Maria Vassilakou started her political career as Secretary General of the Austrian Students’ Union. In November 1996 she became Member of the Vienna Provincial Parliament and in 2004 Head of the Parliamentary Group of the Green Party. From November 2010 until July 2019 Maria Vassilakou served as Deputy Mayor of Vienna and Executive City Councillor for Urban Planning, Traffic & Transport, Climate Protection, Energy and Public Participation.
Maria Vassilakou is Austrias first Executive City Councillor with a migration background. She was born and grew up in Greece and migrated to Austria as a student in the mid 80s. She studied Linguistics and Psychology at the University of Vienna (Magister degree, 1994) and acquired 2019 an MSc degree from the London School of Economics (LSE Cities Programme) focussing on urban sociology, urban development and design, strategy and management.
Maria Vassilakou envisages cities as open, modern, affordable, family friendly and diverse places for life. In her 9 years serving as Deputy Mayor
Maria Vassilakou was responsible for a vast transformation agenda comprising numerous innovative projects including among others the 365€
annual public transport card (resulting in a major modal split shift in favour of sustainable transport), several pedestrianisation and shared space projects, community co-creation projects, conversion of former brownfield areas into modern urban quarters with up to 2/3 affordable housing units,
citizens´ solar power plants etc. She pressed successfully for law amendments in favour of subsidised housing and the protection of historical housing buildings in Vienna, was responsible for Viennas smart city framework strategy and several further strategic development plans and policies including Viennas climate protection program, Viennas energy strategy, and Viennas strategic concepts for green and open spaces, public spaces, mobility, industrial and manufactural areas etc.
Maria Vassilakou now works worldwide as a strategist and global advisor on urban transformation, devoted to the SDGs and the vision of climate neutral cities : She shares her experience and know-how from Vienna, the worlds most liveable city, with cities, NGOs, organisations and corporations
developing strategies, agendas and solutions, organising transition management and capacity building for liveable, sustainable and inclusive cities. Since September 2019 she is also a member of the experts board advising the European Commission on the future design of the EU Horizon Mission on climate neutral smart cities.