Making an Impact in 2020

Before COVID-19 hit the U.S. in March, we hosted our Winter 2020 Policy Meeting. We look forward to a successful vaccine rollout and once again meeting face-to-face.

In 2020, local leaders experienced unprecedented challenges. As a result, our programs and content changed to meet their new and urgent needs. Yet through this year’s struggles, our organizational priorities remained the same—to provide mayors and city leaders with peer learning experiences and cutting-edge resources to advance equity, sustainability, and democracy in cities. We are proud to have engaged over 100 cities from around the US in our work this year, with highlights from the year below.

Ensuring Access to Affordable Water

In partnership with the Water Center at Penn, we launched our first Water Affordability Academy this September, which virtually convened 15 water utilities to support their journey to build a sustainable, equitable, and affordable system. Building on the Academy’s success, we then launched the Water Affordability Community of Practice(CoP) in December. The CoP offers past and future Academy participants—and others interested in water affordability—ongoing opportunities to learn and connect. We  will announce Spring Academy dates soon! Learn more here.

Reducing Neurotoxic Exposure in Children

Ten US cities participating in our small grant program are working towards better health outcomes for children. In partnership with Healthy Babies Bright Futures, we are providing funding and technical assistance for city projects, and will share highlights and best practices for other cities. While most projects are ongoing, many cities have already seen impacts of their work. Learn more about programs in Salem, MA and San Francisco, CA.

Creating a Women Mayors’ Network

In partnership with Equity Agenda, the Women Mayors’ Network (WMN) kicked off at our Winter Policy Meeting one year ago. Participating mayors asked for ongoing virtual convenings, which we held throughout the year, with 40 mayors participating. Discussion topics included communications strategies, governing through protests, and confronting sexism as a leader in a crisis. With the leadership of Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong of Kankakee, IL, we developed a 6-session Policing Cohort for women mayors to explore policing reform in their communities and with their peers. And we anticipate this work to continue through 2021. The Women Mayors’ Network is open to all women-identifying mayors. Click here to join the email list.

Supporting New Mayors in Advancing Their Agendas

Fifteen mayors participated in our 2020 New Mayors Cohort, where they developed a strong network of peer support and tools to advance work in their new roles. Most of the cohort mayors were “firsts” in their roles in their cities–first African American, first woman, or first LGBTQ mayor. During this 6-month engagement, participants worked through key topics, including the dynamics of executive management, uses of communication platforms, and leadership through crises. We are grateful to five former mayors who shared their wisdom and experiences as mentors for this project: Mayor Annise Parker, Houston, TX; Mayor Mark Mallory, Cincinnati, OH; Mayor Betsy Hodges, Minneapolis, MN; Mayor Pete Buttigieg, South Bend, IN; and Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia, PA. Contact us to learn more about the 2021 cohort.

Virtual Content Series

Following our successful Winter Meeting in January, the new pandemic reality meant we shifted to all virtual, beginning in March. Through the spring and summer, we hosted cohorts via videoconference, and in the fall, we kicked off a series of virtual sessions for our full network. We covered timely topics like protecting the right to vote, curbing evictions, online security, plus a number of great ideas through our very popular innovation showcase.

Overall, we supported over 180 mayors and city leaders—representing 100 cities—through our events, cohorts, and programs. As always, thank you for being a part of our network.