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Deborah Marton

Executive Director

Deborah Marton believes democracy demands shared spaces that communicate respect, dignity, and beauty. Prior to joining Van Alen Institute, Deborah held the position of Executive Director of New York City-based non-profit New York Restoration Project (NYRP), where she worked with municipal leaders and neighborhood change agents to empower communities of need, by unlocking the potential of open space.

During her tenure, Deborah met NYRP’s goal of planting 250,000 trees as a partner in New York City’s MillionTreesNYC, implemented an app-based checklist system for everyday data collection to understand organizational outcomes, created the vision for an environmental education center to be constructed at a Northern Manhattan waterfront site, and redefined NYRP’s identity from projects to people, situating the organization’s work squarely at the intersection of environmental and social justice. She also collaborated with the South Bronx community to develop the Haven Project, a plan for a connected network of public open spaces. Haven Project Phase One construction begins next year with a pier park, which will be the South Bronx’s first waterfront park. In her previous role as Executive Director of the Design Trust for Public Space, Deborah increased the organization’s visibility and effectiveness, creating game changing municipal projects including Taxi 07 (resulting in the new purpose built NYC taxi), the High Performance Landscape & Infrastructure Guidelines (established internationally emulated standards for sustainable urban park design, construction, and maintenance), and Made in Midtown (preserving NYC’s fashion ecosystem).

Deborah currently serves as Board Chair of the Public Policy Lab and on the Board of Trustees of the Landscape Architecture Foundation. She lectures widely on various topics, including green space and public health, open space management structures, and urban equity. Deborah received a Master of Landscape Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a J.D. from New York University School of Law.