Keynote Speaker

Gil (Guillermo) Penalosa, MBA

Gil PenalosaGil Penalosa is passionate about cities for all people, regardless of social, economic or ethnic background.

Gil advises decision makers and communities on how to create vibrant cities and healthy communities for all: from 8 to 80 years old. His focus is the design and use of parks and streets as great public places, as well as on sustainable mobility.

Because of his unique blend of pragmatism and passion, Gil’s leadership and advice is sought out by many cities and organizations. As Executive Director of the Canadian non-profit organization 8-80 Cities for the past six years, Gil has worked in over 130 different cities in all continents.

As former Commissioner of Parks, Sport and Recreation for the City of Bogotá, Colombia, Gil successfully led the design and development of over 200 parks of which Simón Bolívar, a 360 hectare park in the heart of the city is the best known; here he created the Summer Festival, with over 100 events in 10 days and more than 3 million people attending, making it the main annual recreational and cultural event in the country. Gil’s team also initiated the “new Ciclovia”— a program which sees over 1 million people walk, run, skate and bike along 121 kilometers of Bogotá’s city roads every Sunday, and today it’s internationally recognized and emulated.

Gil also works as Senior Consultant for the renowned Danish firm Gehl Architects. He serves on the Board of Directors of City Parks Alliance, USA, and is a Senior Advisor to StreetFilms in NYC, American Trails, Casas GEO Mexico, 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, adding up to earlier recognitions like the Medal of High Honour from the Colombian Ministry of Education, the Kirk French Spirit Award for Excellence from the City of Mississauga, Canada, the 2011 Urban Innovator Award by Guadalajara 2020 Mexico, and “Top 10 Most Influential Hispanic – Canadians” in 2012.  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.

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