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Bloomberg Philanthropies Launches New Virtual Leadership Series to Support Mayors’ COVID-19 Response in Latin America and Africa

New Program from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ COVID-19 Local Response Initiative Emphasizes Public Health Leadership to Save Lives in Regions Facing First Wave of Pandemic

NEW YORK — Today, Michael Bloomberg addressed nearly 30 mayors representing 18 countries in the first session of Leading Through Crisis: Reducing the Impact of COVID-19 in Latin America and Africa—a six-part, bi-weekly virtual learning series supported by the Bloomberg Philanthropies COVID-19 Local Response Initiative. The new series, a collaboration between the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Partnership for Healthy Cities, provides mayors in Latin America and Africa with science-based guidance, crisis leadership tools, and resources to combat the devastating health, social, and economic impacts of this public health crisis.

While many cities worldwide are being impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, growing rates in Latin American and African cities demonstrate that supporting aggressive action to prevent the spread of the virus can save lives in these regions.

“The coronavirus pandemic is quickly accelerating in Latin America and Africa, and smart actions by mayors and local leaders can slow the spread of the virus and save many lives,” said Mike Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, and three-term mayor of New York City. “This program gives them access to information and expertise to help them make important decisions—and it provides a forum for leaders to share ideas and spread the most effective strategies.”

Each session will feature faculty from Harvard university and experts in public health who will provide critical public health briefings, guidance on combating the spread of the virus, and crisis leadership training. The series will cover topics such as managing the public health emergency, navigating fiscal challenges, and preparing for recovery in the current global economy.

“Through this series, we are accelerating assistance to mayors in Latin America and Africa, where high population density, greater rates of poverty, and overwhelmed health care systems have converged into an escalating public health emergency across these two regions,” said Jennifer Musisi, the former executive director of the city of Kampala, Uganda, who is moderating the program as the City Leader in Residence with the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative.

“Mayors and city officials are essential to slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus among their citizens, re-opening their economies safely, and rebuilding their cities and communities in the aftermath,” said Rawi Abdelal, faculty co-chair of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Harvard Business School Professor. “The crisis leadership and management tools we offer will support their ongoing efforts to respond and recover from this pandemic.”

Cities participating in the Leading Through Crisis series are drawn from the Partnership for Healthy Cities network, and have been invited by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Government Innovation program and the Global Covenant of Mayors. The Partnership for Healthy Cities, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Vital Strategies, is a global network of 70 cities committed to saving lives by preventing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease and cancer, and injuries.

Given the urgency cities face in protecting their residents from the current pandemic, the Partnership expanded and activated its network to respond to COVID-19 in March 2020. In collaboration with the WHO and Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, the Partnership for Healthy Cities COVID-19 Response is working hand-in-hand with the world’s leading experts on epidemic prevention and containment.

“The COVID-19 pandemic elevated the visibility of effective public health leadership, particularly in local settings,” said José Luis Castro, President and Chief Executive Officer of Vital Strategies. “Since its founding, the Partnership for Healthy Cities has provided critical tools and resources to the 70 cities in its network and beyond. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, expanding our technical support to include leadership training during this unprecedented crisis.”

The Leading Through Crisis series sits within the Bloomberg Philanthropies COVID-19 Local Response Initiative, along with the complementary Leading Social and Economic Recovery Series, designed to help mayors and their senior leadership teams manage ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and build back better. The Initiative launched in March to help cities combat the devastating impact of coronavirus on the livelihoods of residents and local economies; hundreds of city leaders have attended the virtual convenings each week.


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 or follow us on FacebookInstagramYouTube, Twitter, and TikTok.

About the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative
The Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative is a collaboration between Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School, and Bloomberg Philanthropies to equip mayors and senior city officials to tackle complex challenges in their cities and improve the quality of life of their citizens. Launched in 2017, the Initiative has worked with over 1000 mayors and senior city officials in 350 cities worldwide. The Initiative has also advanced research and developed new curriculum and teaching tools to help city leaders solve real-world problems. For more information, please visit the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative or visit us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

About Vital Strategies
Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. We work with governments and civil society in 73 countries to design and implement evidence-based strategies that tackle their most pressing public health problems. Our goal is to see governments adopt promising interventions at scale as rapidly as possible. To find out more, please visit Stay in the know: Follow #KnowCOVID or subscribe to Vital Strategies’ Twitter, Facebook or Instagram accounts.

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