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Public Works Partners Welcomes Melissa S. Lee as Principal, Head of Community Health Practice

By Ava Lopez

February 6, 2023

Public Works Partners, a WBE/DBE/SBE certified planning and consulting firm, today announced that Melissa S. Lee has joined the firm as a Principal and will lead its Urban Planning practice, called Community Health, which focuses on creating stronger neighborhoods through planning, placemaking, economic development, and community engagement. Ms. Lee brings more than 25 years of experience delivering urban planning solutions in the government, nonprofit, and private sectors.

“We have significantly expanded our Community Health practice over the last three years and bringing Melissa on board enables us to accelerate this growth,” said Celeste Frye, co-founder and CEO of Public Works Partners. “In Melissa we found a candidate who brings not only first-class experience working across diverse organizations in our firm’s areas of expertise, but also a shared commitment to our values, excellence, and impact. I look forward to working alongside her as we lead Public Works into its next chapter.”

From capital improvement strategies to community engagement, Ms. Lee has shared her talents across the country, from New York City to New Orleans to Pasadena, CA. Most recently, she served as West Coast division lead and Director of Planning & Community Engagement for Concordia LLC. Her work building stronger communities has included roles with the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, where she launched and managed significant grantmaking initiatives, and the Office of the New York City Mayor, where she oversaw a $15 million streetscape project.

Ms. Lee serves as an adjunct lecturer for the Sustainable Real Estate & Development program at Tulane University’s School of Architecture, a delegate for the American Planning Association Assembly for Climate Change, and a board member at Friends of Lafitte Greenway. A sought-after speaker for industry conferences, Ms. Lee has shared her insights with the American Planning Association, AIA’s Women in Architecture, International Placemaking Week, and the Building Resilience Conference. She holds a Bachelor of Arts, International Relations & Affairs, from the University of Redlands and received her Master of Public Administration in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy from New York University.

I am thrilled to join Public Works Partners to lead the firm’s work to shape public space through neighborhood economic development, community organizing, and urban planning,” said Melissa Lee, incoming Principal at Public Works Partners. “My firm belief that anything is possible when radical imagination pairs with action is matched by Public Works’ commitment to innovation, equity, and community impact. I look forward to leading responsive and accessible planning practice at Public Works.”

Public Works plays a key role in advancing high-profile and integral projects shaping New York City and beyond. The firm has lead engagement and planning efforts for the Penn Station Master Plan; Innovation QNS, one of the largest privately owned development projects in Queens; the Syracuse Southwest Gateway Downtown Revitalization Initiative, which is infusing $10 million in state funding to select real estate and public infrastructure investments; and the NYC Department of Transportation’s NYC Streets Plan, among others.

Public Works Partners is located at 20 West 38th Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10018. They can be reached at 347.619.2892 or by visiting For the latest news and updates, follow @PublicWorksIQ on Twitter and @public-works-partners on LinkedIn.

About Public Works Partners

Public Works Partners believes in strategy for good. The WBE/DBE/SBE certified planning & consulting firm, working closely with a network of community-based organizations at the neighborhood, city and state level, captures credible input organically, analyzing and synthesizing findings into actionable data that leads to increased impact. Using a mixed-methods approach, Public Works Partners connects with community members where they are to ensure that audiences too often marginalized are heard. The firm’s research and analysis can inform future programs, facilitate strategic planning processes, build stronger teams and streamline organizational operations for greater success. For more information, visit

Press Contact:
Kelly Lee

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