About Dr. Karen Lee and Our Team

Karen K. Lee, MD, MHSc is a healthy built environment and health policy advisor and consultant. Her team specializes in helping communities and organizations use the built environment - our buildings, streets, and neighborhoods - and other social determinants of health (e.g. work and education) to address the epidemics of obesity and non-communicable diseases.

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By doing so, communities and organization can synergistically address greening the environment, and improving universal accessibility, social equity and economic resilience. Our team consults to and advises a variety of organizations around the world, including World Health Organization offices; multiple local, provincial, and state governments and health departments; non-government organizations such as the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Australian Heart Foundation; and private sector companies looking to make a difference in our communities.

Dr. Lee has helped start-up non-profit organizations now doing this work in NYC, as well as throughout the Unites States, United Kingdom and Brazil. She and her team have worked with government and non-government organizations in over 40 cities!

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From 2006 - 2013, Dr. Lee was New York City's Health Department's Inaugural Built Environment & Active Design Director, where she led the coordinated development and implementation  of the international award-winning Active Design Guidelines across 12 city agencies, private sector and community sector partners.

In addition to being co-author and lead on the Active Design Guidelines, Dr. Lee has also co-authored and co-led the development of multiple supplement Guidelines. She is credited by many to have begun the global Active Design movement. Dr. Karen Lee has also assisted other jurisdictions outside New York to create their own guidelines. For example, she assisted Peel Region in Canada to create their own Affordable Housing Active Design Guidelines and Standards published in 2014.


She has been the lead for organizing and implementing the annual Fit City Conferences in NYC and the three Fit Nation Conferences in the U.S. with funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition, she's also led the planning and execution of the first ever Fit World Conference in NYC and has since assisted 15 other cities in the U.S. She's also assisted Miami; Boston; Louisville, KY; San Diego; London, UK; New South Wales, Australia; Sao Paolo, Brazil; and multiple cities in nine Canadian provinces to mount Fit City or similar conferences for cross-sector dialogues.


Dr. Karen Lee also set-up and implemented peer-to-peer built environment and health mentoring networks involving multiple cities coast to coast in the U.S. and Canada, including the Healthy Canada by Design initiative.

She led the development and execution of multiple Active Design and Healthy Built Environment workshops and trainings for professional groups and community residents including youth.  

Dr. Lee led the development and implementation of key initiatives that integrate health and greening policies, such as the integration of health issues into the LEED green buildings rating system through the LEED Pilot Credit "Design for Active Occupants", now registered for use in over 250 building development projects, as well as the PlaNYC and Greencodes processes and reports in New York City.  She supervised the integration of Active Design and other healthy living criteria into the 2015 Enterprise Green Communities Criteria.  

Dr. Lee has also been advisor and consultant in the development of healthy buildings certification systems such as the WELL Certification and FitWel.

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Dr. Karen Lee is an Adjunct Professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta and the University of Toronto in Canada. She is a frequent guest lecturer for architecture and urban design courses at Columbia University in New York City.  Dr. Karen Lee has also created the Designing Healthy Cities to Reverse Obesity and Non-Communicable Disease Epidemics Course at Columbia University offered to global participants in June of each year, and the Active Design course now offered at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. 

Prior to moving to New York City, Dr. Karen Lee worked at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To learn more or contact Dr. Karen Lee, you can do so here.