Betsy MacLean has been engaged in groundbreaking sustainable community development work for more than 15 years. As the Executive Director of Hester Street, Betsy and her team work with community organizations, private firms and government agencies throughout New York City and nationwide to provide low-income communities with the tools they need to shape their built environment. Before Hester Street, Betsy worked in East New York as the Director of Community Development at Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation where she oversaw well over $100 million of affordable housing development and spearheaded the community-driven design and construction of Brooklyn’s first green public school, P.S. 89. Cypress Hills Verde, a community-wide sustainability initiative she developed, led to energy-efficient retrofits of hundreds of low-income homes, the construction of a community-operated urban farm, an innovative participatory planning process for the large-scale re-development of long vacant land, and expanded fresh food access.
Betsy’s projects have earned The Alliance for a Greater New York’s (ALIGN) Movement Builders award, ioby’s Heroes in our Backyard award, and the Boston Society for Architects’ Excellence in Affordable Housing award. Prior to her time in East New York, Betsy created and directed an international community development program in Cuba and, before that, worked as a carpenter. Betsy holds master’s degrees in Urban Planning and International Development from Columbia University. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two young sons.