Alexandra Lee, executive director of the Sasaki Foundation, will retire this summer. She has spent the last four years at the helm of the Foundation, making impressive strides in galvanizing community-driven research, programming, and youth exposure to the design field throughout the greater Boston area. The Foundation will continue to carry forward the key elements of the ambitious agenda set by Alexandra and the Foundation’s Board of Directors under new leadership to be announced.
The Foundation was established in honor of founder Hideo Sasaki after his passing in 2000. During its first 17 years, the Foundation most notably supported academic programs at the Boston Architectural College and research grants at the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) through the Perry Chapman Prize.
Lee joined the organization in 2017 and began the dynamic work of expanding upon the Foundation’s reach. She was charged with expanding its scope, agenda, and impact.
During her tenure, Lee
- launched and programmed the 5,000 SF Sasaki Incubator, a first-of-its-kind within the design industry;
- developed a robust research grants program, hosting pitch nights for teams from across the community to compete for fully funded research opportunities;
- established a dynamic Speaker Series that continued remotely throughout the pandemic;
- and built out deeply impactful youth education and design exposure programs for students, notably developing an industry-leading SEED (Summer Exploratory Experience in Design) program that provides fully paid internships to high school students.
The virtual Speaker Series and SEED summer 2021 session will continue as planned this year. The Foundation hopes to return to full in-person programming in 2022 within Sasaki’s new downtown Boston location at 110 Chauncy Street.
“We are immensely lucky to have had Alexandra join us at a critical growth period for the Sasaki Foundation,” says Sasaki Foundation Board Chair Mary Anne Ocampo, “as the inaugural Executive Director, she has been instrumental in leading our organization and helping us expand our impact within Greater Boston communities and with local youth in just a few years. We will endeavor to carry forward Alexandra’s passion for community service as we embark on this next phase of stewardship, but there is no denying Alexandra will be greatly missed.”
The entire Sasaki and Sasaki Foundation community join in thanking Alexandra Lee for her inspiring and intrepid leadership of the Foundation and wish her much fulfillment and joy in her retirement.
Read on for reflections from Alexandra as she brings this chapter of her career to a close and pursues a creative and restorative next adventure.
As I reflect on my career, I am honored to have met so many creative and interesting people who work every day to make the world a better place. My time at the Sasaki Foundation built on many years of bringing people together and celebrating community, whether through design charrettes, public programs, or youth educational initiatives. I deeply value connecting people who are passionate about their place in the world and treasure the experience of sharing common ground.
Predominantly focusing on a sense of place, whether in Boston at the Boston Society of Architects, or the Rose Kennedy Greenway, in western Massachusetts at the AIA, in San Francisco for the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th Anniversary or in rapidly growing Kendall Square in Cambridge, all of these experiences enabled me to build partnerships and facilitate connections for people to their communities. Convening and connecting communities has driven my work.
A key highlight for me has been the experience of mentoring young people who have a curiosity about the world and a deep desire to learn. As a participant in Citizens School, or as an environmental educator on the Greenway, or leading the exploration of design as a career at the Sasaki Foundation, the excitement in the eyes of these young people always motivated me.
I am very fortunate to have designed a career that celebrates my passions, shaping it step by step, and focusing on the built and natural environments that make our lives meaningful. Creative souls, including the many extraordinary designers at Sasaki, have enhanced my path, taught me to look at things from multiple perspectives and always push for the best outcomes.
As I leave to embrace my own creative pursuits of watercolor painting, writing, gardening, and travel, I am warmed by the support I have received at Sasaki. While I leave with an appreciation for all we have accomplished together, I am delighted that the next chapter in my life is full of possibility.
— Alexandra Lee