New York, NY & Cambridge, MA – Bloomberg Philanthropies and Harvard University today announced the opening of the new Bloomberg Center for Cities at Harvard University to advance the capabilities of local leadership and spur progress for residents in cities around the globe. Housing executive education and training programs for mayors and local officials, multidisciplinary research, and city government fellowships to foster a new generation of public servants, the Bloomberg Center for Cities unites cities-focused expertise across the university in an unprecedented cross-Harvard collaboration. The Center includes an expansion of the flagship Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, a first-of-its-kind program established by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Harvard Kennedy School, and Harvard Business School to close the gap in executive development for the public sector. To date, the Initiative has worked with 465 mayors and thousands of senior city officials in 524 cities worldwide.
Also announced today is a new conference series, CityAmbition, which will bring renowned and emerging researchers and scholars together to bridge the gap between ambitions for city progress and the capacities of local governments to achieve them, beginning in 2025.
In recognition of these commitments, and as part of the Bloomberg Center for Cities’ unveiling, the Center’s work was honored by Harvard University President Lawrence Bacow in the company of Michael R. Bloomberg, Harvard University Provost Alan Garber alongside Harvard Business School Dean Srikant Datar and Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf, and program faculty, fellows, alumni, and staff. The event was hosted at Harvard Kennedy School, home to the Center’s new full floor of workspace. The Center was constructed from a renovation of approximately 12,000 square feet and has been designed to support the collaborative and multidisciplinary curriculum, programming, and research. It includes an open seating floor plan, convening space for everyday meetings and hybrid events, a collection of curated artworks—titled City as Muse, from artists who are contemplating aspects of a city from a unique set of focal points—and brings daylight views to the entire space with a glass perimeter wall — a first at Harvard Kennedy School.
“As our world becomes increasingly urbanized, city governments face a growing number of challenges, from protecting public health and safety, to creating jobs in an ever-changing economy, to addressing the fallout from the pandemic and confronting the accelerating climate crisis,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th mayor of New York City. “With so much at stake, these leaders are responding with creativity, innovation, and a deep commitment to building stronger, more resilient communities – and together they’re helping to ensure cities remain vibrant centers of invention and opportunity, where people from all walks of life come together to build a better future.”
“The Bloomberg Center for Cities at Harvard University connects our community to a worldwide network of mayors and other local government leaders in innovative ways. We’re just starting to discover the possibilities that emerge when we bring together people focused on studying and advancing leadership,” said Harvard University President Lawrence S. Bacow. “The Center serves the public good through scholarly work and engagement with current and future public servants, who stand at the forefront in addressing the most pressing challenges facing our cities. We are proud to dedicate this new space for collaboration at Harvard, and we thank Mike Bloomberg for his vision, investment, and positive impact.”
“The opening of the Bloomberg Center for Cities – and the Center’s expanding activities – will provide even more mayors, local officials, and future public sector leaders with extraordinary opportunities to develop executive leadership skills and learn new strategies for tackling the sweeping challenges we face,” said Stephen Benjamin, former President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, African American Mayors Association, and Mayor of Columbia, South Carolina. “I am proud to be an alumnus of the Bloomberg-Harvard programs, and know firsthand how significant the Center is for countless city leaders who rely on it as a nerve center – to learn from peers, to develop skills, to refuel, and be better prepared to deliver for residents.”
The Bloomberg Center for Cities – the first center in the world to focus on strengthening hundreds of local governments and their leadership on a global scale – is part of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ $150 million commitment to the University to help bolster the capabilities of mayors and their teams. Building on the six-year track record of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, the Center’s ambition is to broadly galvanize research, faculty, and student engagement – and leverage Harvard University’s unique convening capacity – to strengthen city leadership and the ecosystem in which mayors work. The Bloomberg Center for Cities has most recently deepened and broadened its reach through:
- Announcing three of the 10 endowed faculty positions. Situated at the intersection of scholarship and practice, named faculty members focus on research and teaching to improve city governance. They include:
Jorrit de Jong, Ph.D. – Emma Bloomberg Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management, Harvard Kennedy School; Director, Bloomberg Center for Cities at Harvard University; Faculty Co-Chair, Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative
Rawi Abdelal, Ph.D. – Emma Bloomberg Co-Chair of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative; Herbert F. Johnson Professor of International Management at Harvard Business School
Elizabeth Linos, Ph.D. – Emma Bloomberg Associate Professor of Public Policy and Management; Faculty Director, The People Lab, Harvard Kennedy School
- Fostering the next generation of public servants through the Bloomberg Harvard City Hall Fellowship, the first seven City Hall Fellows have assumed city hall positions across the United States, each serving on the team of a city leader for two years. The fellows are graduates from the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Graduate School of Design, and Harvard Graduate School of Education and host cities are alumni of the flagship Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, have a population of 100,000 to one million residents, and are seeking to attract talented leaders. A second group of at least 15 new cities will be matched with a two-year City Hall Fellow in August 2023.
- Launching three new executive education programs for approximately 200 city leaders in 2023 to 2024, including: Leading Innovation in Human Resources for human resource leaders; Leading Civic Engagement for key officials who are critical to advancing city initiatives involving engagement with the public; and Leading Economic Development in Cities for economic development leads. Each executive education program will reach up to 20 cities.
“The Bloomberg Center for Cities is providing a pathway into public service for aspiring city leaders,” said Alexandria Marsicovetere, Bloomberg Harvard City Hall Fellow in the City of Knoxville’s Office of Sustainability. “As a Fellow, I have had the unique opportunity to lead local initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, like Knoxville Area Transit’s Decarbonization Plan. This fellowship provides a platform through which to channel my curiosity and passion for people in service of meaningful change for communities. As the program grows, I am confident it will inspire even more post-graduates across Harvard and beyond to do the same.”
Notable alumni of the Center’s flagship Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative include Mayor Eric Adams of New York City; Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird of Lincoln, Nebraska; Stephen Benjamin, Senior Advisor and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and former President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, African American Mayors Association, and Mayor of Columbia, South Carolina; Keisha Lance Bottoms, former Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia; Mayor Muriel Bowser of the District of Columbia; U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana; Mayor G. T. Bynum of Tulsa, OK; Mayor LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans, LA; Mayor Jane Castor of Tampa, FL; Mayor Kate Gallego of Phoenix, AZ; Mayor John Giles of Mesa, Arizona; Mayor Todd Gloria of San Diego, CA; Mayor Claudia López of Bogotá, Colombia; Mayor Marvin Reeves of Bristol, UK; Mayor Mārtiņš Staķis of Riga, Latvia; Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami, FL; Mayor Paul TenHaken of Sioux Falls, SD; and Mayor Michelle Wu of Boston, MA, to name just a few.
“The opening of the new Bloomberg Center for Cities at Harvard University will provide mayors, city leaders, and future leaders with a place to strengthen their capabilities, collaborate, innovate, and grow,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser of the District of Columbia. “Mayors and city leaders are facing big questions about how we embrace the new normal and change our spaces, fill our spaces, and bring people back. In DC, we have 37,000 DC government employees who keep our city moving forward. Every day they work to improve the lives our residents. The opening of the Bloomberg Center for Cities is an important reminder that when we invest in our leaders, we invest in the success of our cities.”
“I’m excited that the new Bloomberg Center for Cities will provide opportunities for more mayors and civic leaders to learn and collaborate,” said Mayor John Giles of Mesa, Arizona. “After participating in the Center’s Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, I came away with greater knowledge and more innovative strategies to better tackle challenges facing residents in my own community. It is wonderful to see this Bloomberg Philanthropies and Harvard partnership expanding support for cities in the U.S. and around the world.”
“The Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative’s program for mayors allowed me to reflect, to think through, and to realize that I’m not the only one working through challenges,” said Mayor Claudia López of Bogotá, Colombia. “It enhances city management and fosters collective intelligence for tackling complex challenges with creativity. The program exemplifies the power of collective action for positive change. I anticipate a bright future for the Bloomberg Center for Cities at Harvard University, and the cities it serves.”
“Tampa is rapidly growing and transforming, and the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative has been an amazing opportunity for our team to broaden its vision and manage our growth thoughtfully and efficiently,” said Mayor Jane Castor of Tampa, Florida. “I look forward to watching the new Bloomberg Center for Cities continue to benefit even more mayors, city leaders, and future public servants across the U.S. and around the world.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic emergency from 2020 through 2021, the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative collaborated with Johns Hopkins University and the Bloomberg School of Public Health and virtually convened mayors and their teams on a weekly basis to provide up-to-date public health information and guidance, crisis management tools, and the opportunity to share key learnings and practices that helped them lead their cities through turbulent times. This effort reached 344 mayors and 718 senior city officials in 443 cities worldwide.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 700 cities and 150 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2022, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed US$ 1.7 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org, sign up for our newsletter, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
About The Bloomberg Center for Cities at Harvard University:
Founded in 2021 with Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bloomberg Center for Cities at Harvard University is a fast-growing global community committed to improving public management, leadership, and governance. The Bloomberg Center for Cities is an unprecedented cross-Harvard collaboration that unites expertise focused on cities across disciplines and schools to produce research, train leaders, and develop resources for global use. The Center is designed to have widespread impact on the future of cities, where more than half of the world’s people now live, by informing and inspiring local government leaders, scholars, students, and others who work to improve the lives of residents around the world. For more information, please visit cities.harvard.edu or follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
About The Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative:
The Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative–the flagship program of the Bloomberg Center for Cities at Harvard University–is a collaboration between Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School, and Bloomberg Philanthropies to equip mayors and senior city officials to tackle complex challenges in their cities and improve the quality of life of their residents. Launched in 2017, the Initiative has worked with 465 mayors and 2220 senior city officials in 524 cities worldwide. The Initiative has also advanced research and developed new curriculum and teaching tools to help city leaders solve real-world problems. For more information, please visit the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative or visit us on LinkedIn and Twitter.