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Past: Summer 2019 Annual Meeting

Thank you for joining us!

Summer 2019 Annual Meeting
Thursday, August 1 - Saturday, August 3, Columbia, SC



Household Financial Stability 

Joanna Ramani-Smith, Aspen Institute 

Gloria Saeed, City of Columbia, SC

Treasurer Tishaura Jones, City of St. Louis, MO


Opportunity Zones 

Brett Theodos, Urban Institute

Mayor Stephen Benjamin, City of Columbia, SC

Rudy Espinoza, Inclusive Action for the City

Julia Parzen, Sustainability Consultant 


Reducing and Preventing Violent Crime

Melron Kelly, City of Columbia, SC

Mayor Ras Baraka, City of Newark, NJ 

Anthony Smith, Cities United


Engaging Generation Z

Mayor Jake Spano, City of St. Louis Park, MN

Ivanna Fregoso, City of Miramar, FL

Laura Furr, Consultant

Lauren Harper, formerly with City of Columbia, SC

Download the Full Agenda


High Road Governance: A Workshop for New Mayors
Taking place directly before the Summer 2019 Meeting at Cyberwoven, 1634 Main Street, this 1.5 day workshop will help mayors effectively transition from running for office to leading their cities toward the high road of equity, sustainability, and democracy. View agenda here.

Thursday, August 1
3:00 - 5:00pm
Steering Committee Meeting
Open to member cities only. Capital Ballroom III-IV, Marriott, 1200 Hampton Street.
​5:30 - 6:30pm
Welcome Reception
South Carolina State Museum, 301 Gervais Street. Museum exhibits will be open. A shuttle will be available, departing the hotel at both 5:30 & 6pm, and returning to the hotel at 7:30pm or as needed.
6:30 - 7:30pm
Welcome Dinner
South Carolina State Museum, 301 Gervais Street
​Optional: First Thursday on Main
Businesses in downtown Columbia will be keeping their doors open late, offering a mix of specials, events, entertainment, and more! Everything takes place on Main St, directly outside the Marriott.

Friday, August 2
8:00 - 9:00am
Breakfast & Registration
Capital Ballroom III-IV, Marriott, 1200 Hampton Street
9:00 - 9:30am
Welcome & Introductions
Mayor Steve Benjamin, City of Columbia, SC
Joel Rogers, COWS
9:30 - 11:00am
Reducing & Preventing Violent Crime
While violent crime in cities has been steadily declining over the last 30 years, its impact on individuals, families, and institutions make it something cities must continue to work diligently to prevent. With intersecting root causes, there are many different tools cities can deploy to help prevent violence. This panel will highlight forward thinking approaches to reduce and prevent violent crime, especially in Black and Brown communities that face disproportionate impacts from them, such as using a public health approach in targeting violence, looking at root causes, and innovative targeted approaches to keep people from offending.
Moderator: Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, City of Madison, WI
Anthony Smith, Cities United
Melron Kelly, City of Columbia, SC
Mayor Ras Baraka, City of Newark, NJ
11:00 - 11:15am
11:15 - 1:00pm
Engaging Generation Z: Youth Leadership in Local Civics and Policy
Teenagers and young adults are experiencing unprecedented increases in access to information, global consciousness, organizing tools, and advocacy resources than prior generations. Local government leaders have tremendous opportunities to promote youth civic participation, leadership skill development and engagement in governance. Through this panel, discussion will focus on local innovations and mayoral leadership that support youth empowerment and engagement. Topics will include issue-specific projects to address climate change and gun control, as well as strategies for creating equitable, sustained opportunities for youth involvement in governance and policy.
Moderator: Mayor Miro Weinberger, Burlington, VT
Laura Furr, Laura Furr Consulting
Lauren Harper, City of Columbia, SC
Ivanna Fregoso, City of Miramar, FL
Mayor Jake Spano, City of St. Louis Park, MN
1:00 - 1:30pm
1:30 - 2:00pm
2:00 - 4:00pm
City Tours
All tours will depart at 2pm sharp from the Marriott hotel lobby. Choose from one of the following three options:
1. Reducing & Preventing Violent Crime (by bus): The Columbia Police Department has been a leader in 21st Century Policing since before the Obama Task Force of the same name was formed in 2014. This tour will provide an overview of how Columbia’s force is working to make the city a more safe, just, and equitable place for all residents, including stops at Hyatt Park, Sowing Seeds nonprofit, and Busby Street.
2. Food Policy (by bus): Columbia recently became the first city in South Carolina to form a municipal food policy council. We’ll learn more about the work happening on the ground to advance urban food systems, reduce food scarcity, and address food deserts. This tour will include stops at City Roots, Foodshare SC, and Rare Variety.
3. Civil Rights (walking): South Carolina Civil Rights historians will take us on a walking tour of Columbia Civil Rights history that begins just outside our meeting space. The tour will include City Hall, the South Carolina State House, and the African American monument that was installed in 2001 when the Confederate flag was removed from the statehouse grounds.

4:00 - 5:00pm
​5:00 - 6:30pm
Exclusively for Mayors: The ‘Data-Driven Fire Department’ Reception & Focus Group
Private Lounge, Marriott (directly across from restaurant in main lobby)
The International Association of Firefighters and the International Public Safety Data Institute are hosting a focus group, and all mayors are invited to attend. Mayors rely on quality data to make critical policy decisions about all issues, including fire operations, law enforcement and resource deployment. Public safety data are plentiful, but capturing and using the data can be challenging—resource deployment, turnout times, response times, minimum staffing levels, funding and exposures, to name a few. You will get the opportunity to learn more about the important data tools available from IAFF/IPSDI to help inform the critical policy decisions you make to keep your city safe.
6:30 - 7:30pm
Columbia Museum of Art, 1515 Main Street
7:30 - 9:00pm
Dinner & Keynote - Bakari Sellers, Lawyer & CNN Political Commentator
Columbia Museum of Art, 1515 Main Street

Saturday, August 3
9:00 - 10:00am
Breakfast at Soda City Market
Soda City Market is Columbia’s weekly downtown market. Meet directly outside the Capital Ballroom at the Marriott at 9am to receive vouchers.
10:00 - 11:45am
Opportunity Zones
Opportunity Zones are low-income census tracts into which investors can move capital gains with relatively low tax deductions through vehicles called Opportunity Funds. While these funds hold promise, many worry that Opportunity Zones may not deliver the positive economic impacts to the populations they purport to serve. This session will cover what Opportunity Zones are and how they function, why mayors can play a critical role in their implementation, and how to use them as a vehicle for pushing forward a number of values-based agendas.
Moderator: Brett Theodos, Urban Institute
Rudy Espinoza, Inclusive Action for the City
Julia Parzen, Sustainability Consultant
Mayor Steve Benjamin, City of Columbia, SC
11:45 - 12:00pm
12:00 - 12:30pm
Innovation Showcase
The Innovation Showcase offers Mayors and city staff the opportunity to present to the group on an innovative policy or program idea that they’ve successfully implemented.
Moderator: Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, City of Grand Rapids, MI
12:30 - 1:15pm
1:15 - 2:45pm
Addressing Household Financial Stability
The lack of financial security for US households is one of the most intractable problems we face as a society. Among the interconnected causes of this crisis are the volatility inherent in the low-wage labor market, a lack of opportunities for saving and accruing wealth for low- and middle-income earners, and high costs of living. Structural inequities also disproportionately affect low-income communities, including less access to generational wealth and government fines and fees that create significant debt. Cities are deeply affected by this reality, and face both an imperative and an opportunity to promote financial stability through progressive solutions. This panel will highlight avenues cities have taken to address this critical issue, including financial empowerment for residents, changes to local wage and labor laws, and debt reduction plans.
Moderator: Mayor Pro Tem Tameika Isaac Devine, City of Columbia, SC
Joanna Smith - Ramani, Aspen Institute
Gloria Saeed, City of Columbia, SC
Treasurer Tishaura Jones, City of St. Louis, MO
2:45 - 3:00pm
Closing Remarks
3:00 - 3:45pm
Steering Committee Meeting
Open to member cities only
4:00 - 5:00pm
​Optional: Historical Homes of Columbia
Local historians will lead a light walking tour, highlighting Columbia’s history and architecture. Meet in the hotel lobby.

Reducing & Preventing Violent Crime


The History of Violence as a Public Health Issue, Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, February 1st, 2019. Read more.

There’s No Such Thing as a Dangerous Neighborhood, Stephen Lurie, CityLab, February 25th, 2019. Read more.

Testing a Public Health Approach to Gun Violence, Sarah Picard-Fritsche and Lenore Cerniglia, Center for Court Innovation. Read more.

Strategies to Prevent Urban Violence, Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, September 1st, 2013. Read more.

Interventions for Reducing Violence and its Consequences for Young Black Males in America, Arnold Chandler, Cities United. Read more.

4 Proven Violence Reduction Strategies, National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform and Cites United. Read more.

A Strategic Resource for Mayors on Disrupting Community Violence and Preventing Homicides, Cities United , August 1st, 2018. Read more.

Case Study: Young People Curbing Gun Violence in Columbia, SC, Giovanni Rocco and Amber Gaither, Generation Progress, August 23rd, 2018. Read more.

South Carolina’s Largest City Focuses on Stopping Gun Violence, Jeffrey Collins, US News, April 24th, 2018. Read more.

Youth homicides have dropped 40% in Newark, yet there is more work to do, mayor says, Ras Baraka, The Star-Ledger, April 4th, 2019. Read more.

A Blueprint for Peace, City of Milwaukee Health Department, Office of Violence Prevention, January 1st, 2017. Read more.

Youth Leadership


All Together Now: Collaboration and Innovation for Youth Engagement, Circle at Tufts University, January 1st, 2013. Read more.

Authentic Youth Engagement Guide, Institute of Youth, Education & Families, National League of Cities, January 1st, 2010. Read more.

Nine Signs Your City is Committed to Authentic Youth Civic Engagement, National League of Cities, June 14th, 2019. Read more.

Top Ten Reasons to Lower the Voting Age, National Youth Rights Association. Read more.

What if the Teen City Council is Better than the Grownup One?, Kriston Capps, CityLab, July 5th, 2018. Read more.

What is Y-PLAN?, Center for Cities and Schools, UC-Berkeley. Read more.

Y-PLAN “Double Bottom Line”, Center for Cities and Schools, UC-Berkeley. Read more.

San Francisco Youth Commission Budget and Policy Priorities, San Francisco Youth Commission, 2019-2020. Read more.

Tacoma teens won’t wait for adults to solve the city’s problems, Liz Brazile, Crosscut, February 11th, 2019. Read more.

In Gilbert, Data and Technology Is All Fun and Games, Emily Shaw, GovEx, August 12th, 2018. Read more.

Columbia Youth Commission, Lauren Harper, City of Columbia, SC, September 7th, 2018. Read more.

Columbia Youth Commission Election Process, Lauren Harper, City of Columbia, SC, September 7th, 2018. Read more.

Prodded by young people, cities take aggressive climate action, Elizabeth Dunbar, MPR, March 21st, 2017. Read more.

St. Louis Park Climate Action Plan, St. Louis Park, MN, February 1st, 2018. Read more.

St. Louis Park seeks to strengthen firearm regulations upon request from students, Miguel Otarola, Star Tribune, July 28th, 2018. Read more.

Mayor’s Youth Councils: Connecting Youth to Civic Participation, Dawn Schluckebier, Think Tennessee. Read more.

Youth Leaders Reflect on the 2019 Congressional City Conference, National League of Cities, March 29th, 2019. Read more.

Opportunity Zones


“Opportunity Zones 101”, Local Initiatives Support Center. Read more.

“Opportunity Zones: The Map Comes into Focus”, Economic Innovation Group, June 15th, 2018. Read more.

What It Will Take for Opportunity Zones to Create Real Opportunity…”, Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. Read more.

“Prioritizing and Achieving Impact in Opportunity Zones”, The U.S. Impact Investing Alliance and The Beeck Center. Read more.

“States, Cities Add Sweeteners to Attract ‘Opportunity Zone’ Investors”, J. Brian Charles, Governing, April 17th, 2019. Read more.

“Is Your City Prepared for the Opportunity Zone Impact?”, Joshua Pollard, Forbes, March 28th, 2019. Read more.

“How Chicago and Cook County Can Leverage Opportunity Zones for Community Benefit”, Urban Institute. Read more.

“Opportunity Zone Investment Prospectus Guide: Before You Begin”, Ken Gross and Bruce Katz, Accelerator for America. Read more.

“Opportunity Zone Investment Prospectuses”, Accelerator for America. Read more.

“Opportunity Zones Prospectus”, The City of Columbia Office of Economic Development. Read more.

“Republicans Hope to Save South Carolina, But Will Investors Follow?”, Tom Barton, The State, January 25th, 2019. Read more.

“Tapping The Opportunity Zone Program to Accelerate an Equitable Clean Economy”, Julia Parzen and Graham Richard, May 29th, 2019. Read more.

Household Financial Stability


Kiva Hubs, Kiva. Read more.

Lifting the Weight, The Aspen Institute Financial Security Program, EPIC. Read more.
Supplementary material not provided in the briefing book.

Why Financial Security is a Priority, Aspen Institute Financial Security Program, U.S. Conference of Mayors' Council on Metro Economies and the New American City. Read more.
Supplementary material not provided in the briefing book.

“Thriving Residents, Thriving Cities”, Signe-Mary McKernan, Caroline Ratcliffe, Breno Braga, and Emma Kalish, Urban Institute. Read more.

“How Income Volatility Interacts with American Families’ Financial Security”, The Pew Charitable Trusts. Read more.

“How Mayors and Cities are Solving Household Financial Insecurity”, Kiese Hansen, Financial Security Program, The Aspen Institute, July 27th, 2018. Read more.

“What would it take to ensure that every family can achieve and maintain financial security?”, Caroline Ratcliffe, Caleb Quakenbush, and William J. Congdon, Urban Institute. Read more.

“A Municipal Policy Blueprint”, Prosperity Now. Read more.

“Lift-Up: Innovative City Strategy Reduces Utility Debt and Financial Insecurity for Residents”, National League of Cities. Read more.

“State and Local Laws Advancing Fair Work Schedules”, National Women's Law Center. Read more.

“Our Hidden Economic Challenge: Income Volatility”, Stephen Benjamin, Governing, January 8th, 2018. Read more.

“What Local Government Can Do About the Consumer-Debt Epidemic”, Stephen Benjamin and Joanna Smith-Ramani, Governing, April 11th, 2019. Read more.

“‘Bank On’ & Fresh Start Columbia”, City of Columbia, SC. Read more.

“Low-Income Stockton Residents Praise City’s ‘Universal Basic Income’ Program”, Rich Ibarra, Capital Public Radio, May 22nd, 2019. Read more.

“Seeking solutions to income volatility in St. Louis”, The St. Louis American, October 11th, 2017. Read more.

“St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones Discusses City Finances, Improving Access to Banking”, Jon Lewis, St. Louis Public Radio, April 19th, 2019. Read more.

“All MPS 5-year-olds will start school next fall with a college savings fund”, Clara Hatcher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 2nd, 2018. Read more.

“Chicago Resilient Task Force Recommends Guaranteed Income Pilot Program”, Helen Smith, Harris School of Public Policy, The University of Chicago, February 25th, 2019. Read more.

Strategic Plan 2017-2022, San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment. Read more.

“Overview of the Financial Justice Project”, The Financial Justice Project, City of San Francisco, CA. Read more.


Tim Keller, Mayor, City of Albuquerque, NM
Kelly Girtz, Mayor, City of Athens-Clarke County
Hardie Davis, Mayor, City of Augusta, GA
Denny Doyle, Mayor, City of Beaverton, OR
Leslie Hager-Smith, Mayor, City of Blacksburg, VA
John Hamilton, Mayor, City of Bloomington, IN
Suzanne Jones, Mayor, City of Boulder, CO
Miro Weinberger, Mayor, City of Burlington, VT
Stephen Benjamin, Mayor, City of Columbia, SC
Barbara Blain-Bellamy, Mayor, City of Conway, SC
Nickole Nesby, Mayor, City of Duquesne, PA
Deana Holiday Ingraham, Mayor, City of East Point, GA
Marjorie Sloan, Mayor, City of Golden, CO
Rosalynn Bliss, Mayor, City of Grand Rapids, MI
Chasity Wells-Armstrong, Mayor, City of Kankakee, IL
Satya Rhodes-Conway, Mayor, City of Madison, WI
Matt Shorraw, Mayor, City of Monessen, PA
Ras Baraka, Mayor, City of Newark, NJ
McKinley Price, Mayor, City of Newport News, VA
Chris Koos, Mayor, City of Normal, IL
Lovely Warren, Mayor, City of Rochester, NY
Jacob Day, Mayor, City of Salisbury, MD
Al Heggins, Mayor, City of Salisbury, NC
Jake Spano, Mayor, City of St. Louis Park, MN
Jason Lary, Mayor, City of Stonecrest, GA
Joseph McElveen, Mayor, City of Sumter, SC
Harold Thompson, Mayor, City of Union, SC
Gary Carey, Mayor, City of Walker, MI
Kathy Ehley, Mayor, City of Wauwatosa, WI
Keith James, Mayor, City of West Palm Beach, FL
Hawthorne Welcher Jr., Director, City of Augusta, GA
Mike Myers, Public Information Officer, City of Augusta, GA
Shatoyia Moss, Safe and Civil City Director, City of Bloomington, IN
Gloria Saeed, Director of Community Development, City of Columbia, SC
Ariel Cathcart, Director of Special Projects, City of Columbia, SC
Shalaine Archie, Executive Assistant, City of Columbia, SC
Tameika Isaac Devine, Mayor Pro Term, City of Columbia, SC
Sam Johnson, Mayor's Office, City of Columbia, SC
Taylor Wright, Mayor's Office, City of Columbia, SC
Darrell Black, School Commissioner, City of Columbia, SC
Joshua Barr, Director, City of Des Moines, IA
Jamie Harkins, Mayor Pro Tem, City of Lafayette, CO
Linda Vakunta, Deputy Mayor, City of Madison, WI
Ivanna Fregoso, Youth Advisory Council Delegate, City of Miramar, FL
Chris Clark, Councilmember, City of Mountain View, CA
Mike Kasperzak, Former Mayor, City of Mountain View, CA
David Post, Mayor Pro Tem , City of Salisbury, NC
Genevieve Miller, Deputy Chief of Staff, City of South Bend, IN
Tishaura Jones, Treasurer, City of St. Louis, MO
Alisa O'Hanlon, Government Relations Policy Analyst , City of Tacoma, WA
Gregory Key, Special Assistant to the Mayor, City of West Palm Beach, FL
Heidi Davison, Former Mayor, City ofAthens, GA
Stephanie  Mash Sykes, Executive Director, African American Mayors Association
Jamie Pascal, Manager of Policy and Programs, African American Mayors Association
Mike Watson, Senior Advisor, American Association for Retired Persons (AARP)
William J. Bates, President, American Institute of Architects
Jane Frederick, 2020 President Elect, American Institute of Architects
Adrienne Montare, Executive Director - South Carolina, American Institute of Architects
Michael Winn, Manager of State and Local Relations, American Institute of Architects
Joanna Smith-Ramani, Managing Director of Financial Security Program, Aspen Institute
Michael Seezen, Partner, Burr Forman McNair, Columbia, SC
Lynn Stokes-Murray, Director of Government Affairs, Burr Forman McNair, Columbia, SC
Ryan Gentry, , Burr Forman McNair, Columbia, SC
Ralph Garboushian, Washington Representative, CapitalEdge
Debra DeHaney-Howard, Government Relations, CapitalEdge
Hallie Kielb, Washington Representative, Intern, CapitalEdge
Scott Bernstein, Founder and Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer, Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT)
Anthony Smith, Executive Director, Cities United
Dwayne Clayton, Director of Buisness Development, CyberScout
Lauren Harper, SC State Director for Beto O'Rourke, formerly with the City of Columbia
Kyra S. Naumoff Shields, Bright Cities Program Director , Healthy Babies Bright Futures
Rudy Espinoza, Executive Director, Inclusive Action for the City 
Dave Lang, Assistant to the General President, International Association of Fire Fighters
Lori Moore-Merrell, President & CEO, International Public Safety Data Institute
Julia Parzen, Principal, JP Consulting Inc
Laura Furr, Principal and Owner, Laura Furr Consulting LLC
Frances Ferguson, Chief Executive Officer, MoCaFi
Nick Mastronardi, CEO, Polco
Matt Fulton, National Engagement Director, Polco
Phil Dailly, Director of Southeast Region, Shotspotter
Justine Porter, Director of Advisory Services, The Democracy Collaborative
David Youngblood, General Counsel, The Madison Group
Brett Theodos, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute
Jordyne Krumroy, Regional Manager, Welcoming America
Betsy Hodges, Former Mayor, Minneapolis, MN, Senior Advisor at Mayors Innovation Project
Ceri Jenkins, Co-Managing Director, COWS/ Mayors Innovation Project
Emily Miota, Outreach and Communications Director, COWS/ Mayors Innovation Project
Joel Rogers, Director, COWS
Mariah Young-Jones, Senior Associate, Mayors Innovation Project/COWS
Marybeth McGinnis, Senior Associate, COWS/ Mayors Innovation Project
Matthew Braunginn, Senior Associate, COWS/ Mayors Innovation Project