Marisa Denker is the founder and CEO of Connect the Dots. She started the firm in Ireland, building on her work as a Fulbright scholar there focused on ‘connecting the dots’ across stakeholders to better address complex urban challenges. The company has quickly grown from its roots in Ireland to a WBE/DBE international firm with HQ in Dublin and Philadelphia. Marisa leads the branch in Philadelphia now, where she was recently nominated as Urban Changemaker of the Year.
Clients range from local government to national governments such as City of Philadelphia and the National Transport Authority in Ireland, multinational and local engineering / planning / architecture firms such as AECOM and Nelson/Nygaard, national foundations such as Knight Foundation, corporations such as Comcast, and community-based nonprofits such as Project for Public Spaces, The Enterprise Center CDC and Community Ventures.
An Urban Studies summa cum laude alum from the University of Pennsylvania, Marisa then went on for her Masters in Design Practice at Dublin University via a Fulbright scholarship. She has developed deep expertise in consultation design, user-first planning, strategic communications, stakeholder management and project management. Alongside her work at Connect the Dots, Marisa also co-founded and co-runs a nonprofit based in Ireland called A Playful City, focused on including those of all ages in co-designing more inclusive and playful cities. Additionally, Marisa teaches a course in Playful Cities at University College Dublin and will be teaching a course in Participatory Cities at the University of Pennsylvania in fall 2021, supported by Paideia as the mission of Paideia directly aligns with that of Connect the Dots.