DVDL  is an international strategy agency led by David van der Leer. Depending on each project’s needs, we bring together a group of experienced professionals for concept development, forecasting, research, project management, space programming, editorial, and graphic design work.

David van der Leer Principal

David van der Leer, is a forecaster, educator, moderator, researcher, strategist, and writer. David’s passion is reinventing the institutions and public spaces of yesterday—and dreaming up the most inspirational institutions of tomorrow—through excellent design and interdisciplinary programs. David founded DVDL in 2018 after having worked and consulted with institutions, government agencies, corporations, and individuals for 15 years.

Learn more about David’s background, collaborations, and recognitions here.

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Elissa Black Managing Principal

Elissa Black has over twenty years’ experience leading innovative international cultural initiatives for museums and global corporate brands around the world. Elissa, with a depth of experience in international cultural strategy, has worked with artists, curators, cultural organizations and partners across the globe, realizing multifaceted creative projects exploring the potentialities of culture and community. She holds a MA in Arts Administration from Columbia University, and a BA in Arts Critical Theory and JD from the University of Sydney, Australia.

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Maria Budtz Sorensen Associate Director, Insights and Strategy

Maria Budtz Sorensen is an urban sociologist and analyst who manages projects with DVDL, focusing on activation of urban spaces through programming, culture, and arts. Maria works to build equity into institutions and processes through a deep understanding of client, user, and community needs. Before coming to DVDL, she worked at AIA New York facilitating public programs on architecture and design. Maria holds an MA in Sociology from Copenhagen University and studied Urban Affairs at Queens College, CUNY.

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Vladimir Gintoff Associate, Design & Research

Vladimir is a designer, researcher, and writer with experience in an array of cultural enterprises. Prior to working at DVDL he was an experiential designer at Yellow Studio working for a range of media clients. Previously he has worked for the architecture office LOHA in Los Angeles, for the photographer Wolfgang Tillmans in Berlin, and as a writer and editor for ArchDaily. He holds Master in Architecture I and Master in Urban Planning degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

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Sally Szwed Director, Arts and Culture

Sally Szwed is an arts organizer and advocate who has held leadership roles in cultural institutions across New York City. Prior to joining DVDL, she served as Director of Artist Initiatives at Eyebeam where she supported and amplified the work of hundreds of artists who critically engaged with technology and its impact on society. Previously, she was the director of the Creative Time Summit, an international convening on the intersection of art and politics that engaged a global community of socially engaged practitioners working across fields. She holds a BFA in Sculpture from Syracuse University and an MA in Curatorial Practice from California College of the Arts.

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Aiko Alvarez-Gibson Fall Intern

Aiko Alvarez-Gibson is a second year Master’s in Architecture student at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, Columbia University. She holds a B.S. in Architecture from the University of Maryland. Having previously worked as a research and legislative writing intern for her district’s councilwoman in Baltimore City, Aiko has a profound interest in the relationship between architecture, planning, policy, and lived experience. Concurrently working as a certified personal trainer, Aiko also has an interest in the relationship between the human body and physical space on the micro-scale of interior spaces.

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Consultant Network

Claudia Diana Architectural Designer

Claudia Diana is an architect and illustrator with an MA in Architecture: Resilient and Sustainable Strategies from KU Leuven University in Belgium. She is based in the Netherlands and contributes to DVDL projects around the globe. Claudia’s role is to graphically represent the research and design process, as well as guide DVDL towards inclusive and sustainable architectural choices, based on informed spatial analysis.

Yusuf Siddiqui Research & Visioning

Yusuf Siddiqui is a multi-disciplinary researcher and project coordinator exploring the relationship between the built environment and the people that inhabit it. He has worked in the legal and creative sectors. He holds a Postgraduate Certification in Interdisciplinary Urban Design from the Bartlett School of Planning as well as a BA in International Studies from Goldsmiths, University of London.

Yvette Y. Lee Business Strategy

Yvette  Y. Lee is an art historian, curator, and senior non-profit executive who brings over 25 years of experience collaborating with museums, foundations, galleries, artists, corporate sponsors, donors, and boards to DVDL’s client projects. She has worked with numerous artists and institutions including the Whitney Museum of American Art, American Federation of Arts, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Skystone Foundation (James Turrell, Roden Crater) as well as Faou Foundation (Mariko Mori).

Alexandra Fanelli Research & Visioning

Alexandra is an Italian museum educator and researcher who envisions new ways of living the museum experience. Whether in research or project coordination work for our clients, Alexandra seeks out innovative ways to expand access to museums and to empower individuals through creative learning. She holds a B.A. in Art History from the Fashion Institute of Technology and an M.A. in Museum Anthropology from Columbia University.

Dan Muro Research & Visioning

Dan is a Brooklyn-based writer, musician, and researcher. He received his B.A. in cultural anthropology from Wesleyan University in 2017, with a focus on development studies and experimental ethnography. He has since worked for cultural and political organizations across New York City such as Van Alen Institute, New York Civil Liberties Union, and Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning.

Greg Barton Research & Visioning

Greg Barton is a researcher and curator focused on spatial politics. He holds a MS in Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices in Architecture from Columbia University GSAPP and has worked on projects for/with a number of artists, architects, activists, and nonprofit institutions, including the Canadian Centre for Architecture and Storefront for Art and Architecture. His texts have appeared in various places, most recently in The Museum is Not Enough (CCA/Sternberg Press).