Canadian Institue Of Planners

Shaping our Communities
Sustaining Canada's Future.


As a healthy built environment and policy advisor, Dr. Karen Lee and her team assist in helping communities and organizations to use built environment and social determinants of health to address the epidemics of obesity and non-communicable diseases. In building partnerships between communities and organizations, both with government and non-government groups, Karen Lee has worked tirelessly on greening built environments, improving universal accessibility, social equity and economic resilience in over 40 cities all over the world.

In Canada, Dr. Karen is an Adjunct Professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta and the University of Toronto. She is an extremely sought after keynote speaker at building design events all across our country from St. Johns to Edmonton, including at our very own CIP/API People Matter Conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick in 2014. Dr. Karen has worked in partnership with CIP’S Healthy Communities Committee and was also the Deputy Medical Officer of Health in departments in Ontario and Alberta. She set-up and implemented the Healthy Canada by Design Initiative whose mandate is to improve and examine the impact of neighbourhood design and community planning with respect to health and chronic disease. Dr. Karen has worked with planners, public health officials, developers, policy makers and the public to influence policy and inspire change in the ways the built environment is developed.

Among many achievements, accolades and contributions in Canada, Dr. Karen Lee has also led the development and implementation of projects in Australia, Brazil, Europe, Asia and the US. She led the development and integration of the LEED Pilot Credit “Design for Active Occupants” registered for use in over 250 building development projects as well as PlaNYC and Greencodes processes and reports in New York City. She is a senior advisor on Built Environment and Healthy Housing at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and has led the NYC Health Department’s work with city agencies and non-government partners in the development of the award-winning Active Design Guidelines. She is a Special Advisor to the World Health Organization Offices and is both President and CEO of Global Fit Cities and her consulting company, Dr. Karen Lee Health + Built Environment + Social Determinants Consulting. She is a course Professor at Columbia University and Boston University and last but not least, is credited by many to have begun the global Active Design movement which has provided architects and urban designers with a manual of strategies for creating healthier buildings, streets, and urban spaces.

Dr. Karen Lee’s extensive and significant contributions to the planning community in Canada, the US and all over the world are nothing short of outstanding.  She is an absolutely exceptional example of passion and policy in action, an individual whose efforts have both contributed and culminated in how we currently understand, build and realize healthy cities and communities. We are very proud to recognize Dr. Karen Lee’s contributions through her receipt of the 2017 CIP President’s Award.