Vanessa is an urban planner and design strategist with experience directing programs across public and private sectors in New York City and abroad. Her work is defined by developing urban planning and creative placemaking projects that promote community building, economic development, and health efforts. Specifically, she designs projects and programs that fulfill organizational needs, leading cross-disciplinary teams to improve service delivery, expand community-based assets, and achieve progressive policy initiatives. Prior to working at Hester Street, she created and managed the NYC Mural Arts Project at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), leading program development and operations across the City. Beforehand, she was a founding partner and the Director of Outreach and Research of the Brooklyn-based social impact firm, 3×3 Design.

She has led program development and research initiatives at UN-HABITAT, the City of Chicago, and El Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte in Madrid. She co-founded and co-chaired the first Arts and Culture Committee for the American Planning Association, NY Metro Chapter, and has lectured at Columbia University, the School of Visual Art (SVA), Pratt University, and Illinois Institute of Technology’s (IIT) School of Design. Vanessa holds a M.S. in Urban Planning from Columbia University and a B.A Honors in Anthropology from the University of Chicago.

She believes data should be framed by storytelling, and design thinking should be used to create tools and plans with the people that live in our neighborhoods and use city services.