Executive director of the New York–based nonprofit Van Alen Institute, David van der Leer, has announced that he’ll be stepping down from his position effective November 21 to focus on his consultancy business.
Van der Leer’s transition away from the institution he’s helped lead since 2013 will kick off a global search for Van Alen’s next executive director, although van der Leer will continue to serve in an advisory capacity through the beginning of 2019 to ease the transition. Managing director Elissa Black will serve as the interim director until van der Leer’s successor begins.
Van der Leer’s tenure at the 125-year-old Institute has been marked by an outgrowth of interdisciplinary programs, design competitions, media partnerships, international outreach, and the formation of three leadership councils. Climate change has also taken center stage, as the Institute launched Keeping Current, an $850,000 design competition for mitigating sea level rise in Miami, sent their Climate Council across the country to search for urban resiliency solutions, and highlighted the issue in their Van Alen Sessions video series.
“If Van Alen and New York have walked hand-in-hand for decades, David van der Leer has opened up the doors (and the minds) of the Institute to the wider world,” said Paola Antonelli, the Museum of Modern Art’s senior curator in the Department of Architecture and Design. “He has initiated partnerships that have positioned Van Alen as an important node in the international network of research and debate on the future of cities.”
Black said in a press release, “Through innovation and inclusivity, David inspired the vision for the important work of the organization. I and the entire staff are wholly committed to carrying our mission forward and building on the Institute’s legacy of forward-thinking programs.”