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Leonel Ponce

Academic Director of Sustainable Environmental Systems; Visiting Assistant Professor


Leonel Lima Ponce focuses on fostering just partnerships for sustainable and resilient design, infrastructure, and development through community-based research, engagement and design strategies, locally and internationally, with an emphasis on his adopted home of New York City and his birth city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

Leonel is a Registered Architect in the State of New York, with a Bachelor of Architecture from The University of Texas at Austin and over a decade of architectural work. His certifications include a LEED GA, Safety Assessment Program Inspector, and WEDG Professional. Leonel complements his architectural experience with his Master of Science in Urban Environmental Systems Management (now MS in SES) from Pratt Institute and approaches his work through a transdsciplinary, science-based, community-engaged, and values-intensive lens. 

Leonel’s role as Academic Director of the Master of Science in Sustainable Environmental Systems (SES) at the School of Architecture (SoA)’s Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment (GCPE) is a continuation of his ongoing contributions at Pratt. Prior to this appointment, Leonel served as the Acting Academic Director of the MS in SES program (2019-2023), and as Visiting Assistant Professor (2015-present). At the GCPE, he teaches the SES Demonstration of Professional Competence course, Advanced Studios, and an International Sustainability Exchange.

A founding member of design collaborative ORLI+, Leonel partners with professionals and community groups to develop collective climate understandings and visions for just adaptive futures. Leonel participates in several boards, committees, and organizations advocating for environmental quality, education and justice, including the SWIM Coalition, LES Ecology Center, US Network for Democracy in Brazil, and the Sustainable Favela Network. 

As Academic Director, Leonel looks to build on the legacy of the MS in SES, GCPE, SoA, and Pratt Institute, focusing on community-engaged, sustainable design and development work. At our crossroads of climate and sociopolitical crises, Leonel is cognizant of the responsibility of his AD role and the MS in SES program in support of a necessary and Just Transition to more sustainable, collaborative, inclusive, and regenerative futures.


MS in Urban Environmental Systems Management, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Bachelor of Architecture, The University of Texas in Austin, TX, USA