Skip to main content

Cities Of Service Appoints Myung J. Lee As Executive Director To Lead Major Expansion

$4.6 Million Grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies Will Help Organization Spin Out and Provide More Programs and Resources for Mayors and Cities

After an extensive national search, Myung J. Lee has been selected to serve as the new Executive Director of Cities of Service – an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The organization will spin out of Bloomberg Philanthropies, which incubated the organization since 2010.

This spin out is driven by cities’ success with the organization’s model over the last four years and the subsequent increase in demand for its services from mayors and cities across the United States and the globe. To support this spin out and program expansion, Bloomberg Philanthropies is providing Cities of Service with a $4.6 million grant to help cover operational expenses for the next three years.

Cities of Service is a bipartisan coalition of mayors from across the country who have committed to using citizen service to address pressing local issues. Following the rapid adoption of its “impact volunteering” model and expansion of the coalition over the last four years – growing from 17 mayors in 2009 to over 170 mayors today – the spin out will allow the organization to add new programs and provide further value for coalition cities and mayors. Participation in Cities of Service programs, including use of the Cities of Service Blueprints and one-on-one technical assistance to create a high-impact service plan, will continue to be offered to all coalition cities.

“Since its founding in 2009, when I was joined by 16 fellow mayors from across the nation, Cities of Service has helped transform how cities engage their citizens to achieve measurable impact,” said philanthropist Michael R. Bloomberg. “I’m thrilled with Myung Lee’s appointment as Executive Director. She is uniquely qualified to lead this movement with more than two decades of experience and expert knowledge of how government works and the power of citizen service. I also want to thank Jim Anderson and Katie Leonberger of Bloomberg Philanthropies for their leadership of this organization over the last four years.”

Lee joins Cities of Service from the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), where she oversaw the Division of Early Care and Education (ECE). As the head of ECE, Lee was responsible for administering all aspects of the Division, one of the largest publicly funded early care and education systems in the country, serving the needs of over 100,000 children with a budget of over $1 billion. Prior to joining ACS, Lee served as Executive Director of Jumpstart for Young Children in New York, a national early education organization that works with adult volunteers to help increase language, literacy, and social skills of low-income preschool students. Before that, she was at the Corporation for National and Community Service during the launch of the first AmeriCorps class in 1994 and worked at Safe Horizon where she oversaw corporate development and marketing. Her city government, nonprofit, and corporate background will allow her to build new partnerships for Cities of Service while helping local governments meet the needs of their citizens.

“I’m deeply honored to be appointed Executive Director of Cities of Service,” said Myung J. Lee. “Over the last four years, Cities of Service has established itself as a leader in helping mayors and cities make use of their greatest asset – their citizens – to address pressing local challenges. I’m excited to take the helm and lead the organization into its next chapter.”

“I applaud the growth and expansion of this organization,” said Mesa, Arizona Mayor Scott Smith, president of the US Conference of Mayors. “Mayors want to engage their citizens in meaningful ways and Cities of Service is helping us do this more effectively. We’re thrilled that this development will allow more mayors to benefit from Cities of Service.”

Cities of Service and its programs have received support from numerous funders, including The Rockefeller Foundation, Target, The Home Depot Foundation, and the American Heart Association. It also has built strategic partnerships with AARP, Corporation for National and Community Service, the Entertainment Industry Foundation, Points of Light Institute/HandsOn Network, Nesta, ServiceNation, and Voices for National Service.

Key facts of its work to-date include:

• The model has taken hold in US cities: Over 30 cities have launched a high-impact service plan; Over 25 cities have funded Chief Service Officers with local dollars; and Over 50 cities have launched impact volunteering initiatives.
• Cities of Service has awarded $6.5 million in grants to over 50 American cities.
• The UK Government and its Centre for Social Action currently is partnering with Nesta, an innovation focused charity, to replicate the model broadly across the UK, funding seven cities to appoint Chief Service Officers and implement impact volunteering initiatives. London and Madrid also adopted the model in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
• Cities of Service has produced over 10 blueprints – step-by-step guides for implementing service strategies that tackle specific city needs such as third grade literacy, neighborhood blight, and veterans reintegration – which have helped cities implement more than 60 high-impact initiatives across the country.

The Cities of Service model is unique, as it focuses on “impact volunteering” – volunteer strategies that target community needs, use best practices, and set clear outcomes and measures to gauge progress – a concept and practice it introduced in 2009. This applies a heightened focus on impact and outcomes instead of measuring the number of volunteers or volunteer hours. At its core, the model equips mayors with the tools to engage citizens as resources and assets in community problem solving – to address both existing and emerging priorities – rather than solely as service users and clients.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ mission is to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Public Health, Environment, Education, Government Innovation and the Arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2013, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $452 million. For more information on the philanthropy, please visit

About Cities of Service
Founded in September 2009 by former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and 16 other mayors from across the nation, Cities of Service is a bipartisan coalition of over 170 mayors committed to addressing critical city needs through impact volunteering. American cities face serious challenges and many mayors want to take advantage of every resource available to them – including the time and energy of public-spirited residents – to address those challenges. But in cities across America today, citizen service is often an underutilized strategy by municipal governments. By leveraging citizen service strategies, Cities of Service helps mayors address local needs and make government more effective. To find out more about Cities of Service, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter @CitiesOfService.