Economic Development in Our Nation’s Cities: A Conversation on Growing Jobs through Investment, Education, and International Trade – Oct 18

  • Economic Development in Our Nation’s Cities: A Conversation on Growing Jobs through Investment, Education, and International Trade
    October 18, 2017
    11:00 am - 12:00 pm

The Association of Women in International Trade (WIIT) and Wilson Center’s Women in Public Service Project and Urban Sustainability Laboratory invite you to a conversation with three of our nation’s leading mayors to discuss the critical role mayors are playing to shape cities for the 21st century. With over 80 percent of the U.S. population living in urban areas, now is the time to think about job creation, affordable housing, education and training, and the corresponding economic decisions that will impact the quality of life in the communities, neighborhoods and cities where people live.


What economic development strategies are mayors employing to make their cities more livable and prosperous for all their citizens? How can cities meet the challenges of economic development and equip an urban workforce with the employment skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow? What leadership role do mayors play in promoting export opportunities for their businesses and attracting investment into their cities? What role can innovative partnerships play in education and job creation? Finally, what role does women’s leadership play in pursuing innovative solutions to these challenges?


The Honorable Megan Barry
Mayor of Nashville, Tennessee

In 2015, Mayor Megan Barry was elected to her first term as the seventh Mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County after serving two terms as an at-large member of the Metro Council.

Mayor Barry entered office with a determination to keep Nashville’s successful economy moving forward while ensuring sustainable growth, equal opportunity for all, high-quality public education, and the safety and well-being of all Nashvillians.

One of the most significant challenges facing the city is the growth of traffic in the region following years of record growth. Mayor Barry immediately got to work tackling the issue by upgrading and synchronizing traffic signals in a way that has reduced congestion on the major pikes and corridors – reducing average travel delays by 24% and cutting gas consumption by an estimated 830,000 gallons in the first year.

Mayor Barry has embraced the concept of Vision Zero to reduce traffic-related fatalities in Davidson County by investing in paving, sidewalks, and bike paths. She also has worked to improve dangerous intersections in high-traffic areas and embraced quick-build projects to promote safety.

In 2017, she worked with Governor Haslam and the Tennessee General Assembly to promote and pass the IMPROVE Act, which will increase funding for roadway projects across Tennessee and give voters the opportunity to create sustainable funding mechanisms for mass transit. Barry announced she will seek to place a referendum on the ballot in 2018 that will create a comprehensive mass transit system throughout all corners of Davidson County.

Another area Mayor Barry has focused on is affordable housing. With the growing cost of living in Nashville, it has become more difficult for low-income residents to find quality housing they can afford. To address this need, Barry has created a number of tools to fund, build, maintain and preserve affordable housing throughout Nashville.

She has committed to putting $10 million in her recommended operating budget each year for the Barnes Trust Fund for Affordable Housing – which she helped create as a Metro Council member. She has created the Housing Incentive Pilot Program to encourage mixed-income residential development, established private-public partnerships for affordable and workforce housing on Metro-owned property, and announced her intention to utilize $25 million in general obligation bonds to preserve existing affordable housing or construct new Metro-owned developments.

In her push to promote equity and opportunity throughout Nashville, Barry has been committed to supporting our public schools through investments that will help the city recruit and retain great teachers, expand English language learner and literacy programs, and create greater access to high-quality pre-K in Nashville.

In order to address rising rates of youth violence, Mayor Barry launched an initiative to create 10,000 paid job and internship opportunities throughout the private, public and non-profit sectors. Supported by investments from Metro Nashville and local businesses, Opportunity NOW seeks to give every child a chance to succeed by connecting youth to hope through opportunity and jobs.

Barry believes public safety is the critical foundation on which our success in other areas of government is built. She has recommended hiring new police officers and firefighters to meet Nashville’s growth and created tools and programs for better community interaction with police and more accountability and openness throughout government.

In building her administration, Barry has put a sharp focus on ensuring that the Mayor’s Office is reflective of the city it serves. To that end, she has put together the most diverse team in the history of Nashville and has been committed to diversifying Metro boards and commissions. She appointed Metro’s first Chief Diversity Officer to review and oversee policies as it relates to diversity in hiring and promotions within Metro Government. She has also focused on engaging the community in governing with the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods and Community Engagement, which includes the Office of New Americans focused on outreach to immigrant and refugee communities.

Barry first moved to Nashville to attend Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, where she received her MBA. Prior to becoming Mayor, Barry had a successful career as an ethics and compliance officer in the telecommunications and health care sectors. Her husband, Bruce, is a professor of organizational studies at Vanderbilt University. Their son, Max, passed away in 2017 at the age of 22. They are also proud parents of two rescue dogs, Hank and Boris.

The Honorable Libby Schaaf
Mayor of Oakland, California

Mayor Libby Schaaf was inaugurated Oakland, California’s 50th mayor on January 5, 2015. A native Oaklander, Mayor Schaaf previously served one term as a member of the Oakland City Council.

A former Council chief of staff and top mayoral aide to Jerry Brown, Mayor Schaaf has two decades of public service experience that began while she was a young attorney leading volunteer efforts in Oakland. She later left her legal career at Oakland’s largest law firm to build and run the first centralized volunteer program for Oakland public schools at the Marcus Foster Institute. Mayor Schaaf eventually went on to become Public Affairs Director for the Port of Oakland.

She is honored to serve the people of Oakland and to help promote her hometown as the greatest place to live, work, play and do business. She is committed to revitalization that preserves and celebrates Oakland’s diversity and leads to direct prosperity for long-time residents and newcomers. Her four areas of focus as mayor are: holistic community safety, sustainable vibrant infrastructure, equitable jobs and housing and responsive trustworthy government.

The Honorable Catherine Pugh
Mayor of Baltimore, Maryland

 Catherine Elizabeth Pugh was sworn in as the 50th Mayor of the City of Baltimore on December 6, 2016.

Mayor Pugh has been a public servant for more than 15 years. She was elected to the Baltimore City Council in 1999 to represent the 4th District. In 2005 she was appointed to the House of Delegates of the Maryland General Assembly to represent the 40th District. She served for one year before running for her Senate seat in 2006. Her abilities to negotiate and her bipartisan approach catapulted her into various leadership positions in the Maryland Senate including serving as the Majority Leader.

Mayor Pugh is the visionary founder of the Baltimore Design School, a public school for sixth through twelfth graders. She is the founder of the Baltimore Marathon, which is in its seventeenth year and has over a $30 million impact on the city. Mayor Pugh has served on several boards, including the University of Maryland Medical Systems, the Council of State Governments and is a former president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.

Mayor Pugh is a successful businesswoman, serving as President of CEPugh and Company, a marketing and public relations firm. She has worked as a banker, business developer, Dean and Director of Strayer Business College, Special Editor for the Baltimore Sun, and as a television and radio news reporter and talk show host. She is the author of a series of children’s books and an inspirational book of poetry.

Mayor Pugh holds an MBA from Morgan State University and has received qualification from the University of California as an Economic Development Specialist. She has been recognized for her leadership by numerous local and national organizations.






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