smith's diverse local, state, and federal political portfolio gives him a unique perspective on how to engage community members and find consensus for improving the overall quality of life for a community's constituents.  As a planning generalist, he works on regional plans, comprehensive plans, and return-on-investment studies in locations throughout the United States.  His specific expertise in land use, growth management, housing, and transit-oriented development has benefited many projects and the communities he works in.  


Before joining CEI, Mr. Smith worked as an advocate for housing and neighborhoods in Maryland, and includes roles at the National Center for Smart Growth at the University of Maryland and the American Planning Association in his work history.  As a political advisor, Mr. Smith specialized in political campaign management, communications, community and stakeholder engagement, and gerrymandering reform.    

M​att Noonkester has 21 years of progressive planning experience managing projects that help local, regional and state government officials tackle difficult public policy planning issues. He has extensive experience using geographic information system (GIS) software to measure the built environment and leading community groups through a comprehensive planning process.  Mr. Noonkester is a certified CommunityViz, Gold Level Consultant and Classroom Instructor, and routinely speaks at professional conferences, expert panel sessions, and technical user group meetings on the topic of scenario planning and CommunityViz software.  He has also partnered with staff and elected officials throughout the United States to prepare regional growth studies, comprehensive plans, small area plans, corridor studies, capital improvements plans, land development regulations, urban design guidelines, development impact fee ordinances, and other special studies consistent with state law and community context.

Before forming City Explained, Inc. in 2015, Mr. Noonkester owned another successful planning firm, led a community planning team at two large planning and engineering firms, and served in the public sector, holding the position of Zoning Compliance Planner for the City of Bloomington, Indiana.

Nadine Bennett is a city planner and GIS analyst with over 20 years of experience working with local and regional governments.  Ms. Bennett has worked on comprehensive plans, small area plans, transportation plans, and regional growth studies - but is also very familiar with the day-to-day needs of a local planning department and has provided training to planning staff and elected officials throughout the Charlotte Region.


Ms. Bennett holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Davidson College and a Master of  Community Planning from Auburn University. 

Ian Varley | Planning Manager

Ian Varley develops technical mapping solutions for the built environment using CommunityViz and ArcGIS software. He is skilled at creating visual planning tools for communicating knowledge and solving problems in urban and regional planning.  Mr. Varley has 16 years of experience creating, maintaining and manipulating geospatial data, and his planning experience extends to transportation planning, conservation planning, green infrastructure and climate change.  He offers a wealth of experience developing and applying GIS technology to problem solving, as well as training and communicating difficult technical topics to a wide array of stakeholders.

Mr. Varley holds a Masters of Environmental Management from Duke University and Bachelor of Arts in Geography and Spanish with an Emphasis in Rural, Town and Regional Planning from the University of Montana, Missoula.  In graduate school he focused on the techniques of land conservation finance as well as real estate and land use law. He speaks fluent Spanish, having lived and worked in natural resource conservation and protected area management in El Salvador, Central America for five years.

Nadine Bennett | Senior Planner