Student and Alumni Spotlights

Justin Lesko, AICP, PP, MCRP ’19 is Princeton’s New Municipal Planning Director

The following article was published in, Wed, Jan 18, 2023

The Municipality announced January 18th, 2023 that it has appointed Justin Lesko as its Planning Director. Lesko had been serving as Acting Planning Director since May 2021.

He also served as Princeton’s Senior Planner since the summer of 2020. Lesko has been instrumental in directing the creation of Princeton’s updated Master Plan, as well as several other long-term planning projects, the municipality said.

“I am extremely honored to have been selected for this position,” Lesko said in a statement. “I’ve called Central Jersey home for most of my life and look forward to continuing on in Princeton. I very much look forward to working with Mayor Freda, Council, and the Planning Board during this exciting time in Princeton.”

Lesko holds AICP Certification from the American Planning Association and is a licensed Professional Planner (PP) in New Jersey. As Princeton’s Senior Planner, he worked on long-range planning including the new municipal master plan and GIS mapping, and day-to-day operations of the department including Planning Board assistance, Site Plan Review Advisory Board coordination, and interdepartmental work on projects like the Witherspoon Street re-design.

“Justin’s passion for public service and commitment to Princeton were evident from the beginning, as was his vast experience in dealing with the key issues that Princeton faces now, and in the months and years ahead,” Mayor Mark Freda said in a statement. “We are excited to continue our work together.”

Lesko previously worked for the City of Tuscaloosa, first as a Planner then Zoning Administrator. He oversaw the Tuscaloosa Planning and Zoning Board and worked on Framework Tuscaloosa, the city’s first master plan, which was recognized by the Alabama Chapter of the American Planning Association with its Outstanding Planning Award for a Comprehensive Plan in October 2021.

Princeton Planning Board Chair Louise Currey Wilson said the board was “delighted” to officially welcome Lesko to his new role. “In all his work for the community and the board, he has demonstrated exceptional competence as a planner and manager, and an impressive understanding of the urgent, complex planning issues that Princeton must address now and well into the future” Wilson said. “He’s earned the respect of his colleagues and all of us on the board. Princeton is lucky to have him.”

Lesko received a Master of City and Regional Planning degree from the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, with a concentration in Community Development and Housing and a Joint Certificate from Bloustein and the Rutgers Business School in Real Estate Development and Redevelopment.

He also served two terms with AmeriCorps, first as a tutor, mentor and afterschool program coordinator at a school in North Philadelphia with City Year, then as an AmeriCorps VISTA Leader with NJ Campus Compact out of the Bonner Foundation on Mercer Street.