Gil is passionate about cities for all people

Gil (Guillermo) Penalosa


Founder & Chair, 880 Cities
Founder, Cities for Everyone
President, Gil Penalosa & Assoc.

Gil Penalosa is passionate about cities for all people. He advises decision makers and communities worldwide on how to create vibrant cities and healthy communities for all, regardless of age, gender, ability and social, economic, or ethnic background. His focus is on the design and use of parks and streets as great public places, as well as the promotion of sustainable mobility: walking, riding bicycles, using public transit, and new use of cars.

Because of Gil’s unique blend of experience, pragmatism, and passion, many cities and organizations worldwide seek his leadership and valuable advice. He has worked in over 350 cities in all continents.

In 2022 Gil ran for mayor of Toronto. In 100 days, he got 100,000 votes, and changed the conversation, which was his objective. He came in second of 31 candidates. His focus was on how to create an affordable, equitable, and sustainable city, a Toronto for Everyone.

Gil is the Founder and Chair of the successful Canadian non-profit organization 8 80 Cities. In addition, Gil is founder of Cities for Everyone and leads a private consulting firm, Gil Penalosa & Associates, providing services as an inspirational keynote speaker, instructor of Master Classes, and advisor to decision makers and communities.

Currently Gil serves as an Academic Chair of the Norman Foster Institute, as well as Expert Advisor to the International Society for Urban Health. He’s been advisor to the Vision Zero Network, America Walks, and Project for Public Spaces, amongst many organizations.

Throughout his career, Gil has been a strong advocate for improving city parks, making his first mark in Bogotá, Colombia, where he led the design and construction of over 200 parks - including Simon Bolivar, a 113-hectare park in the heart of the city. His team also radically transformed the Ciclovia / Open Streets – from a program of few kilometers to one that sees over a million people walk, run, skate and bike along 121 kilometers of Bogotá’s city roads every Sunday of the year, and today is internationally recognized and emulated.

Gil was elected twice as chair of World Urban Parks and was its first ambassador. He holds an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, where he was selected as one of the “100 Most Inspirational Alumni” in the school’s history. Gil received a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the Faculty of Urban Planning at the prominent Swedish university, SLU. He is a Certified Professional Speaker by the US-NSA. He received in Australia the World Urban Parks Annual Distinguished Individual Award. In 2023 Gil was selected by Identity Review in 15 Thought Leaders in Sustainable City Development and voted to Planetizen’s Top 100 Most Influential Contemporary Urbanists, at #13.

Paula Olavarria

Senior Associate
Executive Producer, podcasts and webinar series

Paula joined 8 80 Cities in 2013 for the first time, while developing a successful marketing career in the private sector. Now she is back, as executive producer of the webinar series, A Walk in the Park with Gil, and, developing the podcast series, Gil and 8 80 Cities. She is excited about this possibility to contribute to improve communities’ well-being, which is what she loves the most. She is a passionate connecting people to help transform cities into more liveable & sustainable cities. She has special expertise in digital marketing communications, which she is applying in these new projects. She loves nature, hiking, riding her bike & walking.


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