Richard Schaffer is an economist, planner, and educator. For the past 15 years he was President and CEO of the Greentree Foundation, which hosts high level meetings and negotiations primarily for the United Nations.
During his tenure he transformed Greentree, the former Whitney Family Estate, into a meeting venue through the adaptive re-use of the former garage and stables into the John Hay Whitney and Betsy Cushing Whitney Center for International Justice.
From 1995-2002, Schaffer was the Director of the Empowerment Zone Monitoring and Assistance Project and Visiting Professor of Urban Planning at Columbia University where he developed a plan for a community development partnership, which included Columbia’s Manhattanville campus.
Appointed by Mayor Dinkins, Schaffer served as Chair of the NYC Planning Commission and Director of the Department of City Planning (DCP). During his tenure, DCP developed the City’s award winning Comprehensive Waterfront Plan: Reclaiming the City’s Edge and the adoption of the Waterfront Zoning. Other significant accomplishments included: Plan for Lower Manhattan, plans and rezonings of over 30 neighborhoods, and new rules for environmental review, community-based plans, and the “fair share” for siting city facilities, which won a national award from the APA.
As Dean of the New School’s Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy, he established three centers including the Environmental Simulation Center. Prior to the New School, Schaffer was Associate Professor and Chair of the Urban Planning program at Columbia where he created a Masters of Real Estate development and a joint BA-MS degree program in planning with Dillard University.
From 1972-1981, he was Director of Research and Planning and Vice President of the Bedford Restoration Corporation. He has consulted for the J. M. Kaplan Fund, the Ford Foundation, and co-directed with Michael Kwartler, Westside Futures, a land-use and preservation plan for Manhattan’s Upper West Side. He has written extensively on gentrification, most notably “The Gentrification of Harlem?” and “Harlem Gentrification,” both with Neil Smith.
Schaffer received a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School, M.A. in Economics from NYU, and Ph.D. in Economics from NYU.