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College of Environment and Design

Landscape Architecture Foundation Medal

Karen A. Phillips, BLA '75


Karen A. Phillips, FASLA was awarded this year’s 2021 Landscape Architecture Foundation Medal, recognizing an expansive career in community development, public service, environmental design, urban planning, real estate, and revitalization.



Karen earned a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from The University of Georgia in 1975 and an MLA from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Most notably, she was a leader in the transformation of the Harlem neighborhood in New York City and served as CEO of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, a faith-based nonprofit. Karen was appointed as a member of the New York City Planning Commission where she worked on major zoning changes that greatly enhanced the urban fabric and contributed to rebuilding the City after the 9-11 attack.

In a profile by The Cultural Landscape Foundation, Karen attributes her success to having “strong role models in her mother and family who inspired her to pursue her dreams and challenge obstacles of segregation and discrimination in the nation”. Her experiences in Harlem led Karen to use her skills in communication and public engagement to provide consulting services in other urban areas in Louisiana, New Jersey, Washington DC, and western New York, creating sustainable comprehensive redevelopment plans. Karen now serves as a trustee of the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and remains active in civic and neighborhood affairs in NYC. Recently, Karen was selected as one of the College of Environment and Design “Owens 50” for trailblazing and visionary alumni.




Download the "Harlem Renaissance Woman by Laura Wexler"
(Georgia Magazine, September 1997, Vol.76, No. 4)

Courtesy of UGA Magazine https://ugamagazine.uga.eduGeorgia Magazine, 1997
© University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602