Director of Metropolitan Opportunity, Ford Foundation (invited)
Don Chen directs the foundation’s Metropolitan Opportunity work. His team supports urban development strategies to reduce poverty, expand economic opportunities and advance sustainability in cities and regions in the U.S. and developing countries—with a focus on shaping the delivery systems for affordable housing, community improvement, infrastructure and city and regional planning. Don joined the foundation in 2008 as a program officer in Metropolitan Opportunity. Earlier, he was the founder and CEO of Smart Growth America, where he led efforts to create the National Vacant Properties Campaign and Transportation for America, and managed a merger with the Growth Management Leadership Alliance. He has authored many pieces on land use, transportation, social equity and environmental policy, including “Growing Cooler: The Academic Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change” (2008, co-author) and “The Science of Smart Growth,” which appeared in the December 2000 issue of Scientific American. Don has also served on the boards of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, West Harlem Environmental Action, the Environmental Leadership Program and Grist magazine. He holds a master’s degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Yale University.