Board of Directors + Leadership

Board of Directors

  • Les Bluestone ChairPresident, Blue Sea Development Company and Blue Sea Construction Co.

  • Michael Vardaro, J.D. SecretaryManaging Partner, Zetlin & De Chiara LLP

  • David Burney Board Member (Former Board Chair)Professor, Pratt Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment; Former Commissioner, New York City Department of Design and Construction

  • Dave A. Chokshi, MD, MSc Board Member (ex-officio)Commissioner, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

  • Sancia Dalley Board MemberSenior VP, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

  • Dr. Elizabeth Garland Board MemberAssociate Professor; Director Division of General Preventive Medicine & Community Health, Dept. of Preventive Medicine, Dept. of Pediatrics - Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

  • Deb Gorhan Board MemberGlobal Planning & Governance Lead, Johnson & Johnson

  • Lorraine Grillo Board Member (ex-officio)Commissioner, New York City Department of Design and Construction

  • Dr. Bon Ku Board MemberDirector, Health Design Lab, Thomas Jefferson University; Host, Design Lab Podcast

  • Setha Low, Ph.D Board MemberProfessor of Environmental Psychology, Geography, Anthropology, and Women's Studies; Director of the Public Space Research Group, The Graduate Center at City University of New York

  • Bob Simpson Board MemberFounder, Simpson Impact Strategies; Former Vice President and Head of the Multifamily Green and Affordable Housing Business at Fannie Mae


  • Joanna Frank President & CEO

    Joanna Frank is the Founding President & CEO of the Center for Active Design (CfAD), where she advances design and development practices to foster healthy and engaged communities. CfAD is the operator of Fitwel, a unique certification system originally developed by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Fitwel has translated the global public health evidence base into practical design and operational strategies for buildings and communities to optimize health. Prior to launching CfAD, Ms. Frank worked for the City of New York during the Bloomberg Administration, where her positions included Director of Active Design and Director of the NYC FRESH program. Ms. Frank's career started in real estate development as a partner at Bright City Development, LLC where she was responsible for mixed-use residential projects that prioritized sustainable design. Ms. Frank is a member of the Urban Land Institute's Affordable/Workforce Housing Council and the National Council of State Housing Agencies’ Advisory Group on Financing Healthier Affordable Housing, as well as an active partner in ULI's Building Healthy Places initiative.

  • Reena Agarwal Chief Operating Officer

    Reena Agarwal is the Chief Operating Officer, and is responsible for programs, research, and policy efforts aimed at using design to promote of health and community development. In her previous roles at the New York City Department of Design and Construction and as a consultant for New York City’s inter-agency Active design team, she focused on regulatory and legislative efforts aimed at promoting environmental sustainability and health in building design. Prior, Reena worked as an architect, focusing on the design of residential structures. Reena holds a Master of Urban Planning from New York University, a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Michigan and has over a decade of experience working in the industry.

  • Lisa Creighton Vice President, Strategy & Development

    Lisa Creighton is the Vice President, Strategy and Development, where she oversees the growth and direction of the Center and its signature Fitwel Certification System. Previously, she was Director of Partnerships for the Partnership for a Healthier America in Washington, DC. Other past experiences include work with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, National Education Association, National League of Cities and Yale University. In these roles, Lisa devoted a decade to making progress toward improving community health within the municipal, education and private sectors. Prior to entering the field of public health, Lisa was an associate at Achelous Partners, where she specialized in global mergers and acquisitions in the life science and healthcare sectors. Lisa holds a Master of Public Health and Master of Business Administration in Health Policy and Management from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from New York University.

  • Suzanne Nienaber Director, Partnerships

    Suzanne Nienaber is the Partnerships Director at the Center for Active Design. With expertise in urban planning and facilitation, Suzanne has orchestrated over 200 presentations and participatory workshops to encourage designers, planners, developers, and policymakers to transform the built environment to support healthy, engaged communities. She also leads Assembly, CfAD’s pioneering initiative to understand how place-based design impacts measures of civic engagement—including civic trust, participation in public life, stewardship of the public realm, and informed local voting. Previously she consulted for New York City’s inter-agency Active Design team, where she developed and implemented training programs to familiarize professionals with NYC’s award-winning Active Design Guidelines.