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Elena Madison

Director of Projects

Elena Madison is the Director of Projects at Project for Public Spaces and a veteran of placemaking. She is an urban planner with rich experience in the planning and design of parks, plazas, campuses, civic and cultural institutions. She has a passion for working with people in communities to build a shared vision for active and diverse public spaces that nurture a sense of pride and ownership.  Elena is an expert in collaborative visioning, concept development as well as management and programming for public spaces. She works closely with designers, economic development experts and public space managers to seamlessly bring the concepts developed in the public visioning process through design development and into implementation. She is currently working on placemaking initiatives in Detroit’s Belle Isle and Campus Martius, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond; at Houston’s Central Library; on Astor Place in New York City; and at the healing gardens of Stanford University’s Medical Center.

Elena has been the keynote speaker, presenter and trainer at numerous national and international conferences, seminars and convenings. Most recently she was a featured trainer in Penang, Malaysia with partners ThinkCity; the main trainer at the Lively Cities  kick-off meeting in Aberdeen, Scotland – a transnational public space project of the European Union for North West Europe and a featured trainer at the Public Spaces as a Catalyst for Sustainability, Culture and Social Justice training in Johannesburg, South Africa.

In her own community of Jackson Heights, Queens she is a founding member of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance, a grassroots group organizing the 78th Play Street/Plaza in an effort to expand public space in the neighborhood. Elena’s community-based efforts include also the Place and Play Grassroots Fund – a joint initiative of Project for Public Spaces and aiming at linking grassroots activism to tangible improvements to parks, play, and public spaces at the local level.


Master of Urban Planning, City University of New York, Hunter College, 2001

Bachelor of Arts, College of Mount St. Vincent, 1997

Professional Affiliations

American Planning Association


American Planning Association Robert C. Weinberg student award for outstanding achievement 2001


Bulgarian, French, Russian