Vanessa Léon

Assistant Clinical Professor of Urban Planning and Public Service; Director of Urban Planning Program

Vanessa Léon

Dr. Vanessa Léon is Assistant Clinical Professor of Urban Planning and Public Service and will serve as the Director of the Urban Planning program at NYU Wagner beginning in the 2020/21 academic year. As a scholar-practitioner, Dr. Léon’s research and practice spans New York City, Haiti and the broader Caribbean region with primary emphases on strengthening the institutional capacity for local governance, urban development and improved public service delivery on behalf of evolving communities. Her current research agenda includes an assessment of the utilization of citywide social services among immigrant populations that are non-English or Spanish speaking, as well as an evaluation of the role of immigration status on racial identity formation and civic engagement among non-citizen Haitian millennials in New York. Additionally, her work encompasses ongoing analyses of decentralization as a development tool in Haiti as well as in other Caribbean nations. Dr. Léon is also the Chief Executive Officer of Pinchina, an international urban planning and public policy firm she founded in 2010.

In 2018, Dr. Léon was a recipient of the “Impact Award – Young Women Rising” by the American Women for International Understanding. She was one of five Haitian-Americans selected by the Haitian Embassy in Washington DC to serve as a Haiti Future Leaders Fellow in 2015 where she advised the Haitian government’s Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation. Also in 2015, Dr. Léon was inducted into the Haitian Roundtable’s 1804 List as one of the “Top 5 to Watch” among Haitian-Americans. She was named one of “40 Urban Leaders Under 40” by Next City in 2014.

Dr. Léon obtained her Ph.D. in Public and Urban Policy from The New School and her Master of Urban Planning from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, with a specialization in Economic Development and Housing Policy. She graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University with her Bachelor of Arts in African and African American Studies and in American Studies, with double minors in Education Studies and in Social Justice and Social Policy.