Harvard And Bloomberg Team Up To Train City Mayors

Sep 6, 2016

A group of mayors meets during the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Credit Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

By 2050, 70 percent of the world's population will be living in cities, according to a United Nations estimate. Mayors could be more influential than ever.

That's why it's important to start training city leaders now, says Jorrit de Jong, faculty director for the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative

"Most cities in the United States are under-resourced and under-staffed, and their political executives don't really have the opportunity to get the kind of training and executive education that, for example, their private sector equivalents have," de Jong said.

The initiative, funded by a $32 million gift from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, will focus on ways cities can diagnose and fix their problems: through things like data analytics, technology, performance management, and citizen participation.

The mayors will spend three days on Harvard's campus and meet remotely over the course of a year.

They will also get advice from people who've been in their shoes. "We'll be doing a mentor/mayor program where experienced former mayors with a track record in innovation will help newly elected mayors to find a way," de Jong said. 

And Harvard will send students to intern with these city governments, as a way to help staffers put what they've learned into action.

The university expects more than 300 U.S. and international mayors, and 400 of their senior staffers, to participate. It hasn't chosen participants yet. Anyone who's interested can email cityleadership@harvard.edu

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