Professor Cheong Koon Hean
Chairman, Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities

Professor Cheong has played a key role in the urban transformation of Singapore over the years. She was the CEO of the Housing and Development Board (HDB) from 2010 to 2020, overseeing the development and management of over 1 million public housing flats. At HDB, she introduced a new generation of public housing, successfully implementing large scale sustainable, biophilic and smart features as well as community centric designs. She has also contributed to multiple housing policies that enabled access to affordable housing by vast majority of Singaporeans and vulnerable groups.
Prof Cheong was also the CEO of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) from 2004 to 2010, and has extensive experience in strategic land use planning, conservation of built heritage and the real estate market. During her tenure, she uplifted planning and design standards and played a key role in the development of major growth areas, notably the new city extension at Marina Bay, Jurong East and Paya Lebar. She was concurrently appointed the Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of National Development for 16 years from 2001 to 2016.
On 1 January 2021, Prof Cheong was appointed Chairman of the Centre for Liveable Cities under the Ministry of National Development, Singapore. She is also the current Chairman of the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize Nominating Committee.
An active participant in international affairs, Prof Cheong was a former Deputy President and current Council Member of the International Federation of Housing and Planning, a former global Board trustee of the Urban Land Institute and member of the World Economic Forum’s Real Estate and Urbanisation Council. She has also served on several international expert panels advising on governance, planning and sustainability, and oversaw the master planning of the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco City in China.
She is currently a board member of the National University of Singapore and also on the NUS School of Design and Environment Advisory Committee, the NUS Engineering Faculty Advisory Board and the Singapore Sustainability Academy Advisory Board. Prof Cheong had previously served on the boards of the Jurong Town Corporation, National Heritage Board, Jurong Port and the Urban Redevelopment Authority.
A Colombo Plan scholar, Prof Cheong holds a 1st Class Honours degree and University Gold Medal in Architecture and a Doctor of Architecture honoris causa conferred by the University of Newcastle; a Master’s degree in Urban Development Planning from University College London and has completed the Advanced Management Programme in Harvard Business School. She is also a Tan Swan Beng Endowed Professor in Nanyang Technological University, the Institute of Policy Studies’ 5th S R Nathan Fellow, Fellow (Life) of the Singapore Institute of Architects and Honorary Fellow of the Singapore Institute of Planners. Prof Cheong has been conferred multiple awards, notably the Meritorious Service Medal for outstanding public service, the University of Newcastle’s Convocation Medal for Professional Excellence, the International Women Forum’s 2011 ‘Woman Who Make a Difference Award’, Her World Magazine’s 2010 ‘Woman of the Year’ Award and inducted into the Singapore Council of Women Associations’ Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2016, she became the first Asian to be conferred the prestigious Urban Land Institute Prize for visionaries in urban development as well as the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’s Lynn S Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award.