Speaker Pelosi Shared Advice for Mayors on the Need for Science to Guide Decision-Making
Weekly Convening for Mayors and City Leaders is Part of Ongoing Collaboration Between Bloomberg Philanthropies, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative
NEW YORK, NY — Participants from more than 240 cities around the world, including mayors, local leaders, and members of response teams, joined Bloomberg Philanthropies’ sixth virtual COVID-19 Local Response Initiative convening on April 23 where the 52nd Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Michael Bloomberg addressed some of the challenges associated with the pandemic. Joined by moderator Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative; Nancy Koehn, historian and professor at the Harvard Business School; and Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD, the Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement for the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University and director of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, Speaker Pelosi and Mr. Bloomberg highlighted the leading role mayors have in responding to the crisis.
“People know who the president of the United States is and who the mayor of their city is — everything in between not so much,” said Speaker Pelosi at the beginning of the convening. “I know and really appreciate the mayors who are with us now and the work that they do – and how they are the first line of defense in meeting the needs of the constituents in their cities.”
“If we rely on science, then our decision making would be much better,” Pelosi added. “The big overarching issue is science and governance. If you don’t believe in science, and you resist governance, it’s very hard to lead in a pandemic challenge.”
Over the past month, Bloomberg Philanthropies has brought together world leaders to share insights, advice, and inspiration with the local officials on the frontlines of the pandemic. Previous convenings featured President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama, and Bill Gates. President Clinton highlighted the important role mayors play in sharing accurate, actionable information with residents. President Bush told mayors that in historic times like this, it is important to keep three things top of mind: Truth, empathy, and especially hope. President Obama reinforced the importance of speaking clearly, and with compassion, to avoid misinformation in the current environment, when so many are making sacrifices.
“The vast majority of Americans support social distancing policies, and that includes business leaders who are responsible for the health and safety of their workers,” said Michael Bloomberg, three-term mayor of New York City and Founder of Bloomberg L.P. and Bloomberg Philanthropies. “As the owner of a company with some 20,000 employees, we are not going to do this alone. We’re going to listen to public health experts and base our decisions on their guidance, not on politics. If we do that, we can save a lot of lives.”
Bloomberg stressed the importance of local innovation in the absence of federal leadership and the need for strong contact tracing programs. “Yesterday we announced a new partnership with Governor Cuomo to create a statewide contact tracing program. Public health experts at Johns Hopkins and Tom Frieden and his group, Resolve to Save Lives, will help us to get it up and running.”
Bloomberg Philanthropies launched the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative in March to help cities combat the devastating impact of coronavirus on the wellbeing of residents and local economies. Working with the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the network provides mayors with the most up-to-date information on the virus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and crisis management support from experts from Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School, and other schools across Harvard to help them act quickly, efficiently, and reliably for the benefit of their citizens.
Nancy Koehn from Harvard offered mayors advice on leading their communities through the COVID-19 crisis. “Strong leaders define their mission, frame the stakes, and pivot as the situation requires. They also pay close attention to their teams, managing their energy and morale in order to build determination, solidarity, and a shared sense of purpose.”
The Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, which provides leadership and management training to mayors worldwide, designs each session to provide mayors and other local leaders with the latest facts from public health experts and crisis leadership essentials, from communicating during a crisis to building resiliency and working across sectors.
The COVID-19 pandemic represents the nation’s first 50 state disaster that will spare no community. Bloomberg Philanthropies is tapping into a wide range of partners to generate a robust set of support and resources to help local leaders combat the coronavirus and protect the social and economic wellbeing of cities.
Since launching, hundreds of city leaders have joined the virtual convening each week. The aim of the program is to provide cities with the tools to understand, respond and manage a dynamic public health crisis, they will be better prepared to slow the spread of coronavirus in the United States and protect their residents.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in more than 570 cities and over 160 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 and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2019, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $3.3 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.