Harvard and Bloomberg team up to train city mayors

    A group of mayors meets during the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. From left to right: Clarence Anthony

    A group of mayors meets during the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. From left to right: Clarence Anthony

    The Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative will aim to teach city leaders how to do their jobs better.

    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 gather for three days in New York City and then 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. 

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.