The following is a press release from the Van Alen Institute announcing the appointment of Deborah Marton as the new executive director.

Van Alen Institute announced today that Deborah Marton has been appointed its next Executive Director. The announcement was made by Jared Della Valle, Board Chair of the influential organization celebrating its 125th anniversary of using expansive design thinking to improve lives in cities, landscapes and regions. Chosen after an extensive international search, Marton, currently Executive Director of the New York Restoration Project (NYRP), will assume her new role at Van Alen in September.

Deborah Marton
Deborah Marton

Noted Della Valle, “Deborah brings extensive experience to Van Alen in successfully mobilizing professionals across various sectors—architecture, urban design, ecology, public health—to take an interdisciplinary approach that effects positive change, particularly among underserved communities. Her passionate, innovative and collaborative leadership in addressing complex issues will be invaluable in executing the single largest program in our history being launched this fall. She has clearly shown an ability to build on Van Alen’s multiple roles as instigator, convener, thought partner and catalyst, and communicated a strong desire to ensure we create demonstrable outcomes that will usher in our next 125 years.”

Marton joins Van Alen from the New York Restoration Project, founded by Bette Midler, where she worked for nearly eight years, five of them as Executive Director. She redefined the organization’s focus from projects to people, situating the work squarely at the intersection of environmental and social justice. Under her leadership, NYRP initiated robust collaborations with municipal leaders and neighborhood change agents, empowering under-resourced communities to share ownership of NYRP-managed public spaces. During her tenure, NYRP completed the MillionTreesNYC Program, expanded its impact on the Bronx shoreline with the Haven Project, and secured the resources to complete renovation of all 52 NYRP-owned community gardens, while maintaining close to 100 acres under its management. To track and understand outcomes, she implemented a new geographically organized database and digital checklist system for everyday data collection.

In her previous role as Executive Director of the Design Trust for Public Space, Marton increased the organization’s visibility and effectiveness, creating and funding game-changing municipal projects including Taxi 07, the High Performance Landscape & Infrastructure Guidelines, and Made in Midtown. Commented Marton, “Van Alen Institute stands alone in its ability to render visible the complex systems that govern our physical environment, effectively bridging the gap between pure knowledge and built form. I am privileged to be joining Van Alen’s outstanding team and look forward to building on the organization’s 125-year history as a leading voice in unearthing unconventional solutions to our most significant social, ecological and cultural challenges.”

Marton 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 and urban equity. She received a Master of Landscape Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a J.D. from New York University School of Law.