Jennifer Keesmaat is passionate about creating places where people flourish. A renowned urban planner, she was named one of the “most powerful people in Canada” by Maclean’s, one of the “most influential” by Toronto Life, and one of the top Women of Influence in Canada. Keesmaat spent five years as Toronto’s Chief City Planner, where she was celebrated for her forward thinking and collaborative approach to city-building.
Today, Keesmaat is a founding partner of Markee Developments, where she, along with veteran developer Jason Marks, are developing new communities across the GTA as sustainable, liveable places that prioritize access to high-quality, affordable rental housing. She is also the CEO of The Keesmaat Group, where she provides inspiration through public speaking, and delivers impact through her consulting services pertaining to creating complete, walkable communities.
A Distinguished Visitor in Residence Emeritus at the University of Toronto, Keesmaat frequently shares her vision for cities of the future through a variety of publications including The Guardian, Foreign Affairs, Macleans, The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, and on her podcast, “Invisible City”. She was also the Chief Architect of the 2020 Declaration for Resilience in Canadian Cities, which provides a blueprint for adapting cities post-pandemic.
Keesmaat’s work has been repeatedly recognized by professional associations, including the 2016 President’s Award of Excellence from the Canadian Institute of Planners; the 2016 Bryden Alumni Award from York University; the 2017 City Builders Award from EDIT/the Design Exchange; and, most recently, the 2019 Edmund N. Bacon Award from the Center for Architecture and Design in Philadelphia. She also sits on the Advisory Board of the Urban Land Institute, Toronto; has been appointed to the International Panel of Experts of the Singapore Urban Redevelopment Authority; is a board member for May Mobility; and is on the President’s Planning and Growth Advisory Board for Ohio State University.
Keesmaat has a Combined Honours degree in Philosophy and English from the University of Western Ontario, and a Masters in Environmental Studies, Politics, and Planning from York University.