As Design Trust for Public Space looks ahead to its 25th Anniversary in 2020, we are sharing the bittersweet news that Susan Chin will step down as Executive Director at the end of 2019 to pursue her own consultancy on other urban challenges in this increasingly complex world. We believe this is an appropriate time to facilitate a transition in leadership and look ahead to the future of the organization. The Design Trust has appointed a Search Committee, chaired by Board Vice Chair Eve Klein. The Board has selected the search firm Harris Rand Lusk to commence a search for Susan’s successor, who will lead the organization into its next 25 years as a vanguard of New York’s “public space movement”.

Susan, who joined the Design Trust as Executive Director in 2011, describes her tenure as the highlight of her professional life, and an honor working with Design Trust’s talented and passionate staff, fellows and dedicated board. The Design Trust Board and Staff are grateful for Susan’s energy, unwavering leadership and passion for making the City’s public spaces truly “public for all.” We are also proud of the strong team Susan built and celebrate the integral role that each person has played in making NYC a more vibrant, equitable and sustainable city. Our accomplishments include:

  • Making Design Trust the ‘go-to place’ on public space. Civic leaders, elected officials, policy makers and community groups across the city, the country and the globe have tapped our expertise or used our studies and policy recommendations to make new public spaces and make them “Public for All," including being recognized in 2017 with Cooper Hewitt’s National Design Award
  • Strengthening Design Trust’s unique project model to stimulate new thinking, new skills and new arguments for public space, and to create government and community partnerships for increased cooperation and leadership in developing resilient communities
  • Expanding Design Trust’s design guidelines and manuals of sustainable practices for and with City Agencies to improve practice and enhance knowledge
  • Forming Design Trust Fellows Forum, now more than 100 top professionals participating in a leadership network and learning exchange
  • Establishing the Equitable Public Space Fellowship in 2016 to help emerging professionals in underrepresented communities gain experience and knowledge in solving complex public space challenges in our increasingly global city

Susan and the Board are grateful to our Founder Andrea Woodner for establishing this unique organization. She brought to the forefront the importance of ‘design thinking’ and how we gain better outcomes by engaging the public and private sectors to ‘problem-seek and problem-solve’ together through co-equal partnership with NYC ParksNYC Department of TransportationNYC Housing Preservation and Development and NYC Housing AuthorityCalls for Project Ideas; and support for innovative professionals to work collaboratively with community groups. We’ve created a ‘public space movement’ in places we share throughout the City and the globe.

As we embark on our next 25 years, we look forward to a continued celebration of Susan’s many accomplishments, to a transition of leadership that secures Design Trust’s future success in creating a lasting impact on our city, and to Susan’s future pursuit of building on this work to make our shared world more healthy, cooperative and joyful.

Please contact Anne McCarthy, Senior Director and COO at Harris Rand Lusk ( for further information about the search, and Eric Rothman, Board Chair of the Design Trust ( for general information about the Design Trust.