Press & Media

Presidential Historian and Author Jon Meacham and Mike Bloomberg Speak with More Than 270 City Leaders at Sixth Virtual Convening to Aid COVID-19 Social and Economic Recovery

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: Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian and author, along with Mike Bloomberg, yesterday addressed 277 city leaders, including 127 mayors, from 188 cities at the sixth 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 virtually convenes global city leaders monthly through the end of the year. The sessions focus on equitable recovery, building and maintaining resident trust, crisis budgeting and fiscal recovery, and supporting city workforces during a period of profound change and uncertainty.

Meacham described how leadership and reason throughout America’s history have brought necessary progress, and how its needed now more than ever. “If we are going to recover our democratic institutions and at least restore the possibility of solving problems, let reason guide us. If reason gets us to a policy proposal that then you just can’t sell, at least you fought the good fight,” Meacham continued. “America was founded for us to think and not simply react. It was founded for our dispositions of brain, mind, and heart to be at the center of the American governing experience instead of reflexive appetite, unthinking allegiance to your first position, and selfishness.”

Bloomberg addressed the record-setting number of COVID cases and attributed surging cases in part to the lack of national leadership. “The harsh reality is things are getting worse, not better, across the country right now. We’ve been seeing the highest daily case totals since the pandemic began. Other countries, especially in Europe, are still struggling to slow the spread of the upward trajectory – it’s so much worse here, and that says a lot about our national leadership,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, three term mayor of New York City and Founder of Bloomberg L.P. and Bloomberg Philanthropies. “The fact that we will soon have a federal government with an actual plan of attack – and the intention to listen to experts and do what needs to be done to get this virus under control – is a good thing.”

Bloomberg warned it’s more important now than ever to remain vigilant. “The latest news about progress on a vaccine is a reason for optimism – but it’s also a reason for concern, because we can’t afford to let our guard down. The vaccine isn’t yet approved – and even if it is, it will be months before it starts being widely distributed. This is likely going to be a long, tough winter, and your residents need the same great leadership they’ve been getting from you over the past months. In the meantime, you’re not in this alone – and that’s why we’re all here today.”

Meacham and Bloomberg were joined by Harvard Business School Professor Rawi Abdelal, the faculty co-chair of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, 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, and Dr. Ruth Karron, Professor of International Health for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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.

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

The program has featured President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama, President-elect Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Chef and World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Ford Foundation President Darren Walker.

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 bloomberg.org 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.