Kaid Benfield is one of the country’s most steadfast voices for making cities, towns, and neighborhoods work better for both people and the environment. Based in Washington, DC, he serves as senior counsel at PlaceMakers LLC, a city and town planning consultancy working across the United States and Canada.
Before joining PlaceMakers in 2015, Kaid worked for over 30 years as a senior attorney and program director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, where he founded and led the organization’s sustainable communities program and, before that, managed the litigation of some of the organization’s most important legal cases. A prolific public speaker and writer, Kaid’s large portfolio of publications spans several books and over a thousand articles for such publications as The Atlantic, HuffPost, CityLab, PlaceShakers and Newsmakers, and numerous other websites and academic journals.
Kaid was voted one of “the 100 most influential urbanists” worldwide on the prominent city planning website, Planetizen.com, and previously was named one of “the most influential people in sustainable planning and development” by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities and “one of the top 100 city innovators worldwide” by the website Future Cities. His latest book is People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities, distributed by Island Press.
During his tenure at NRDC, Kaid was a co-founder of Smart Growth America, a leading nonprofit organization and nationwide coalition working on revitalizing cities, building better neighborhoods for all people, and stopping the spread of suburban sprawl. He also co-founded LEED for Neighborhood Development, a national process for defining and certifying smart, environmentally sound land development under the auspices of the US Green Building Council. In addition, Kaid is an adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Law, where he has taught law, policy, and best practices for sustainable communities.
An avid cyclist, ardent music buff, and enthusiastic sports fan, Kaid grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, and holds degrees from Emory University and Georgetown University Law Center. He lives with his wife Sharon in a walkable DC neighborhood