Leonardo Vazquez is a national award-winning planner who is a leader in two emerging fields in urban planning: creative placemaking and cultural competency. He has two decades of experience in community development, community engagement, small group facilitation, local economic development, leadership development and strategic communications. He has worked with a wide variety of communities in New Jersey, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, New York and Pennsylvania. Creative Perth Amboy, a plan he developed through Community Coaching, received the 2016 Outstanding Plan - Municipal award from the American Planning Association New Jersey Chapter.
With a strong focus on implementation and sustainability, he specializes in building leadership teams to oversee plans and raising funds to support planning and implementation efforts. In addition to his affiliation with the National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, Leonardo Vazquez is a Senior Associate at the Nishuane Group and is directing the Certificate in Creative Placemaking program at New Hampshire Institute of Art. He is the author of Leading from the Middle: Strategic Thinking for Urban Planning and Community Development Professionals and co-editor of Dialogos: Placemaking in Latino Communities. He has written for several professional and general interest publications, including Planetizen, Planning, Progressive Planning and The Star-Ledger. He is the recipient of the 2012 American Planning Association National Leadership Award for Advancing Diversity and Social Justice in Honor of Paul Davidoff. It is the highest award given in the urban planning field on issues of social equity. He received a B.S. from Northwestern University and a M.P.A. and M.P., both from the University of Southern California.
Denisse Ortiz is a passionate landscape architectural designer who enjoys designing places for public enjoyment. She joined The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking in 2013 as a designer and planner upon completing her graduate studies. She also works with The Nishuane Group in Montclair, NJ. In summer 2012, she had the opportunity to work as an intern in an Excellence Award-winning studio project with the National Park Service and The Van Alen Institute. Her work at the National Consortium for Creative Placemaking involves community development, site planning, creative placemaking, research and graphic development. She focuses on placemaking wherein she finds the balance in community development and people’s space in community settings. She received a B.Arch. from the Universidad Central del Este in the Dominican Republic and a M.L.A. from Rutgers University.