At the beginning of 2013, ULI’s Board of Directors approved a focus on healthy communities as a cross-disciplinary theme for the organization. The Building Healthy Places Initiative is managed by a dedicated team with a strong understanding of the connections between health and the built environment. The Building Healthy Places Initiative staff works to connect ULI’s powerful global networks with research and resources to move the conversation forward.

Our Goals

  1. Raising awareness
  2. Defining the approach
  3. Exploring the value proposition
  4. Advancing the state of practice and policy

Meet the Staff

Rachel MacCleeryRachel MacCleery
Senior Vice President

Rachel MacCleery is Senior Vice President at the Urban Land Institute, where she leads the organization’s Building Healthy Places Initiative and other programs. Via Building Healthy Places, MacCleery is spearheading ULI’s efforts to leverage the power of its global networks to shape projects and places in ways that improve the health of people and communities. The initiative seeks to advance understanding of and action on connections between the built environment and health; it is currently focused on topics including transformation of urban and suburban arterials, connections between food and real estate, active transportation, and more. Rachel has extensive knowledge of land use, environment and sustainability, social equity, and infrastructure policy and practice issues. Rachel has a Masters Degree in Public Administration and Urban and Regional Planning, and previously worked for AECOM and the District of Columbia Department of Transportation. She speaks Mandarin Chinese and lives in Washington, DC with her husband and three children. Learn more about the ULI Building Healthy Places Initiative at www.uli.org/health.

Sara HammerschmidtSara Hammerschmidt
Senior Director

Sara Hammerschmidt is Senior Director, Content at the Urban Land Institute, where she develops content and programs focused on the impact of the built environment on public health through the Building Healthy Places Initiative. Throughout her career, Sara has done extensive work on issues that lie at the intersection of health and the built environment. Previously, she worked at PolicyLink in Oakland, California, researching the inclusion of social and economic equity into projects, plans, and policies that are being implemented at the intersection of health and the built environment. Sara has spoken on the topics of Health Impact Assessment, the role of urban planning in creating healthier cities, and recommendations for incorporating health into all built environment decision making at several national conferences.

Sara holds an M.S. and Ph.D. in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Austin, where her research focused on developing recommendations for how planning departments across the country can incorporate public health considerations into their work. She also holds a B.S. in Industrial Operations and Engineering from the University of Michigan, and worked for eight years in the technology industry prior to graduate school.


Head Shot_NorrisMatthew Norris
Senior Associate

Matthew Norris supports the Building Healthy Places Initiative and works on projects linking health, sustainability and development. He previously worked at the Tri-State Transportation Campaign where he focused on improving access to safe, reliable and equitable modes of transportation throughout southern New Jersey and the Greater Philadelphia area. Matt earned his Master’s in City and Regional Planning from Rutgers University-New Brunswick in 2010, where he focused on international development and comprehensive planning. Matt also holds a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Kansas.


Aysha CohenAysha Cohen
Senior Associate

Aysha Cohen supports the Building Healthy Places Initiative and works on projects linking health, sustainability and development. She is a graduate of UCLA’s Masters of Urban & Regional Planning (MURP) program. While at UCLA, she conducted research as a Fulbright Eco-Leadership scholar in Canada and as a UCLA Institute for Transportation Studies (ITS) scholar in Los Angeles. Her capstone research for the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), “Equity in Motion: Bikeshare in Low-Income Communities”, geospatially and statistically analyzed 84 factors to forecast bikeshare ridership at the station-level in high poverty areas of Washington, DC. She is a co-founder of “The Olive Tree Initiative: Armenia-Turkey”, an interdisciplinary travel-study conflict resolution group. She speaks Spanish, Turkish and English.

Senior ULI Advisers

juanitahardy_mmJuanita Hardy
ULI Senior Visiting Fellow for Creative Placemaking

Juanita Hardy has over 41 years of business experience, including 31 years with IBM, and over 35 years in the arts as a nonprofit leader, trustee, collector, and patron of the arts. She is the former Executive Director of CulturalDC, a nonprofit committed to making space for artists and art organizations and fostering cultural and economic vibrancy in communities through its creative placemaking services. Read more.

Ed McMahonEd McMahon
Charles E. Fraser Chair on Sustainable Development and Environmental Policy

Ed McMahon is nationally known as an inspiring and thought-provoking speaker and leading authority on topics related to sustainable development, land conservation, smart growth, and historic preservation. McMahon is the author or coauthor of 15 books and more than 300 articles. Read more.









About the Building Healthy Places Initiative

The Building Healthy Places Initiative leverages the power of ULI's global networks to shape projects and places in ways that improve the health of people and communities. Learn more.

Contact us at health@uli.org.

About the Initiative

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