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Mike Bloomberg and Ford Foundation President Darren Walker Address 390 City Leaders as Part of New Series for Global Mayors to Aid COVID-19 Social and Economic Recovery

Walker tells Mayors, “The Leaders this Country Needs Are You. Our Democracy Depends on You.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Continue Virtual Convenings for Local Leaders

New York, NY: Mike Bloomberg and Ford Foundation President, Darren Walker, today addressed more than 140 mayors from 222 cities at the first session of the Leading Social and Economic Recovery Series, the latest offering for cities as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies COVID-19 Local Response Initiative.

The Leading Social and Economic Recovery Series will virtually convene global city leaders monthly through the end of the year. The sessions will focus on equitable recovery, building and maintaining resident trust, crisis budgeting and fiscal recovery, and supporting the city workforce during a period of profound change and uncertainty.

“This is a time when mayors matter. Mayors have always mattered, but you matter even more today. We are experiencing 1918, 1932 and 1968, all in one month. And this lands at your doorsteps,” said Darren Walker, Ford Foundation President, to the mayors and city leaders gathered for the convening. “The leaders this country needs are you. Our democracy is depending on you.”

“Today, I would submit to you that America’s house is on fire, you, you mayors, you leaders, you who govern closest to the people, and on a day-in and day-out, see and make democracy happen. You are the firefighters America needs now,” Walker continued.

Walker also stressed the important role city leaders play in helping residents heal, “We need you to help us believe. We need you to help us heal from the unnecessary strife and division in our country. We need you. We need your compassion, your grace and your love of your fellow citizens. All of that is what we need from you and I am confident that you are going to deliver.”

“We’re living through a historic moment right now, and the country is rallying against racism in all its forms. That’s very hopeful – and in fact has inspired people in countries around the world to join in demonstrations for change,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, and three-term mayor of NYC, at the top of the session. “But at the same time, I know these past few weeks have not been easy for mayors. They’ve made what was already an unprecedented public health crisis even more difficult to confront.”

Bloomberg continued, “Of course, we don’t know what impact the protests and mass gatherings will have on the spread of the virus. But I can tell you one thing: you don’t need to choose between fighting the virus and pushing for justice and equality – because the fight against COVID-19 is part of the fight for racial equality.”

“The virus has hit communities of color the hardest – both in terms of health and economics. So, by continuing to focus on responding to and managing the COVID-19 crisis effectively, you’re also confronting some of the same issues of inequality and injustice that these protests have brought to light,” Bloomberg concluded.

Bloomberg and Walker were joined by Harvard Kennedy School Professor Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Faculty Co-Chair of the program; Harvard Business School Professor Rawi Abdelal and Faculty Co-Chair; Harvard University Professor Danielle Allen, Director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics; Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association; and Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and director of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative.

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 leadership guidance from experts across Harvard.

“Each session will focus on an issue central to rebuilding cities in a more equitable way,” said Jorrit de Jong from the Harvard Kennedy School. “We are providing city leaders with insights and tools that can help them navigate challenges from managing their budgets in a recession and reinventing the municipal organization to addressing the deepening racial disparities and engaging residents in rebuilding the city.”

“We are delighted to expand this series to help city officials continue to protect their residents from the spread of the novel coronavirus, while also focusing on reopening their economies and addressing the systemic inequalities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Harvard Business School’s Rawi Abdelal.

“Local leaders must consider what it will take not just to see their communities through this crisis, but also to redefine and recommit to good governance and create an infrastructure of resilience,” said Harvard’s Danielle Allen, who taught the first session on “Reinventing Public Governance.”

Since launching, hundreds of city leaders have joined the virtual convenings While the aim of the first series was to provide cities with the tools to understand, respond and manage a dynamic public health crisis, the second series addresses social and economic recovery.

The program has featured President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Chef José Andrés, Vice President Joe Biden, and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

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 FacebookInstagramYouTubeTwitter, 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.