Keri Butler, a 15-year veteran of New York City’s Public Design Commission (PDC), has been appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio as the agency’s new executive director.
Butler had been serving as acting executive director since December 2020 when Justin Garrett Moore, an urban designer, educator, and lecturer, exited the role to serve as the inaugural program manager for Humanities in Place, a new initiative established by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Moore, a former senior urban designer with the New York City Department of Planning, had served in the executive director role since 2016. Landscape architect Signe Nielsen is currently president of the 11-member Commission.
In her 15 years with the PDC, Butler, described by Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been as an “invaluable member” of the PDC, has both spearheaded and assisted with a wide number of PDC events and initiatives, including overseeing the agency’s design review process. As detailed in a press release issued by the Mayor’s Office announcing Butler’s appointment, she has, among other things, represented the Commission on panels and public events highlighting the city’s art collection and women designers; managed collaborative projects including the Awards for Excellence in Design, Women-Designed NYC, and Sustainable NYC; worked with different city agencies and private partners to preserve the city’s art collection and expand the City Hall tour program to highlight Black history; managed Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts in 2012–2013, and led the commission through its transition to remote work during the coronavirus crisis.
Most recently, Butler’s efforts have been focused on “Designing New York: Streetscapes for Wellness,” a new program launched to “better understand how the pandemic and racial justice movement changed how we use city streets and open spaces” while effective exploring ways to “utilize these spaces through innovative policy and design.”
“I am honored to accept this position and I look forward to continuing to work with the Public Design Commission and our City agency colleagues to design civic spaces that inspire and welcome New Yorkers, while meeting the needs of communities we serve,” said Butler in a statement. “The Commission will advocate for innovation and excellence in design, enhanced mobility, social infrastructure, equity, and resilience in public projects. In addition, we will continue to develop working relationships with our partner agencies and applicants to enhance and streamline the design review process.”
Butler holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art from the University of North Texas and a Master of Arts in Arts Administration from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
“Keri Butler has already brought vision, energy, and creativity to the Public Design Commission throughout my administration. She has earned this expanded role, and I know she will continue to make our public spaces even more dynamic as this city continues to build a recovery for all of us,” said Mayor de Blasio.