Chelina Odbert


Chelina Odbert is Co-founder and Executive Director of Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI), a nonprofit design practice that partners with low income communities to improve physical, economic, and social quality of life through low-cost, high-impact design interventions.

Since 2006, she has worked with community members in the slum of Kibera, Nairobi to design and implement a network of "Productive Public Spaces" — transformed waste spaces that link physical upgrading to micro-enterprise and community development. The Productive Public Space Network has won numerous awards including Van Alen Institute's New York Prize for Public Architecture.

Chelina has replicated the Productive Public Space process in Haiti, Ghana and the United States. She holds a BA from Claremont McKenna College, where she graduated and received her Master of Urban Planning from Harvard University. Chelina has lectured extensively in the United States and internationally on KDI's community-engaged approach to planning, and written about it for Forbes Magazine and in the book, NOW Urbanism.

Selected Awards

Awardee, Aspen Institute Ideas Scholar
Aspen Institute, 2014

Awardee, 15 Global Emerging Social Innovators
American Express, 2012