By Mike Bloomberg & Laurence R. Bacow
One of the crucial lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is that mayors matter — a lot. While COVID was a principal issue in the 2020 presidential campaign, it’s been mayors who have played the most crucial role within their communities in addressing the pandemic. Across the nation, mayors are making operational and policy decisions about how to keep their residents safe, based on data and science, persuading their residents to support those decisions, boosting public morale by creating new alternatives for local traditions and activities, and dealing with people’s inevitable frustrations and confusions.
Executives in the private sector have long had access to countless leadership training programs. But until Bloomberg Philanthropies and Harvard started a leadership program in 2017 for mayors in cities across the country and around the world, the most important public sector executives didn’t, even though they control how billions of dollars are spent each year and are directly responsible for so many of the essential services that communities rely on every day. Today at CityLab, the world’s leading global summit for urban innovators, we announced a major expansion of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative that will make an unprecedented investment in the next generation of city leaders.
Our new $150 million initiative will include a new Bloomberg Center for Cities at Harvard University, where mayors, city hall staff, and policy experts will come together to collaborate. There will also be expanded programming and resources for new mayors designed to help them hit the ground running, because so much is riding on their shoulders. The center will be a place where mayors will learn not only from each other, but from a wide range of leaders offering their expertise in practice, governance, and research from across Harvard and across disciplines.