Maxinne Rhea Leighton, Assoc. AIA has held leadership roles in design firms for the past twenty years. She is pioneering research on the impact of climate change on design and planning professionals in completion of her PhD. A senior-level strategist in business development, marketing and communications for Jaros, Baum & Bolles, she has facilitated panels on building infrastructure and climate change at the United Nations and the NYC AIA.

Ms. Leighton’s passionate commitment to advancing peace and security in the built environment was intensified post-9/11. As a member of the initial ground zero planning team, Leighton served as a liaison between the design/planning professionals and the victims’ families. Post-Hurricane (Superstorm) Sandy she was part of a number of recovery efforts. It was there that the nexus between communities segregated by class and culture in the post-disaster recovery and the role of security was further underscored.

An Honorary Council Member for the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization Global, she is a member of the New York AIA’s Design for Risk and Reconstruction, Advisory Council Member for Save Ellis Island and an advisory board member for A Movement in Water™, an interactive multimedia public art installation on the reverence and reciprocity of water.

Leighton is co-author of Educating for Social Justice, A Dangerous Game: Matilda Joslyn Gage Center (Journal of Museum Studies), a suffrage’s fight for social justice and co-editor for The Future of Cities: An Integrated Approach to Urban Challenges (2016), based on the February 2015 conference at UN Headquarters in New York City; co-author of Grand Central: Gateway to a Million Lives (recipient of Chartered Builders of the United Kingdom Silver Literary Awards) and author of An Ellis Island Christmas, a book for children about immigration.

Leighton earned a Bachelor of Arts from SUNY Binghamton and a Master of Arts in Urban Studies at New York University. In 2018 she was recognized with WBC’s “Outstanding Women in the Building Industry” award as well as being honored as one of New York’s Power Women.