Gil (Guillermo) Penalosa, MBA, PhDhc
Founder and Chair of the Board, 8-80 Cities
Chair of the Board, World Urban Parks
Gil Penalosa is passionate about cities for all people. Gil advises decision makers and communities on how to create vibrant cities and healthy communities for everyone regardless of social, economic, or ethnic background. His focus is on the design and use of parks and streets as great public places, as well as sustainable mobility: walking, cycling and public transit.
Gil is the founder and chair of the board of the internationally recognized non-profit organization 8 80 Cities. The organization was created based on a simple philosophy; if you create a great city for an 8 year old and an 80 year old, you will create a successful city for all people. Gil also runs his own international consulting firm – Gil Penalosa & Associates and is an accomplished presenter and keynote speaker. Because of Gil’s unique blend of pragmatism and passion, his leadership and advice is sought out by many cities and organizations. Over the past 8 years, Gil has worked in over 200 different cities across six continents.
Gil has been a strong supporter and advocate for improving city parks, first making his mark in the late 1990s, when he led the transformation of Bogota’s park system as Commissioner of Parks, Sport and Recreation. During his tenure Gil successfully led the design and development of over 200 parks including Simon Bolivar, a 113 hectare park in the heart of the city. Gil’s team also initiated the “new Ciclovia”— a program that sees over 1 million people walk, run, skate and bike along 121 kilometers of Bogotá’s city roads every Sunday, and today is internationally recognized and emulated.
Gil is chair of the board of World Urban Parks, the international representative body for the urban parks, open space and recreation sector. Gil has also worked for the renowned Danish firm Gehl Architects as an urban expert on mobility and citizen engagement.
Gil also serves on the board of directors of City Parks Alliance and is a senior advisor to StreetFilms in NYC, American Trails and America Walks.
Gil holds an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, where he recently was selected as one of the “100 Most Inspirational Alumni” in the school’s history. In 2013 he received the Queen Elizabeth II – Diamond Jubilee Medal, given by the Governor General of Canada, and was named one of the “Top 10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians”. In 2014 Gil received a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the Faculty of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at the prominent Swedish University SLU.
Gil has also contributed chapters to three books: Enabling Cycling Cities: Ingredients for Success – CIVITAS, Europe; Facilities for Cyclists – Copenhagen, Denmark; Resilient Sustainable Cities, Melbourne, Australia.