Mayors Innovation Project


About the Project

Realizing the Promise of Cities

The Mayors Innovation Project (MIP) is a learning network among American mayors committed to “high road” policy and governance: shared prosperity, environmental sustainability, and efficient democratic government.

Around the country, mayors are taking the lead on pressing social issues—climate change, infrastructure, economic revitalization, health care, prison reentry, and more. MIP supports and encourages this innovation by providing cutting-edge thinking and concrete examples that your city can use right away.

Building high road cities and metropolitan regions is both good for citizens and a key way to move the country to the high road nationally. Cities have enormous untapped assets and political strengths that can be organized better now.

The Mayors Innovation Project exists to help its member participants lead by example, share their experiences with peers, and make this argument for cities nationally.

MIP is a collaboration between policymakers and research experts, connecting mayors to research relevant to policy issues in their home cities.

MIP meetings provide a forum for mayors to share their best practices. Many of the best policy ideas discussed at MIP meetings—in housing, energy, transportation, economic development—come from our member cities.

Between meetings, our listserve allows mayors, their staff, and research experts to remain in contact throughout the year. In addition, our website has information on new policy innovations, best practices, case studies, model legislation, background research, communication tools, and access to technical assistance.

At each MIP meeting, we aim to send mayors back to their home cities with three to four new policy ideas they can implement immediately. The innovation doesn’t end when the meetings are over. The Mayors Innovation Project connects mayors and staff to the technical assistance they seek in implementing progressive policies that benefit their citizens and our country.

The Mayors Innovation Project was founded in 2005 by Madison, Wisconsin mayor Dave Cieslewicz and Joel Rogers, a UW-Madison professor and director of the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) and the Center for State Innovation (CSI).

Participating cities include megalopolises like Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York; large cities like Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Milwaukee, and Seattle; and smaller cities like Cincinnati, Des Moines, Portland, and Scranton.

More than 100 cities, representing some 33 million Americans, have attended MIP events.

MIP does not aim to compete with other national organizations of local elected officials. These organizations do important and good work, which we hope to complement by providing an opportunity for a smaller and more intimate discussion of innovative policies we can implement today.

Our Meetings
The Mayors Innovation Project’s meetings are informal and relaxed but packed with substance. MIP mayors pick a policy area important to their cities, invite one or two national experts on the topic, and sit down over a couple days to discuss and develop city strategies in these areas.

Mayors have a chance to share their experiences, get advice from other mayors and experts, and then continue to receive support upon returning home. It’s the “conversation in the hallway” that is often rushed at busy national meetings but can prove to be incredibly useful in advancing our goals.

MIP is governed by a steering committee of a rotating group of mayors and senior level staff. The current Steering Committee members are:

Mayor Tom Bates, City of Berkeley, California
Mayor Ralph Becker, City of Salt Lake City, Utah
Former Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, City of Madison, Wisconsin
Mayor Frank Cownie, City of Des Moines, Iowa
Former Mayor Heidi Davison, Athens - Clarke County, Georgia
Mayor Chris Doherty, City of Scranton, Pennsylvania
Former Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan, City of Gainesville, Florida
Mayor George Heartwell, City of Grand Rapids, Michigan
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, Town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Ms. Valarie J. McCall, Chief of Government & International Affairs, City of Cleveland, Ohio
Mayor Mike McGinn, Seattle, Washington
Former Mayor David Pope, Oak Park, Illinois
Dr. Joel Rogers, Director of the Center on Wisconsin Strategy

Former Steering Committee members include Kitty Piercy (Mayor of Eugene, OR), Bob Kiss (Former Mayor of Burlington, VT), Kip Holden (Mayor-President of Baton Rouge, LA) Martin Chavez (former Mayor of Albuquerque), Heather Fargo, (former Mayor of Sacramento, CA) Rocky Anderson (former Mayor of Salt Lake City), Rosemarie Ives (former Mayor of Redmond, WA), Pete Clavelle, (former Mayor of Burlington, VT), and Randy Primas (former COO of Camden, NJ).

Join Us
As a mayor, attendance at your first MIP meeting is free. Once you're convinced of our worth, we invite cities to become members.
Contact the Mayors Innovation Project
Interested in joining out network of city leaders committed to developing ‘high road’ policies for cities? Want more information about the Mayors Innovation Project? Contact us at:
The Mayors Innovation Project
c/o Center on Wisconsin Strategy
7122 Social Science Bldg.
1180 Observatory Dr.
Madison, WI 53703


Tel: 608.262.5387 • Fax: 608.262.9046 • Email:
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